Spectral Analysis: An Effective Method for Measuring Plastic Coating and Film Thickness

The applications of plastic and polymer use in manufacturing are limitless, and industries are finding new ways to utilize this flexible and durable material all the time. With polymer prices on the rise, many major corporations are relying on spectral analysis to ensure effective product performance and to help reduce wasted materials.

Plastic films and coating make up a large portion of the plastic manufacturing industries and have been used to add strength and protection to a variety of products we use today. From wires and cords to windows and metal products, polymer coatings extend the durability and performance of these materials and provide a more economical and functional product. Spectrophotometers are able to measure plastic film and coating thickness using spectral analysis, providing a valuable method for improving both quality and cost efficiency.

Using Spectral Data to Measure Polymer Properties

Plastic is a highly durable, lightweight material, which makes it ideal for a number of manufacturing applications. These applications require instrumental analysis to measure the specific properties of polymers. These materials are typically transparent in quality and are measured using transmittance, reflectance, transparency, and color measurement methods of evaluation. By measuring these optical properties, calculations can be made to determine the thickness and reflection value of plastic coatings for precise visibility, functionality, and quality control.

plastic coated wires spectral analysis
Plastic films and coatings are widely used in today’s manufacturing industries. Spectral analysis addresses measurements of thickness and quality in these products.
Image Source: Flickr user Dom Pates

Clarity and transparency is often an important attribute in plastic film applications. Spectrophotometers measure these traits using a yellowness scale or index, commonly referred to as APHA (American Public Health Association) or Hazen color. This method is commonly used for monitoring liquid purity, but these same measurement scales can be applied to a variety of manufacturing applications, where visibility and clarity are valued.

Reflectance values also play an important role in plastic film coatings, especially in window design and functionality. For product development, it is important that the reflectance of the coating allows for proper visibility while still performed the basic functions intended. Spectral analysis can provided highly specific date to accurately measure these attributes and provide a comparative analysis for product consistency and quality assurance.

windows spectral analysis
Thin plastic coatings are often applied to window materials to provide extended durability and control the reflectance qualities of these materials for improved functionality.
Image Source: Flickr user r. nial bradshaw

Improving Efficiency and Cutting Costs

Plastic materials are highly versatile, making them a preferred choice for many industrial applications. However, with shortages and rising costs of polymer products,1 many manufacturers are making adjustments to their production processes and analytical methods in order to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Spectral analysis is taking center stage as an option to improve production quality and efficiency. The durable, lightweight design of spectrophotometric instrumentation allows for portability and in-line process monitoring, which can provide continual and accurate analysis of product development and quality.

spectral analysis
The durable, flexible, and lightweight properties of plastic coatings make them an ideal choice for improving the quality of many of the items we use daily.
Image Source: Flickr user John Loo 

Spectral analysis provides a specific pattern of data that is used to identify specific properties in plastic coatings and materials. When using this highly sensitive method of evaluation in combination with real-time process monitoring, production staff is automatically alerted to any errors in processing, allowing for changes to be made quickly and effectively in order to save value time and materials. Investing in advance spectral technology is an investment in product quality that can reduce costs and create a better system of production overall.

Options in Advanced Spectrophotometry

There are many options and product choices in spectral technology currently on the market. Understanding these options is important when selecting the right instrumentation for industry specific applications. HunterLab is a leading name in spectral analysis and spectrophotometric instrumentation. We specialize in the polymer and plastics industries and offer a variety of choices to meet the various needs within these fields. We work together with our clients to identify their needs and help them choose the right instrumentation for each unique application. For more information on spectral analysis in the plastic industry, please contact HunterLab today.

  1. “Companies scramble in wake of ongoing PEI resin shortage,” December 4, 2014, http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20141204/NEWS/141209937/companies-scramble-in-wake-of-ongoing-pei-resin-shortage
  • rubelmahomed

    which are made from the highest quality resin compounds so that they can withstand even the most stressful impacts.
    The material’s far reaching potential spans the gamut of several high performance applications including belting, tank lining membranes, and flexible wall structures.
    For more information: n&k

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