Avoid These Three Mistakes to Get the Most From Color
Key misconceptions and common practices that keep processors from maximizing their color operations
Coloring polymers in any process gives a degree of freedom and flexibility that’s not possible with pre-colored polymers. Taking a savvy approach to both liquid and solid color maximizes these benefits and helps processors to stay competitive. Below are three common areas that can trip processors up when it comes to adding color.
Assuming that the choice between solid and liquid colorants is a black and white decision
Why it’s a mistake: Solid and liquid colorants each have certain applications where they make the most sense in terms of coloring effects, efficiency, and results. By ignoring one or the other, processors may also be turning their backs on greater productivity, better color quality, and even innovative special effects.
How to avoid it: Start evaluating applications with an eye toward the right color technology rather than relying on what type of equipment is currently installed. End-use applications are key to determining whether to use liquid or solid colorants, with the focus on the coloring method that will produce the highest quality finished parts.
Sticking to the tried-and-true colors and avoiding special effects or patterns
Why it’s a mistake: Better safe than sorry? Not always. By sticking only with what’s known, processors can stunt their growth or even give up market share to more innovative competitors.
How to avoid it: Take a serious look at what special effects are available and consider how they might be used to help OEM customers gain market share. Employing just a small amount of time exploring new options—metallic effects, camouflage, shimmers, and more—can pay off in terms of new and/or expanded business. If fear of the unknown is an issue, or if a former experience with metallics or pearlescents, for example, has created fear of using them again, consider asking your colorant supplier for ways to avoid these issues.
Treating the equipment needed for coloring as an afterthought or as a one-size-fits-all solution
Why it’s a mistake: This is really two mistakes, but they are closely related. In the first scenario, a processor gives little thought to the sizing and type of equipment that will be needed for a given application and color technology. This can lead to a less-than-optimum processing experience that also produces less-than-consistent results. In the second situation, feeding or pumping equipment is purchased for either solid or liquid color technology, and that same-sized equipment is used for every application.
There’s actually also a third potential pitfall here: A processor who purchases one type of equipment (liquid-color dosing or solid-color feeders) may wrongly believe their operation cannot accommodate the other type of color technology. This thinking limits the ability to apply the best color technology for each application, which in turn can affect quality and competitive ability.
How to avoid it: The answer here depends on the type of operation. Custom processors who serve more than one industry and offer multiple types of processes would be well served by investing in a range of pumps and metering equipment for liquid color, as well as various sized feeders for solid color. The specifics on sizing depend on the applications themselves as well as the size of processing machinery.
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