Using an optimal material can make a great difference to product performance. Smithers Rapra can evaluate new formulations or changes to components within a formulation.
We offer consultancy and product development capabilities with full confidentiality.
Our laboratories are UKAS accredited to ISO 17025.
Plastic Ingredient and Material Evaluation
Smithers Rapra uses a “one stop shop” approach to prepare, mould and evaluate chemical and physical properties of plastic compounds all at the same site.
We have an up-to-date in-house compounding facility that enables us to model compounds effectively. These can then be processed by us into components or samples which we can evaluate using a wide range of chemical and physical tests including injection or compression moulding and film, sheet or pipe extrusion.
Our team has a wealth of experience in such diverse projects as developing and validating anti-microbial compounds, to blowing agent master-batches and novel high temperature fluorinated compounds.
Various techniques we use to evaluate plastics compounds include:
- Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) and rheological studies as standard tests for molecular weight change. Rheological analysis is often valuable in order to track compounding conditions to its downstream melt processing behaviour.
- Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), to obtain chemical finger prints of polymer types and major extractable additives for example plasticisers.
- Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), in order to understand thermal history, melting points and transitions resulting from the additives and compounding regime.
- The chromatography techniques of Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), useful for identifying and quantifying a wide range of additives such as UV stabilisers, antioxidants and slip additives.
- Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA), which provides compositional finger prints, for example low molecular weights, filler and ablation characteristics.
Physical Testing and Chemical Analysis
We use our on-site testing and analysis capabilities to compare the new formulation against either the standard formulation or the product requirements. Our experts devise bespoke testing programmes based on the material's requirements and the intended end-use of the product or component.
For guidance with your ingredient and material evaluation please get in touch with our featured plastics expert.
Rubber and Elastomer Ingredient and Material Evaluation
Smithers Rapra regularly undertakes rubber formulation ingredient evaluations for material suppliers, rubber compounders and product manufacturers. Rubber and elastomer formulations contain a complex mixture of ingredients. These are all critical in ensuring satisfactory processing and curing at the manufacturing stage and a correctly functioning product in its actual-use environment.
Changing ingredients and polymer grades should be undertaken with caution. Ingredient changes may often be a necessity but as the number of polymer grades and compounding ingredients available has increased this makes a true assessment of the real effects of a replacement extremely challenging. Ingredient changes that are made without fully appreciating the consequences can lead to premature product failure, product recall and massive costs.
Testing a new ingredient or polymer grade can be time consuming and difficult to fit into production schedules. Working with our experts will help you avoid tying up valuable in-house resources or equipment. We provide an independent and unbiased report on the effects, benefits and limitations of the alternative grade of ingredient. We also offer an independent follow-up assessment of any potential risks involved in changing to the new grade or ingredient and further assistance in optimising the formulation, if required.
We are able to assist ingredient manufacturers in providing independent assessments of how new ingredients perform in relation to existing commercial products, giving them the tools to fully promote its benefits.
The evaluation is performed using computer-controlled mixing equipment and the method can be either a 'standard' test formulation based on one or more polymers, or the client's own formulation. Where appropriate, Factorial Experimental Design (FED) can be used to establish the effects of an ingredient across multiple parameters, such as Mixing Cure characteristics, Flow properties, Moulding, and Physical and Chemical properties (before and after ageing).
For guidance with your ingredient and material evaluation please get in touch with our featured rubbers expert.