Masterbatch (MB) is a solid or liquid additive for plastic used for coloring plastics (colormasterbatch) or imparting other properties to plastics (additive masterbatch). Masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of pigments and/or additives encapsulated during a heat process into a carrier resin which is then cooled and cut into a granular shape. Masterbatch allows the processor to colour raw polymer economically during the plastics manufacturing process.
As masterbatches are already premixed compositions, their use alleviates the issues with the additive or colorant clumping or insufficient dispersion. The concentration of the additive in the masterbatch is much higher than in the end-use polymer, but the additive is already properly dispersed in the host resin. In a way their use is similar to uses of ferroalloys for adding alloying elements to steels.
The masterbatches can be fairly highly concentrated (in comparison with the target composition), with high “let-down ratios”; e.g. one 25 kg bag can be used for a tonne of natural polymer. The relatively dilute nature of masterbatches (in comparison with the raw additives) allows higher accuracy in dosing small amounts of expensive components. The compact nature of the grains of solid masterbatches eliminates problems with dust, otherwise inherent for fine-grained solid additives. Solid masterbatches are also solvent-free, therefore they tend to have longer shelf life as the solvent won’t evaporate over time. The masterbatch usually contains 40-65% of the additive, but the range can be as wide as 15-80% in extreme cases.
The carrier material of the masterbatch can be based on a wax (universal carrier) or on a specific polymer, identical or compatible with the natural polymer used (polymer-specific). E.g. EVA or LDPE can be used as carriers for polyolefins and nylon, polystyrene can be used for ABS, SAN, and sometimes polycarbonates. When a carrier different than the base plastic is used, the carrier material may modify the resulting plastic’s properties; where this could be important, the carrier resin has to be specified. The usual ratio of masterbatch to the base resin is 1 to 5 percent. Several masterbatches (color and various additives) can be used together. The carrier can also double as a plasticizer (common for liquid masterbatches) or a processing aid.
Additive masterbatches modify various properties of the base plastic
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