Friday, September 21, 2007

UV Masterbatch

I am a chemical engineering student studying plastics and its color imparting component called masterbatches. Now plastic is everywhere around us but we have never thought how much sophistication and precision is involved in making masterbatches. For a clearer understanding of Ultra Violet masterbatches, my college sent me and a group of

four students to a masterbatch manufacturing company to see how UV masterbatches are made and what are their benefits.

UV masterbatches find their use in food grade applications, agriculture films, auto plastic applications, synthetic fibres like PP, PET and Nylon. They are considered superior in quality for food grade applications as they prevent loss of moisture, taste and color of food when they are exposed to sunlight. Their main advantages are their low volatility, extraction resistance, excellent performance alone as well as in combination with other stabilizers. They provide a longer service life.

The demand for UV masterbatches is high and growing. Companies like RP industries are in the top race to manufacture highest quality UV masterbatches.

It was really interesting studying plastics. It fetched me the highest grade in entire college. So much so that I am thinking of making a career out of them. If you have any comments or want to share your knowledge, pls do write. I would welcome your feedback.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Masterbatches…The Current Buzzword in Plastic Industry

I find this masterbatches thing quite fascinating. Have you ever thought how the plastic which we use in our day to day life gets its color from? It is masterbatches which imparts color to the plastics. As a result of exploding demand for plastic, the demand for color masterbatches is sky rocketing.

My research and the people at RPIndustries (the leading additive masterbatches exporter and manufacturing company where I dug info for my school magazine article) are telling me that there is a huge growing potential of masterbatch business in Asia. The demand has grown from just under 90,000 tons in 1990 to nearly half a million tons in 2004.

There are many factors responsible for its growing use. Many plastics processors in Asia are supplying to Western or Japanese OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or the export markets in West who have a very specific requirement and demand in terms of color match and performance. They manufacture and supply masterbatches keeping in mind the standards and quality that these markets demand.

Nowadays there is a wide variety of colors to choose from. The color masterbatches manufacturers keep a record of every tiny little detail of the compositions of masterbatches and processing conditions. This helps in reproducing the same masterbatches at anytime in future without any deviation in color shades or other properties.

Not just color masterbatches but demand for additive masterbatches is also on the rise. This is mainly due to increasing use of color and special effects to differentiate products. Plus, the requirement for improving performance criteria from polymer materials in terms of features such as UV stabilization, flame retardancy, etc., has also been growing rapidly. Ultra violet masterbatch demand is also very high.

This brings us to the end of the series. I hope it is of any use to you people. At least it gave me a chance to revise and share with you all the amazing stuff I learnt about this technology, about which honestly, I had no clue earlier..

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Food Tasting Bad?..May Be It Is The Packaging

Hi friends. I am back with more material on masterbatches, the coloring and special function imparting agents in plastics. Thanks for the support and comments, they are really justifying my hard work, which truthfully I thought had gone down the drain.

In my last two posts I talked about the types of masterbatches and the points to consider while manufacturing them. Now I will discuss the role of colorants and additives in food & beverage packaging.

Plastic packaging is boon for food and beverage industry. Not only does it keep the contents fresh for long but also attractive packaging makes them irresistible for the consumers. But is the packaging really beneficial to the consumers? No point arguing that the plastic packaged content is usable for long (let’s not go to the pros and cons of that) but plastic, especially colored plastic does something to the food and all, doesn’t it?

Plastic packaging can alter the taste and odor. More often than not it is subtle, but sometimes the change can be major and irritating. Take a neutral product like bottled water; it is really susceptible to organoleptic influences.

Given the resources that go in creating compelling products, the last thing manufacturer need is to have a plastic package skew the taste and odor of their offerings.

From the knowledge gleaned from interaction with RPindustries functionaries (the guys I approached to research for my doomed school magazine article) I can safely say that understanding the interaction between resins, colorants, and functional additives and product taste and odor is essential to being able to limit the organoleptic interaction between the plastic package and its contents. It is especially necessary for masterbatch suppliers and others involved in compound formulation.

The best move toward is to choose an “organoleptic-friendly” colorant and avoid the use of functional additives. Moreover colorants require careful selection because of their certain chemical composition which might be more problematic than others when it comes to taste and odor. Many masterbatch manufacturers avoid or at the very least put strict limits on compounds that contain either chlorine or sulfur due to their potential to cause sensory issues.

