Masterbatch Individually Tailored to Application

Insights Into Masterbatch Manufacturer cpc and Their Recipe for Success

“Lots of companies can manufacture masterbatch,” admitted Alexander Schleberger, Managing Director, “but our customer focus is truly special.” He wasn’t just referring to his company, colorplastischechemie Albert Schleberger GmbH (cpc) in Remscheid, Germany, which exclusively manufactures tailored products for its customers, even in quantities as small as 25 kg if required. Together with his colleague from the Executive Board, Achim Henkel, and Sales Head Marc Joppe, he was also alluding to the Colormobile, Color Lounge and Digital Cloud.

“Everything here is custom made”, emphasized Marc Joppe, naming one of the reasons why their more than 600 returning customers remain so loyal, at their Remscheid location. Here, they get almost everything their hearts desire – other than PVC and high-temperature polymers. cpc uses around 60 various base plastics for their color masterbatches, but around 80% of those are PE or PP based. Typical products from their Remscheid facility are combination masterbatches that enfuses color and function, such as red with UV stabilization. “We were one of the first companies to manufacture these types of combinations”, said Achim Henkel, who has already been working for cpc for 43 years and who remembers well the company’s beginnings with 15 jack-of-all-trades employees in Wuppertal, Germany. “It has always been really important to us that our work is legitimate – no gimmicks”, Henkel added. For cpc, this means on one hand, looking for alternatives for customers with special requests that can’t be realized, and on the other, even refusing an order. This masterbatcher takes its responsibilities to humanity and the environment very serious, by removing and replacing additives from its recipes early on when ingredients are designated as harmful due to new legal requirements or limit values.

Documented NIR Detectability

cpc’s production spectrum consists of about 20,000 different formulations and so does their customer base, comprising from nearly every industry. “We deliver our masterbatches to the automotive, construction, household and cosmetics industries, just as we do to the packaging industry”, noted Sales Head Marc Joppe. For just over a year, cpc has been the first color masterbatch manufacturer to offer a brand-new service to the packaging industry. Schleberger explained: “Our customers receive a data sheet from us indicating the NIR detectability for every product.” NIR detectability is very important, especially for dark to black packaging so that they can be detected in the recycling stream and classified as a type of polymer which then can be recycled. This is particularly appealing when considered against the backdrop of new packaging regulations and higher legal recycling quotas. To certify the NIR detectability, cpc has expanded its laboratory capacities with the necessary equipment. “Our lab and R&D department stand out in our company, as small as we are, for their rather large size. In the masterbatches we produce, we place a lot of importance upon product safety, purity, color accuracy, and/or lightfastness. We want to be able to guarantee our customers the same”, Henkel emphasized.

Close to the Customer

At cpc, customer focus is demonstrated in a wide variety of ways. It ranges from the broad product spectrum described above to the large R&D department, competent support and harmless additives to important additional information that facilitates product use through to recycling. Customer focus is palpable in cpc’s in-house, spacious and brightly lit Color Lounge. “Here, we advise our customers personally on color design to fit their products and we incorporate technical possibilities as well as current trend aspects”, said Marc Joppe by way of introduction. In the process, the consultation does not just take place using color chips, but rather with “real” objects such as bottles and jars, creative injection-molded articles or technical parts from the automotive and tube/pipe industries. In order to manufacture these themselves, cpc operates a PET-G and a CoEx blow molding machine, a two-step injection blow molding machine as well as eleven injection molding machines for samples, alongside their twelve compounding lines. “Soon, we’ll even have a cap mold. Meaning we’ll be able to offer our customers one more added value”, emphasized Schleberger. Customers are also invited to workshops to help find creative solutions together for color design – when there are no Covid contact restrictions in effect, of course.

It All Comes Down to Trust

All twelve compounding lines are from Coperion in Stuttgart. Added Henkel, “We’ve been working with Coperion for years now, and we’re very satisfied.” With regard to the machine technology, all three gentlemen praised the easy handling in recipe changes. “We retool the extruders up to 15 times within a three-shift day”, explained Henkel – demonstrating the logic that good accessibility, accuracy, easy cleaning, and quick production all matter. Another major selling point is the ability to optimally transfer individual recipes to any extruder size from ZSK 26 to ZSK 62. “Just as our customers trust in the high quality of our products, we trust Coperion as our machinery supplier. Both service and reaction time on inquiries from our side are outstanding”, added Schleberger.

Rapid Color Development On Site

For this masterbatcher, speed is not only important for the company, but for their customers as well. “Particularly when dealing with introducing a new color to  market, the usual procedure is frequently too time consuming”, Joppe noted. This process begins with a color template that the customer sends to Remscheid, which is then used in the laboratory and sent back to the customer in the form of samples/test pieces. In the most economical case, the customer is satisfied, and the color batch can be produced. It may be the case that the loop has to be repeated. “In order to avoid this and to get to the desired color faster, we have the Colormobile”, said Henkel. Introducing yet another of the company’s cool ideas. A sprinter van was converted to the traveling color lab that can go to the customer and undertake the color configuration on site. Not only does the Colormobile have a daylight cabinet and the most important testing devices, but it also has, first and foremost, a pre-mixed color palette. “We developed our own process for manufacturing color batches on location for customers by premixing prepared batches and avoiding separation. In this way, in the best case we create the desired color within one working day right in front of the customer’s factory hall, so that he can test it and use it in production right away”, Henkel explained further, emphasizing that, for this particular service, of course the experienced employees are assigned along with the technical equipment.

And Globally Via The Cloud

For customers who cannot come to the Color Lounge or be visited by the Colormobile, cpc offers yet another global service. “Together with our corporate partners, we have developed the Digital Cloud that enables us to undertake color development and send it digitally to the customer. They can select a color from a calibrated display screen or see a corresponding print of it.”, explained Schleberger, introducing the company's third cool idea. He emphasized that, within this context, they can categorically ensure that a color sent digitally will also appear the same in an end product. Beyond bridging long distances, the Digital Cloud offers other advantages: the ability to easily create multiple colors; to be able to compare these to others; lower costs; and increased environmental friendliness. The latter results from eliminating mold-injection samples and the associated logistics for their delivery. The Managing Director offered up one final, convincing proof of the customer support that cpc can provide: “Thanks to digital sampling, toothbrush manufacturer Dr. Best saved six weeks time and 8,000 Euros on a new toothbrush color.”

This article was published with the permission of K-Profi / Kunststoff-Profi Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. All rights reserved.

Your Contact

  • Oliver Beiser

    Business Segment Manager Engineering Plastics, Coperion, Stuttgart