Why is Polymer Analysis Important?

Image Credit: Jordi Labs

Polymers are ubiquitous materials in everyday life and are used in a wide range of industries including construction, engineering, and countless commercial products. Applications can be as diverse as the polymeric materials used in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, personal care cosmetics, and food and beverage packaging.

Comprised of repeating chains of bonded molecules that are ordinarily organic, in some cases, polymers may also be inorganic in their composition.

For example, natural rubber is a polymer composed of the simple hydrocarbon isoprene, while polyethylene (PE) is a synthetic plastic manufactured from ethylene monomers. Generally, polyethylene may include up to 200,000 monomers, the structure and concentration of which can have a considerable influence on the qualities of the end-product.

Polymer Analysis and Polymerization

Polymerization is the process through which tough interlinking polymer chains are formed via covalent bonding when small molecule monomers merge and share electrons.  The polymer chain can be created using a diverse range of chemical species by pressurizing or heating samples in the presence of catalyzing agents. Utilizing a variety of engineering techniques facilitates the manufacturing of different polymers with varying molecular weights and chemical-mechanical properties.

For instance, certain epoxy resins are produced through copolymerization with an amine, a process in which the polymer reacts with a hardener to create the final product.

The composition and stability of monomers, additives, and copolymers used in the polymerization process determine the physical properties and the applicability of a given polymer product.

For quality control procedures, polymerization is generally preceded by analysis of the raw materials. Therefore, polymer analysis may reveal any deformations or vulnerabilities in the material which can then be modified through additional curing or hardening stages, such as copolymerization, during manufacture.

Polymer Analysis and Deformulation

Polymer analysis is also a standard component of product deformulation and failure analysis. Mass spectrometry and gel permeation chromatography are techniques that are used extensively for evaluating the composition, and both the primary and residual concentration of monomers in an end-product. Using these methods, it is also possible to measure the molecular weights of polymers of up to millions of molecular weight.

The significance of polymer analysis cannot be understated. Its use is important for quality control, research and development, and failure analysis in a vast range of industrial and commercial applications.

Manufactured products ranging from carbon-reinforced-polymer car parts to biodegradable plastic bags rely on polymer analysis to ensure that the material can endure application-specific stresses and conditions.

Polymer Analysis with Jordi Labs

Polymer analysis is at the core of what Jordi Labs does. Since 1980, Jordi Labs has been successfully providing high-quality analytical services and analyzing polymeric products, having already evaluated every major class of polymers available commercially including:

  • Biodegradable Polymers
  • Butadiene-based, natural and synthetic rubbers
  • Cationic, anionic and zwitterionic polymers
  • Fluoropolymers
  • Methacrylates and acrylates
  • Nylon
  • Polycarbonates
  • Polyesters (PET, PBT, PCL, PGA, PLA etc.)
  • Polyethers (PEG, PPG etc.)
  • Polyolefins (PE, PP etc.)
  • Polysaccharides and Cellulosics
  • Polysiloxanes
  • Polyurethanes and ureas
  • Styrenics (PS, ABS, SAN etc.)
  • Thermoset resins (melamine, phenol formaldehyde, epoxy etc.)
  • Vinyl polymers (PVC, PVA, EVOH)

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Jordi Labs.

For more information on this source, please visit Jordi Labs.

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