How Flame Retardants Work in Plastics

Flame retardants are chemical compounds added to plastics in order to prevent, delay, or slow down combustion, reduce smoke formation, and/or prevent the material from melt collapse (anti dripping). These additives are common in numerous everyday products to avoid the ignition and burning of plastics.

The most common flame retardants are halogenated compounds, which include brominated and chlorinated types. Halogenated flame retardants are highly effective at relatively low load levels. Non-halogen, or halogen free, flame retardants are increasing in demand and include intumescents (phosphorus-based) and metallic oxides. Non-halogen flame retardants require a higher load level, and often need additional adjustments to maintain the mechanical properties of the plastic.

One must consider several factors when selecting a flame retardant. Getting to the desired performance often requires a tailored solution with several trials.

  • What are the test requirements this part needs to pass (burn time, extinguish time, flame spread, smoke development, industry and government regulations, mechanical properties)?
  • What polymers and additives are used in the part?
  • The design, shape, and surface area of the part also play a critical role in combustion.

Flame retardant additives can be compounded with the base polymer or added during the plastic processing step. Sometimes combustion may be prevented by simply adding the flame retardant to a surface layer finish on the final product.

When plastic burns, long-chain molecules of the polymer chain are degraded into smaller hydrocarbon molecules and flammable gases, such as free radicals – a process called pyrolysis. For a fire to begin, fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source must be present. Flame retardants work by interfering or eliminating one of these key ingredients, either physically or chemically. There are a few common methods that flame retardants employ to inhibit combustion and below is a description of each.

  • Gaseous Inhibition: halogenated compounds such as bromines and chlorines are compatible with many base polymers and are the most common flame retardant additives. During pyrolysis, hydrogen and hydroxide free radicals are produced. During a fire, halogenated flame retardants thermally degrade, releasing hydrogen chloride and hydrogen bromide that react with the free radicals in the flame. These newly formed free radicals include the halogens and are less reactive than the original hydrogen and hydroxide free radicals, thus, suppressing the volume of reactive gases available for combustion reactions. Also, this process slows combustion which in turn cools the system, further reducing combustion.
     
  • Solid Char-Formation: this form of flame retardants is often comprised of non-halogen compounds using phosphorous and nitrogen chemistries. During a fire, these types of flame retardants react to form a thick, solid layer of carbon char on the surface of the plastic. This solid layer insulates and shields the plastic, creating a barrier that interrupts the combustion process by hindering the release of more reactive gases.
     
  • Endothermic Cooling: this class of non-halogen flame retardant includes metallic oxides/ hydrated minerals, such as aluminum and magnesium hydroxides. During a fire, these flame retardants use an endothermic reaction to remove heat and release water molecules. The plastic is cooled and limits the amount of reactive gases being formed, thus hindering the combustion process. The use of hydrated compounds as flame retardants is often limited by the low decomposition temperatures of these materials since plastics processing and manufacturing often occurs at high temperatures.

There are many factors to consider when selecting the right flame retardant for a given application including the base polymer being utilized, the specific government and industry regulations and standards that must be met, as well as the desired properties of the polymer such as viscosity and density. Selecting a flame retardant can be a tricky task, which is why it is important to choose a partner, like Amcor, that has extensive expertise in various flame retardants as well as experience with state-of-the-art compounding and blending processes. Amcor will guide you through the selection process to ensure the right additives are chosen for your specific application.

Amcor

Amcor’s flame retardant additives are called “Amout” and include both halogen and non-halogen types.

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches. Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations.

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


Blown Film Extrusion Process Explained

Blown films extrusion is one of many polymer manufacturing processes. This method is used to produce commodity and specialized polymer films that are typically used in packaging such as shrink, stretch, barrier films (used to protect deli meat), frozen food packaging, and shopping bags.

There are many types of polymers that can be used in blown film extrusion with the most common being polypropylene and polyethylene (LDPE, HDPE and LLDPE). This method can manufacture monolayer films as well as more complex multi-layer films that involve co-extrusion to combine more than one plastic into a single film.

Process of Blown Film Extrusion

Blown film extrusion can be complex so we will now explain each step of the process in detail! The first step is to melt the polymer in an extruder. Polymer resin, often in the form of beads, is loaded into a hopper and fed into a heated barrel with a screw. The screw is used to transport the polymer down the barrel. The beads are gradually heated to melt the polymer. The heat profile is an important part of extrusion as the polymer may thermally degrade if overheated. When the molten material reaches the end of the barrel, it is extruded through a die. It is at this point that blown film extrusion differs from other extrusion processes.

