The plastics industry is continuously developing new polymeric materials to meet specific requirements. This is usually achieved by the additives that are added to the base material. Polymer formulations often contain unique combinations of 10 or more compounds. Additionally, new blends and hybrids of additives and fillers are custom-designed to meet performance needs.

The Most Often Used Additives and Fillers

  • Additives improve processing and end-use performance of plastic materials, including strength, rigidity, cost, and more. The most common polymer additives are stabilizers, colorants, plasticizers, lubricants and flame retardants.
  • Stabilizers are added to polymers to prolong the its life. Stabilizers protect the formulation from thermal and light-assisted oxidation. Stabilizers are divided into four main classes: UV absorbers, primary antioxidants, secondary antioxidants and quenchers.
  • Colorants are chemical compounds used to color the plastic.
  • Plasticizers make the polymer less brittle, stronger and easier to work with. Typical plasticizers are phthalates, adipates and polychlorinated hydrocarbons.
  • Lubricants are added to make the polymer easier to process. They minimize stress fractures and help create a smooth flawless surface. External lubricants are added to control friction and adhesion to the processing equipment. Internal lubricants are added to reduce viscosity, improve heat dissipation, and assist in lower processing temperatures. Typical lubricants are hydrocarbon waxes, fatty alcohols, acids and esters.
  • Flame retardants increase resistance to burning.
  • Anti-static additives are added to reduce or eliminate static build up.
  • Long- and short-glass fiber additives improve strength and rigidity, improves performance at higher temperatures, and improves appearance
  • Carbon and stainless-steel fillers improve shielding and conductive properties.
  • Mineral fillers increase weight, improve electrical performance, feel, sound, and stability.

Having so many options in additives and fillers, and the possibility of a new custom compounds, is a great advantage, but it can also present problems. Developing the right recipe or identifying an existing combination can be challenging. The Polymers Center is here to help. We offer a variety of mechanical and chemical analysis testing, including:

  • Material composition identification
  • Thermal & mechanical properties determination
  • Failure analysis
  • Quality assurance testing
  • Capillary Rheometry

Contact the Polymers Center to set up a visit to our Materials Testing Lab.