Why do Resins Need Additives?
Resin (polymer) additives are a group of materials that are used as a binder to solidify resinous materials, which in raw form have the consistency of pitch or tar. Plastics compounding is the process of combining polymers and additives to create a more usable final plastic material. While resins are the base substances that are used to create these plastics compounds, the additives give them the needed properties for more durable materials (Think packaging materials, cereal bowls, cell phone cases, etc.).
Additives are typically chemical substances that are mixed with base resins to create plastics with more usable properties such as durability, strength, resistance to chemicals or heat, and flexibility. Bio-based additives can be used in plastics to replace other additives such as talc or other mined materials which greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the plastic.
Additives such as talc, glass and calcium carbonate are used in plastics to make them more durable. They are also used as a replacement for other additives to make plastic more flexible.
These additives are mixed with these resins to create thermoplastic composites with improved properties. They can add flame retardancy, reduce weight, add pigment and can even improve the overall toughness of the material. Additives also reduce shrinkage during processing, reduce warpage during molding and improve dimensional stability at elevated temperatures. All in all, additives are necessary for virtually all plastics processing.
Identifying which additives are best suited for your application is a key aspect in choosing a resin for your products. Today, most of these additives are either synthetic or mined goods.
Bio-based additives offer an alternative to those that are made from petrochemicals by utilizing renewable resources such as plants, proteins, carbohydrates and at the core, cellulose. Additionally, we are finding that bio-based materials can be used as a direct replacement in the form of additives for traditional additives because they have the stronger properties compared to the mineral standards of today, and of course are substantially more environmentally friendly.
The development of bio-based additives for resins is a promising area for research and a very hot topic in the era of sustainability and ESG mandates. Many of the Fortune top 500 companies have impending mandates for reducing their carbon footprints, and making the shift to bio-based plastic additives is a step that most, if not all, can take towards reaching those goals.
The first step in selecting a polymer additive is determining what type of reaction you’d like it to create in your product. You should also think about how this reaction will affect the characteristics of your product as well as the production process itself.
Since the main task of polymer additives is to improve the mechanical properties of the polymer that is being created, the selection process needs to take into consideration the properties needed, luckily there are natural additives that can adapt to virtually any need. They can improve the mechanical properties of the polymer, lower the weight, be mixed with pigments and even offer greater stiffening or increased flexibility making it more durable and/or less likely to break.
Bio-based additives can also provide added value by helping you exceed ESG mandates, reducing production costs, increasing storage life, and because they can be sourced locally, these natural additives may even lower transportation costs! One of the emerging materials for additives is industrial hemp as it has many benefits as a polymer filler.
For starters, hemp is renewable, biodegradable, and efficient. It provides insulation without ozone depletion, in fact hemp is carbon negative. Hemp is also durable and has low thermal conductivity which means it can be used in cold climates.
The hemp plant is a versatile resource which can be used to produce a wide range of products. Hemp-derived additives are rapidly becoming an increasingly sought-after material because they are more sustainable than traditional additives, such as talc, calcium, and wood flour, and their properties make them ideal for industrial applications throughout mobility and packaging.
Hemp has many useful properties that make it desirable in industrial applications. It can be used in high temperatures without combusting, which makes it safe for use in the production of high-temperature objects like plastic cups and containers. It has a low density and is therefore less expensive to transport than other materials like talc and calcium. And it’s non-toxic nature makes it ideal for use in food packaging or storing foods.
There are many other reasons to use hemp additives in manufacturing processes; it does not require the same amount of energy to process as traditional materials, and from an agricultural viewpoint, it is an easy crop to grow with a wide range of soil benefits. Hemp is also a known quantity, it’s a versatile and ecologically responsible resource that has been used for centuries. Hemp products are seeing widespread adoption in the marketplace as consumers are becoming more aware of its benefits.
It’s difficult to predict what the future will bring but one thing is for sure – if you’re still using traditional materials that are finite and damaging to the environment, you may want to consider looking to bio-based materials soon. What we do know is that there is a need for more sustainable manufacturing. As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the need for protecting our natural environment. In order to continue providing for people without destroying the planet, companies will need to work on new ways of production. The Heartland team is dedicated to helping manufacturers find alternatives to the traditional additives in use today.
Join us in making a world out of hemp.
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