Advanced analysis tools for plastic products and polymers

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Advanced analysis tools for plastic products and polymers

Plastic is one of the most important and widely used materials due to the many tailored properties that can be achieved through material composition and processing.

The properties and lifespan of plastic products depend on several factors, ranging from molecular structure to finished molded items. Knowledge about materials and structures in plastic can be obtained using advanced analyses methods based on X-ray and neutron radiation. These tools can support both production, quality control, and troubleshooting.

Solutions and monomers/polymers

Uniformity of polymer chains. Plastic consists of long, chain-like molecules made from individual building blocks called monomers, and the microstructure of these chains forms the basis of the material's overall properties. Advanced analysis tools can detect structures down to the monomer level and provide information about, for example:

  • Polymer chain branching
  • Polymer chain lengths
  • Chemical impurities, both during and after the polymerization process

Similarly, advanced analysis tools can track chemical dissolution –the depolymerization – of plastics which is often required for recycling purposes. This also applies to synthetic textile materials.

Non-destructive testing of plastic products and granules

Porosities, fiber structures, and internal fractures. Advanced analyses can provide information on internal structures in a material without affecting or damaging the sample. For example, it is possible to:

  • Determine the distribution and size of air pockets 
  • Quantify relative polymer orientation and degree of molecular order 
  • Detect fractures from visual range down to below micrometer-scale

The analyses can be performed while the sample is subjected to external environments such as heat or stress to determine the effect of these influences.

Plastics can be tested for chemical impurities down to concentrations in parts per billion (ppb), which may be of relevance to obtain certain certifications. Advanced analysis tools can help confirm and explain the quality, strength, and lifespan of plastic products.

Approval-heavy plastic products

  • Food and packaging. The safety of food packaging places high demands on the plastic used in these products. Advanced diagnostics can determine permeability of water and gases. The adhesion between layers in multilayer films can also be revealed under varying environmental influences and tested for diffusion of, for example, water.

  • Plastic medical products. There is a very high demand for the quality of products and materials used in the medical industry. Quality assurance, documentation, and development for medical products can be supported through advanced X-ray or neutron-based diagnostics.

  • 3D printed items. During additive manufacturing processes, parts of the material are constantly heated or cooled. Advanced analyses can quantify whether these phenomena lead to fractures or microcracks in the finished product.

For further questions or inquiries, we are ready to advise you