There are a few different types of dies used in blown film extrusion with the most common being annular, which is a simple circle die. The molten polymer enters the die head and air is injected via a hole in the die center to radially inflate the polymer into a thin tube that is many times its original, extruded diameter. It is this step of the process that can be adjusted to achieve the desired film thickness and width.

The hot tube film is then cooled, typically with high speed air, and pulled upward by equipment called nip rollers. On most medium to large size film lines, this vertical tube may extend several stories into the air. As the film cools it crystallizes at what is called the frost line. As the tube reaches the nip rollers, at the top of the line, the film is now cool enough to flatten and is then referred to as lay-flat or collapsed tubing. The film is then transported downstream by rollers for further processing (e.g. slit, printed, vented, converted into bags) and is eventually wound into rolls.

There are several advantages of manufacturing film using the blown film extrusion process including the ability to manipulate the mechanical properties of the final plastic based on the process conditions and base polymer(s) used. For example, blown film extrusion inflates the polymer radially while at the same time drawing the polymer upward with rollers. These forces stretch the polymer in both the transverse and draw directions, providing strength in the film. The extent of inflating and drawing can be adjusted to achieve the desired strength in the transverse and draw directions of the final product. Blown film extrusion is also versatile and able to manufacture a variety of single or multi-layer films with a range of film thickness and width.

Amcor’s Film Offerings

As a preferred supplier of plastic films and bags, Amcor has eliminated the distribution channel and sells direct to manufacturers. Lead times are typically 50% less than our competitors at around 2-3 weeks versus 4-6 weeks. With a wide range of capabilities and solutions, we are a vital partner in your company’s packaging success. Our film product offerings include:

  • Shrink, bags, tubing, sheeting
  • Widths up to 240”
  • Color and print
  • UVI, VCI, Antistat
  • Hand and Machine stretch Films
  • BOPP/Cast PP Films
  • Woven
  • Tape

In addition to plastic film and bags, we specialize in polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches. Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations.

We realize that on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


What is Specialty Compounding?

Within the plastics industry, compounding is the process of mixing and blending a base polymer with additives to manufacture a polymer blend that provides a specific set of properties. The compounding process is typically achieved via extrusion. The base polymer and the requisite additives are mixed and fed through an extruder. The screws of the extruder facilitate the melting and mixing of the polymer blend. The material, often now referred to as a compound or composite, exits the extruder via the die. The extrudate exits in long, individual strands that are often cooled using water baths or by spraying. After adequate cooling, these strands are cut into pellets and inspected as necessary for quality control. These pellets are then packaged and transported for further plastics processing such as injection molding.

Specialty compounding is a form of compounding that achieves a more customized and specific set of physical, thermal, electrical, and aesthetic characteristics in the final plastic product. While traditional compounding provides well-made products, manufacturers are turning to specialty compounding to ensure their products meet rigorous regulations and stand out from competitors. The possibilities are truly endless with specialty compounding!

It should be noted that specialty compounding is not a simple task and requires expertise as it demands precision as well as creativity. Amcor is a leader in specialty compounding solutions. Because we recognize that this process can be confusing, Amcor guides customers through each step of the specialty compounding process from product development through production including selection of the base resin, additives, fillers, and colorants to ensure the final product meets the customer’s unique and specific criteria. 

Properties Enhanced by Specialty Compounding

The first step when creating a specialty compounded solution is identifying the best base resin for a given application. There are many base polymers to choose from and each provides its own set of pros and cons. At Amcor, there are a variety of base resins to select from including polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene.

The next step is to determine which additives should be added to provide the requisite properties in the final plastic product. There are numerous properties that can be enhanced by specialty compounding and some of the most common are below.

  • Color: does the final product need a specific or unique color in order to stand out? Colorants can be added to modify the color – and there are numerous colors to choose from to achieve the specific look you desire!
  • Anti-static and conductivity: does the final product need to have anti-static properties? These additives are used to minimize the potential for static electricity build up on the surface of the plastic, and in some cases even prevent it entirely.
  • Flame retardance: does the product need to prevent, delay, or slow down combustion? These additives are common in electrical products to avoid the ignition and burning of plastics.
  • Anti-aging: nearly every plastic is prone to degradation when exposed to UV light, such as from sunlight, and oxygen including ozone. This degradation causes brittleness, discoloration, and loss of some physical properties. Additives, referred to as anti-oxidants, stabilizers, or anti-ozonants, are added to combat the deterioration of the plastic and to significantly extend the life span of the final product.
  • Sterilization and anti-microbial: will the final product be used in the medical field, such as an implantable medical device? If so, there is a good chance it will require an additive to protect against deterioration of the plastic and reduce the potential for a microbiological attack.
  • Odor: additive technologies have advanced significantly in recent years and manufacturers now have the option to alter the smell of the final plastic product! These additives modify the odor of the plastic to produce a more pleasing aroma.
  • Other physical properties: there are literally hundreds of additives and each one modifies a specific property of the final polymer. Some physical properties that are often enhanced are impact resistance, stiffness, wear resistance, as well as resistance to heat, water, and chemicals.

