Masterbatch products are often referred to as a concentrate (colour masterbatches) when it is used for the process of colouring plastics which are then made into different products. In this process, additives like pigments, colour dyes, and other additive substances are mixed in with the polymer carrier compound, heated, cooled, and extruded into pellet shapes or ball-bearing shapes. These pellets of natural polymer can then be mixed with special colours as per requirement along with more resin to create the end product.
The use of masterbatch products in chemical and plastic manufacturing industries is growing significantly with the more and more countries using these products. Masterbatch granules are used along with various polymer additives which change the properties of the finished product based on manufacturer requirements. These are called additive masterbatches and can range from anti-slip, heat stabilizing, stiffening, brighteners, solar heat reflectors, infrared, etc. One of the biggest advantages of using masterbatch is that it can be used against any available resin in the market.
In all of these processes, additive masterbatch can be made by adding in different types of polymer resins during a heat treatment process; this could include either the carrier resin or the dilution resin. The finished product is then cooled and made into granular shapes for ease of use and transport. The additives that are used by leading masterbatch producers and masterbatch manufacturers in India like REPIN Masterbatches are typically performance enhancing additives which boosts the performance of the end product or it could be processing additives which helps to smooth the manufacturing process.
What is the Plastic Industry?
The plastics industry manufactures polymer materials which are substances which have a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together, which are known as plastics. Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene which the plastics industry manufactures to the natural bio-polymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. The plastics industry is an ever-growing industry, important to a range of industries, including packaging, building and construction, electronics, aerospace, and transportation. As a result, the total global plastic production was around 322 million metric tonnes in 2015.
What Other Industries Is The Plastic Industry Associated With?
The plastics industry is actually a part of the chemical industry, and sometimes also a part of the petrochemical industry as mineral oil is the major constituent in plastics. Besides plastics production, plastics engineering is an important part of the industrial sector. The latter field is dominated by engineering plastic as raw material because of its better mechanical and thermal properties than the more widely used commodity plastics.
How Does Masterbatch Fit Into The Plastics Industry?
Masterbatches are raw plastic compounds that include a high concentration of either a colouring pigment, or an additive or additives. These are known as colour masterbatches and additive masterbatches respectively. Masterbatches are designed to be used in appropriate quantities with the basic resin mix so that the correct end concentration can be achieved. Colour masterbatches are the most widely used method of colouring plastics of all types, as they provide a clean and convenient method of obtaining accurate colour shades. Similarly, additive masterbatches are used to impart different properties to all types of plastics.
As a result of the extensive use of masterbatches in plastics, its growth is directly proportional to the growth of the plastics industry, and the masterbatch industry in itself is a 10 billion Dollar industry globally. In India too, the industry is worth around 1 Billion USD or 6, 481 Crore INR, with many big masterbatch producers like REPIN masterbatches who are international players in the masterbatch market.
Antioxidants masterbatches are additive masterbatches which are incorporated at low concentrations to inhibit or retard polymer oxidation and its ensuing degradative effects.
Polymers are subject to attack from various outside sources throughout their life cycle, during polymerization, processing and the end-use application. Degradation which primarily consists of a change in the molecular weight characteristics of a polymer, can manifest itself in a variety of forms. These include discoloration, change in viscosity, loss of physical properties, loss of clarity and surface crazing.
Antioxidants, according to masterbatch producers, are required to protect polymers from oxidative degradation during processing and end use, are typically added by resin producers as part of their manufacturing process. Stabilization packages typically include a phenolic primary anti-oxidant which provides processing stability and long term heat stability to polymers such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyamide, polyester, polystyrene, polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride. Phosphite-based secondary antioxidants provide excellent processing stability. Phosphites are also synergistic with hindered phenol primary antioxidants. Phenolic antioxidants and phenolic phosphite blends offer excellent protection against thermo-oxidative degradation and discoloration of polymers.
