All You Need To Know About Plastic Colorants

All around us, there are plastic objects. From stationery to toys to kitchen containers, bottles, bags, and more – plastic is one of the most common materials we can see in different colors, shapes, and sizes. 

Plastic is originally colorless. It has to be colored with the help of pigments and dyes for plastics. There are various innovative ways to color plastic with different types of colorants.  There are two ways of coloring plastic:

  1. External coloring

This method colors the surface or the outside of the plastic. It involves processes such as printing, coating and plating. It covers the outside of the plastic with colors. 

  1. Internal coloring

Internal coating helps color plastic materials inside. In this method, the plastic colorants are mixed with the plastic. It involves the process of kneading colorants inside the plastic. 

There are different ways to color plastic. It can either be colored by using pigments or dyes. Both these are different and offer different results. Pigments are solid particles while dyes are soluble. Pigments are insoluble in plastic polymers. Plastic colorants require a simple mixing process. It provides a strong translucent or transparent color. In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into the different types of plastic colorants, the benefits of industrial colors and plastic dyes, the factors that should be considered to color plastic, and more such important factors.

Benefits of plastic colorants 

Plastic dyes do much more than just add colors to products. The colors of products have a direct impact on its visual appeal, its usability, and quality. The colors of products contribute to its quality. Products that look attractive and good add to its sense of usability and luxury. For example products such as home appliances, stationery, kitchen products, etc.

Colored plastic objects also help in identification and differentiation. For example, differentiating a box with a red cover from the blue. Similarly, it helps identify products such as beverage bottles, snack packaging, etc. The colors of some objects are universal. For example, gas pipes are yellow, while water pipes are blue.

Another benefit of industrial colors for plastic is they protect the contents inside the bottle or the packaging. For example, when the outside of the bottle or package is colored in a dark hue, it helps keep light and UV rays from damaging the contents.

Some dyes for plastic also help enhance the functionality of the product. Some plastic colors have the capabilities to improve weather resistance and protect the products or content. 

Types of plastic colorants

Masterbatch

This type of plastic colorant is in the form of pellets or grain. This type of colorant involves kneading as a process. The intensity of the hue can be changed by adding more pellets. The pros of this form of plastic dyes are: excellent dispersion, even and attractive coloring, and easy to handle.

Colored pellets

Colored pellets are colorants that are in the form of pellets. They are set at the same concentration as the final products. They do not need to be mixed with natural pellets. Colored pellets, also known as colored compounds, are easy to mix and produce the desired color. 

Dry plastic colorants

Dry colorants are in the powder form. They involve the process of mixing hues with metal soaps and other such substances. They are easy to produce and hence are cost effective. Dry colorants do have some drawbacks such as scattering, dirtying of the machinery, and they are difficult to measure. 

Liquid plastic colorants

Known as paste colors or liquid masterbatch, liquid plastic colorants are in the liquid form. They are used when the base resin is liquid. They are best suited for light and semi-transparent colors. They are easier to mix with plastic polymers and substances that are liquid. 

Factors of plastic hues that affect the results

Compatibility

When selecting a plastic colorant, it is critical to select the right type of colorant based on the compatibility of the colorant and the object which is to be colored. The chemistry of the plastic polymer and the chemistry of the plastic colorant have to be compatible with each other. If the two are not compatible, it can affect the result. 

Properties of colorants

Different types of industrial colors have different properties. These different properties of the colorant affect the plastic polymer. The size of the colorant’s particles, too, can have an impact on the result. Apart from the size, the chemical properties of colorants also have an effect on the final result.

Amount of colorant

Another important factor that must be considered when using plastic colorants is the amount of colorant. It is possible that an extra amount of color can have a negative impact on the process as well as the final product. Conversely, a lesser amount of colorants, too, can affect the final result. The amount of colorants used to color plastics should be used by following the correct measurements, formulas, and best practices. 

Procedure of coloring

Plastics can be colored with the use of industrial colors through many different processes. Some of them are masterbatching, compounding, surface coating, dry blending, etc. Each of these processes impacts the properties of the plastic in different ways. Hence, it is important to follow the right process when applying plastic dyes

Final thoughts

When applying colors to plastics, colorants have to be applied with care. There are a lot of factors that should be considered. The plastic colorant and the plastic polymers have to be compatible. Moreover, the amount of plastic dyes used has to be in check. More coloring agents might damage the plastic and less might not give the desired results. 

When applying plastic colorants, it has to be done by following the correct formulas and systems and best practices. Plastic colorants are used to color different types of plastic objects, industrial and domestic. Stationery, boxes, toys, furniture, kitchen and bathroom objects, plastic bags, are just a few of the everyday objects that are made of plastic.

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