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FIBER PRODUCTION

Color, functional and multi-attribute solutions


for polyester fibers
V.G. Kulkarni, Americhem, Inc., Concord, NC/USA
Over the past 20 years, polyester (poly- ing disperse dyes. Cationic dyeable poly- portant parameters of color masterbatch
ethylene terephthalate) has emerged as ester fibers, with modified structure offer design are:
a leading polymer for fibers, film and enhanced dyeability. Solution dyeing (al- • product specification or end applica-
packaging. Recent publications [1, 2] put so referred to as mass dyeing or spin tion in which the product is used
the 2002 production of polyester fiber at dyeing or dope dyeing) offers a way of • spin performance - the term spin per-
20.9 million tons, slightly more than cot- coloring polyester fibers and is inde- formance relates to factors such as
ton during the same period. The contain- pendent of its chemistry. spin breaks, draw warps, yield rates,
er resin production during 2002 was - Solution dyeing filter pack life, and deposit build up on
about 9 million tons. The combined fore- spinneret and godets.
Solution dyeing can be defined as a
cast for 2010 is estimated to top 50 mil- Proper colorant selection is the first criti-
process for coloring polyester (and other
lion tons. Some of the applications for cal step in masterbatch design. Since
synthetic yarns) in which the colorant is
polyester include: the masterbatch is added to the polymer
added to the polymer melt, before it is
• textile products such as apparel, auto- melt prior to spinning, the colorant must
extruded through a spinneret in to indi-
motive, home furnishings and bedding withstand the high processing tempera-
vidual fibers. As a result, the colorant is
products etc. ture without color variation. Thermal sta-
permanently locked into the fiber and the
• nonwoven products such as filters, bility of the pigment is important for both
fiber is colored throughout. Solution dye-
medical and protective fabrics color control and specification control.
ing offers following advantages:
• technical fibers such as tire cord, Color concentration also has an effect on
• better color fastness to light (UV),
awnings, tents and sewing threads the color stability. Depending on the end
bleaching agents and ozone
• packaging applications including bot- application, weathering and other fast-
• very good migration stability under ad-
tles for soft drink, water and juice etc. ness requirements play an important
verse conditions
• polyester film - imaging, magnetics role in masterbatch design.
• tight lot to lot color uniformity
and other industrial specialties. The choice of carrier resin also plays an
• environmentally friendly manufactur-
In keeping with the explosion of the use important role in product performance.
ing process (energy efficient, since
of polyester resin in various applica- This is especially critical when producing
fiber spinning and coloring is done in
tions, Americhem, Inc., is constantly de- lower denier fibers. Incompatibility of
the same step; does not use water -
veloping new masterbatches for PET masterbatch carrier resin with host poly-
conventional dyeing on the other hand
that enhance the properties and value mer leads to problems such as
uses water extensively; effluent treat-
of the products in which they are incor- • bridging problems at the throat of the
ment may be necessary, since part of
porated. Properties that today's fibers extruder and polymer build up in the
the disperse dye is left behind in the
and packaging materials demand. Ex- feed section
dye bath - only about 85% or so be-
amples of such products include fibers • differences in recrystallization temper-
comes part of fiber)
with anti-microbial properties, fibers that ature can affect bulking conditions in
• high yields with low scrap
withstand the harsh effects of UV so that air-jet texturing.
• wide range of colors can be produced
articles made from such fibers last Very good dispersion of colorant in the
• customized products can be easily de-
longer, fibers that absorb odor or fibers polymer matrix and proper melt viscosity
signed for value added fibers.
and textiles that offer moisture manage- of the masterbatch are an absolute ne-
On the limitations inventory, control can
ment properties and packaging materi- cessity, without it, the spin pack is imme-
be an issue, since the decision to pro-
als that offer UV protection and ac- diately blocked or restricted. Poor pig-
duce colored yarn is done at the early
etaldehyde reduction. Here, solution ment dispersion also results in breakage
phase of the production process. Devel-
dyeing techniques for coloring polyester of fiber, especially in the drawing
opment of small lot capability and
and the use of the concept for producing process, which results in draw warps
speedy color matching are helpful in
value added fibers will be described. around the godets. Americhem has de-
overcoming this concern.
Recent developments in functional and veloped a test that correlates laboratory
multi-attribute masterbatches for fibers - Product design for solution dyeing filtration analysis with the length of time
as well as masterbatches for packaging Proper masterbatch design is an impor- that the filter packs will last.
are discussed. Americhem has been tant aspect of solu-
serving the synthetic fibers industry with tion dyeing. Poorly
color and additive masterbatches for so- designed master-
lution dyeing (mass dyeing) for the past batches can lead
18 years. to spinning prob-
lems. There are a
Coloring of polyester fibers number of critical
Polyester fibers, because of their struc- factors which can
ture and well-developed order during affect spin per-
spinning, absorb little dye in convention- formance of solu-
al dye systems. Hence traditional poly- tion dyed polyester
ester fibers are predominantly dyed us- that can be con-
Lecture held at the 8th World Congress "The Poly-
trolled by means of
ester Chain", Polyester 2003 in Zurich/Switzerland, proper product de- Fig. 1 Antimicrobial efficiency of polyester fiber as a function of concen-
December 1-3, 2003 sign. Two of the im- tration of antimicrobial masterbatch

