All materials that are man-made, such as polymers, thermoplastics, resins, films and other types of materials have been developed to work under specific environmental conditions. Thermal analysis, which can use several different methods and testing equipment, is used to assess how a specific sample of material will behave when exposed to different temperatures.
Materials, both man-made and natural, change as they become colder or hotter. Plastics and resins will become softer and less rigid as they heat and harder and more brittle as they cool. How much heat or cold is required to create this change is at the heart of thermal analysis and testing.
Additionally, and this is also important, these techniques can be used to determine an unknown sample. As material always responds the same way to heat and cold, knowing when transformation in the material occur as temperatures increase and decrease gives you a precise indication of the material in the sample. With a known sample, this same technique can be used to determine the presence of contaminants, both organic or inorganic, with the sample.
Options To Consider
There are several different types of tests that will provide a thermal analysis of a material. This includes thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and melt flow rate.
Not all tests have to be completed on a sample to find the necessary information. A top lab will be able to test using the correct method to provide the information required. In many cases, more than one type of thermal test may be required, or a thermal testing method may be used in conjunction with other testing methods such as FTIR or microstructural analysis.
As polymers are developed, testing them for performance and degradation at different temperatures will be critical. This is also an important testing option in quality control for manufacturers of polymers.
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