The effect of masterbatch pigments on the crystallisation, morphology, and shrinkage behaviour of Isotactic Polypropylene

Jawad Ullah, Eileen Harkin-Jones, AT McIlhagger, Ciaran Magee, David Tormey, Foram Dave, Richard Sherlock, D Dixon

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Variations in mould shrinkage when using organic and inorganic pigments in semicrystalline polymers is a well-known phenomenon within industry. These differences in mould shrinkage are thought to be caused by the presence of the pigments acting as nucleating agents, altering the crystallisation of semicrystalline polymers. These shrinkage variations can give rise to problems in obtaining the correct interference fit between parts and can cause issues in automated equipment such as filling lines. It has been previously reported that the onset temperature of crystallisation measured via DSC (differential scanning calorimetry) can be used to predict shrinkage when a variety of neat pigments are added to un-nucleated PP (polypropylene). However, the shrinkage and crystallisation behaviour of masterbatch pigments, which are widely used industrially is poorly understood. To better understand the influence of masterbatch pigments on crystallisation and shrinkage behaviour, injection moulded samples were prepared using variety of reds, whites, and purple commercial-masterbatch pigments with PP. The crystallisation kinetics and crystallinity were studied using DSC, LPOM (Linkam hot stage polarising optical microscopy), XRD (X-ray diffraction), and FTIR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy). The morphology was investigated via LPOM and SEM (scanning electron microscopy). A clear correlation was observed between the crystallisation onset temperature measured using DSC and the recorded shrinkage. A strong relationship was also observed between the percentage crystallinity measured using FTIR and shrinkage. Quinacridone and pyrrole based red and purple pigments were found to act as strong nucleating agents, with the pyrrole based red pigment also acting as β nucleator in PP. The white pigments were found to have less influence on the nucleation behaviour. For the pigments which induced the largest variation in shrinkage, a higher rate of nucleation and proportionally smaller spherulitic diameter was observed by DSC, SEM, and LPOM.
Original languageEnglish
Article number183 (2022)
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Polymer Research
Early online date26 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022


  • Shrinkage
  • crystallization
  • pigment
  • Nucleation
  • morphology
  • Crystallinity


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