Product Information

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) (Cas No: 9004-36-8) Supplier in Europe

Cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) is a thermoplastic cellulose ester known for its exceptional balance of properties that make it advantageous for a wide range of applications.

Derived from cellulose, which is commonly obtained from plant matter, CAB contains both butyrate and acetate functional groups. The presence of butyrate provides improved resistance to weathering and ultraviolet light, while also reducing the material’s moisture absorption compared to cellulose acetate.

The versatility of CAB lies in its variation; the manipulation of butyrate and acetate group proportions can yield compounds with differing physical and chemical characteristics tailored to specific end uses.

In industry, CAB’s high optical clarity and durability are leveraged in coatings, inks, films, and molded objects.

Its adhesion properties and compatibility with other materials make it an excellent additive in surface finishes, where it enhances gloss, toughness, and longevity.

Being based on renewable cellulose, it also presents a more sustainable option within the realm of thermoplastics, with certain grades of CAB, like Eastman CAB-381-20, boasting a significant bio-content value.

Manufacturers value CAB for these eco-friendly traits and its ease of processing, which includes capabilities for extrusion, injection molding, and other thermoplastic techniques, granting versatility across both commercial and industrial applications.

Chemical Structure and Properties

Cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) is a thermoplastic cellulose ester characterized by its chemical composition which includes acetyl and butyryl functional groups. The molecular structure of CAB consists of cellulose chains where hydroxyl groups are partially or fully substituted by acetate and butyrate groups.

Composition and Substitution:

CAB’s properties are influenced by the ratio of butyrate to acetate groups within the molecule, which can be controlled during synthesis. This ratio affects the polymer’s degree of substitution (DS), which in turn determines its properties.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Moisture Absorption: CAB materials have a lower moisture uptake compared to cellulose acetate, enhancing their durability and making them suitable for applications where dimensional stability is crucial in moist environments.
  • Weather Resistance: They exhibit improved resistance to weathering, a quality that extends their utility in outdoor applications.

Thermoplastic Nature:

  • Processability: The thermoplastic behavior of CAB allows it to be melted and reshaped without altering its chemical structure, facilitating its use in injection molding and extrusion processes.

Molecular Weight:

  • Variations in molecular weight contribute to different characteristics in CAB products, giving manufacturers the capability to tailor materials for specific applications based on their mechanical and thermal requirements.

By adjusting the synthesis process, CAB can attain a range of properties to meet diverse industry needs, from coatings and plastics to inks and films, showcasing its versatility as a sustainable material derived from renewable resources.

Production of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate

The process of creating Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) involves specific raw materials and a multi-step manufacturing process, which is closely monitored to ensure quality control.

Raw Materials

  • Cellulose: Derived from cotton linters or wood pulp, providing the base polymer structure.
  • Acetic Anhydride: A reagent used to introduce acetyl groups to the cellulose.
  • Butyric Anhydride: A reagent that contributes butyryl groups during the esterification process.

Manufacturing Process

  1. Esterification:
    • The cellulose is reacted with acetic and butyric anhydrides to introduce acetyl and butyryl groups.
    • Controlled temperature and catalyst presence are crucial for desired substitution levels.
  2. Purification:
    • The resultant mixture is then purified to remove unreacted materials.
  3. Drying and Pelletizing:
    • The purified cellulose ester is dried and formed into pellets for further application.

Quality Control

  • Consistency of Substitution:
    • Analytical testing ensures the acetyl and butyryl groups are present at specified levels.
  • Physical Properties:
    • Tests confirm product integrity, such as UV resistance and film-forming ability.

Types and Grades of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) is categorized into various types and grades based on the degree of substitution of the hydroxyl groups in cellulose with acetyl and butyryl groups. These modifications affect the properties of CAB, making it suitable for diverse applications.

Substitution Ratio:

The ratio of acetyl to butyryl groups can be adjusted during synthesis. A higher butyrate content generally increases toughness and UV resistance, while a higher acetate content can enhance clarity and reduce cost.

  • Low Butyrate Grades: Suitable for applications requiring high clarity and gloss.
  • High Butyrate Grades: Preferred for outdoor applications due to enhanced weatherability.

Viscosity Grades:

Viscosity grade in CAB refers to the flow characteristics of the material during processing. This attribute is crucial for manufacturing processes such as injection molding.

  • Low Viscosity: Provides easier flow, suitable for thin films and detailed parts.
  • High Viscosity: Better for thicker sections requiring higher strength.

Specialty Grades:

  • UV Stabilized: For products exposed to sunlight.
  • Impact Modified: To improve toughness.

