Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What’s the Difference Between Pigment and Masterbatch?

As a maker of color concentrates for a variety of polymeric products, exact color matches, lot-to-lot consistency, and color stability are extremely important to our customers. By having Americhem manufacture color concentrates (also known as masterbatches) for use in their manufacturing process, they are counting on us to handle critical aspects of coloring and maintaining color for their products.

We often hear people that misunderstand our part in the value chain and think that we make pigment. Dictionary.com defines a pigment as: 1. a dry insoluble substance, usually pulverized, which when suspended in a liquid vehicle becomes a paint, ink, etc. or 2. A coloring matter or substance.

Although Americhem uses pigments in our products, our masterbatch products can best be defined as a high concentration of pigments and additives encapsulated by a polymer. Instead of powdered pigments that are messy and must be cleaned from every surface that they touch, our masterbatches are most often made in pelleted form, like the picture you see here, and can be made as pellets and beads of differing sizes depending on what’s best for our customer’s manufacturing process.

You might ask if pigments alone can be added during the plastics producing process and the answer is yes. But it certainly isn’t what most plastic and synthetic fibers producers really do. Adding pigment by itself to these products does not disperse well in their equipment. Masterbatch is designed and engineered for optimal dispersion in a polymer matrix. Therefore, products made with masterbatch are consistent with one another and consistent from lot to lot, and even within lots. Masterbatches will give your products the ultimate opacity or transparency, depending on the desired effect. You realize full color value in your products because of the optimal dispersion of the pigment particles. You will also use less pigment when it’s delivered in masterbatch form because of masterbatch’s optimal, pure dispersion.
There are other advantages to color concentrates. Raw pigment can become airborne in manufacturing plants, contaminating other products being made on other manufacturing lines. Color concentrates are much easier to feed and handle during the manufacturing process. You can also match up the polymer you are coloring with the same polymer binder in the masterbatch for better melt processing. And because we make additive concentrates as well as color, we can create an all-in-one, multi-attribute masterbatches containing color and your choice of functional additives such as UV stabilizers, antioxidants, flame retardants and optical brighteners. So instead of having to feed many ingredients into your plastic processing equipment, you could use just one concentrate with predetermined ratios of ingredients to make your life a whole lot easier.
It has been said that masterbatch can be compared with Kool-Aid. A packet of Kool-Aid contains concentrated color and ingredients that give the drink flavor and aroma. When mixed with sugar and water (which are comparable to the polymer in plastics) these ingredients disperse evenly throughout the pitcher, making a drink that looks, smells and tastes great.
Consider Americhem your color and additives expert. If you’d like to explore other aspects of color, join the conversation and let us know by leaving a comment.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident

Throughout our company, safety is taken very seriously. In our company principles written by our founders and kept current through the years, our employee-related principles “require working safely at all times.” How do we live out this principle? By focusing on safety every day, and through continuous improvement to make sure that safety is top of mind at all times.

We’re proud of our safety accomplishments. Two of our plants currently have running safety records that have gone on for years. There have been no lost time incidents for 1,035 days at our Dalton,
Georgia facility and none at our Liberty, North Carolina facility for 1,556 days and counting. Each of our plants has its own culture of celebrating safety records and milestones which include luncheons and awards to groups and individuals.

We’re introducing new and enhanced safety audits at each of our plants this year, not only to maintain the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, but to exceed them. Americhem’s safety guidelines and best practices will be identified including any areas for improvement. Follow-up of corrective actions will be critical in these audits, making this a true continuous improvement process. We’re also working this year to improve our internal communications on the handling of raw materials. This work includes input from members of our executive committee and will be implemented with anyone who works with raw materials throughout our global organization.  

We’ve also implemented online training through Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) PureSafety® curriculum. This consistently keeps our safety message in the forefront of our employee’s mind. PureSafety is an interactive web-based training site with safety training based on OHSA regulations, Americhem guidelines and overall best practices in the manufacturing industry. The site is currently used for individual training, but our Texas facility is experimenting with team-based assignment viewing.

This is just a sampling of the current safety efforts at Americhem. We take a holistic approach to safety, mandating that everybody in every role within the company is trained to work safely and implements this into their daily work. Our overall goal is to create a fresh work environment where working safely is expected and encouraged, with success being recognized, shared and rewarded.

Mike Sibon
Corporate Safety Coordinator

Monday, August 17, 2015

ISO 14001: What it Means For You

At Americhem, we make a commitment to the public and the environment. We strive to maintain safe work practices that will not only benefit the environment, but also our community.

Since environmental responsibility is a key element in our company principles, we became certified to ISO 14001, a family of standards that helps companies and organizations focus on ways to responsibly operate and minimize impact on the environment.

