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In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into understanding carbon black.
What is carbon black?
Carbon black is an effective and commonly used ultraviolet (UV) stabilizer. It can be used in a variety of applications in plastic, including as a pigment, conductive filler material, particulate reinforcement and UV absorber.
UV stabilizers, like carbon black, are added to plastic before extruding/molding. The stabilizers absorb or screen out damaging UV light from the sun and transform the energy of the rays – the UV light – into heat, which is dissipated harmlessly throughout the product.
How are plastic materials affected by sunlight?
All materials absorb sunlight radiation, which is what causes them to heat up when exposed to sunshine. While, for many materials, the effect of sunlight is minimal beyond just simple heating, some materials, particularly plastics, suffer from degradation by sunlight.
Studies of the degradation of plastic by sunlight have shown that the most destructive frequencies for plastics are those at the higher energy end of sunlight, in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum.
Let’s get technical
Each type of plastic is sensitive to certain wavelengths within the 290-400 nanometer (nm) UV region. For example, polypropylene has three maxima at 290–300, 330 and 370 nm, while for polyethylene, it’s 300–331 and 340 nm.
The typical accepted standard percentage of carbon black for suitable UV protection is ~2%. Less than 2% will not provide adequate protection, while significantly more than that amount is wasteful and may start to have other negative effects on the physical properties of the material. To learn more about UV resistance, click here.
What if I need more information?
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