Canadian Plastics

COLORANTS REPORT: Color Is Good

Color has become increasingly important in plastics manufacturing. This is especially true in the consumer, electronics, packaging and automotive markets. From a practical stand point, the trend has t...

February 1, 2002   By Michael Legault



Color has become increasingly important in plastics manufacturing. This is especially true in the consumer, electronics, packaging and automotive markets. From a practical stand point, the trend has translated to more product lines and services designed to make colorant use easier, more efficient and more cost effective.

Dow Plastics recently launched Promatch, a service designed to help processors convert from pre-colored resin to self-coloring at the machine when molding parts from engineering thermoplastics. The main benefits of converting to a self-coloring operation, says Plamen Angelov, Dow Engineering Plastics transatlantic marketing manager, are reduced material inventories and raw material cost savings through elimination of small-lot premiums. Self-coloring also improves process flexibility and the ability to customize or switch colors quickly in reaction to changing market conditions.

The benefits of self-coloring can be especially pronounced in the consumer electronics market, where the use of coloring effects has exploded and product lines generally have short life cycles, says Angelov.

“One customer who molds parts for vacuum cleaners did an internal analysis after introducing Promatch and found up to 1/3 of its pre-colored material in inventory was obsolete.”

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Promatch consists of three components: Dow’s complete line of neat engineering resins; color concentrates; and consultation service for guiding the customer through self-coloring implementation stages. The service includes a sample of up to 25 kg of color concentrate at no charge for the molder’s first trial. Color masterbatches can usually be delivered within two weeks.

“The advantage we have over color houses is that we are offering a masterbatch that matches the properties of our base resin,” says Angelov. “Very often we see with factory-colored material, customers are struggling to keep color matches over time.”

Plasticolors Inc. has begun offering customers an electronic-based service to speed the color matching process. The new service enables customers to submit an electronic lab work request (e-LWR) through the company’s Web site. To previously submit a lab work request for a specific project, a company had to manually supply information through sales and customer service. Lab work requests are used by customers to initiate color match, weathering, research or other specific tasks. Now, such requests are handled through the Web site. Plasticolors’ technical service and sales representatives can still stay in the loop by using the Web site to access the information and keep tabs on customer needs.

“This technology improves our service by giving customers more involvement through personal interaction in a work request process,” says Scott Becker, Plasticolors CEO. “We already have customers using this electronic, cutting-edge communication tool on a weekly basis. It is the future of colormatching and technology-based e-commerce.”

After the e-LWR is submitted, personnel in Plasticolors’ labs determine a project plan based on the information from the field including the customer’s requirements.

Designed for do-it-yourself coloring, Pantone Inc. is debuting the latest version of its Pantone Plastics Color System. Featuring a new selection of colors, the upgraded Plastics Color System is a color reference guide produced in plastic for plastics. It features selector chips which cover the entire spectrum. The Pantone Transparent Selector consists of 735 chips in two binders of chromatic colors, browns, grays and specialty colors. The Pantone Opaque Selector consists of 1005 chips in three binders of the same shades.

All that glitters

Teknor Color Company has developed an innovative coloring technology that more consistently eliminates swirl in rotomolded parts. The swirling or streaking is caused by static electricity generated by friction between the powdered resin mixture and the rotating mold. Conventional antistatic agents employ hygroscopic substances that draw on atmospheric moisture to dissipate charge. Teknor’s H2Stat system, however, possesses sufficient inherent conductivity to prevent static build-up in the first place.

“By eliminating variations that result from differences in humidity from day to day or from region to region, our H2Stat formulations enable molders to produce parts that are consistently swirl-free,” says Harry Howard, director of R&D. Howard claims that H2Stat is the first effective solution for static build-up in dry climates.

Englehard Corp. has introduced Firemist special effects pigments, the first line of titanium-dioxide coated glass pigments, which can be used to incorporate unique multi-colored effects in blends, strong depth effects and brilliant starlike glitter. The new pigments are part of the Mearlin pigment line, and are targeted for the transportation market, as well as for use in gel coats applied to personal water craft and recreational items such as skis, surfboards and in-line skates. Firemist pigments are available in white, gold, violet, red, blue and green in exterior and industrial grades. Exterior grades contain Englehard’s chrome-free weather treatment that enhances pigment weatherability and lightfastness.

Holcobatch, from Holland Colours, is a free flowing, dust-free pigment preparation with an average particle size of 500 microns. It is non-resinous, requires no drying time and can be used with very low let-down ratios, making it ideal for small and large production runs.

Milliken Chemical has introduced a line of liquid colorants for PET packaging applications. ClearTint color technology, first developed for clear polypropylene, can be used in a variety of PET packaging applications, including carbonated soft drinks, water, beer and other products. The colorants are easy to mix and available in a broad spectrum of colors.

PolyOne Packaging, a business team of PolyOne Corporation, has recently launched a new ComPETe jet black colorant with properties that facilitate use in two-step, stretch blow molding bottle applications. The new jet black colorant is available in both pelletized and Freeze-Dri forms and can be obtained in various lot sizes. According to Dan Martelli, marketing manager, PET, PolyOne Packaging Team, the new colorant is designed to function within the neat PET processing parameters in the SBM stage, the second step of the two-step blow-molding process. It is FDA-compliant and can be used in microwavable trays and dishes, as well as bottles used for personal health care and pharmaceutical products.

Elementis has unveiled its new TruColor range of plastics-grade, pigmentary iron oxides. TruColor pigments are manufactured to slightly wider specifications than the company’s premium-grade Kroma and Copperas products, but still meet extremely tight color tolerances, generally within one delta E variance from a given color standard, and from batch to batch. As with the company’s other iron oxide lines, TruColor is offered in yellow, red and black.


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