Plastics play an enormous role in modern manufacturing—from functioning as a primary packaging material to serving as the end-product itself. And its prevalence in our daily lives and businesses is especially visible in the volume of plastic parts, from plumbing fixtures to screwdriver handles, produced every year.
Of course, as a key piece of the business, manufacturers need to not only ensure quality and function of plastic products and parts, but also have the ability to troubleshoot if a product fails, fractures, or malfunctions. This is paramount to keeping production going and protecting the business’s bottom line. And when the need arises, plastics failure analysis can be an effective and fast method for determining what caused a failure.
Fourtier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is one technique that can be used for such an analysis, helping identify organic and some inorganic materials through the application of infrared radiation. Here’s one example of how we used FTIR to conduct plastics failure testing and analysis to uncover why a “bad” part failed.
After a plastic part fractured during use, the manufacturer needed to determine the cause so it could make adjustments to the manufacturing process and mitigate the issue going forward. With a working part in-hand, the manufacturer engaged our expert team to help, submitting a “good” and “bad” part to be sampled, analyzed, and compared.
With both a good and bad part submitted for analysis, our team’s goal was to uncover any differences in the chemical composition of the two materials. This led to a two-step FTIR plastics analysis:
Step 1: A material sample from each part was collected, analyzed via FTIR, and compared. The results showed that the bulk of the materials comprising each part were very similar. And in order to zero-in on any differences, an additional tactic was needed.
Step 2: Our analysts made the decision to soak the parts in isopropyl alcohol in order to extract compounds present in the parts. The alcohol was decanted and then evaporated. The remaining residues from the extracts were then analyzed using attenuated total reflectance FTIR (ATR-FTIR).
After our two-step analysis, the FTIR spectra obtained revealed that each of the extracts contained dioctylphthalate (DOP), which is a common plasticizer.
However, a significantly smaller amount was extracted from the fractured part, as compared to the good part. In the figure below, you can see the difference.
As a result, our analysts concluded that the plastic part failed due to an insufficient amount of plasticizer present. And with these results in-hand, the manufacturer could move forward with production adjustments to prevent future fractures and failures.
Are You In Need of Plastics Failure Testing & Analysis?
Partnering with an experienced lab to conduct a failure analysis of plastics is fast, accurate, and cost-effective. With more than 100 years of combined experience in the analytical testing field, our team has the expertise and the tools necessary to deliver results.