What Is The Difference Between Thermoplastic Elastomer And Color Masterbatches?

The world of plastics is quite diverse. There are tons of terms and options, which is ultimately the reason why this industry has so many manufacturers focusing on different areas of expertise. Thermoplastic elastomers happen to be one of the most common types of plastics in the modern world for multiple reasons.

On the other hand, color masterbatches, as their name suggests, are pigments utilized to give a certain coloration to different plastic items, depending on the manufacturer. How are both of these products similar and different from each other? This post will give you an overview of the differences between both products and their applications.

Before we can start discussing the differences between both subjects, it is important to define them individually.

What are thermoplastic elastomers?

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are also known as “thermoplastic rubbers” due to their physical properties. However, what differentiates TPEs from conventional vulcanized rubbers is that, even after use, TPEs can be further processed and recycled.

TPEs are extremely easy to process and require fewer steps. Therefore, they can be less costly than other materials and more efficient due to the shorter fabrication times. Plus, TPEs do not require to be compounded, as they come ready for fabrication.

Read More: What Is The Difference Between Thermoplastic Elastomers And UV-Resistance?

What are color masterbatches?

Color masterbatches (MB) are plastic additives utilized to color plastics. They come in the form of granulated particles that can be mixed with the resin material and other auxiliary agents to color any plastic product. Therefore, it can be defined as a mixture of pigments and additives. 

Like TPE, color masterbatches are an excellent option for operators to save money during the manufacturing process. These pigments are extremely easy to combine with other materials and provide them with excellent properties that may ensure their durability in the long term.

Differences between thermoplastic elastomers and color masterbatches 

The difference between TPEs and color masterbatches is evident. While one is raw material utilized to manufacture diverse plastic products for different industries, including construction, appliances, and packages, among many other industrial markets, the other is a color additive used to give a determined pigmentation to said products. 

Some manufacturers provide color masterbatches compatible with TPEs. Thus, both objects are deeply related.

TPEs are raw materials, while masterbatches provide them with color

While TPEs can be categorized as the “raw” material to manufacture certain plastic products, color masterbatches can be deemed as the “pigment” given to such products to gain their characteristic bright color. Therefore, although products are essentially made of plastics, they are destined for different applications.

Masterbatches cannot work on their own 

Color masterbatches cannot work on their own due to their nature as color additives. It is necessary for them to be blended together with a harder material, such as TPE, to be viable for manufacturing. Otherwise, they are nothing more than granulated particles that have no practical use in our daily life.

On the other hand, TPE is a rubber-like material that has different applications. Some of the most common examples include toys and hygiene articles, like toothbrushes. There are tons of other materials that are made from TPE in consumer goods and other industries. Many of these products are colored using color masterbatches or other materials.

TPE is recyclable and easier to process, unlike masterbatches. Therefore, although both materials are basically plastic, they are meant for different applications, and one (masterbatches) does not have any practical use in our daily life as it is meant to be an industrial agent for manufacturing other products based on TPE and different plastics.


Color masterbatches are some of the most popular pigments utilized in today’s plastic industry. These pigments are relatively affordable and can be blended pretty well with other materials. It makes the whole process more efficient and allows the manufacturer to save on costs and reduce production time.

On the other hand, TPE is a rubber-like material used for manufacturing different consumer goods and other products, such as machinery parts or medical goods. TPE can be colored with masterbatches or other pigments.

Thus, while masterbatches have only one function, TPE can be transformed into different products that can have practical use in our daily lives.

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