Setting Up a Flexible Packaging Testing Laboratory

Setting Up a Flexible Packaging Testing Laboratory

Here at Flex-Pack Engineering we have helped many customers set up their own flexible packaging testing laboratory to perform a wide variety of analytical and physical testing. These in-house laboratories have the ability to perform Tensile Testing, Elmendorf Tear Testing, Dart Drop Testing, Coefficient of Friction (COF) Testing, Haze Testing, Gloss Testing, Heat Seal Testing, DSC (Differential Scanning Calorimetry) Testing, OIT (Oxidative Induction Time) Testing, OTR (Oxygen Transmission Rate) Testing, and MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate) Testing just to name a few.

Knowing when it makes sense to set up an in-house laboratory can be tricky and involves considering a lot of factors. First and foremost, if you invest in the necessary equipment and pay a consultant to set up the lab, you still need someone on your team who can perform the analytical and physical testing and interpret the results accurately as well as make appropriate recommendations based on the results.

Generally speaking, knowing when it is time to set up an in-house laboratory comes down to when you have a daily need for flexible packaging testing, and you are willing to make the investment in lab equipment, space and furniture for the laboratory, and most importantly hiring new staff who can do the testing, or transferring existing staff from their current duties to perform the testing and fully utilize the equipment.

At Flex-Pack Engineering we have over 30 years of experience in the flexible packaging testing field. We can help you set up an in-house laboratory with an overall design based on your testing requirements, make equipment recommendations based on our vast experiences with testing equipment and perform initial calibrations of the testing equipment to ensure accurate results. Most importantly, we can educate your team on how to perform the tests, interpreting the results, and make recommendations on how to improve your performance.

Our process begins by asking what your goals and objectives are, and why you want to add a laboratory rather than outsource the testing to a qualified professional testing company such as Flex-Pack Engineering. If your response is you have too much volume, it is too expensive, and the timing for results doesn’t fit anymore – you need answers now not later – then we understand you have a need for an in-house laboratory.

Next we will inquire what are the important flexible packaging tests that you need to perform, where is your bottleneck in getting the answers you need quickly. This will help us determine what testing you need to perform and what equipment to recommend to do those tests. Typically, we will implement a good, better, best approach when recommending testing equipment to provide our customers with budgetary as well as performance choices. We then must explore where you are going to put this sensitive equipment because it needs to be in a controlled environment. You can’t just put the equipment out on the plant floor and hope for the best.

Finally, we explore with you who is going to do the testing, do they have the necessary knowledge, experience and expertise to perform the tests and make recommendations based on the results. Flex-Pack can help in this process by both training your staff as well as performing and managing the testing until your team is ready to take over.

Ready to have a conversation about setting up an in-house lab? Give Flex-Pack Engineering a call today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request form on this page.

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    Flexible Packaging Testing Services and Consulting

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    Flexible Packaging Testing Services and Consulting

    Flex-Pack Engineering offers a wide variety of testing services, including full analytical, full physical testing and expert consulting services, related to the flexible packaging industry. These services include DSC Testing, TGA Testing, FTIR Microscope Testing, Dart Drop Testing, Tensile Testing, Elmendorf Tear Testing, Coefficient of Friction (COF) Test, Moisture Vapor Transmission Testing (MVTR), Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR) just to name a few. Occasionally, we will have customers who want to bring testing services in-house, and sometimes this makes sense. However, there are a lot of important factors to consider since purchasing the testing equipment is actually only a small part of what is required for permeation and other testing services.  

    For example, Flex-Pack was providing a high volume of tensile strength tests on a monthly basis, and the customer was considering purchasing the equipment and doing the tests themselves. In a situation like this, here are some key points to consider:

    • Who is going to purchase the correct equipment? Who is going to run the equipment? Will someone within the company have to be pulled off of their regular job duties to perform the testing? If so, what is the cost of this? Will production be affected because the person doing tensile testing now is not handling his or her regular duties? Who is going to train this person?
    • Does the person you have in mind to do the testing even know what a tensile tester is or what to look at? Do they know anything about physical property testing? Do they know what numbers they are supposed to get in the test? Do they know what things look like when they go wrong? Do they know how to interpret the results of the testing? And, what happens when they issue a report or result which they think is correct, and you think is correct, but because you don’t have the experience to know if the results are right or wrong, what is the cost of that in the long term?