Antioxidant masterbatches are produced by leading masterbatch manufacturers in India like REPIN Masterbatches. They are also used in various stages of the processing of different polymers to give the required properties like OIT, in cable industries, smell & colour problems to be reduce in reprocessing industry properties retaining the flow and mechanical properties in virgin, heat sensitive polymers etc. The growth of antioxidant in the world is around 10%. Antioxidant Masterbatches are used in various polymers processing industries like:
• Cable industries
• Filled compounds
• Blow Moulding
• BOPP films
The masterbatches’ recommended dosage is at around 1 – 3 % levels. The choice of antioxidant depends on factors such as compatibility, colour and thermal stability, volatility and stabilizer efficiency
Raffia is a leaf fibre of the raffia palm tree, mainly used since ages to build baskets and carpet etc. Other end uses of the fibre of a raffia palm are mainly in low weight cordage and also in manufacturing caps and bags. It is mainly cultivated by the people of tropical Africa and Madagascar as well as Central and South America for commercial purposes. The Raffia Industry could be classified into six main categories depending upon the category of woven bag made. They are namely:
• Polyolefin Woven Sacks (excluding FIBC)
• Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBC)
• Leno bags
• Wrapping fabric
Relation to Masterbatches
Masterbatches and Raffia go hand in hand. Polypropylene woven sacks have increasingly replaced jute bags and paper bags for packing cement. They offer distinct advantages such as high strength, lower bag weight, low cost, fungus attack and low seepage of cement as compared to jute bags. The properties of these woven sacks are enhanced via the usage of specific additive masterbatches called filler masterbatches, which are concentrates of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO₃) or talc in a virgin polymer base. Many leading masterbatch producers and masterbatch suppliers manufacture filler masterbatches, like REPIN Masterbatches. But that is not all. Raffia products require the usage of a number of different types of masterbatches, such as:
• Anti-fibrillation Masterbatches for Slow and High Speed Extrusion
• Opaque and Transparent
• White Masterbatches
• UV Stabilizer Masterbatches (PE/ PP)
• Anti-Oxidant Masterbatches
• Anti-Static Masterbatches
• Polymer Processing Aid Masterbatches
All of these masterbatches are developed after careful consideration of the final properties required in the raffia tapes & by doing continuous R&D on customer’s specific feedback.
Polymer Process Aids (PPA) masterbatches are specifically designed additive masterbatches used to enhance extrusion ability of plastics (PE films, pipes, tubes etc.) leading to productivity and/or quality improvement.
These masterbatches are based on fluoroelastomers and are widely recommended for improving the processibility of polymers at higher shear rates. These are formulated to form a microscopic dispersed phase within the polymer carrier. During processing the fluoropolymer gets coated on the walls of the extruder and die. This reduces the extruder back-pressure to decrease. To achieve the coating in a reasonable time the process aid masterbatch is typically added at 1% until the beneficial effects are seen. After this the addition rate can be reduced to 0.5% down to even 0.25% as long as the effect continues to be evident. A small addition must be maintained through the extrusion run.
Normally there is a common practice to process at higher temperatures to get maximum output which causes degradation, die deposition and reduction in mechanical properties. By adding PPA masterbatch, processing is possible at lower temperature with higher output without compromising the mechanical properties.
PPA masterbatches are produced by leading masterbatch producers and supplied by top masterbatches suppliers like REPIN Masterbatches. They offer many advantages, like:
• Reduces or eliminates melt fracture especially when processing polymers with varying MFL (melt flow index), e.g. in multi-layer films
• Eliminates sharkskin effect
• Reduces or eliminates die build-up
• Reduces or eliminates gel formation and other aesthetic defects
• Increasing output up to 20%
• Also reduces electricity consumption due to reduced back-pressure in the extruder
Anti-rodent masterbatches are additive masterbatches that combine powerful aversives for deterring animals from chewing compounded materials, such as electric and fiber optic cables, plastic pipes, foam insulation, and many other materials. Anti-rodent masterbatches are the solution for damage to virtually all polymers.
