Liquid Color vs. Solid Color Masterbatch
For manufacturers in the plastics industry, one key decision to make is whether to use liquid color or solid color masterbatch. This choice of color for plastics will determine processing equipment, material handling options, material disposal, and inventory considerations.
Solid color concentrates and masterbatches contain pigments pre-dispersed in a solid resin compatible with the primary resin used in the manufacturing of an article. In contrast, liquid color masterbatches are pigments pre-dispersed in a compatible liquid carrier. The pros and cons of liquid vs. solid color masterbatch are worth discussing. Where nearly all plastic manufacturers will have the capability to utilize their current material feeding and blending systems for solid colors, it is less common to have the liquid metering systems necessary to work with liquid color concentrates. Most masterbatches, solid or liquid, are used in low amounts or let down ratios. This necessitates the use of precise feeding technologies. As a result, additional expenditures on metering equipment may be necessary for producers choosing to use liquid color. Liquid color is typically introduced late in the screw profile allowing somewhat faster changeovers compared to solid color, which is usually fed in the main feed port. Spills of liquid color are significantly more difficult to clean up compared to solid color.
Storage and disposal considerations are essential when using liquid or solid color masterbatch. Unlike solid color masterbatch, the pigment in a liquid color can settle if stored for too long, so agitation is required before use (think shaking or stirring paints). This means that shelf life and inventory management are more significant concerns for liquid than a solid color. Disposal concerns also exist for liquid color that do not exist for solid color – the amount of residual material left in packaging from metering can be significant. This residual is unusable unless it is combined with new liquid color. This presents safety and quality concerns when mixing multiple batches of liquid color in-house. In addition, liquid color can be considered a hazardous waste depending on local regulations, meaning that disposal of containers or unused material can be expensive and time-consuming. This also presents another issue when there are spills – liquid color flows, making clean-up and containment significantly more difficult than the simple sweep-up or vacuuming of spilled solid color masterbatch.
There are other points and counterpoints to be made, both for and against each type of delivery system, and if you are considering one over the other we recommend you conduct thorough research into all topics that might be relevant to your business.
It's crucial to build a relationship with a masterbatch company that is willing to provide their expertise in handling your needs when considering adding a color masterbatch to your process. Contact a Colortech sales representative today.