New Clariant rotational molding lab promises fast color-matching and prototyping
- New lab in Toronto caters to North American rotational molders
- Equipment replicates typical production conditions for fast, accurate color development
- Dry color/additive combibatches deliver excellent appearance at low addition rates
The rotational molding lab was designed to replicate 'real world' production conditions at leading rotational molders, providing customers fast with prototypes of color-matched, multi-textured products in just five to seven days. The system is equipped with an automated shuttle arm that supports two clamshell-style molds. Several different molds are available to replicate common part configurations with various surface textures including smooth, matte and rough. The oven is powered by natural gas, the most common heat source used in rotational molding.
Equipment selection for the new lab was driven by the need for "precise and scalable color-matching solutions," explains Peter Prusak, Head of Marketing for Clariant Masterbatches in North America. "The unique characteristics of the rotational molding process make it impossible to achieve such precision with simulations using injection molding or extrusion," he explains. Even the oven fuel makes a difference: "Gas is real-world rotational molding. Most rotational molders use gas, not electric, ovens. Electric ovens do not simulate a real world experience."
The new equipment will facilitate rapid development of rotational molded parts, enabling customers to collaborate with Clariant technicians to:
- test critical properties and performance of a wide range of dry and liquid colorants, additives, and process aids with various resins including LLDPE, LDPE, HDPE, MDPE, and plastisols,
- evaluate part color characteristics across a range of surface structures and textures and wall thicknesses,
- validate the compatibility and scalability of customized color solutions with the customer's end process, and,
- quickly perform part color confirmation and, potentially, accelerate the process of part approval with scalable solutions that reduce or eliminate the need for extensive production trials at the end-molder.
Clariant's rotational molding product line features dry color 'combibatches' - highly concentrated pigments with custom performance additives - that mix readily with resin granules or powders. The dry color is highly loaded with pigments and the necessary performance additives so it can be used at an addition rate of only about 0.2%. Fillers are not used. This approach delivers the performance of a precolored compound without the time and cost of premixing, extrusion, and grinding that pre-colored compound requires. Because the same dry color formula can be used in a wide variety of parts that a molder might be making, inventory is kept to a minimum and working capital can be conserved.
The same ingredients - colorants and performance additives - are also available separately, and liquid formulations are in development. If a molder prefers them, Clariant can also produce pre-colored compounds, ready for molding.