The table below highlights the common CAB types:

Butyrate Content Application Characteristics
Low High-clarity items Glossy, clear, and lower cost
High Outdoor applications Tough, UV resistant, and weatherproof


Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) serves a multitude of applications across various industries due to its desirable properties such as toughness and resistance to weathering. It is utilized where a durable, aesthetically pleasing finish is required.

Coatings and Inks

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate is widely adopted in the coatings industry. It is used as a film-former in paints and lacquers, contributing to a glossy and protective finish. CAB-based inks are valued for their adhesion and clarity, particularly on plastic substrates.

Plastics Industry

In plastics, CAB improves the impact resistance and durability of products. This thermoplastic is incorporated into various items, increasing their longevity and performance. Manufacturers use CAB to enhance the quality of tool handles and automotive parts.

Film and Sheet Production

The production of film and sheets often involves CAB for its optical clarity and flexibility. These attributes make CAB an ideal component in the fabrication of thin films for packaging and overlays, such as those used in signage and displays.

Consumer Products

Due to its safety and stability, CAB sees application in consumer goods. Items like goggles, steering wheels, and bathroom accessories benefit from CAB’s toughness and reduced moisture absorption, maintaining both their aesthetic and functional quality over time.

Advantages and Limitations

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) is a thermoplastic notable for its balance between aesthetic quality and functional properties. As a derivative of cellulose acetate, CAB’s performance, environmental impact, and cost must be evaluated to determine its suitability for various applications.

Performance Characteristics

  • Weather Resistance: CAB exhibits superior weathering resistance, outperforming cellulosic cousins like cellulose acetate and propionate in outdoor applications.
  • Lower Moisture Absorption: This material benefits from a reduced rate of moisture uptake, resulting in better stability in humid conditions compared to cellulose acetate.

Environmental Impact

  • Biodegradability: As a cellulosic material, CAB is inherently biodegradable under the right conditions. However, the rate and extent of degradation can vary depending on environmental factors.

Cost Considerations

  • Material Expense: CAB is generally more expensive than some other cellulosic materials, due to the costlier production process and raw material prices.
  • Impact by Solvents: The cost of handling and replacing CAB may rise as it is sensitive to certain solvents, which can attack or swell the polymer, potentially requiring careful solvent management.

Regulations and Standards

The regulation and standardization of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) are crucial for safety, environmental impact, and consistency in industry practices.

Safety Regulations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of CAB in food packaging. CAB may be safely applied to food items as hot-melt strippable coatings, conforming to certain provisions. These are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, section 175.230, which must be adhered to rigorously to ensure consumer safety.

Environmental Standards

CAB, a derivative of natural cellulose, is subject to environmental standards that govern its manufacture, use, and disposal.

Given that CAB is sourced from renewable resources, its environmental footprint is of interest to regulatory bodies and green certifications. The material must be managed according to sustainability protocols to minimize its environmental impact.

Industry Specifications

Quality and performance specifications for CAB vary by industry and application.

Technical aspects such as molecular weight distribution and esterification levels are characterized using GPC serial columns, and these parameters must meet industry-specific requirements. Exact specifications for CAB used in products such as thin films and coatings include dissolution properties, purity, and other physicochemical attributes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) is a thermoplastic with distinctive properties and applications. This section answers some common questions regarding its use, benefits, cost, solubility, flammability, and melting point.

What are the primary applications of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate in industry?

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate is extensively used in coatings, automotive parts, and plastic products due to its toughness and transparency. It is also employed in the manufacturing of tool handles and eyewear frames because of its high impact resistance and aesthetic qualities.

Can you detail the advantages of using Cellulose Acetate Butyrate in manufacturing?

The material offers superior weather resistance and lower moisture absorption compared to cellulose acetate, which makes it ideal for outdoor applications.

Its toughness and clarity are beneficial for producing durable and visually appealing products.

How does the cost of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate compare to similar materials?

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate tends to be more expensive than cellulose acetate but offers advantages like improved resistance to weathering and impact, which can justify its higher cost in many applications.

What is the solubility profile of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate in common solvents?

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate is soluble in a wide range of solvents, including esters, ketones, and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

This solubility allows for versatility in processing and application, especially in coatings and inks.

What are the flammability characteristics of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate?

The flammability of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate is relatively low, which contributes to its safety in various applications.

However, it can still burn under high temperatures or when exposed to a flame, and proper safety measures should be taken.

At what temperature does Cellulose Acetate Butyrate typically melt?

The typical melting point of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate ranges from 160 to 180 degrees Celsius. The melting point depends on the exact composition and molecular weight of the specific grade of material.