Color, Combi or Additive Masterbatches (including antistatic masterbatches) with solid or liquid carriers aim to color (colored masterbatches) or to confer other properties (additive masterbatches) to plastics.
Masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of pigments and / or additives encapsulated during a heating process in a carrier resin that is cooled and cut into a granular form. The Masterbatch allows the transformer to color natural polymer economically during the plastics transformation process.
The alternatives to the use of masterbatches are the purchase of a composite raw material (which may imply an increase in cost and less flexibility, for example, product color variability), or the mixing of raw materials on site (process potentially problematic with regard to the total dispersion of dyes and additives and prone to mandatory acquisition of materials in excess of the necessary ones). Compared to pure pigments, masterbatches require more storage space with longer delivery times.
As masterbatches are already pre-mixed compositions, their use avoids problems of agglomeration of additives or dyes as well as problems of dispersion. The use of masterbatches allows the transformer to acquire a smaller number of degrees of polymer, thus providing conditions for the purchase of raw material in scale.
Masterbatches can be highly concentrated (compared to the final blend), with high “reduction rates”. A 25 kg bag can process a ton of raw material. The relatively diluted nature of materbatches, when compared to raw additives, allows greater precision in the dosing of small quantities of high cost components. The compact nature of the solid masterbatch grains eliminates dust problems, which are inherent in refined solid additives.
Solid masterbatches do not contain solvents and subsequently tend to have a longer service life if they are not evaporated. The masterbatch usually contains 40-65% of additive, but the range can reach values between 15-80% in extreme cases.
The carrier of the masterbatch can be based on a wax (universal vehicle) or on a specific polymer, identical or compatible with the polymer to be transformed to transform. For example, EVA or LDPE can be used as a carrier for polyolefins and nylon, polystyrene can be used as a carrier for ABS, SAN and sometimes polycarbonates.
When a carrier of the masterbatch is incompatible with the raw material, the masterbatch can modify the properties of the transformed material, so whenever necessary, the transformer must specify the characteristics of the raw material.
The percentage of use of masterbatches in relation to the raw material is between 1 and 5%. Several masterbatches (color and additive (s)) can be combined. The transformation equipment is usually fed with raw material and masterbatch. The homogenization of both materials is verified at the end of the machine’s spindle stroke.
Sometimes the system is prone to adverse effects such as the separation of the masterbatch from the raw material in the machine hopper. The masterbatch can also be added directly to the machine’s spindle, as a free-flowing solid or, in the case of a liquid masterbatch via a peristaltic pump. The use of liquid masterbtches allows obtaining highly accurate dosages in addition to rapid color changes between productions.
Masterbatches can be used in most processes, except rotational molding, Plastisol and other liquid resin systems.
Electrostatic charges are typically caused by friction between two materials Static charging can disturb the continuity many processes. E.g. Static charging can hinder the opening of the tubular film during packaging processes. Often the static charging is the limiting factor for higher speed in these processes. In addition, a reduced static charging avoids dust pick up by the packed goods. As a result, the materials can be stored and eventually displayed in a more attractive way.
Internal antistatic additives are incorporated in the polymer matrix. The controlled incompatibility causes migration to the surface. There it forms a polar layer that absorbs water from the atmosphere. This layer is able to conduct / dissipates the charges (higher conductivity/ lower resistance and shorter charge decay time).
Important here is a balanced incompatibility to control the migration: a too high incompatibility gives a low anti-static performance, a too high incompatibility causes a greasy surface.
An alternative is the addition of conductive fillers as carbon black. These creates a conductive path in the matrix. Here no migrating additives are used. The anti-static properties are stable in time.