The color of your plastic or silicone product can make all the difference, especially for your consumers. It’s the first thing any customer will see of a product and can make a real impact on sales. The right color choice can set you apart from competitors and other brands, establishing your product in the market. As such, you should approach choosing color as seriously as any other strategic choice for your business.
You might not realize this but the material you choose for you product is where we you need to start with this decision. Silicone and plastics have completely different pigments and need to be matched differently. Your manufacturer should be able to advise on this, helping you through this process, but here’s some basic information to get you started.
Silicone vs Plastic
Color matching for silicone is relatively easy. The pigment used in silicone is universal across all the grades of liquid silicone rubber that many manufacturers can run in-house. At Extreme Molding we can easily request a pigment sample of any pantone color and use it in any silicone for most hardnesses -- from 10 durometer to 80 durometer (these are units of measure of hardness in silicone). The color is added to clear silicone, so options are endless too-- including translucent and glitter.
Color matching for plastic can be slightly more complicated, which is where a good manufacturer can shine if they have established the right material for your product. The same pigment cannot be used for plastic and silicone, and the same pigment can not be used across all different plastics (which is where the complexity lies). The base resin of your product should be used in the process of manufacturing the pigment for your product therefore if you match a pigment to one material, and then switch to an entirely different material family, there is a high chance the pigment will cause problems in the process and will need to be re-matched.
In terms of color there are many options you can explore:
Pantones are the standard language of color, and something any great manufacturer should understand. Just about every color you know is a numerical code associated with a pantone shade. Pantone has all their colors online and they also sell their color guides and chips meaning you can browse their catalog to find the right color. While this is a great tool that speeds up production, be aware that if you use the online catalog in particular the color may be different in person than on your screen as not all screens render colors the same.
Any physical items you find lying around can be matched to a specific pigment and color. Be it a crayon, and paint swatch, or a plastic toy; you name it and most manufacturers can have it color matched. All a silicone or plastic manufacturer needs is the physical item to match the color. You can send this item direct to your manufacturer or send it directly to your manufacturer’s local Pigment Supplier.
When you need FDA compliant products from your manufacturer, look for a manufacturer who can make your product with a pigment that is FDA compliant. FDA compliance isn’t just about the base resin you use – the pigments in the product need to be safe for contact with food and safe for applications such as baby toys. At Extreme Molding we have a wealth of experience with child-friendly, food safe and medical products that mean we can produce FDA compliant products that don’t compromise on color or safety, and are also BPA free.
- Translucence: For silicone and clear plastic resins, translucent is a great option. If you want your product to be visual clear, but also have a pop of color, this is a great way to go.
- Pearlescence or Glitter: Adding a touch of sparkle can transform your product into something spectacular. Most manufacturers will caution that there are some particular processing challenges with glitter because glitter has a larger particle size than tradition pigments and it does not disperse evenly during injection, especially in complex geometry. This can cause streaking, which will mimic the material flow into the part. But your manufacturer should be able to advise on how to best mitigate this and the alternative options available with your design.
- Pastels: Pastels pigments for plastic or silicone products can seem like an attractive choice. Pastels have been very popular in recent years. While we love pastels as a color, we should warn you that they can streak. The white in the pigment formulation (any pastel is a mix of white and a color pigments to get light shade) can sometimes cause the colors to separate and this causes streaking during injection molding at the gate or across different surface features (corners or other features). If you must use difficult pigments like this, you’ll need to rely heavily on your manufacturers expertise to ensure streaking risks are minimized.
- Fluorescence: Not much else can draw an eye to your product quite like a bright fluorescent or glow-in-the-dark pigment. These are ideal for products that need to be eye catching or function in the dark. Note: this pigment is not FDA compliant, so any good manufacturer will not recommend its use for FDA compliant products.
Choosing the Right Color
Choosing the right color for your product is ultimately your business decision but your manufacturer will be able to provide advice on which colors will work best for your components. At Extreme Molding we have a large team of experts who can help you select the materials and color of your product, creating the perfect combination of both. For a free consultation on how to create your product, contact us.