Additives are chemical compounds that are added to polymers to improve their properties and performance. Plasticizers are used to impart flexibility. Antioxidants and UV stabilizers protect plastics against degradation caused by heat and ultraviolet light. Antistatic additives reduce buildup of static electricity on polymer films. Antimicrobial additives prevent discoloration due to growth of bacteria and fungi.
The goal of additives analysis is to identify the additives in a polymer, or to quantify the levels of additives present. Identification and quantification of additives is necessary for a failure analysis to determine the cause of a plastic material not performing as intended. Antioxidant or UV stabilizer levels may not have been adequate to protect a plastic part from thermal or ultraviolet degradation.
Deformulation or reverse-engineering of a polymeric material is another area where additives analysis plays a key role. The performance and properties of an existing plastic material cannot be duplicated without knowledge of the types and amounts of additives.
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