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Top 5 Innovations for Colored Plastics Applications

Donald Rosato & Don Rosato – Nov 6, 2017

High Performance Functional PigmentsAs a general rule of thumb, consumer preferences drive color or pigment trends in plastics product development from both the basic material formulation and end use application design perspectives.

Functional pigment trends may include complex color looks, surface texturing effects, manufacturing process efficiency, sustainability enhancement, FDA or medical regulatory compliance assistance, and plastic waste minimization.

The recent developments in functional pigments are redefining the role they play in plastics well beyond that of appearance over a wider range of polymers (engineering plastics, high heat, bioplastics…).

Let’s take a look at some versatile color and pigment functional trends...



1. Shepherd Color's YInMn Blue Pigment


A new shade of blue color pigment referred to as YInMn Blue is being readied for commercialization in plastic pigments and coatings by Shepherd Color Company under license from Oregon State University in the U.S. Chemically speaking the YInMn Blue is composed of following elements:

  • Yttrium
  • Indium, and
  • Manganese combined with oxygen

This unique blue color was discovered quite accidentally at Oregon State University when manganese oxide was heated to 1,200°C (2,190°F) for electronic property evaluation purposes. This intense blue pigment is extremely stable, exhibits high Ultra Violet (UV) absorbing capability, and displays high reflectivity within the near Infrared (IR) light spectrum region.

It compares very favorably, color intensity wise, to standard cobalt blue pigments. Also, YInMn Blue color intensity can be tailored as a function of the indium to magnesium ratio.


The 'Green' & Energy Saving Applications of Specialty Blue Pigment


In terms of plastics end-use market development this specialty blue pigment is expected to play a role in green building applications. It can assist in energy saving building end uses, both in new and retrofit construction, such as:

  • Exterior roofs
  • Walls
  • Window / skylight frames, and
  • Tinted plastic (polycarbonate, acrylic) glazing

Cool surfaces will save energy by reducing air conditioning costs, minimizing under roof insulation, and shrinking attic ventilation components.
Shepherd Color YInMn Blue Pigment
Shepherd Color YInMn Blue Pigment


Traditionally, white colors are used in commercial buildings; but dark blacks or greys are residentially preferred. Recycled plastic based roof shingles are gaining in market importance due to their lower weight and reduced installation cost versus asphalt systems. This allows these tailored darker blue pigments that closely emulate darker blacks and greys to replicate conventional roof shingles.

The YInMn Blue high-performance pigment compared to standard dark blue pigments in preliminary outdoor tests generated less heat (195°F for standard dark blues versus 170°F for YInMn Blue). Additionally, YInMn Blue has three times the solar reflectance of standard dark blues. This will greatly assist YInMn Blue in gaining LEED and Energy Star certification.


2. Teknor Color's MarTek Anti-wear Discs


Teknor Color has incorporated a functional, built in, MarTek, mar resistant additive across its color range for PolyCarbonate (PC) masterbatch formulations used in frequently handled, end use applications, such as:

  • CD / DVD discs
  • Medical / consumer electronic devices, and
  • Handheld equipment, like: Bar code readers

Plastic processors do not need to add a second additive, thus assisting in consistent part to part coloring. No surface marring. In terms of depth reduction, occurred over a 3-10N (Newton) applied force range, and was 70 percent reduced in the 15-20N segment.

Teknor Color MarTek Anti-wear Discs
Teknor Color MarTek Anti-wear Discs


3. Merck KGaA's Iriotec® 8826, Laser Marking Pigment


Merck KGaA has commercialized a unique laser marking pigment called Iriotec® 8826. It is supplied in powder form, has a fast reaction time, and has virtually no effect on the base plastic color. It possesses two key benefits, namely:

  1. It is ideal for the dark laser marking of colored plastics: Iriotec® 8826 when blended into the given plastic remains color neutral. It remains invisible until an infrared laser source is surface applied. Once an infrared laser source is applied, even at very low concentrations; a very dark contrast results. For example, this first benefit is quite helpful in electrical cable labeling, particularly in large cable bundles where different electrical color coding is commonly used.

  2. It enables laser marking for polyethylene film: Iriotec® 8826 can be uniquely used for the first time to label polyethylene film. For example, this second benefit can provide anti-counterfeiting capability in plastics packaging. Furthermore, Iriotec® 8826 does not require any surface preparation and cannot be removed.

Merck KGaA 8826 Laser Marking Pigment
Merck KGaA 8826 Laser Marking Pigment


4. Foster Corporation's MediBatch Pigment Color Range


Advanced medical plastic material formulator and device manufacturer, Foster Corporation has commercialized twelve MediBatch color concentrates. This pigment color range is based on based on FDA 21CFR 7 (U.S., Food and Drug Administration 21, Code of Federal Regulation 7) and 74 subpart D compliant pigment additives to support medical device application development.

Pigments are available in small quantity ranging from 1, 5, and 10-pounds, well blended with a broad range of medical plastics (i.e., nylon, thermoplastic polyurethane) working off a universal carrier, and are also available as colored compounds. Pigment variants include:

  • Green
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Violet
  • Black, and
  • White
Foster Corporation MediBatch Pigment Color Range
Foster Corporation MediBatch Pigment Color Range

The MediBatch pigments are biocompatibility test qualified as regulation defined by ISO (International Standard Organization)-10993, for both the pigment additive and polymer base.


5. PolyOne's & Merck KGaA's IM3D Surface Imagery Technology


PolyOne worked together with Merck KGaA to develop IM3D. It is a 3D surface impression technology for use in creating surface depth in plastic packaging and consumer electronic devices, although the surface remains flat.

Previously to generate such a design effect required multiple process steps. With IM3D one-step injection molding is all that is required. PolyOne has optimized an over molding process step for customers using Merck KGaA metallic with pearlescent pigments.

Basically, IM3D is a decorative technology that can easily be integrated into injection molding manufacturing. Applications also include bottle caps, interior automotive components, and sensor housings.

PolyOne Merck KGaA IM3D Surface Imagery Technology
PolyOne Merck KGaA IM3D Surface Imagery Technology


Pigment Professionals: Stay Alert!

Stay updated on latest advances in high performance functional pigments technology to identify where the true potential & new opportunities exist for you and make better R&D decisions. join the course: High Performance Functional Pigments: Latest Innovations & Opportunities on Nov 30, 2017

High Performance Functional Pigments



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