What Role do Specialty Carbon Blacks Play in the Plastic Industry?
In the early stage of civilization, coal was adopted as the black pigment and was used to write letters in ancient China and Egypt. Lately, the development of several advanced technologies has made it simple to produce carbon black and has helped several industries, such as the plastic industry.
Today, specialty carbon black is seen as a high-tech raw material used in various applications such as printing, coating, and polymer. Due to the promising benefits of specialty carbon black, its application in the plastic industry has greatly increased.
Before jumping to carbon black plastic applications, let’s learn in depth about specialty carbon black.
An Introduction to Specialty Carbon Black
Specialty carbon black refers to high-end and refined materials that are manufactured by the burning of hydrocarbons in a restricted air supply.
Specialty carbon black is known as a black pigment, and it is one of the purest carbon black forms with a low level of metals, sulfur, and ash.
Specialty carbon black is prepared by using three processes, namely, lampblack, thermal black, and acetylene black. The common use of the specialty carbon black is reinforcing carbon agents in belts, tires, air springs, chassis bumpers, conveyor wheels, etc.
Although silica is the key substitute present for carbon black and acts as an obstacle to the specialty carbon black market growth, the specialty carbon black market is growing massively, despite such a challenge.
According to the BIS Research report, the global specialty carbon black market is expected to touch $6378.3 million by 2031 from a market value of $3645.0 million in 2021 and is anticipated to grow with a CAGR of 5.82% during the forecast period 2022–2031.
Application of Specialty Carbon Black in the Plastic Industry
Specialty carbon black is a versatile and important ingredient for the plastic sector. It can contribute to different areas such as electrical conductivity, protection from ultraviolet rays, opacity, and color.
However, the selection of carbon black completely depends on the requirements of the final products. Two important characteristics for defining the performance of the specialty carbon black are structure and practice size.
Specialty carbon black is mostly used in thermoplastic for achieving the following properties:
- Protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays
- Improved conductivity
Since thermoplastics are very rigid polymers, to get the desired result, it is a must to balance the specialty carbon black reinforcing effects with thermoplastics to have the required mechanical properties such as strength and elasticity.
Moreover, the contaminants of specialty carbon black such as sulfur, gritty, and ash, have many essential impacts on the mechanical properties of the thermoplastics.
For achieving the plastic application such as UV protection and color, specific carbon black is spread in the plastic at a much higher dosage, approximately 25% to 40% by plastic weight.
High-shear tools such as twin-screw or continuous mixers are commonly used for breaking carbon black into the required aggregate size and spreading them everywhere in the plastic.
These plastic products will then be diluted in a compounding stage which is approximately 0.5% to 3.0% for protective and mass tone applications.
Specialty carbon black is also used in many other key plastic segments such as
Use of Specialty Carbon Black in Molding
The use of specialty carbon black for molding applications can be found in multiple market segments such as household appliances, electronics, and automotive.
Each of the segments has its own requirements of specific carbon black for molding. However, surface appearance, strength, and color are the common requirements of each market segment.
In addition, the other properties that might be crucial for molding are UV stability and mechanical properties.
The key criteria for judging the performance of the specialty carbon black products for molding plastic application are:
- Color strength
- Blue tone
- UV stability
Physical cleanliness and dispersibility are the main attributes of the specialty carbon black that affect the aforementioned performance criteria for plastic molding applications.
The specialty carbon black enhances by reducing carbon black total size. It is likely because of the smaller aggregate with the more additional surface area available for absorbing the visible light.
Use of Specialty Carbon Black in Fiber
Fiber specialty carbon blacks are commonly used in multiple artificial extruded fibers. Commonly used resin systems are nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. The desired properties of using specialty carbon black in fiber are achieving a blue undertone and color strength.
According to the principal analyst of BIS Research, Shivam Priyadarshi, “The demand for specialty carbon black market is rising due to its increasing usage in plastics, battery electrodes, paints, coatings, and others. Many end-use industries rely on the unique properties of specialty carbon black to deliver performance characteristics, maintain the correct viscosity level, and provide UV protection, which is expected to boost the market growth in forecast years.”
Specialty carbon black is one of the most trending products of today. Due to its applications and promising benefits, its demand is constantly increasing in different sectors, such as the plastic sector and the automotive sector. In the future, specialty carbon black could be the best material to be used by multiple sectors for protecting their products against harmful UV rays.
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