Masterbatch (MB) is a solid additive used for coloring (color masterbatch) or imparting other properties (additive masterbatch) to plastic. Masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of pigments and/or additives that is manufactured by encapsulation during a heat process or twin screw extrusion into a carrier matrix resin, which is then cooled and further cut into a granular shape. Masterbatch allows the processor to color raw polymer economically.

The alternatives to using masterbatches are buying a fully compounded material (which may be more expensive and less open to, e.g., color variability of the product) or compounding from raw materials on site (which is prone to issues with achieving full dispersion of the colorants and additives and prone to preparing more material than what is used for the production run). In comparison with pure pigments, masterbatches require more storage space, and their lead times are longer. Another disadvantage is the additional exposure to heat ("heat history") for both the carrier and the additive; this may be important, such as for marginally thermally stable pigments.[1]

As masterbatches are already premixed compositions, their use alleviates the issues with insufficient dispersion or clumping of the additive or colorant. The concentration of the additive in the masterbatch is much higher than in the end-use polymer, but the additive is already properly dispersed in the host resin. In a way, their use is similar to the uses of ferroalloys for adding alloying elements to steels.

The use of masterbatches allows the factory to keep stock of fewer grades of the polymer and to buy cheaper natural polymer in bulk.

The masterbatches can be highly concentrated (compared to the target composition), with high "let-down ratios"; for example, one 25 kg bag can be used for a ton of natural polymer. The relatively dilute nature of masterbatches, compared to raw additives, allows for higher accuracy in dosing small amounts of expensive components. The compact nature of the grains in solid masterbatches eliminates problems with dust otherwise inherent to fine-grained solid additives. Solid masterbatches are also solvent-free. Therefore, they tend to have a longer shelf life as the solvent will not evaporate over time. The masterbatch usually contains 40–65% of the additive, but the range can be as wide as 15–80% in extreme cases.[1]

The carrier material of the masterbatch can be based on wax (universal carrier) or a specific polymer that is identical to or compatible with the natural polymer used (polymer-specific). Polymers such as EVA or LDPE can be used as carriers for polyolefins and nylon, and polystyrene can be used for ABS, SAN, and sometimes polycarbonates. When a carrier other than the base plastic is used, the carrier material may modify the resulting plastic's properties, in which case the carrier resin has to be specified. The usual ratio of masterbatch to base resin is 1–5%. Several masterbatches (colors and various additives) can be used together.[1] The carrier can also double as a plasticizer (common for liquid masterbatches) or a processing aid.

The machines are usually fed with premixed granules of the host polymer and the masterbatch. The final mixing then gets done in the screw and extrusion parts of the machine. This is sometimes prone to adverse effects, like the separation of the masterbatch and the base material in the machine's hopper. The masterbatch can also be added directly to the machine's screw as a free-flowing solid or, if the masterbatch is liquid, by a peristaltic pump. Such use of liquid masterbatches allows highly accurate dosing and quick color changes between machine runs.[2][3]

Masterbatches can be used in most processes, except rotational molding, Plastisol, and other liquid resin systems.

Masterbatch productionEdit

Masterbatches are produced in accordance with the required standards in the plastics industry and, if provided, to customer specifications. The general process for the manufacture of masterbatches involves the following steps:

  • the identification and weighing of the required pigments and/or additives,
  • the mixing of these pigments or additives into a carrier resin or polymer by heat treatment and twin-screw extrusion,
  • the cooling and forming of the concentrated mixture into granules, powders, and other masterbatch vehicles, and
  • the bagging of the final product.[4]

Advantages of using masterbatches in plastic manufacturingEdit

Masterbatch is known to have physical property improvements for the final plastic products:

  • Productivity
    • Masterbatch can increase volumetric output (as a result of thermal conductivity and volumetric expansion at a given temperature). In addition, it has the ability to downgauge due to its higher physical properties.
  • Cost reduction
    • With the large percentage of CaCO3 powder in components, Masterbatch helps manufacturers reduce material costs by using less energy to run the machine due to a higher CaCO3 specific heat.
  • Masterbatch helps plastics improve many physical properties, such as
    • Toughness
    • Flexural stiffness
    • Adhesion
    • Printability[5]

Masterbatch is also used for applications where different levels of permanent electrical conductivity are required to prevent problems caused by static electrical charges.[6]

Applications of masterbatchesEdit

Additive masterbatches modify various properties of the base plastic:[7]

Masterbatch is used in the following areas:

  • Blown film and lamination
  • PP raffia/Yarn
  • PP non-woven fabric
  • Blow molding
  • Injection molding
  • Thermoformed sheet
  • HDPE/PP pipe extrusion
  • Polyester and Nylon yarn



  1. ^ a b c Kutz, M. (2011). Applied Plastics Engineering Handbook: Processing and Materials. William Andrew. p. 439. ISBN 9781437735147. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  2. ^ Whelan, A. (2012). Polymer Technology Dictionary. Springer Netherlands. p. 238. ISBN 9789401112925. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  3. ^ Wheeler, I.; Rapra Technology Limited (1999). Metallic Pigments in Polymers. RAPRA Technology. p. 59. ISBN 9781859571668. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  4. ^ "Masterbatch | Discover The Color Masterbatch Manufacturing Process & Technologies Online - Americhem". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  5. ^ European Plastic, Company. "The ways filler masterbatch benefits to plastic manufacturers".
  7. ^ "CESA Additive masterbatches" at the Clariant web site". Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2017-02-18.