Most anti-rodent masterbatches use two powders that are extremely aversive, namely, denatonium compounds and capsaicinoids, although different masterbatch manufacturers and masterbatch producers may use their own formulae or compounds. These masterbatch go through laboratory tests to confirm their effectiveness in deterring rats from chewing on automotive wire harnesses.
How Does It Works?
Leading masterbatch manufacturer in India, REPIN masterbatches, says that the animals chew on plastic materials because they look good, smell good and taste good. Anti-rodent masterbatches alters that attractiveness in the following four ways:
1. when the animal bites into the plastic, they will experience an extremely foul-tasting material.
2. this foul-taste experience is combined with an extraordinary pungency that causes severe distress to the mucosa of the animal, making the mouth, nose and eyes burn.
3. these masterbatches have a distinct odour that animals will now associate with the bad experience. This leads to behaviour modification and animals avoid these products in the future.
4. the fear response and unpleasant reaction is also communicated to other animals in the vicinity.
Typical applications of these masterbatches include:
1. Wire and cables
2. Tubes and pipes
3. Electrical boxes
4. Wiring harnesses
5. Food and feed bags
The approach here is to not injure animals or add hazardous chemicals to the environment. These masterbatches do not harm animals. Furthermore, the chemicals present are permanently captured in the polymer so that they do not leach into the environment.
Special effect masterbatches, are specially designed masterbatches that combine properties of colour masterbatches and a bit of additive masterbatches, to provide stunning visuals in products. Components coloured with these masterbatches have special visual properties depending upon the light and angle of view. Special effect masterbatches are very popular and successful and have very extensive applications in consumer products like cosmetic packaging, bottle closures, household articles, domestic appliances, components for electronic and entertainment industry, plastic chairs, fashion products and automotive applications.
Types of Special Effect Masterbatches
There are a few ‘standard’ special effect masterbatches that can be found with every large masterbatch producer. Apart from that every masterbatch manufacturer has their own grades of special effect masterbatches, according to REPIN Masterbatches, one of the largest masterbatch producer & distributor in India. The standard ones include:
• Metallic, these masterbatches impart a metallic sheen to the end product.
• Flitter, these masterbatches impart a fluttering quick light effect to the product.They contain fine cut aluminium foils in them for this effect.
• Pearlescent, these masterbatches impart a pearly glow and polish to the end product.
• Transparent, these masterbatches impart transparency to the end product. The choice of plastic used is also important for this masterbatch.
• Fleck, these masterbatches impart light spots to the end product that look like small patches of colour or light.
• Fluorescent, these impart fluorescent properties to the end product. A similar product is glow in the dark masterbatch, which imparts glow in the dark properties.
• Marble, these result in unique products where no final products are the same, giving a marble like effect.
• Multicolour masterbatches: Multicolour masterbatches are very popular, but are expensive as they require the masterbatch manufacturer to have significant expertise. Very interesting effects can be achieved with multicolour masterbatches, provided the masterbatch maker is creative.
Masterbatches are a product in which additives or pigments are dispersed in a carrier material. This carrier material is same as the plastic in which this carrier material will be let down in either granule or pill form. The carrier material can be low density polypropylene, polyethylene, EVA, low molecular weight, an alkyd resin, polymer specific material or polystyrene. The let-down ratio of the carrier material can vary depending on the type of additives and pigments quantity required in the final product. The ratio can be below 1 % for some types of additives masterbatches, UV and colour masterbatches for tints to above 50 % in case of flame retardants. Generally for most colour products the 1- 3 % is the normal range. To obtain a particular colour or additive strength the ratio can be changed.
The most important first step, when masterbatches are made, is the additive ratio or colour formulation. Then all the ingredients are mixed in such a way that they produce homogeneous product. These ingredients are also weighed or may be pre-mixed if necessary. The melting stage must have exact pre-determined temperature, so that the final mixing is homogeneous. The low or high temperatures can give lead to poor shearing and pigment dispersion. To control the rate at which this pre-mix is fed to the extruder, a screw fed system, matched with extruder’s output, must be used.
