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aluminum paste is a packaged metallic pigment used to create the various aesthetics seen in paint, coatings and inks. Manipulating the shape and size of these particles within the coating, ink or masterbatch (ink for graphic arts and plastics) can produce different effects.
To make this type of product, aluminum ingots are atomized and shaped into flake-like particles. These are dry milled in ball mills, Hametag process, or wet milled by adding white spirit (Hall process). Regardless of the method, the result is the same – highly reflective, silvery metallic particles.
The particles are then mixed with petroleum solvent to form a paste. The type of solvent can vary depending on the end use and industry. For example, printing inks require a oil-based solvent to ensure the optimum printability and drying behavior. Water based solvents such as mineral spirits and even water can be used to make non-leafing or encapsulated aluminum paste pigments which are unreactive in water and safe for water based coatings.
Aluminum pigment pastes are formulated to be compatible with the final application technology. For example, for flexographic or gravure printing, the solvent should be chosen to match the chemistry of the print-ink mixture in order to achieve the optimum metallic print effect.
aluminum pastes are also formulated to be compatible with a wide range of thermoplastic and thermosetting resins. The choice of the resin system is determined by its mechanical properties, surface finish requirements and environmental considerations.