There’s a revolution in the materials packaging industry. The goal is to completely eliminate packaging from the “waste stream.” Companies are pledging to make packaging products that are 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025. It all starts with better chemistry and engineering.

Of all the laboratory techniques, vibrational spectroscopy affords a fast and highly accurate method to characterize polymers. Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was developed concurrently with the plastics and polymers industry. Essentially, it reads the molecular bonds within a material. And polymers are all about chemical bonding and molecular chains.

Polymer materials today are no longer simple PE chains, but multiphase systems comprised of semi-crystalline polymers, copolymers, polymers in solution with low molar mass compounds, physical laminates or blends, and thermoplastic precursors and composites.

Raman to the Rescue

Complementing FTIR, Raman microscopy brings several advantages in analyzing polymers, particularly for advanced packaging structures. It enables engineers and product designers to characterize multi-layer materials down to the sub-micron range with minimal sample preparation.

What can Raman microscopy do?

  • Confocal microscopy to understand layered materials
  • Identify sub-superficial defects
  • Identify inorganic fillers and their distribution
  • Differentiate polymorphs and chemical analogs
  • Discriminate crystalline and amorphous materials
  • Measure polymer density (e.g., LDPE vs. HDPE)
  • Download the flyer on Raman for packaging structures
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Did you know?

Source: printpack.com

  • Rigid PET containers for laundry detergents emit +700% more greenhouse gases that a flexible pouch with a zipper.
  • A rigid pail for cat litter packaging consumes +1,429% more fossil fuel than a flexible bag.
  • An HDPE bottle for motor oil packaging consumes +513% more water than a flexible pouch with a fitment.
  • A steel can for packaging coffee consumes +1,605% more water than a flexible pouch.
  • +31% more thermoformed tubs for food packaging end up in landfill compared to a flexible pouch.