Mechanical and Physical Testing of Polymers

To ensure products are fit for purpose, mechanical and physical testing of polymers used in their production is essential. There are many different types of polymer and the success or failure of product development and subsequent production often lies in choosing the right one for the intended use. Physical and mechanical testing of polymers enables raw materials suppliers to demonstrate the integrity of their products. It assists developers to ensure that the materials used comply with all industry and regulatory standards. It is also a key part of the quality control of ongoing production, protecting manufacturers’ reputation and reducing costly product recalls, for instance. There is a wide array of tests available at all stages of the manufacturing process, from design to failure analysis. Analysis of polymers through mechanical and physical testing might include measuring their scratch resistance; their tensile strength; flammability; and resistance to environmental impacts, for instance. Expert scientists advise on the correct schedule of tests on a case-by-case basis. The mechanical and physical testing of polymers is invaluable in many fields, including the medical, defence, aerospace, automotive and consumer industries.

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  1. 3D Measuring
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    3D measuring can be undertaken with a great degree of accuracy with a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Probes built into the machine determine the location of each axis of the sample and the resulting read-out plots its size and position. This tool is invaluable in quality assurance and design, as well as for inspecting the integrity of a component part.

  2. Barrier and Permeation Properties of Polymers and Plastics
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    When using plastics and polymers for applications such as packaging, it is important to know how their permeability may impact on the product within. The barrier and permeation properties of polymers and plastics can be measured accurately by scientists to ensure chosen solutions are fit for purpose.

  3. Compression Testing
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    Compression testing is widely used in industry to determine the strength of a material and its behaviour when subjected to a heavy load. Materials can be tested to establish their load limit or their breaking point; this data is invaluable when deciding when to use specific materials for particular applications.

  4. Electrical Properties of Polymers
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    Electrical properties of polymers can be tested using standard or bespoke electrical tests. These determine a material’s resistance, conductivity and charge storage. Such tests are vital to identify that a chosen polymer meets with relevant standards, is safe and meets client and consumer requirements.

  5. Flammability Properties of Polymers
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    Testing the flammability properties of polymers is vital to public safety, especially where the product being manufactured is to be used in a confined space such as a car or building. The construction, aerospace and automotive industries must ensure compliance with standards for the heat-related properties of the polymers they use in production.

  6. Flexural Properties Testing
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    Flexural properties testing determines the flexural strength of a material, i.e. how it will react when subjected to a load. The sample is suspended at given points along its length and loads applied at one or more points. Temperature can affect materials, so conditions may be simulated to mimic the environment where the finished product will be used.

  7. Optical Properties of Polymers
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    Analysis of the optical properties of polymers is important for producers and manufacturers of consumer goods. Processing can affect the appearance and indeed the performance and lifespan of a product. Testing looks at processing methods to reduce unnecessary degradation and enhance polymers’ optical properties.

  8. Peel Testing
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    Peel testing is used to measure bond strength of adhesives, seals, laminates and coatings; in other words, how much force it takes to undo the bond created. This is done to ensure the safety and performance of the material in question, ensuring it is both functional and fit for purpose.

  9. Rheology of Polymers
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    Rheology of polymers studies how polymers flow in various states when being used in production. Testing of polymers’ properties can enable problems to be identified and solved; processing costs to be reduced; and the quality of the end product improved.

  10. Scratch Testing of Polymers
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    Scratch testing of polymers seeks to uncover the likely effects of wear and tear on the materials being tested. Analysis of scratches made by diamond tips on a material sample under varying loads assists with research and design as well as quality control.

  11. Shear Testing of Polymers
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    Shear testing of polymers measures the shear strength of a sample by applying stress in a sliding motion. This contrasts with compression and tensile testing, where the stress is applied in a perpendicular motion. A shear test helps demonstrate strength and therefore suitability of polymers for particular purposes.

  12. Tensile Testing of Polymers and Composites Materials
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    Tensile testing of polymers and composites materials apply tension by pulling a material and analysing how it reacts to the forces being applied. The data gathered gives insight into the optimal materials to use for particular functions in design, production and manufacturing.

  13. Thermal Analysis of Polymers and Plastics
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    Thermal analysis of polymers and plastics helps scientists and manufacturers to understand the characteristics of these materials and how they will react and respond during manufacture. This offers opportunities to improve the qualities they possess to add value to a wide range of applications.

  14. Weathering Testing for Plastics and Polymers
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    Plastics and polymers are used increasingly for products. Weathering testing for plastics and polymers mimics environmental conditions a product or component part might be exposed to, in order to ensure it carries out its function appropriately over the course of its expected lifespan.

  15. Other
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    Other products that didn't quite fit into any of the above categories.