Polymer degradation during production and use
Almost every polymer needs to be protected from degradation, during processing and use, by one or more stabilisers. Heat, light, fire, ionising radiation, biological and chemical agents, air pollution and combinations of these factors influence the polymer degradation.
Understanding the complex mechanisms for the degradation and stabilisation of polymers is fundamental to use the correct stabilizer systems for new product design. These problems are more and more relevant for the development of new polymers like blends and nanomaterials.
Exposure to the weather conditions with heat, cold, moisture and sun light can lead to colour changes, surface crazing, chalking, and embrittlement. In many cases, a standard test is dictated by regulations or conditions to estimate how long the material or part can last outdoors. The time to market and the possible time for investigations are additional essential for companies in designing weathering tests as the costs for testing itself.
Experts agree that the ideal approach to test a part outdoor in the intended service environment is often impractical due to time, logistics and costs. But there are a lot of mistakes in interpretation of test results possible, when using the wrong test procedure.
The exposure in benchmark climates, like Arizona and Florida, gives more security, but it often needs too much testing time. Accelerated outdoor weathering and accelerated laboratory testing is often used in industry to gain fast test results, when the test procedures are validated by real-time outdoor exposures first.