Carbon Black – Zap?

Posted: January 21, 2014 in UHMW
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Plastics can have a variety of additives mixed in with their resins during manufacturing. This could be liquid or solid lubricants, glass or other chemicals like molybdenum disulphide (in nylon). One common additive is carbon black and it is a particularly important for “do-it-yourselfers” to understand. Carbon black is a by-product of the incomplete combustion of various tars.Carbon_black

Carbon black is primarily added to plastics to provide UV-resistance. It absorbs harmful UV-radiation, particularly the UV-b rays, which are so damaging to many plastics. Carbon black also is used as a reinforcing agent in rubber – your tires undoubtably have carbon black. Carbon black in tires provides increased strength and wear resistance, without it your tires would likely be destroyed the first time they were “curbed”.

However, what you might not know when it comes to plastic is that carbon black makes the plastic conductive. Many plastics are naturally good electrical insulators but the addition of carbon black could compromise this. This is particularly important to note with plastics such as UHMW and HDPE where a grade with carbon black could mean reprocessed material. This material is cheaper and may be selected by the home machinist simply due to the reduced cost – without understanding what the addition of carbon black does.

For more information be sure to contact a professional in the plastics industry.


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