What is masterbatch and how are they produced?
Masterbatch (MB) is a solid additive for plastics that is used to colour them or give them additional qualities. A masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of pigments and/or additives contained in a carrier resin and then cooled and chopped into granular shape using a heat process. Masterbatch allows the processor to colour raw polymer in a cost-effective manner during the plastics manufacturing process.
Buying a completely compounded material or compounding from raw ingredients on site are two alternatives to employing masterbatches. Masterbatches, in comparison to pure pigments, require greater storage space and have longer lead times. Another downside is that both the carrier and the additive are exposed to more heat; this may be crucial for pigments that are only marginally thermally stable.
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Because masterbatches are already pre-mixed, they eliminate problems like additive or colourant clumping or insufficient dispersion. In some ways, they're similar to ferroalloys, which are used to add alloying elements to steels.
The masterbatches can have high "let-down ratios" and be fairly concentrated. Masterbatches' dilute nature enables for more precise dosing of small amounts of pricey components. The compact structure of solid masterbatches' grains minimises dust issues that are common with fine-grained solid additives. In most circumstances, the masterbatch comprises 40-65 per cent of the addition, but in some cases, the range can be as broad as 15-80 per cent.
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The masterbatch carrier material can be wax or a particular polymer that is identical or compatible with the natural polymer. When a carrier other than the base plastic is employed, the carrier material may alter the properties of the resulting plastic; in cases when this is critical, the carrier resin must be specified. The masterbatch to base resin ratio is usually between 1 and 5%. It's possible to mix and match masterbatches. The carrier can be used as both a plasticizer and a processing aid.
Premixed granules of the host polymer and the masterbatch are normally supplied into the machines. The final mixing takes place in the machine's screw and extrusion section. As a free-flowing solid or in the case of a liquid masterbatch, the masterbatch can also be added straight to the machine's screw. The use of liquid masterbatches in this way allows for extremely precise dosing and colour changes between machine runs.
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Masterbatches are produced by following these processes;
- Twin-screw extruding
- Cutting and cooling