Home » Value-added masterbatch for eye-catching packs

Value-added masterbatch for eye-catching packs

According to plastics industry experts, the global masterbatch market is turning a corner.

Growth may not be stellar, but the business environment for 2015 and beyond is looking more positive than it has for years. This presents opportunities for companies that have been carefully managing costs, judiciously investing in fresh developments and tapping into their customers’ needs to grow their businesses.

In South Africa, masterbatch specialists are playing a huge role in creating premium-quality, appealing brand packaging.

The significance of colour

‘Understanding the important role that colour plays in packaging and brand identity can assist manufacturers to maximise their brands’ impact on consumers, encouraging loyalty and increasing sales,’ maintains Natalie van Niekerk, marketing manager at Masterbatch SA (MBSA), a leading local manufacturer and supplier of masterbatch, pigments and performance enhancing additives to the plastics industry.

‘The psychology of colour is a powerful marketing tool, reflecting a company’s values or personality through brand image, as well as target audience preferences,’ Natalie continues.

‘The way colour is interpreted is dependent on personal preference, experience, gender and cultural differences. For example, white symbolises purity or simplicity in Western countries, while in Asian countries it’s associated with death and mourning. In Europe, purple is associated with royalty, unlike in China where royalty is represented with yellow. Everyone knows that blue is predominantly favoured for boys and pink for girls but, prior to WW II, pink was the recommended colour for boys and blue for girls!’

As a rule, marketing experts suggest that consumers prefer recognisable brands, and colour can ensure differentiation. Once brand recognition is achieved, trademark colours can also be modified to increase consumer interest. A classic example of this is the 1931 case of Santa Claus’s image being changed forever when Coca-Cola adopted Thomas Nast’s image of Santa in red and white. The colours were in line with the group’s branding and have since been entrenched in the minds of consumers worldwide.

Another factor influencing the effectiveness of colour is the perceived appropriateness of use with a particular brand or product. For example, brown is often associated with ruggedness, and green with environmental issues. Ironically, even the name of the colour can have an impact on its appeal with unusual names often preferred over plain – for example ‘salmon’ over ‘pink’.

‘Colour trends tend to fluctuate over time, so it’s important to keep up to date with market preferences,’ comments MD, Anthony van Niekerk. ‘Our advanced software provides an extensive colour library, and we follow colour trends. By providing premium-grade masterbatch and pigments, we ensure enhancement and protection of valuable brands.’

An ‘open-lab’ policy keeps MBSA’s technicians close to real-life complexities and challenges. Laboratory and technical support effectively deliver tailor-made solutions such as colour matching, product engineering, processing (including food contact safety) and traceability, in the shortest possible time. A special ‘wine glass and fork’ symbol displayed on MBSA’s distinctive product labels also provides assurance that products are heavy-metal free and can be used for direct food contact packaging.

‘We supply a broad spectrum of masterbatch formulations and additives including antiblock, antioxidants, antistatic, flame retardants, slip additives, corrosion inhibitors, antifog, processing aids and UV stabilisers, as well as thermochromatic, laser marking, antimicrobials and desiccant additives,’ Anthony continues. ‘Currently, effect pigments are increasingly used in packaging, especially for over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics and personal care products. These pigments include traditional pearls, as well as multiple reflection pearl pigments that create special colour effects depending on the angle of observation. Colours can also change, for example, from subtle turquoise to brilliant silver and metallic red.’

MBSA continues to maintain the highest industry production standards as validated by ISO 9001:2008; 14001:2004; 22000:2005 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications for quality, environmental, food safety and occupational health & safety management systems.

‘Our products stem from a deep appreciation for art and a passion for creating colour responsibly,’ relates Anthony. ‘We take pride in supporting local talent, promoting some of South Africa’s most accomplished artists to form the basis of our latest marketing campaign.’

As reported last year (PPM October 2014) a collaboration between MBSA, Kahn Morbee, lead singer of multiplatinum-selling local rock band, The Parlotones, and filmmaker, Mike Rix, culminated in a music video for ‘Days Like This’.

The MBSA team utilised masterbatch to construct the set for the stop-motion animation characters. Mountains, several cliffs and tunnels, a raft and a boulder were constructed from strands, while remaining elements, such as the lake, its border, grass and contents of the train carriages were created using masterbatch pellets.

The ‘Days Like This’ music video can be viewed on www.masterbatch.co.za.

Absolute colour and clarity

Judging by PlastiColors’ sales statistics, its recently-launched ‘miracle’ clarifying agent, PlastiClear, is taking the local industry by storm.

‘Ultimately,’ comments PlastiColors director, Michelle Fleming, ‘PlastiClear allows converters to produce polypropylene (PP) packaging with the same superior transparency, gloss and shine as plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS) and polycarbonate (PC). And it’s flexible enough for use in PP injection moulding, blow moulding and thermoforming processes for applications such as housewares, medical parts and packaging.’

Available in several colours that can be matched to individual requirements, PlastiClear isn’t based on traditional pigments, so there’s no need to make colour-specific machine adjustments. Additionally, colours purge out quickly and easily.

Colourless UV absorbers that won’t affect the clarity of a product are also available specifically for use in conjunction with PlastiClear, providing ultimate protection from damaging UV light for products such as food and beverages.

Other PlastiClear benefits include:

  • Increased processing speeds allow converters to make the highest quality parts at the fastest possible production rates.
  • Cycle time reductions up to 10% (compared to clear polymer production) offer increased production capacity and higher profits, while maintaining input costs.
  • Reduced warp and ovality results in improved isotropy and quality.
  • Low energy consumption is a cost-effective solution to the trend for low carbon footprint and resource efficiency. Processing at lower temperatures results in energy savings up to 10%.
  • PP has the least density of all clear materials, allowing the lowest weight and a sustainable cost alternative. For example, Starbucks discovered that PP cups use 15% less plastic than PET cups and emit 45% less greenhouse gas during production. Increased processing speeds also enable shorter production times, saving on electricity. PlastiClear is also recyclable.
  • PP doesn’t need drying, is non corrosive, and shows less risk of degradation compared to traditional clear polymers. On average, tooling costs for PP are 75% less than tooling for PET.
  • Improved stiffness and impact performance offers specific PP physical properties that combine balanced bidirectional stiffness with excellent impact performance to meet strict application criteria.
  • PlastiClear meets FDA requirements for use in food contact applications.

‘Most importantly, PlastiClear packs stand out on shelf and are preferred by consumers for their superior aesthetics and brighter colours, in turn enhancing retailers’ sales volumes and profits,’ concludes Michelle.


Super User