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There are many types of pigments made for paint, food, fabric, cosmetic and finally plastic pigments. I guess we need pigments made for plastic, or at least pigments which won't decompose, burn or lose their properties at the temperatures inside the filament extrusion machines (around 240C).

So what type of pigment are we looking for (does that type have a name?) and where can they be found (off-the-shelf from some specialized paint store or is it a more specialized pigment for plastics which is harder to source)?

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The normal way pigment is added to filament (or any other extruded plastic product) is by mixing "masterbatch" pellets containing a high concentration of dye with the raw resin pellets. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masterbatch) This is significantly easier and more reliable than trying to mix raw pigments into the plastic -- the likelihood of clumping and other issues is greatly reduced.

You can buy these masterbatch pellets and mix up colors in whatever ratios you want to achieve specific output colors. Just make sure the masterbatch pellet carrier material is compatible with your resin. There are a wide variety of vendors, including ebay.

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  • $\begingroup$ Did I understand correctly that "masterbatch pellets" are things from the injection molding, etc. field and aren't found elsewhere? $\endgroup$ – Leo Ervin Feb 22 '16 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ You won't find them at Walmart. Easy enough to get online in small quantities though, since some vendors have started catering to people making filament. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Carlyle Feb 22 '16 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ No I mean in what fields are they used? Only the one you mentioned? Online shopping is cool, but if it can be found locally at X that might be a better option sometimes. $\endgroup$ – Leo Ervin Feb 22 '16 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know of any uses outside heavy industry. What comes to mind is injection molding, plastic extrusions, and industrial filament manufacture (for 3d printers or plastic welders). $\endgroup$ – Ryan Carlyle Feb 22 '16 at 3:15

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