Amcor: Your Specialty Compounding Partner

Our state-of-the-art compounding and blending processes ensure consistent master-batches and blended products each and every time. Our technical team takes a “hands-on” approach and is knowledgeable with resins, additives, manufacturing processes, and equipment. Whether you are foaming, molding, manufacturing film, extruding, or thermoforming, Amcor can be a valuable resource by your side.

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches.  Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations. Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


Benefits of Polymer Processing Aidsl Amcor

Polymer Processing Aids (PPAs) are additives combined with the base polymer to improve the processability and processing characteristics of the material as well as improve the quality of the final product. More specifically, PPAs improve the melt processability and handling of the polymers and improve the appearance of the final product by removing flow marks and die lines.

Internal and external PPAs are very common additives and are often lubricants. Their primary objective is to reduce the friction between the melting, or molten, polymer and the metal production equipment –providing a smooth flow of material by improving flow characteristics such as viscosity. Internal processing aids improve the polymer flow properties by reducing friction within the polymer blend itself. External processing aids migrate to the surface of the polymer to reduce the friction between the plastic and the metal manufacturing equipment, allowing the melt to slip through the die or mold more easily without sticking. Internal and external PPAs can be utilized together to achieve the desired processing characteristics.

Polymer processing aids are used in many applications including blown and cast film processes, pipe and sheet extrusion, blow molding and compounding. Processing aids are very effective for use in the production of high viscosity, high molecular weight polymers such as LDPE, LLDPE, LDPE, HDPE, PP, PS, and others – and are found in a variety of products ranging from plastic bottles to construction pipe to films. PPAs offer significant benefits even at very low addition rates in the Parts Per Million (ppm) range. Additionally, processing aids are typically very stable and able to be used for high temperature operations.

Benefits of Polymer Processing Aids

As the name implies, polymer processing aids provide benefits during the processing of the polymer but they also provide benefits to the final product. In particular, PPAs improve the polymer flow characteristics to reduce the potential for processing issues such as melt fracture, die build up, or gel formation. Melt fracture is a common polymer flow issue caused by the high stress experienced at the die exit; melt fracture causes a roughening of the polymer surface, often referred to as “shark skin” and can also lead to distortion of the final product. Die build-up is the deposition of material when exiting the die, which requires more frequent production stoppages to clean the die and also lowers product quality. Die buildup gets worse with time and can require cleaning in a matter of hours in some cases instead of days or weeks! Gel formation is the result of undesirable linking of the polymer molecules; PPAs improve the polymer flow, reducing the residence time during production and, therefore, reducing the potential for gel formation.

Below is a summary of the benefits of polymer processing aids.

  • Reduced melt fracture often referred to as “sharkskin”
  • Reduced die lines and die build-up
  • Reduced gel formation within the polymer
  • Improved product appearance such as surface finish, transparency, gloss, and smoothness
  • Higher productivity and lower operating costs due to lower cycle times and longer continuous production runs in between cleaning and maintenance.
  • Energy savings due to lower friction between the equipment and the polymer that allows for lower operating pressure and motor torque within the extruder.

Selecting the right polymer processing aid for your application is crucial –especially since a small change in dosage on a ppm level can have a huge impact on your operations! It is not always easy to determine which processing aid is best since there are many options to choose from. This is why it is important to choose a partner like, Amcor, that will guide you through the selection process. Additionally, Amcor provides tech support, assistance with customer’s equipment, and process recommendations to ensure you are set up for success!

About Amcor

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches. Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations. Below are some highlights of Amcor’s polymer processing aids (The “Ampro” Product Line):

· Flow Enhancers ·  Surface Enhancers (warpage/roughness) ·  Mold Release Agents
· Cooling/Cycle Time Reducers ·  Purge – “Ampure” ·  Web Break Reducer

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


Guide of Commodity vs Engineered Resins

There are two broad types of plastic resins: commodity and engineered. It is important that manufacturers understand the key differences in these two resin categories so the right resin can be selected for a given application. Below is a guide of commodity versus engineered resins as well as some of the most common products for each resin type.

