What is a "Polymer"?

The word Polymer comes from the Greek "poly" meaning many, and "meros', parts or units. A polymer is a group of many units. You combine many monomers (one unit) to create a polymer.
Polymer is often used as a synonym for "plastic", but many biological and inorganic molecules are also polymeric. All plastics are polymers, but not all polymers are plastics. Plastic actually refers to the way a material melts and flows.
Commercial polymers are formed through chemical reactions in large vessels under heat and pressure. Other ingredients are added to control how the polymer is formed and to produce the proper molecular length and desired properties. This chemical process is called 'polymerization'

  • bulletA homopolymer results from polymerizing only one kind of monomer.
  • bulletA copolymer results from using different monomers.
  • bulletHomopolymers have the same repeating unit while copolymers (which can be random, block, or graft) can vary have different numbers of repeating units.
  • bulletA terpolymer results from using three different monomers.

Different Properties of Polymers?

Polymers are characterized in many ways - by chemical or physical structure, by strength or thermal performance, by optical or electrical properties, etc. Properties can vary widely however, between manufacturers, for different performance grades, due to additives and reinforcements, or other reasons. Often grades are offered to suit the needs of specific types of applications.

  • bullet Specific Gravity
  • bullet Heat Capacitya
  • bulletMold Shrinkage
  • bulletMechanical Properties
  • bulletStrength (Tensile and Flexural)
  • bulletModulus (Tensile and Flexural)
  • bullet Elongation
  • bulletHardness
  • bulletImpact Resistance
  • bullet Thermal Properties
  • bullet Heat Deflection Temperature
  • bullet VICAT Softening Temperature
  • bullet Glass Transition Temp
  • bulletThermal Conductivity
  • bullet Thermal Expansion
  • bullet Processing Characteristics
  • bullet Melt Flow Index
  • bullet Melting Point, No-flow Temp
  • bulletShear Rate/Viscosity Relation
  • bulletCompressibility
  • bulletOptical Properties
  • bullet Light Transmission
  • bullet Haze
  • bulletRefractive Index
  • bullet Electrical Properties
  • bulletSurface and Volume Resistivity
  • bulletDielectric Constant
  • bullet Dielectric Strength
  • bullet Dissipation Factor
  • bullet Breakdown Voltage
  • bullet Environmental Properties:
  • bullet Chemical Resistance
  • bulletUV Resistance
  • bulletFlame Resistance (UL Rating)
  • bullet Oxygen Index
  • bulletWater Absorption
  • bullet Morphologyx
  • bullet Crystallinity
  • bulletOrientation
  • bulletComposition (Neat, Blended, Filled) Analyzer

How Plastics are formed into useful items?

The single most important property of plastics is the change that they undergo on heating. Some plastics can be softened by heating and will then harden again on cooling. This cycle of softening and hardening can be repeated many times without any appreciable change in the properties. Such plastics are termed THERMOPLASTICS.
There is the other class of Plastics, which soften on heating and if kept at that temperature for some time, harden irreversibly. That is, such products cannot be softened by further heating. This type is called THERMOSETTING. In thermosetting materials, chemical reaction takes place during heating and cross links are formed between adjoining chains. Heat causes the polymer molecules to turn flexible and if the cross links were not formed, the process could be repeated any number of times.

FTIR Analysis

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Testing FTIR is a superb analytical tool for screening and profiling samples. Spectro scientists have extensive FTIR analysis capabilities and expertise to help clients understand materials and products. FTIR analytical testing and data interpretation are available on a global basis. FTIR testing identifies chemical compounds in consumer products, paints, polymers, coatings, pharmaceuticals, foods and many other products.
There is the other class of Plastics, which soften on heating and if kept at that temperature for some time, harden irreversibly. That is, such products cannot be softened by further heating. This type is called THERMOSETTING. In thermosetting materials, chemical reaction takes place during heating and cross links are formed between adjoining chains. Heat causes the polymer molecules to turn flexible and if the cross links were not formed, the process could be repeated any number of times.

Advantages of FTIR Analysis by Spectro laboratories

FTIR offers quantitative and qualitative analysis for organic and inorganic samples. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) identifies chemical bonds in a molecule by producing an infrared absorption spectrum.
The resulting spectra produce a profile of the sample, a distinctive molecular fingerprint that can be used to easily screen and scan samples for many different components. FTIR is an effective analytical instrument for detecting unctional groups and characterizing covalent bonding information.

What are Yeasts?

Yeasts are single cell organisms much larger than bacteria and can be found in the soil, on plants and on the skin and body of man. They multiply by forming offspring as buds which grow and then detach themselves.
Some can produce disease, some cause skin infections in man and others cause diseases in plants. Some yeasts spoil food, but beneficial uses are in the making of beer, wine and bread.

Why require Testing??
  • bulletTo provide a basis for rehabilitate
  • bullet Safetya
  • bullet Protection against product liability suits.
  • bulletQuality Control)
  • bulletTo meet standard and Specification.
  • bulletTo verify the manufacturing process.
  • bulletTo evaluate competitors products.
  • bulletTo establish a history for new materials.
What type of plastic is this? Is it contaminated?

