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pigment typesColour is in everything we see.  Everything we wear. Objects around us and the products we buy. 

Colour plays a big part in our lives.  For some materials and products, colour doesn’t come naturally, so pigments are used to change the colour of different materials. 

Pigments and pigment dispersion, in particular, is a chemical process by which colour is added to set materials.  Pigments are different from dyes (check out our last blog post on the differences between dyes and pigments), as they use a binding agent which when combined and mixed forms a coating which is applied to the top of materials, rather than being absorbed into materials like dyes. 

There are also different pigment types to choose from, depending on your requirements and the product it will be working with. 

In this post, we look further at the different types of pigments available as well as the production of paint pigment and the colours created. 

Different types of pigments 

It’s important to note that pigments primarily come in two different types, but hundreds (if not thousands) of different shades. 

The chemicals that we use to make pigments fall into two categories; organic and inorganic. 

Inorganic Pigments 

Inorganic pigments are the simplest chemical structure as they are formed in nature.  These natural structures are made up of metal compounds (oxides and minerals), which help to provide and give specific colours 

Natural inorganic pigments include umbers, ochres, and sienna’s, which are all excavated from the ground.  As well as natural salts and minerals which can again be taken directly from rocks or the earth, or indeed can be synthesised from such minerals. 

However, and much more common today, pigments with the same names are produced synthetically.  For example, cadmium yellow (which is an entirely new synthetic mineral pigment), cobalt blue, and titanium white. 

What’s more, entirely new pigments can be produced and created from minerals using the artificial route rather than being produced naturally, allowing you much more customisation of your products, if you choose a paint pigment supplier who has expertise in this area. 

Synthetic inorganic pigments can also be created depending on the size of the particles used to make the pigment at the manufacturing stage.  For example, take the size of the particle and using it to determine a range of base colours, these can then be ground down further into a variety of different size particles to create an even broader palette and range of colours, shades, and hues! 

Organic Pigments 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have organic pigments.  Rather than being a natural and straightforward chemical structure, organic pigments are put together and built like building blocks.   

Paint pigment suppliers do have much more control over this process compared to inorganic manufacturing, so there is typically less of an environmental concern attached to it. 

Made up of carbon compounds, synthetic organic pigments include azo-pigments and alizarin which produce the yellow, orange and red range of colours and Phthalocyanine which provides the blue and green ranges, and quinacridone will make a lightfast red-violet pigment. 

Interestingly, synthetic organic pigments used in paints are dye-pigments.  This is where a dye is attached to an insoluble substrate, weaving its way through materials, forming into the paint, like any other pigment, when it is then applied to something solid and insoluble. 

Due to these processes, new pigments created are less expensive, and a much wider range of colours can be made available. 

Not as common but still used in some sectors is that of natural organic pigments.  These pigments include dyes which are converted into dye-pigments after being made from animal or plant sources.   

Plant-sources like indigo, gamboge, and madder are all dye-pigments.  Examples of animal dye-pigments include Indian yellow and sepia. 

Paint Pigment Suppliers 

Centre Colours are one of the leading pigment dispersion manufacturers in the UK.  We help create different forms of pigments, offering you a range of colours and type that is correct for use. 

For example, we can help you with creating that fantastic chrome paint look using metallic pigments, or we can use acidic or basic pigments to provide a vibrant and rich colour for paints and inks. 

Call one of our pigment dispersion experts today, to find out more and see how we can help you.