Commodity Resins

Commodity resins are primarily known for being inexpensive, easy to process, and readily available. These characteristics allow commodity resins to be produced in high volumes. Nearly all industries utilize this type of resin and commodity resins are used to produce a wide variety of industrial and consumer products such as food packaging, plastic utensils, and children’s toys.

Commodity resins are a good option for applications where the product does not require significant durability and will not be exposed to extreme conditions. This type of resin is often used for everyday products that in many cases have a short life-cycle and will ultimately be thrown-away such as plastic cups. Below are some of the most common commodity resins.

  • Polypropylene (PP): many industries utilized this resin due to its chemical resistance and low density that allows for light weight parts. Similar to other commodity resins, PP is relatively budget-friendly and can be mass produced. PP is versatile and is utilized by many sectors including automotive and consumer goods. PP is also safe for use in the food and beverage industry so manufacturers use PP for packaging and containers.
  • Polyethylene (PE): one of the big advantages of PE is that it can be produced in a range of densities with the two most common being Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). PE is also known for its shrink resistance and impact resistance. Similar to PP, PE can also be used for products within the food and beverage industry. PE has many uses such as toys, medical products, and food containers.
  • Polystyrene (PS): this commodity resin has several characteristics that are similar to PP and PE, but the ones that set it apart are its ability to produce transparent products, such as food packaging, and its ability to be molded into a variety of shapes. PS is also flame retardant. Products made of PS include clear food packaging and plastic cups (i.e. Styrofoam).

Engineered Resins

Engineered resins have superior properties when compared to commodity resins. These plastics are often designed with a specific set of properties and end-use in mind. Engineered resins are known for their strength, resistance to chemicals and corrosion, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions.

In return for their higher-performance, engineered resins are more expensive than commodity resins. In some cases, manufacturers use fillers to minimize raw material costs while achieving the desired plastic properties in the final product.

These resins are often used in more critical applications such as military, medical, and pharmaceutical, and automotive. There are many different engineered resins available to manufacturers and the right resin choice is very dependent on the specific application. Below are two of Amcor’s newest engineered resins: Resam-PPS and Resam-HF.

  • Resam-PPS is a complete raw material system from Amcor that produces light weight, rigid plastic foam to replace wood and other heavy structural products. Applications include construction, packaging pallets and runners, laminated cores, composite panels, and transportation (floors, walls and ceilings in commercial/recreational vehicles, trailers, automotive, marine). Below is more about Resam-PPS:
  • A proprietary high melt strength polypropylene system designed by Amcor
  • Produces structural foam sheet, plank, and profiles
  • Extremely strong, light weight, and cost-effective
  • Stiff with high compression strength (only 1% compression at 350psi)
  • Closed cell foam with fine cell structure and smooth surface
  • Excellent for heat welding or laminating
  • R-value (thermal resistance) of 4.4 at 6 lb/ft3 density
  • Recyclable, Sanitary, Fire and Weather Resistant
  • Resam-HF is a proprietary ethylene-styrene based compound designed to replace PS foam. This engineered resin can also be used as an additive (compatibilizer) in PS foam. Applications include packaging, insulation board, and floor underlayment. Resam-HF has several key benefits over PS such as:
  • Good impact strength (e.g. it is not brittle like polystyrene)
  • Solvent and moisture resistant
  • Produces foam that is half the density of PS with excellent thermal and sound insulation properties
  • Dimensionally stable and is foamable on conventional PE or PS extruders

Amcor’s Commodity and Engineered Resins

Amcor’s technical team facilitates the selection of resin to best fit the customer’s unique issues by applying its knowledge of plastic materials and manufacturing processes. Our private label CORLENE products are prime resins, while our AMBLEND products are industry-proven custom blends designed to meet the specific needs of molders, foamers, extruders, and film manufacturers. We offer a wide variety of engineered resins including Resam-HR and Resam-PPS that were highlighted above. Our commodity resins include:

  • Polyethylene – LLDPE, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, EVA, EMA and Metallocene
  • Polypropylene – homopolymer, copolymer, and HMS (high melt strength)
  • Polystyrene – GPPS, HIPS

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


Choosing the Right Resin Supplier

Plastics are everywhere so it is not surprising that the demand for raw plastic resins continues to grow. There are hundreds of suppliers in the United States alone so it is understandable that choosing the right resin supplier may seem like a daunting task! There are many factors to consider when selecting a partner and it is imperative that companies do their research to identify the right one! Price is, of course, a huge consideration, but there are many additional factors that must be considered when selecting a supplier. Below are several tips to guide you through the selection process.

