Polymer additives are what make plastic the overwhelmingly innovative material that it is in the 21st Century. As specialists in colour and specialty polymer additives, Matrix Plastics is committed to delivering a high quality, comprehensive masterbatch and compound service offering to polymer processors worldwide.
What are polymer additives?
Polymer additives are the ‘special effects’ of the plastics industry; they have been hugely important in the evolution of plastic into the most used material in the world today.
“In fact, our world today would be a lot less safe, a lot more expensive and a great deal duller without the additives that turn basic polymers in to useful plastics.” – British Plastics Federation
Additives are chemicals which are added to the base polymer to improve its processability, improve its life span, and/or achieve a desired physical or chemical property in the final plastic property. Additives can be introduced before or during the moulding process and are as simple to implement as colour.
Polymer additives provide a wealth of benefits:
Improving the processability of plastic
Making plastic aesthetically pleasing
Making manufacturing with plastic more cost-effective
Improving the safety of plastic materials
Enhancing the hygiene of plastic products
Increasing the working life of plastic materials
Increasing the sustainability of plastic
Types of polymer additives that Matrix Plastics specialises in:
Colour is considered a plastic additive because it is a pigment or dye that is added to the base polymer to achieve a coloured product. Being colourable is a huge advantage of plastic as a material. The two types of colour additive methods we concentrate on here at Matrix Plastics is compounding - where the base material is specifically coloured in a controlled process before moulding, and masterbatch - concentrated coloured pellets or liquid that are mixed with the base material as it melts during the injection moulding process. You can speak to one of our colour experts about which method is best for your application.
Sunlight exposure can cause plastic products to fade in colour, become brittle, change molecular weight, reduce impact resistance, affect elongation at break, and lose other desirable physical properties. This UV degradation can be combatted by UV stabilising additives; these can be in the form of light stabilisers (e.g. HALS) or UV absorbers.
Anti-static additives can reduce or eliminate the build-up of static electricity. An excessive build-up of static electricity (possible because most plastic materials are electrical insulators) can cause a multitude of issues such as dust attraction, electrical discharge and contamination. Anti-static additives lower the resistivity of a material so that charges are mobile.
'Antimicrobial’ by definition is a substance that will reduce or destroy the presence of microbes such as bacteria, fungi and mould. Increasingly in demand, in response to increased consumer awareness of hygiene, antimicrobial additives protect plastic against deterioration and reduce the potential for a microbiological attack. Antimicrobial additives can be used across a versatile spectrum of polymers without affecting the structural or physical attributes.
Mould release (slip additives)
Mould release / slip additives are specifically designed to improve the injection moulding process by reducing friction (which plastics naturally exhibit high levels of). An efficient part release from the mould can save time (and money), reduce scuffing and scratching and reduce the frequency of machinery and tool cleaning.
Impact modifiers are additives which can improve the durability and toughness of the base polymer. They can also improve tensile, weatherability, possibility and flammability properties, which can improve costs and product lifespan.
Laser marking / laser welding
This medical industry specific additive is becomingly increasingly sought after due to the benefits it brings to laser marking and laser welding techniques. Plastic laser welding reliably joins a versatile range of materials using no vibration energy, which means it is gentle enough to bond thin walls, complex shapes and embedded electronics whilst resulting in a superior finish. Laser marking is a crucial aspect of medical plastic processing for traceability and process control reasons. Laser marking/ welding additives improve the polymer’s ability to absorb the laser energy. We specialise in medical compounding at our Matrix Medical Plastics site – which you can find out more about here.
Fillers – talc, chalk, barium sulphate
Additives such as inert fillers can be added to polymer formulations to reduce costs and improve stiffness / hardness properties. Available in solid, liquid or gas form, these fillers replace expensive polymer resin by occupying space with less expensive compounds (without negatively affecting the material’s properties).
Glass-bead fillers are incredibly important additives for reinforcing polymers. Polyamide / nylon can be glass-bead filled in order to improve compressive and tensile strength, stiffness and heat deflection temperature. Compared to glass-fibre fillers, glass-bean fillers are easier to process with minimum warpage.
At Matrix Plastics, we can source, select and process the perfect additives for your application, considering the base polymer, the desired outcomes and the product / processing specifications. Get in touch with us directly to discuss your requirements or to request a sample.