There are many motivations behind choosing colors and shades for rubber tubing. Certain colors may communicate a specific usage, length, or other variable at a glance, making it easier for someone to choose the right tubing type when moving quickly. For some applications, such as medical and surgical tubing, water-clarity may be vital to allow professionals to observe what is flowing through the tubing while in use. Some companies may also choose colors based on their branding.
Tubing Dyeing & Coloring Process
Colorants for tubing come in several different forms, including powders or granules, flake pigments, and pastes to name a few. Latex tubing is usually colored with a pigment dispersion, which is blended into the latex for outer dips. For extruded tubing, color is often achieved with a pigment master batch, or high concentration of pigment in a compatible polymer.
In most cases, the color is considered an additive and is added to the compound along with other additives, such as cure systems and antidegradants, before vulcanization.
Coloring Factors to Consider
There are several factors to consider when choosing the appropriate strategy and material for dyeing rubber tubing.
The first is the color and colorability of the base polymer. Some polymers are naturally milky white or amber, and some polymers take color very well, while others do not. Additionally, some are only compatible with certain shades. For example, a given polymer may be compatible with standard color wheel hues but not neons or fluorescents. It’s important to understand the options available to you before making a decision about colored tubing or risking disappointment because your ideal color is not compatible with your ideal polymer.
The second is the service environment and performance requirements of the final product. There are two reasons why this is important when making colored tubing. First, some colorants cannot withstand high heat, corrosion, or other intense environmental conditions. Second, some colorants may alter or even degrade the material stability and characteristics of the base polymer. Understanding the relationship between the dyeing agent and the other ingredients in the colored tubing compound is critical to ensuring a final product that can perform as intended in its service environment.
Third is the manufacturing process. Some dyeing and coloring agents are best added to the compound before vulcanization. Others are exceptionally well suited to the injection molding process. Understanding which colorants do best with the desired manufacturing method can lead to a stronger final choice.
A final factor to consider is budget. Color can be one of the most expensive ingredients in a colored tubing compound, depending on the quantity and type of colorant chosen. A reliable compounding expert can offer a few different options depending on budget, desired outcome, and other variables to ensure a final choice that aligns with the company’s ultimate goals and priorities.
Colored Tubing Options From KEP
The team at KEP has a deep understanding of the coloring and dyeing process for colored rubber tubing and the performance considerations of various color choices. We have a highly refined color matching system in place to ensure the highest possible likelihood of achieving the correct hue. In addition to standard Pantone colors, we can also achieve neon, fluorescent, and matte colors, along with water-clear, translucent, and semi-opaque shades.
Whether you’re developing a brand new product or recreating an existing item, you can count on KEP to help you achieve the exact color you’re looking for. To learn more about colored tubing, talk to a member of our team >