  • Proven experience: manufacturers should do their homework to better understand the background of each partner they are evaluating. For example, how long have they been in business, who were their previous clients, and have they won any awards or been recognized within the industry? You want an established partner with a proven history and repeat customers. Additionally, ensure the supplier has ample experience working with a company your size.
  • Offers What You Need: this is a basic consideration but not all suppliers produce the same resins! You need to be clear on which specific plastic resin is required for your application and if a potential partner offers that material. In addition to the material, you must also determine if the supplier is capable of providing the resin in the desired shape and tolerance as well as address any special considerations such UV light or moisture exposure. For manufacturers that are unclear on their specific resin requirements, it is even more important to select a supplier, like Amcor, that has the expertise and knowledge to guide clients through the process of identifying the right resin for their specific application.
  • Superb Quality: this factor cannot be understated - purchasing quality resins is important! You must select a supplier that produces high-quality resins in order for you to manufacture high-quality plastics! When considering suppliers, it is crucial to clearly understand which quality metrics and standards are being utilized – and you can be certain that not all resin suppliers use the same standards! Also, you need to ensure the supplier uses current manufacturing technologies and is committed to maintaining the latest production equipment.
  • Logistics Options: during your assessment of a potential partner, you must determine if the supplier can provide the necessary volume of resin you need in the timeframe required. Additionally, you need to clearly understand the packaging and transport options. For example, depending on the volume required, the packaging and transport could entail railcars filled with resin or large sacks transported on tractor trailers. You want to avoid a situation where you are short on resin so you should spend time thoroughly discussing the logistics including the safety protocols during transport and the contingency plans in place to deal with manufacturing or logistics disruptions. The location of the resin supplier is also a factor to be considered since transport costs increase as the distance between you and the supplier increases.  
  • Solid Partnership: in the end, you are not simply looking for a supplier, you are looking for a trusted partner that can help your business grow! Be on the lookout for the extra services and customer support that a resin supplier provides. For example, Amcor provides tech support, assistance with customer’s equipment, and process recommendations.

Amcor Resin Solutions

Amcor offers many solutions to your resin needs. Our private label CORLENE™ products are prime resins, while our AMBLEND™ products are industry-proven custom blends designed to meet the specific needs of molders, foamers, extruders, and film manufacturers. Our technical team facilitates the selection of resin to best fit the customer’s unique issues by applying its knowledge of plastic materials and manufacturing processes. Our product lines include the following prime, wide spec, and engineered blends:

  • Polyethylene – LLDPE, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, EVA, EMA and Metallocene
  • Polypropylene – homopolymer, copolymer, and HMS (high melt strength)
  • Polystyrene – GPPS, HIPS
  • Nylon
  • Thermoplastic Elastomers
  • Others provided upon request

Amcor is a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries. Our packing options include railcar, bulk truck, Gaylord boxes, supersacks, and 25 kg bags.

Amcor strives to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service, quality products and an efficient logistics team. We realize that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


The Future of Polymer Additives

Nearly all plastics are comprised of a base polymer and additives. Additives are chemicals added to the base polymer to modify the properties of the final product such as improving strength or durability, or prolonging the product life span. There are various types of polymer additives available and each provides one or more specific characteristics; examples include plasticizers, stabilizers, processing aids, flame retardants, anti-static, blowing agents, fillers, and others.

As expected, the future of polymer additives is coupled to the demand for plastics. Below are some expected trends for polymer additives.

Continued Growth

The future of polymer additives looks promising as the demand for plastics (and therefore additives) is expected to continue to grow. There are several factors that are driving this growth – one of the biggest factors is the low cost of plastics compared to metal. Plastics have become even more attractive in recent years due to the rising cost of raw materials for some metals, triggering the further use of plastic to replace metal parts or equipment. Additionally, plastics continue to branch out into more diverse markets, and usage continues to expand especially within the packaging, agriculture, and medical industries. Lastly, the demand for additives is also driven by stricter safety standards, resulting in higher demand for plastics with flame retardant and resistant properties. All of these factors drive up consumption of polymer additives in the future.

Industries

While all sectors are expected to experience growth, there will likely be ample opportunities for additive growth within the construction, packaging, consumer goods, and automotive industries. Within the plastic additive market, the construction sector has historically been the largest consumer and this trend is expected to continue due to demand for applications such as pipes, cabling, flooring, etc. In the near-term, the packaging sector is expected to observe the most growth due to increased demand for food and beverage and consumer goods. The automotive industry is also expected to observe growth in additive usage due to plastic’s lighter weight and cost-competitiveness compared to metal alternatives.