452 CHEMICAL FIBERS INTERNATIONAL Volume 53, December 2003


FIBER PRODUCTION

Black polyester yarn has been tradition- traviolet light. Light stabilizers, depend- containing activated carbon that absorbs
ally produced using the solution dyed ing on the chemical class (UVA, HALS) odor and offers moisture management,
process. The demand for solution dyed either absorb the harmful ultraviolet radi- and can be processed and handled sim-
colors is steadily increasing especially in ation or counteract the photo-degrada- ilar to traditional textile or industrial fiber!
automotive and specialty fabrics/textiles tion of synthetic fibers by UV and oxygen Americhem, in co-operation with Traptek
where higher performance offered by so- and help retain color and mechanical is working on developing such a master-
lution dyeing is preferred. One of the key properties. Using a customized ap- batch, based on activated carbon. Acti-
advantages that solution dyeing offers is proach and extensive weathering ex- vated carbon, well known for its out-
that customized products can be easily pertise, Americhem has developed mas- standing adsorptive properties is used in
designed for producing value-added terbatches, which stand up to tough a variety of applications such as treat-
fibers. For example customized colors weathering requirements. Fig. 2 shows ment of drinking water, decolorization of
(fluorescent, metallics), functional fibers the transmission spectrum of polyester sugar, pharmaceutical production and
and more importantly multi-attribute containing UV additive compared with automotive filters.
products can be produced. neat polyester. Polyester containing UV A range of other novel property and per-
Lastly, there are many colorants, which additive shows absorption of light to 380 formance enhancing additive master-
give the expected color, but only proper- nm, which extends the useful life of the batches are being explored at
ly designed masterbatches give both fiber/fabric. Data on tenacity of fiber as a Americhem research and development
color and performance. Communication function of extended UV exposure is be- laboratories.
in regards to which product values are ing developed.
critical is very important to assure prop- Multiattribute masterbatches
er product design. Flame retardant masterbatches Multiattribute masterbatches combine
Flame retardant masterbatches based color and functional properties or offer
Functional masterbatches on phosphorous chemistry are designed more than one functionality in a single
Functional masterbatches deliver func- to offer flexibility in producing niche fiber masterbatch, thereby providing a cus-
tional attributes without compromising products. At the present time, the use tom product that is easy to handle and
the processing properties. Typical func- rate of such masterbatches is rather highly effective. The concept can be
tions offered include high (in excess of 10%) and requires ad- used to design a wide range of products.
• antimicrobial ditional handling solutions for large vol- Some examples of multi-attribute prod-
• weathering/UV protection ume runs. ucts include
• customized optical whitening effects • color and UV
• flame retardants. Smart masterbatches • color and antimicrobial
In addition to these, Americhem is devel- Active research is underway to develop • delustrant and optical brighteners.
oping several novel masterbatches that novel masterbatches that can impart Fig. 3 shows the reflectance spectrum of
offer unique functional attributes to fibers unique functional and performance prop- delustured polyester fiber containing op-
such as odor adsorption, moisture man- erties to polyester fibers. tical brightener compared to a typical
agement and low abrasion/friction prop- For example, imagine a polyester fiber delustured fiber. Customized optical
erties.

Antimicrobial masterbatches
Antimicrobial masterbatches based on
silver chemistry are designed to stand
up to high processing temperatures at
which polyester fibers are produced. Be-
ing non-migratory in nature, the concen-
trate becomes part of the synthetic fiber,
thereby offering protection throughout
the life of the product. A unique com-
pounding process, specifically devel-
oped for this application offers excellent
dispersion and makes possible higher
loading of the antimicrobial additive in
the polymer matrix. At the recommended Fig. 2 Transmission spectrum of polyester film containing 0.5% of light stabilizer compared with poly-
use rate of 1.5-4% the products offer ester film containing no additive
very good spin performance and high
yields. Fibers and articles containing
Americhem's antimicrobial masterbatch-
es display very good efficiency against
gram positive (Staphylococcus aureus)
and gram negative (Klebsiella pneumo-
nia) bacteria as shown in Fig. 1.

Light stabilizer masterbatches


Polyester fibers are increasingly used in
exterior applications, such as automotive
fabrics, awnings and flexible signs etc.
These applications require that the fiber
be stabilized against degradation by ul- Fig. 3 Reflectance curve of polyester fiber showing optical whitening effect

Volume 53, December 2003 CHEMICAL FIBERS INTERNATIONAL 453


FIBER PRODUCTION

whitening masterbatches impart cool, Advantages of solid masterbatches over liquid and wax systems
bluish white appearance to polyester
fibers. Customization in regards to Advantage Eliminates
brightness, tone and use rate can be
decrease plasticizing time by 5-7% injection-molder screw slippage & recovery times
done to suit specific needs caused by lubrication of liquid and wax carriers

Solid color solutions for solids color change can be 50% faster longer purge times typically observed
compared to liquid with liquid colors
PET packaging
no lost time from shutting line down to clean residue build-up on screw resulting in
Polyester bottles and packaging materi- machine lost time
als are colored using masterbatches no bridging bridging caused by low melt resins adhering
comprising various carrier systems rang- to PET pellets
ing from liquid to low melting wax to sol- no volatiles during recycling recycled reclaim problems caused by volatiles
id resin. Americhem color and additive cleaner to use and easier house keeping general housekeeping problems of liquids
masterbatches based on polyester carri-
er resin with melting point of greater than its advantages in terms of performance tribute masterbatches offer an effective
220 °C offer several advantages over such as weathering, migration as well as means to produce value added products
other systems as shown in the table. a environmentally friendly manufacturing with color and functionality or multifunc-
processes are described here. Further- tional fibers.
Summary more functional, multi-attribute products References
In conclusion, the solution dyeing ap- are described and novel smart master- [1] Chemical Fibers International 53 (2003) 216
proach to coloring polyester fibers and batch concepts are introduced. Multiat- [2] International Fiber Journal 18 (2003)

454 CHEMICAL FIBERS INTERNATIONAL Volume 53, December 2003