Polymer Analysis

Creating new polymers for everyday items

Polymers are large molecules (macromolecules) made of long chains of repeating units. Naturally-occurring or synthetic, they often form glass or semi-crystalline structures rather than crystals.

Because they are such versatile materials, polymers are ubiquitous in daily life. Traditional materials such as wood and metal are being replaced with newly engineered polymers that are lighter, easier and less expensive to manufacture.

In the R&D lab, a new polymer is created by synthesizing polymeric chains in small amounts or by blending existing raw materials until a final product with the desired high performance is obtained. A wide range of test methods and tools is required to classify a new polymer and to enable one to make accurate predictions of its behavior during compounding and production. Precise tests done in the laboratory reduce costs at later stages. In fact, during polymer formulation, rheometry (dynamic mechanical analysis) and methods that combine rheometry and spectroscopy are often used to test the properties of the anticipated final product extensively.

One of the most difficult tasks is mixing and extruding several polymers that are immiscible by nature. Special additives have to be tested and evaluated to reduce the interfacial barriers between the different blends. Modular small scale extruders can be used to mimic and test a full-scale production. They’re used in producing polymers and polymeric compounds as well as testing processability of such materials.

Lab scale processing is the second stage in the scale-up process. Kilograms vs. grams of the new polymer are produced. Material tests are performed to obtain detailed information on the processability and material strength of the new polymer.

During pilot plant and small-scale production, the developed and tested polymeric material is transformed into the end product. To meet high-end user requirements, a thorough and precise quality control process is mandatory.

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Featured polymer analysis videos

Polymer analysis with FT-IR spectroscopy

For polymer method development, deformulation, troubleshooting, and research, the Thermo Scientific™ Nicolet™ iS™50 FT-IR Spectrometer is the ideal material analysis workstation.

Multilayer polymer analysis with Raman imaging

Easily understand the layers of your sample with high resolution and quick, visual results. Anyone can use Raman with the Thermo Scientific™ DXR™2xi Raman Imaging Microscope.

Featured webinar

Combining Rheometry with FTIR and Microscopy: Benefits and Applications in Polymer Research

Simultaneous rheological and optical measurements are becoming increasingly popular – particularly for product development in the polymer area. Here, changes in the rheological profile can be correlated with information on either the microstructure (microscopy) or molecular structure (FTIR). Learn more about simultaneous rheological and optical measurements, viscoelasticity, thermal and UC curing, and pharmaceutical polymers and hot melt extrusion.

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Polymer research
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Featured case study

Improving R&D Processes

For the Dow Chemical Company, a leading global provider of innovative plastic and other products, it’s essential that processes and systems be streamlined to maximize productivity and reduce costs. But systems must also be flexible to cope with constantly changing requirements. Read more about the comprehensive  solution they put in place to handle samples, track analyses, log instrument and technician hours, and create complex workflows.

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Spectroscopy, Elemental & Isotope Analysis Resource Library

Access a targeted collection of application notes, case studies, videos, webinars and white papers covering a range of applications for Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy, Near-infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-Vis) spectrophotometry, X-Ray Fluorescence, and more.