Types and Regions

Regarding the types of additives, plasticizers are expected to continue to dominate the additive market and are anticipated to remain the largest additive type due to expected growth for PVC applications. As previously noted, the demand for additives with flame retardant properties are expected to rise due to more stringent safety protocols and standards as well as growth in the electronics and construction sectors.

While all regions are expected to experience growth, the Asia Pacific region will likely continue as the largest market share by volume for additives. This is largely due to the demand for plastics across the automotive and construction sectors in the region, especially China and India.

Safety and Sustainability

Many companies are focusing R&D efforts on new, innovative polymer additives that address some of the challenges of the plastics industry. Safety and sustainability are expected to be big factors in the future of polymer additives and below are a few examples.

  • A relatively new type of additive called “biodegradables” is gaining traction. These are additives that expedite the degradation process by allowing microorganisms to consume portions of the plastic.
  • Toxicity is a concern for some polymer additives. To address this issue, bio-based additives such as plasticizers have been developed that provide manufacturers with less or non-toxic additive options that minimize the impact to the environment.
  • Just like there are smart devices, there are R&D efforts focused on developing smart packaging in order to improve food and beverage safety. Plastic packaging is being developed that will use color changing additives to detect the freshness of a product as well as oxygen scavenging additives to better preserve the product.
  • Lastly, companies, such as Amcor, are creating Sustainability Initiatives. The purpose of these programs is to recognize the importance of natural resources and reduce the ecological footprint on the environment. This can be achieved via several means such as conserving raw materials and helping customers produce reusable products. 

Amcor

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches. Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations.

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


Advantages of Buying Direct from Manufacturer

Historically, manufacturers did not have a financially viable way of getting products to customers so the role of a distributor was necessary. Distributors, or wholesalers, worked as the “middle man” between manufactures and customers - engaging with customers and maintaining inventory locally. With the digitalization of manufacturing and a shift to a more customer-centric business model, the distributor role is often no longer necessary. More and more manufacturers are employing a direct-to-customer model to sell products, which is lowering costs and improving customer and brand loyalty. This shift is opening up new purchasing options for customers and allowing them to reap the benefits of buying direct from manufacturers.

Advantages of Buying Direct

Purchasing raw materials and products directly from manufacturers provides several advantages to customers, several of which are highlighted below. It should be noted that if you are considering buying direct, make sure your manufacturer has experience and the right infrastructure and processes in place to deliver products directly at the necessary quality and within the desired timeframe. In order to reap the direct buying benefits below, you must partner with a manufacturer, like Amcor, that has the experience and expertise for direct purchases.

  • Lower Costs: simply put, costs are inflated when distributors are part of the supply chain. These costs include expenses such as of infrastructure, personnel, transport equipment and storage facilities. Direct buying means the intermediary is not involved, completely eliminating the costs associated with this middle step. These costs savings are then shared between the customer and manufacturer – a win for both parties!
  • Direct Line of Communication: when you buy direct you have a specific point of contact at the manufacturer that is accountable to you and is responsible for giving your account the attention it deserves. This direct line of communication provides many advantages. First, with fewer individuals involved it is safe to say there will be fewer miscommunications and confusion – additionally, there will be no one in the middle to potentially misinterpret the information being relayed between customer and manufacturer. Second, there will be fewer hurdles to receiving the latest information and guidance from the manufacturer. Last, but not least, buying direct allows the manufacturer and customer to build a long-term relationship which is advantageous to both parties. 
  • Improved Customer Service: the manufacturer has expertise in their product so when you buy direct you get to tap into this knowledge pool more easily. Direct access allows you to discuss with the manufacturer any questions you may have as well as more easily obtain recommendations on how to optimize product usage to maximize its benefits. Similarly, if you have concerns with the product or wish to discuss modifications, service matters are more easily addressed when a distributor is not in the middle as the manufacturer has full ownership of any issues. This arrangement also has benefits for the manufacturer as buying direct allows them to highlight their customer service offerings as a means of distinguishing them from the competition.
  • Improved Transport and Quality Management: manufacturers give up some control and oversight of the product when a distributor is involved. The more individuals involved in handling the product, the more potential for quality issues and delays during transport. Lead times are often more reliable when buying direct which means customers receive the right products at the right time and in good condition.
  • Ability to Purchase in Smaller Quantities: Yes, this is possible – smaller quantities are not just available from distributors! Many manufacturers only sell in large batches which does not make buying direct a viable option for some small or medium sized companies. However, not all manufacturers adhere to this model. Amcor, for example, sells in various volumes including small quantities, which makes direct purchasing from Amcor a viable solution for companies of all sizes! 

