Polymer Material ID - Analysis

ATRONA performs many different types of chemical and thermal analysis on polymers for sample identification. We have a full polymer laboratory that includes the necessary equipment and instruments to idetify a polymer/plastic sample. Our experienced chemists and polymer scientists are here to help our customers with testing and consulting on their plastics and polymer samples. Our library of materials has thousands of stored spectra for specific materials to help in the search when identifying the types of material that we are testing. Our laboratory also has back up instruments in the event one of our instrument is busy or in need of maintenance. You will like our reports and friendly customer service but most importantly you will like the way we explain things and the prices we charge. ATRONA has recently expanded its polymer testing capabilities wth new  latest ta instruments for tga and dsc.

MATERIAL ID: Depending on the level of analysis that you are looking for and your objectives for full material identification we can perform Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) which is used to identify functional groups in chemical structures, identifying polymers based on the absorption patterns of infrared light. Our FT-IR is also equipped with Microscopic FT-IR for very small fragments that need to be identified and with Attenuated Total Reflectance accessories (ATR). This ATR is used to analyze solid samples such as polymer films, resins, fabrics, powders and pastes.

Besides FT-IR and ATR ATRONA is equipped and experinced with other thermal and chemical analysis such as Thermogravimetric Analysis interfaced to a mass spectrometer (TGA/MS) which measures the change in mass of a sample. An interface to a mass spectrometer allows the molecular weight of small molecules (gases) to be determined after degredation in the TGA. It can be used to identify the indivisual mass losses in the TGA by Molecular weight.

Other tests for sample ID: Include Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). This thermal analysis is used to obtain information on thermal transition of polymers, including glass transition, melting temperature, crystallization temperatures, heats of transition. The instrument is capable of temperature ramps from -150°C to 600°C.

Using a DSC (differential scanning calorimeter) the following are commonly determined:

Tg = Glass Transition Temperature = Temperature (°C) at which an amorphous polymer or an amorphous part of a crystalline polymer goes from a hard brittle state to a soft rubbery state.
Tm = melting point = Temperature (°C) at which a crystalline polymer melts.
Δ Hm = the amount of energy (joules/gram) which a sample absorbs while melting.
Tc = crystallization point = Temperature at which a polymer crystallizes upon heating or cooling.
Δ Hc = the amount of energy (joules/gram) a sample releases while crystallizing.

Combined with an FT-IR analysis, a DSC thermal scan can be used to help further identify certain types of materials by their melting points and is a useful tool for checking plastic parts or resins for contamination not seen by FT-IR. It is also used to characterize materials for their thermal performance.

Filler (Ash) Content and Identification: An Ash test is used to determine if a material is filled. The test will identify the total filler content. It cannot identify individual percentages in multi-filled materials without additional test procedures being performed.

An Ash test involves taking a known amount of sample, placing the weighed sample into a dried / pre-weighed porcelain crucible, burning away the polymer in an air atmosphere at temperatures above 500°C, and weighing the crucible after it is has been cooled to room temperature in a desiccator. Ash residue remaining in the crucible is considered filler unless the residue is less than 1%. Residues of less than 1% are typically the result of additives that did not burn off.

The Ash test result is expressed as % ash. A magnified optical examination of the ash residue is performed to determine if the ash is glass, mineral, or a combination of both. The total ash content equals the weight of the ash divided by the weight of the original sample multiplied by 100%.

If the supplied material has mineral filler an FTIR analysis of the ash residue can help to further identify the type of mineral.

Smaller sample sizes: TGA (Thermogravimetric Analysis) is an alternative method to determine filler content with smaller samples sizes.


Having a full polymer lab ATRONA uses various test instruments and methods. We are capable of identifying the material or verifying the material meets engineering design requirements. This includes instruments and tests such as: FT-IR, Microscopic FT-IR, ATR, DSC, TGA, TMA, Melt FLow, GCMS, and various other instruments to determine properties of the sample.

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