The easiest way to determine the identity of a plastic is by Fourier Transform Infrared Analysis (FTIR). Light in the infrared spectrum is passed through a small amount of the sample and the wavelengths where the light is absorbed or transmitted are measured and automatically entered into a computer. The resultant spectrum looks like a series of peaks and valleys and acts like a fingerprint for each material. The computer compares the fingerprint to known spectra to identify the generic type of material, i.e. polycarbonate, acetal, polypropylene etc. Further thermal analysis, such as Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) may be required to refine the identification of some materials (i.e. nylon type, or homopolymer vs. copolymer).

Is my material degraded from molding? Is regrind present?

Nearly all molding processing and thermal histories including the use of regrind, cause some polymer degradation. One of the most common ways to determine the extent of this degradation is to look for changes in the molecular weight (i.e. polymer chain length) that occur as a material breaks down. One test that correlates to molecular weight is Melt Flow Index, where the amount of melted plastic that flows in a given time through a controlled orifice at a specific temperature and pressure is measured. Other techniques use viscosity tests like Intrinsic Viscosity or Relative Viscosity where the flow properties of the dissolved polymer are determined

How do I know if I have good incoming plastic raw material?

Most resin suppliers today are anxious to work closely with you to assure that you have good incoming raw material and are willing to provide Certification Sheets on each lot of plastic. A good Certification Sheet should provide actual and pertinent test data like Melt Flow Index, Heat Deflection Temperature or Impact Resistance, as appropriate, on the exact lot along with specific information on the test methods employed.. Actual testing of the incoming material using standardized test methods (i.e. ASTM, ISO, etc.) can be employed on an occasional or routine basis as required.

Is plastic compatible with a specific chemical?

Chemical compatibility testing of plastics is a complex and not always exact science. Many techniques and test procedures have been developed most of which employ exposure of test coupons or parts to a chemical under specified conditions. Stress and temperature are often employed to accelerate the chemical attack. Observations of weight gain, appearance, cracking, crazing and changes in mechanical properties like Tensile Strength or Elongation are often used to infer the relative resistance of the plastic to the chemical environment being evaluated.

What is PEX?

PEX is cross-linked Polyethylene. Through one of several processes, links between polyethylene macromolecules are formed to create bridges between PE molecules (thus the term "cross-linked). This resulting molecule is more durable under temperature extremes, chemical attack, and resists creep deformation, making PEX an excellent material for hot water applications (up to 200° F).

Can you help me find out if my part is made out of the plastic I specified?

Absolutely! We are experts in polymer identification. Polymer identification is not a simple technique. It has to be confirmed by at least 2 instrumental techniques i.e. FTIR, TGA or DSC and physical and chemical properties like burning properties, specific gravity, solubility, etc. The combined results of all these leads to correct identification. Simple identification involves comparison with standard library spectra of known polymer by FTIR hence it costs less.

Can you tell me whether (plastic, fabric, rubber) is strong enough?

We can perform all types of materials strength testing: Tensile, Compressive, Flexural, Tear, Breaking load etc. If you have a performance criterion for your product, we can determine whether it complies or not. Alternatively, we can compare the properties of one product to another to determine which is stronger.

Is the plastic I want to use for (food packaging, food storage) acceptable?

If you tell us what type of plastic it is, and what its intended use is, we can perform the appropriate FDA tests to determine whether your plastic is acceptable for contact with food or beverages.

Can you determine the cause of a product (defect, failure)?

Yes we can determine the cause of defect or failure in the product. We also compare the defective product with an exemplar product and its raw materials, and find out what is different between the "good" vs. "bad".

Can you determine the cause of a product (defect, failure)??

Polymers are commonly refered to by both their names and abbreviations. Commercial polymers are also frequently refered to by the trade names of their manufacturer.

ABS Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene Terpolymer
BMC Bulk Molding Compound
EVA Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Copolymer
LCP Liquid Crystal Polymer
PA Polyamide, commonly called Nylon
PAN Polyacrylonitrile
PAS Polyarylsulfone
PBD Polybutadine
PBT Polybutadiene Terephthalate
PC Polycarbonate
PE Polyethylene
HDPE High Density PE
LDPE Low Density PE
LLDPE Linear Low Density PE
VLDPE Very Low Density PE
HMW-HDPE High Molecular Weight HDPE
UHMWPE Ultrahigh-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene
PEEK Polyetheretherketone
PEK Polyetherketone
PEI Polyetherimide
PES Polyethersulfone
PET Polyethylene Terephthalate
PET-G Glycol Modified PET
PI Polyisoprene
PS-b-PI Polystyrene/Polyisoprene block Copolymer
PI Polyimide
PK Polyketone
PMMA Polymethyl Methacrylate, commonly called Acrylic
PMP Polymethylpentene
POM Polyoxymethylene, commonly called Acetal
PP Polypropylene, subdivided as: homopolymer, random, impact and block copolymers
PPA Polyphthalamide
PPO/PPE Polyphenylene Oxide, Polyphenylene Ether
PPS Polyphenylene Sulfide
PS Polystyrene
EPS Expanded Polystyrene
HIPS High Impact Polystyrene
PSO,PSU Polysulfone
PTFE Polytetrefluoroethylene
PU,PUR Polyurethane
PVA Polyvinyl Alcohol
PVC Polyvinylchloride, commonly refered to as vinyl RUBBER
EPR Ethylene Propylene Rubber
SBR Styrene Butadiene Rubber
EPDM Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer Rubber
SAN Styrene Acrylonitrile Copolymer
SI Silicone
SMC Sheet Molding Compound
TPE Thermoplastic Elastomer
UF Urea Formaldehyde