Several other factors can affect the organoleptic honesty of a package such as the choice of carrier resins used in masterbatches. These should be neat resins that are free of low-molecular-weight components.

Amazing, isn’t it! Just a little (to be frank hell lot of it!) study and we know why our plastic packaged food tastes bad. Now it is up to the plastic manufacturers and the masterbatch suppliers to ensure that plastic packaging just alter the looks of a product not its taste.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Factors Affecting Devlopment of Masterbatches

Hello friends. I wish you memorize me. Last time I wrote about plastic industry and masterbatches. This time I am going to fling some light on development of masterbatches.

Honestly, unless you see for yourself the manufacturing process of masterbatches, it is tough to imagine just how much of technology and hard work goes into getting the formulations right. We, most frequently don’t give a second thought to the packaging, marveling at the most at the attractive colors and designs that make give the product a hard-to-resist “pick-me-up-please” kind of look.

It took me a visit to RP industries a Delhi based masterbatch exporters, supplier & manufacturers, to open my eyes wide to the various factors affecting different aspects of formulation. A idea of whatever I learnt over there is here for you:

Formulations differ depending on whether a supplier is designing a new masterbatch or copying someone else's. It is measured best to be involved at the color conception stage where it's possible to optimize formulation choice. Their difference also depends upon whether they are manually designed or computer generated.

Depending on the formulations, the cost of masterbatches also differs. Sometimes formulations over specify performance, and thus become more expensive. Contrarily, they can generate borderline performance to minimize cost. Buying power, production costs and general operating costs, formulations, opacity and pigment loadings are other factors affecting the cost of masterbatches.

There are many factors which influence the performance of masterbatches such as processor machine type its size, capacity, screw-type. Some suppliers prefer to use extenders and some don’t. The ability of a color masterbatches to mix into the polymer varies depending upon its viscosity and flow.

Bulk density and specific gravity variations can occur if distinct base ingredients are used. This can cause further difference in the end result if gravimetric or volumetric dozers are used at the processor.

I was also made aware of the importance of asking customers before formulating about the specification, application and commercial parameters in order to craft a tailor-made masterbatch.

This is attractive much all I could appreciate, rest was some very technical blah blah. Hope, you guys can explain the procedures further in simpler language, so that novices like me can understand the whole process better.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Color Masterbatches - The Color in Plastics

Hi all. MY name is Rahul Kumar. I am an Indian student studying in 12th slandered in a New Delhi based school. I am also the editor of our school magazine. Previous month I was writing for the article based on plastic manufacturing company. The focus of the article was on the environmental impact of the plastic.

During research for that article I got intrigued by the coloration procedure of the plastic. I then determined to give a new dimension to my article, about the coloration process and technologies concerned. It made sense because harmful or not we can’t wish away the plastic from our lives, it is so damn helpful, but we can make ourselves conscious of the basics of manufacturing process so as to make use of the plastics more cautiously.

With this point in mind I decided to come close to my principal with request to visit a manufacturer of international repute which can give me an idea of best practices in the industry. We decided upon visiting RPindustries the manufacturer and exporter of the additive masterbatches, the basic component to color raw polymer cost-effectively during the plastics manufacturing process for all kinds of polymers.

Due to space crunch we could not squeeze the article in our magazine, but it would have been a terrible waste not to do anything with the research. Therefore through this series of postings I would like to make my work see the light of the day, and may be help some of you curious souls understand the plastic especially colored one.

Let’s start with description of masterbatch and its types.

Masterbatches are used to insert colors and impart special properties to plastic products. Cost of masterbatch is hardly 1-2%in final plastic product but its quality is very important for durability and functional properties of the product. A Masterbatch contains polymers, additives and colorants specifically formulated together to provide either a general or specific function.

Master batch products are separated into two major types.

  • The pigment master batch to color the plastic.
  • The functional additive master batches make the plastic capable of certain performances like making them heat resistant, weather resistant etc. Some of the functional master batches are UV Masterbatch, antifog agents, antiblock agents, antistatic agents, etc.

Interesting? Well read my next postings for more information on masterbatches, coloration process.