Using high melt index resin and compounding it with pigments and additives is the efficient way of dispersing. This high melt resin is compatible with the end use product. The equipment used for mixing should provide high degree of shear with suitable mixing temperature. The mixing is best, when the level of viscosity of the polymer used is quite high. The highest point is the point beyond flux. If mixing is done beyond this threshold, the temperature will rise and viscosity will come down. The pigment and additives must be properly dispersed . For large production, the internal mixer Banbury is used.
The final masterbatch must be in consistent form and there should be no oversize or presence of any extra matter in the granule form. These days most competent producers like REPIN Masterbatches use colour computers to give all the required information. Masterbatch suppliers use the database of more colours and shades to give precise matching with spectrophotometer. The products are made with strict safety and regulatory measures. From the health point of view also care is taken to ensure that the final use of products have no adverse on the users in food packaging products, cosmetics and toys. More and more manufacturers are customizing the products and colour selection. The final product can withstand heat as well.
What is Profile Extrusion?
Profile Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed through a die of the desired cross-section. The two main advantages of this process over other manufacturing processes are its ability to create very complex cross-sections, and to work materials that are brittle, because the material only encounters compressive and shear stresses. It also forms parts with an excellent surface finish. Profile extrusion can include solid forms as well as hollow forms. Products ranging from tubing to window frames to vehicle door seals are manufactured this way and considered profile extrusion.
What is its relation to Masterbatch?
High volume manufacture of products that are manufactured through profile extrusion include:
• Pipe and tubing
• Vinyl siding
• Window profiles
• Automotive side moulds and bumper strips
• Electrical conduits and cable protectors
• Gutters and downspouts
• Refrigerator seals and other appliance trim pieces and accessories
• Zip strip re-sealable plastic bags
• And many more too numerous to mention
All of these require masterbatches for imparting properties and/or colours to them. The excellent dispersion and dilution that these products need can only be given by using masterbatches. One of the biggest masterbatches suppliers and masterbatch manufacturers in India, REPIN masterbatches says that profile extrusion and masterbatch go hand in hand. There are a very small amount of products that are manufactured by profile extrusion and do not require treatment with masterbatch in the process.
What kind of Masterbatches are required for products manufactured via Profile Extrusion?
Ultraviolet stabilizing additive masterbatches are required for long-term exposure to the sun, along with other specially formulated additive masterbatches, to ensure minimal fading over the life of the product. Other additives such as flame retardants, antistats, antimicrobials, and many others can be utilized to meet any requirements of this market.
Poly Ethylene Terephthalate, commonly known as PET, is one of the most popular and common thermoplastic polymer of the polyester family. Because of the huge application of PET in variety of products, PET Masterbatch is in high demand in the market. PET Masterbatch, as large masterbatch producers and masterbatches suppliers like REPIN Masterbatches will tell you, is predominantly used for making PET bottles.
But that is not all, these special masterbatches are also used in manufacturing sheets, straps and monofilament/injection moulding. Using PET masterbatches instead of the traditional way of creating PET products is preferred as it is easier, and the colours can be formulated into a vast array of bright & rich shades which frequently cannot be achieved the traditional way.
Other common uses of PET Masterbatch include:
• Straps: PET straps are used in packaging, baling, and for various applications in industry. A small percentage of PET Masterbatches go into making these straps. PET straps are a convenient alternative to metal wires and other such packaging aids.
• Sheets: PET sheets are widely used in packaging a range of products such as consumer products, pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, engineering items. If you have bought strawberries in season, you must be familiar with the transparent packaging it come in—it is made of PET sheets, which are produced using PET masterbatches.
• Monofilament: PET monofilament is mainly used for making mesh fabrics for screen-printing, filter for oil and sand filtration, bracing wires for agricultural applications (greenhouses etc.), woven/knitting belt, filter cloth, and other such industrial applications. PET masterbatches are used in its production.