Amcor: Manufacturer & Distributor

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches. Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations.

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next purchase!


Top 5 Benefits of Polymer Additives

Polymer additives are chemicals added to the base polymer to improve processability, reduce raw material costs, prolong the life span, and/or achieve the desired physical or chemical properties in the final product. There are many additive options available and each one offers a specific improvement to the polymer’s functionality or stability. Below are the top five benefits of polymer additives. In addition to the improvements listed below, polymer additives can also be used to provide the desired color, odor, crystallization rate, density, insulation, anti-static, anti-microbial, and many other properties.

  • Improved Processing: these additives are combined with the polymer to improve the processability and processing characteristics of the material. Internal and external lubricants are very common processing additives that improve processing efficiency. Internal lubricants improve the polymer flow properties and mold filling by reducing friction within the polymer blend itself; examples of internal lubricant additives are fatty esters and waxes. External lubricants migrate to the surface of the polymer to reduce the friction between the plastic and the manufacturing equipment; examples of external lubricants are metallic soaps and fatty acids. Internal and external lubricants can be utilized together to achieve the desired processing characteristics. In addition to lubricants, there are other additives that can optimize processing properties. For example, de-molding agents can be used to facilitate better release from the mold. Examples of de-molding agents include silicone oils and graphite. 
  • Decreased Material Costs: fillers, or extenders as they are often called, are inexpensive additives that add bulk to the polymer and reduce costs by reducing the volume of base polymer consumed. Minerals are often used as fillers and examples include calcium carbonate, silica, glass fibers, and carbon black. Fillers can also impact the properties of the plastic such as enhancing its stability and moldability. 
  • Extended Life Span: nearly every plastic is prone to degradation when exposed to high temperatures, UV light from sunlight, and oxygen including ozone. This degradation can occur during processing or once the product is in service and the symptoms include brittleness, discoloration, and loss of physical properties that reduce the life span of the plastic. Additives, often referred to as anti-oxidants or stabilizers, are added to combat the deterioration of the plastic and to significantly extend the life span of the final product. UV stabilizers absorb UV light, protecting the plastic from its harmful effects. Anti-oxidant additives protect against oxidative degradation by minimizing the opportunity for free radicals to react with oxygen to form unstable molecules. Anti-oxidants, often called free-radical scavengers, react with the undesirable free radicals to prevent the reactions that lead to degradation; additionally, anti-oxidants destroy the locations on the polymer chain that are vulnerable to radical formation. Both forms these anti-oxidants are often used in tandem to achieve the desired stability. Examples of antioxidants include phenols, aryl amines, and phosphates, and examples of UV stabilizers include benzophenones and benzotriazoles.
  • Reduced Flammability: flame retardants are additives that prevent, delay, or slow down combustion. Flame retardants can be organic or inorganic compounds that are either mixed with the base polymer, added during the plastic processing step, or as a surface layer finish on the final product. There are different methods that are used by the additives to reduce flammability such as creating a foam layer for extra insulation, chemical reactions to inhibit combustion, and decomposition reactions that produce water. Sometimes more than one flame retardant is used to improve the level of protection. These additives are common in electrical products to avoid the ignition and burning of plastics. Halogens such as bromines and chlorines as well as phosphorus and nitrogen chemistries are common flame retardants.
  • Improved Flexibility: base polymers are often rigid and do not have the necessary flexibility and rheology, or flow, properties that are needed for plastics processing. Plasticizers are a type of additive added to improve rheology as well as elasticity. Plasticizers are one of the most common polymer additives and an example is phthalate esters used in PVC products. Plasticizers fit in the spaces between polymer molecules reducing intermolecular forces, leaving the polymer less rigid and more easily handled during manufacturing. Depending on the specific plasticizer, these additives can also impact other physical and mechanical properties of the plastic.

Amcor

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches.  Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions. In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations. Below are some highlights of Amcor’s additive offerings.

·         Flame Retardants ·         Rheology Modifiers – Amblend ·         Antiblock & Fillers – Amblock
·         Antistatic – Amstat ·         Slip – Amease ·         Stabilizers
·         Processing Aids – Ampro ·         Gas Diffusion Agents – Amage ·         TiO2 – Amti
·         Chemical Blowing Agents – Amcell ·         Nucleating Agents – Amron ·         Cross-Linking Agents
·         Masterbatch Colors – Amtone ·         Specialty Chemicals

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!


