Clariant Masterbatches has kept up a frantic pace in the second half of 2003, ramping up its Chinese operations, forming an online design partnership and moving ahead with new color concentrates for the personal-care market.
In China, Clariant is on track to open its third production site, in Beijing in January. The 8,900-square-foot location will produce color and additive masterbatch concentrates for local and international customers in northern China, officials said in an Oct. 20 news release.
The Holden, Mass.-based firm also is relocating its plant in Shanghai to a new, 43,000-square-foot site in Beijing by May, and this year added 2,300 square feet at its Guangzhou location.
Clariant chose Healthy & Beauty America 2003, an industry event held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in New York, as its venue to introduce three new product lines.
The firm highlighted Splash Streak-brand black and white concentrates, thermochromatic concentrates for trilayer bottles and a new color palette for its PET-based concentrates. The thermochromatics and PET colors are not commercially available yet, while Splash Streak is commercialized in all but striped grades, according to Carolyn Sedgwick, packaging business manager for Clariant's Color Works design studios.
Clariant opened a 2,000-square-foot Color Works studio in New York in June. Similar centers already are open in Singapore and Taiwan and are set to open in Holden and Frankfurt, Germany, by the end of the year. The centers are designed to help customers select which Clariant color products best suit their needs.
The concentration of personal-care packaging designers in New York made the site a natural choice, Sedgwick said.
The idea behind the black and white Splash Streak concentrates is to be ``more sophisticated'' with those traditional colors, according to Sedgwick.
``Black and white hadn't been used in plastics to highlight brand identity,'' she said. ``They had been more of a commodity idea, but now customers want special effects like translucent in black and white,'' she said in an Oct. 30 telephone interview.
In addition to personal-care items, Splash Streak is finding uses in oil bottles, cellular phones and computers.
The thermochromatics change color when exposed to heat or cold. The effect had never been used in a blow molded, trilayer bottle before, Clariant officials said, but now can achieve color change that lasts up to 30 seconds.
In PET, a dozen bright, translucent effects are intended for containers of cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
Much of the activity has been prompted by ever-more-frequent product redesigns and relaunches in the personal-care market, which now occur every 12-18 months.
The key, according to Sedgwick, is balancing products that can provide immediate payoffs with those that will pay off down the road.
``You can do the fanciest [masterbatch] you can think of, with special effects all over the place, and the customer will go with a plain white bottle,'' she said. ``But work you did on that project might be used three or four years later.''
Meanwhile, Clariant and eDesigner Studio formed an online partnership earlier this year. Clariant colors now are available on eDesigner's Web site, where designers can choose from numerous stock packaging components to build a product in an electronic format.