It’s Friday and on our agenda for today is a visit to Clariant Masterbatches in West Chicago. Clariant Masterbatches is one of seven business units making up Clariant International, a company headquartered in Muttenz, Switzerland. In this division there are approximately 3,100 employees working on colour and additive concentrates and performance solutions for plastics in 50 production workshops worldwide.
We met: Mr Len Kulka,
Ms Adriana Rueda,
ColorWorks North America Manager,
Ms Hsi Chen ColorWorks North America Designer and Mr Thomas Schneider,
representing Amsler Blow Molding Equipment.
The plant here in West Chicago is also one of the production operations for masterbatches 80%, and liquid colourants 20%. It is also home to the North American ColorWorks,which is part of a global network of four such sites created to provide packaging and product designers with colour ideas and inspiration and technical guidance. Here we meet Len Kulka, Creative Director, Adriana Rueda, Manager, Hsi Chen, Designer and Thomas Schneider, a visiting representative of Amsler Equipment Inc.
We not only receive a friendly welcome but are bowled over by what we see here. We hadn’t reckoned on finding premises that could keep pace
with designer living space in the loft. Brightly-coloured bottle samples stand out impressively against a totally white environment. Separated off by window panes from where we are standing is the lab with machines for colour samples and prototyping.
Adriana Rueda team consists of eight people here on site who are tasked with noting colour trends in the marketplace so that they can advise customers appropriately. “Design and colour are important elements in packaging and play a vital part in ensuring the successful marketing of products in line with market requirements”, says Adriana Rueda, and, she continues,” it is well known what colours
can do if they are used with a specific aim in mind, this is something that branded products in particular rely on. This is what we want to achieve”.
Although it can support the development of any plastic product, ColorWorks West Chicago specialises in working with packaging designers. “Here we are in a position where we can generate colour samples and sample packaging for our customers within a very short space of time,” Adriana Rueda explains, “and also demonstrate the colour effect in bottles and closure caps. Our laboratory facilities allow us to create individual colour concentrates in the form of master batches and to produce preforms and sample bottles.”
A further possibility is offered as regards the manufacture of injection-moulded parts in the form of colour plaques or square parts that fit together to make a sort of cosmetic case.
The surfaces of the cosmetic case have different textures, thus drawing attention to their particular effect on colour perception. Samples can also be viewed in a light studio where a range of different lighting sources can demonstrate how colour perception changes under different lighting conditions, e.g. in sunlight or on a shelf in a supermarket.
Materials and applications
♦ HDPE 60%
♦ PET 35 %
♦ PP in small volumes for closures and engineering plastics
PET products have increased significantly over the last few years and are continuing to make headway. As far as the PET sector is concerned, it is cosmetics applications that dominate here in the USA.
Further potential has been identified in energy drinks and small mineral water bottles with colour intensifiers that are used as marketing tools to promote specific aspects.
The laboratory consists of five machines:
♦ Preform machine with a single cavity for preform samples
♦ Amsler Stretch blow moulding machine with one blow mould and hand in feed
♦ Extrusion blow moulding machine, triple layer with one blow mould
♦ Extruder for masterbatch manufacture
♦ Injection moulding machine for the manufacture of injection moulded colour samples such as colour plaques and square cases with variations in surface finish on the side walls
Following a tour of the plant, which included the concentrate manufacturing section, we leave Chicago and extend our thanks for an impressive meeting.