What Are Polymer Additives?

What Are Polymer Additives?

Plastics manufacturing has evolved significantly over time. Plastics were originally produced using a few natural materials but now there are thousands of plastics formulated from a wide range of natural and synthetic materials. One of the big changes over time in plastic formulations is the use of polymer additives.

Additives are chemicals added to the base polymer to improve processability, prolong the life span, and/or achieve the desired physical or chemical properties in the final product. While the content of additives is typically only a few percent, their impact on polymer performance and stability is significant. Once the additives are added, the polymer blend is referred to as a masterbatch and is processed accordingly.

 

Types of Polymer Additives

There are countless options when it comes to additives and each one offers a specific improvement to the polymer’s functionality or stability. Selecting the right additives for your polymer may seem like a daunting task - this is why it is crucial to choose a partner, like Amcor, that has extensive expertise in various additives and resins as well as experience with state-of-the-art compounding and blending processes. Amcor will guide you through the selection process to ensure the right additives are chosen for your specific application.

Below are common categories of polymer additives. Even within a specific category, such as flame retardants, there are numerous additive options available; the additive that is best for a given plastic depends heavily on the base polymer (to ensure compatibility) and the application of the final product.

--> Plasticizers: base polymers are often rigid and do not have the necessary flexibility and rheology, or flow, properties that are needed for plastics processing. Plasticizers are added to improve rheology as well as elasticity. Plasticizers are one of the most common polymer additives and an example is phthalate esters used in PVC products.

--> Anti-aging stabilizers: nearly every plastic is prone to degradation when exposed to UV light, such as from sunlight, and oxygen including ozone. The degradation causes brittleness, discoloration, and loss of some physical properties. Additives, referred to as anti-oxidants, stabilizers, or anti-ozonants, are added to combat the deterioration of the plastic and to significantly extend the life span of the final product. Examples of antioxidants include phenols, aryl amines, and phosphates, and examples of UV stabilizers include benzophenones and benzotriazoles. Additionally, black is an excellent UV absorber so paints, dyes, or elemental carbon black are often added to protect products against UV light.

--> Blowing agents: these additives are added to the base polymer and when a specific temperature is reached during processing they decompose, releasing gas that forms a cellular structure within the plastic. This structure reduces density and improves insulation properties. There are many different blowing agents available from salts to complex nitrogen-releasing chemicals.

--> Flame retardants: flame retardants prevent, delay, or slow down combustion. These additives are common in electrical products to avoid the ignition and burning of plastics. Flame retardants can be mixed with the base polymer, or added during the plastic processing step, or even as a surface layer finish on the final product. Halogens such as bromines as well as phosphorus and nitrogen chemistries are common flame retardants.

--> Nucleating agents: these additives improve mechanical properties and transparency. They also speed up the plastic crystallization rate, reducing overall cycle time.

--> Processing: these additives are combined with the polymer to improve the processability and processing characteristics of the material. Examples of processing additives include lubricants, and more specifically, fatty acids, hydrocarbon waxes, and some types of polyethylene.

--> Anti-static: these additives are used to minimize the potential for static electricity build up on the surface of the plastic, and in some cases even prevent it entirely. Examples of anti-static additives include amines, ammonium compounds, and polyethylene glycol esters.

--> Colorants: the purpose of these agents is to change the color of the final product. These additives are often pigments or dyes. The specific dye or pigment selected is largely based on which base polymer is being used as the two materials have to be compatible.

--> Odor: there are also additives to modify the odor of the final product. An example of an odor agent is when a chemical is added to paints to produce a more pleasing smell.

--> Anti-microbial: given the increasing trend in implantable medical devices and other technologies, anti-microbial additives are becoming more popular. These agents protect against deterioration of the plastic and reduce the potential for a microbiological attack.

 

Amcor

Amcor is a manufacturer of polyethylene film and bags, as well as polyolefin compounds, additives, blends, and masterbatches.  Amcor has grown from a single product line to hundreds of products and five product divisions.  In addition to selling products, we also provide tech support, assistance with your equipment, and process recommendations.

Amcor is also a full line distributor of various chemicals, resins, and gases for the plastic industry. With warehousing and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe and China, we service companies of all sizes and locations across multiple industries.

Amcor realizes that quick turnaround, on time delivery, a quality product, and personal service are what it is all about. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next project!