Polymer Masterbatches: Definition
Masterbatches are commonly used in polymer processing to incorporate color pigments or additives and antimicrobials into the polymer resin or other liquid. A masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of an additive encapsulated in a carrier material, such as PE or PP. The carrier is typically a polymer resin in a pellet or chip form, but liquid masterbatches are also available for certain materials and applications.
Easier Incorporation of Additives
Masterbatches allow for less complicated addition through pellet-to-pellet blending or addition at the extruder. No specialized dosing equipment for minute amounts of powder is needed. It also reduces the precision of addition required to achieve the same addition rate in the final product. This concept is illustrated in the following example:
Option A would require 0.25 lbs of pure additive powder and Option B would require 2.5 lbs of 10% masterbatch pellets to result in 100 lbs of treated polymer. It is much easier to add 2.5 lbs of pellets than it is to add 0.25 lbs of powder to the processing equipment.
Improved Product Consistency and Process Stability
The use of an additive masterbatch also improves product consistency and process stability through better dispersion. To use the sample example shown previously, it is easier to achieve proper dispersion with the addition of 2.5 lbs of masterbatch than the 0.25 lbs of powder additive. This is an important distinction. Using masterbatches for more uniform dispersion can result in fewer rejected parts due to inconsistent color or other critical properties that negatively impact quality.
Safer Handling of Hazardous Materials
Many additives are hazardous or nuisance materials in pure form. Masterbatches encapsulate the additive in a polymer resin or liquid. This encapsulation reduces, or in most cases eliminates, the hazardous nature of the additive. It also removes the numerous potential hazards of handling powders. These characteristics result in fewer engineering controls needed and less required personal protective equipment (PPE).
In addition to being safer to handle, masterbatch additives are also cleaner. There is no color pigment or other powdered additive to waft, spill or statically attach to surfaces. The result is a cleaner production area, reduced cross-contamination, and potentially quicker transitions between different products.
Increased Additive Stability and Shelf-Life
The encapsulation of the additive in the masterbatch provides benefits to the additive as well. The masterbatch can help protect the additive from exposure to humidity, temperature and UV during storage. This can extend the shelf life of the additive significantly, which could reduce the cost of materials lost to degradation.
Easier Incorporation of Antimicrobial Technology
The Research and Development Team at Microban International strives to make antimicrobial technology incorporation as simple as possible for our customers, taking advantage of the extensive benefits of masterbatched concentrates. Over the years we have developed numerous custom antimicrobial additive solutions for our partners and have Microban technologies available for a wide-range of polymers and applications. Please contact us today to learn more about a solution for your application.