What ISO 14001 Means

By following ISO 14001, Americhem and other companies follow a framework to help minimize negative impacts on the environment. It also means that we are constantly striving to find ways to improve our environmental management strategies and making for a better future.

How it Impacts Americhem

Currently, our Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio manufacturing plant, which handles a lot of our automotive products, is certified to the ISO 14001 standard.

Eventually, we will be moving to have all of our plants certified to help the environment and everyone in the surrounding communities. Some of the ways we reduce waste and energy usage is by:
  • Utilizing product development to engineer greener products
  • Implementing recycling programs
  • Developing more efficient supply chains
  • Preventing spill containment and practicing safe waste disposal
  • Improving energy efficiencies
  • Ensuring reporting requirements are met

We pride ourselves on offering high-quality, custom color concentrates while maintaining safe environmental practices. Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to see the benefits of working with Americhem for yourself.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What’s the Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Pigments?

Raw material science plays a big part in the quality of our products and our reputation in the industry. Since color is one of our core competencies, pigments are a very important material category. At a recent Americhem U color class, we were asked to define the differences between organic and inorganic pigments. Both play an important part in the world of colorants and both become an integral part of our color concentrates.

Organic pigments are based on carbon rings or carbon chains. Inorganic pigments are not based on carbon and could consist of metal oxides or other naturally occurring ingredients. From a standpoint of molecular structure, that is the primary difference, although organic pigments can contain inorganic elements that help stabilize the properties of the organic, carbon-based component. Chemically, you can see the carbon in the structure diagram below, representing Pigment Red 202. 

C = Carbon
Cl = Chlorine
O = Oxygen
N = Nitrogen

Inorganic pigments without carbon rings or chains look like this example - titanium dioxide. 

O = Oxygen
Ti = Titanium

Aside from the molecular structure, there are some generalizations that can be made about organic and inorganic pigments:

  •          Larger particle size
  •          Generally more opaque, with better ability to hide a substrate or base color
  •          Lower chroma, or brightness
  •          Generally more stable, for example, to light or chemicals
  •          Can be derived from minerals or metals
  •          Take less energy to fully develop, or disperse, the color

  •          Smaller particle size
  •          More transparent or translucent
  •          Higher chroma
  •          Generally less stable, particularly to sunlight and heat
  •          One class of organics are dyes
  •          Could be derived from plants and plant products
  •          Take more energy to disperse

Examples of inorganic pigments include titanium dioxide white or iron oxide red.  Examples of organic pigments include Phthalocyanine blue or green and Quinacridone red or violet. Despite the long, alphabet-spanning names, the common thread is that carbon is present in their molecular structure.

Consider us your authority when it comes to color. If there are other aspects of color that you’d like for us to explore, join the conversation and leave us a comment. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three Types of Woodgrain Effects in Faux Wood Products

It’s not always easy to get what you want. As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. For consumers, that can mean choosing between the natural look of wood and the maintenance-free benefits of composite products.

Fortunately, consumers don’t have to choose between the two thanks to Americhem’s realistic woodgrain effects in its nGrain simulated woodgrain technology. Our color masterbatches can help you provide a product that looks as good as the real thing, with three different effect types to keep your customers happy.

Faux Wood That Looks Real


In order to look like the real thing, your composite wood should mimic the real thing. That’s why Americhem can help your products attain the natural look of wood through these three effect types:
  • Arch – A domed woodgrain effect which has a curved or bowlike appearance
  • Cathedral – A woodgrain effect characterized by jagged lines or peaks to create a more realistic woodgrain effect
  • Chevron – A woodgrain effect shaped like an inverted “V”

Extra Benefits of nGrain and Americhem

In addition to making your faux wood look real, Americhem can help you in a variety of ways, including:
  • Custom solutions to fit your applications
  • Field and tech support
  • Collaboration through every step of the process

Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to learn more about how Americhem’s custom color masterbatch technologies can benefit your applications.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Color of the Month - Red

Red stimulates and is full of emotion. It can mean power or danger, passionate love or raging anger. It is the hottest of all the warm colors.

Red demands attention, no matter what sensation it represents. You can use it to make people take notice, and it conveys a sense of action. It is one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow.

Global Meanings of Red*

  • Red is second to blue as the favorite color of all people.
  • Red is the most popular color used on flags in the world. Approximately 77% of all flags include red.
  • Red is the international color for stop.

Unique Meanings of Red in Different Cultures*

  • Red is the color of good luck in Asia and is the most popular color in China.
  • Red is an auspicious color for marriage. Brides in India and Nepal wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolizes happiness and good luck.
Let us help you harness the power of red today, with all its subtleties, heat, and sophistication.