Canadian Plastics

Lifting the lid on new colors for 2010

If you're looking for an example of how not to add color, just check out any of the early classic black and white movies that were colorized in the 1980s to make them appeal to a younger audience. If you're wondering why Humphrey Bogart looks...

September 1, 2009   By Mark Stephen, managing editor



If you’re looking for an example of how not to add color, just check out any of the early classic black and white movies that were colorized in the 1980s to make them appeal to a younger audience. If you’re wondering why Humphrey Bogart looks green enough to play the Incredible Hulk, that’s the reason.

Fortunately for processors, today’s color suppliers are working with a much greater degree of sophistication to perfect the science of adding color to plastics packaging and parts.

And equally important to developing quality colors is developing colors that reflect current market trends, hopefully drawing consumers to products like the proverbial moths to the flame.

A good indication of what the trends and hot colors will be in 2010 can be found in Clariant Masterbatches’ ColorForward 2010 color trend and analysis guide. As part of its annual ColorForward research, Clariant examines several years’ worth of color matches, and uses the information to confirm its predictions about what’s most likely to happen in colorant trends a year or more in the future. “By looking at it systematically, there are trends that become apparent,” said Norzihan Aziz, head of Clariant ColorWorks in Singapore. “There are broad color trends, and we can also incorporate nuances from cultural and regional trends. Most trends go by feelings, and fashion can go by who shouts the loudest.”

SOFT & UNDERSTATED

So, what do the feelings and the shouts portend for 2010?

According to ColorForward 2010, the latest color trends demanded by end users will include hues that are soft and understated, while also deeper and more complex.

Major changes in the palettes from 2009 will include organic colors becoming deeper, the guide continued. With beige and brown coming into focus, the primary colors are expected to all but disappear, while yellows, blues, reds and purples will remain popular.

Digging a little deeper, Clariant predicted that yellow will trend towards green, blues will become lighter and fresher, reds will move more towards pink, and purple will shift toward violet and lilac.

Green is forecast to be a particularly popular choice, due to its connection to all things environmental. “Green is still there from 2009, but it’s becoming more complex,” explained Clariant ColorWorks designer Cristina Carrara. “There are changes on the surface, and in how we interact with the color.”

Clariant has identified four sociological themes that it believes will affect consumer color choices in 2010, each linked to Clariant colors: “Reinventing Happiness”, based around consumer desire to create a peaceful home environment, reflected in Clariant’s Goldiva dark chocolate brown color; “Tech It Easy”, where society is more open to technology’s ability to meet our needs; “Embracing Gaia”, using shapes, forms, functions, colors and visual effects drawn from Mother Nature; and “Age Shock”, as aging baby boomers continue to enjoy active lifestyles while young people look for ways to display their style and sophistication, reflected in a fuschia color called Transition.

But these aren’t the only color trends forecast for 2010. “Functional colors, put in the package to protect the contents, are coming into style,” said Dwight Marshall, sales and marketing manager with Holland Colours Americas Inc. “Amber color is used for beer, for example, while white colors are found in dairy packaging.”

According to Marshall, Holland Colours has designed a special white colorant for use in monolayer PET in ultra high temperature (UHT) milk packaging. “With the use of Holcomer UHT, packaging manufacturers can now utilize the premium appearance and the mechanical strength of PET, along with processing efficiency in preform and bottle production,” Marshall said.

GETTING TOUGHER

It’s not enough for today’s new colorants to simply look good on the store shelf. Long lasting colors on packaging that’s stored for longer periods of time, or under difficult conditions, send a message about the quality of what’s inside the packaging — which is why brand owners want colors that can stand up to the elements.

The Arctic Infrared Reflective Pigments line from Shepherd Color is designed to withstand the toughest conditions by reflecting the sun’s energy away from an object to keep it cool, preventing warping and distortion by reducing thermal expansion and contraction. According to Shepherd Color, the pigments are suitable for all types of polymers, and are typically used in PVC, engineered resins and polyolelins. “Arctic pigments can be used in a vast array of applications including siding, fencing, railing, decking, window profiles, roofing membranes, polymeric roof tiles, automotive interior and exterior parts, patio furniture, outdoor playsets, and recreational items such as kayaks and pools,” the company said.

BIOPLASTICS NEED COLORS, TOO

In addition to improving standard pallettes, colorant suppliers are continuing to delve into one of the biggest new markets of all: bioplastics.

The increased use of biodegradable resins offers a new generation of materials, colorant suppliers say, with new properties compared with traditional plastics. The main advantage of these materials is that they can be organically recycled through composting. Different biodegradable resins are commercially available, including starch, PLA, PHA, PHBV, PBS, PBAT, and blends of these different polymer families. A particular challenge, however, lies in developing colorants that will meet the wide range of industry requirements and legislation surrounding the bioplastics industry.

According to PolyOne, their OnColor BIO colorants for biodegradable polymers have been designed with these criteria in mind, while still offering a full range of color choices. Based on sustainable raw materials, these color concentrates meet several global industry and composting standards, PolyOne said, including EN 13432 (European Union), ASTM D6400 (U.S.), BPS GREENPLA (Japan) and DIN CERTCO (Germany). Each of these color concentrates is based on biopolymer carriers, and can be used at normal loadings and dosed in the standard way.

OnColor BIO colorants can be processed by injection, extrusion and blow molding processes, and are used in a wide variety of end-use applications.

“The OnColor BIO line is designed to enable processors and product designers to deliver sustainable products with low environmental impact,” PolyOne said.

The company also offers OnColor Smartbatch BIO concentrates, which combine OnColor BIO colorants and OnCap BIO additives into a single masterbatch.

Telles, meanwhile, has collaborated with Teknor Color Company to develop new color concentrates for use with Mirel resin. Telles is a joint venture between Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland Company that has already developed a family of bioplastic materials, called Mirel, which it claims has the physical properties of petroleum-based resins.

According to Metabolix, the new color concentrates are formulated for use with Mirel base resins, and meet ASTM D6400 and EN 13432 standards for compostability and biodegradability.

The new Mirel colorants are designed for use on a wide range of injection molding, sheet, film and thermoforming applications.

And there’s no doubt where the demand for bioplastic colorants is coming from. “Teknor developed this series of color concentrates for use with Mirel PHA in direct response to consumer demands for a wider range of bioplastic colorants,” said John Wood, technical manager with Teknor Color. CPL

Resource List

Clariant Masterbatches Division (Toronto); www.clariant.masterbatches.com; 416-847-7000

Holland Colours Canada Inc. (Toronto);
www.hollandcolours.com; 1-800-723-0329

PolyOne Canada Inc. (Mississauga, Ont.); www.polyone.com; 905-405-0003

The Shepherd Color Company (Cincinnati, Ohio); www.shepherdcolor.com; 513-874-0714

Teknor Color Company (Pawtucket, R.I.); www.teknorapex.com; 1-800-556-3864


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