    As you can see there is a lot to think about when considering bringing analytical and physical testing services in-house. There is a cost beyond the price of the equipment. Even when you are sending testing out to a traditional lab, you often are not getting the entire picture because the lab technicians may not be experienced in or have the knowledge regarding film and flexible packaging testing. They may be used to testing a wide variety of items and don’t understand the subtle nuances of packaging testing. They don’t always understand the end use, Chain Of Use (COU) or Fitness For Use (FFU) for the package itself.

    At Flex-Pack we can handle your testing requirements and we provide expert analysis and interpretation, along with recommendations to help solve your flexible packaging problems or improve a new film design. We offer so much more than just test results. We have over 30 years of experience in focusing on flexible packaging testing and we understand “cradle to grave” what the package will need to do.

    Flex-Pack Engineering, Your Best Choice for Flexible Packaging Testing and Consulting

    Buying a piece of equipment doesn’t make you an expert! Consider partnering with Flex-Pack Engineering and let us help you not only do analytical and physical properties testing, but also provide expert interpretation and recommendations to help your company improve its bottom line.

    Let’s have a conversation today! Call us at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help you.

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      DSC Thermal Analysis

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      DSC Thermal Analysis & Testing

      Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is a thermo-analytical technique in which the difference in the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of a sample and reference is measured as a function of time. Both the sample and reference are maintained at nearly the same temperature throughout the experiment. Generally, the temperature program for DSC thermal analysis is designed such that the sample holder temperature increases linearly as a function of time. The reference sample should have a well-defined heat capacity over the range of temperatures to be scanned.

      In the engineered flexible packaging industry, DSC thermal analysis measures the crystalline content of a polymer or material. Materials that have crystalline content will have a phase change from solid to liquid or liquid to gas. This fully relaxed annealed melting point of a material is a unique property that is reproduceable and can be used for referencing. 

      The observed thermal transitions can be utilized to compare materials, although the transitions alone do not uniquely identify composition. The composition of unknown materials may be completed using complementary techniques such as FTIR spectroscopy.

      DSC is a versatile technique that can be used to study a wide variety of materials and how they relate to specific processes. It is also a powerful tool for the characterization of materials and the study of chemical reactions.

      Applications of DSC Thermal Analysis

      DSC thermal analysis is used in a wide variety of applications, including:

      • The characterization of polymers: DSC can be used to determine the glass transition temperature (Tg), crystallization temperature (Tc), and melting temperature (Tm) of polymers. These properties can be used to compare different polymers and to understand the behavior of polymers under different conditions.
      • The study of chemical reactions: DSC can be used to study the kinetics of chemical reactions. The rate of a reaction can be determined from the slope of the heat flow curve.
      • The quality control of materials: DSC can be used to determine the purity of materials and to identify contaminants.

      Advantages of DSC Thermal Analysis

      DSC thermal analysis is a versatile and powerful technique that has many advantages over other thermal analysis techniques. Some of the advantages of DSC include:

      • It is a direct measurement of heat flow. This means that it is not affected by changes in the sample’s heat capacity.
      • It can be used to study a wide variety of materials and how they relate to processes.
      • It is a sensitive technique that can be used to detect small changes in the sample.
      • It is a rapid technique that can be used to obtain results in a short period of time.

      How Flex-Pack Engineering Utilizes DSC Thermal Analysis

      Here at Flex-Pack Engineering we use DSC testing as a thermal analysis tool in conjunction with FTIR to look at the chemical composition of different polymeric materials. We use DSC testing as part of our analysis and evaluation process for the following:

      • To help solve a customer’s flexible packaging problem.
      • Competitive analysis, to help determine what makes a competitor’s package work so well.
      • Provide reverse engineering of flexible packaging products.
      • Product and process development of flexible packaging products

      DSC Testing is a very useful tool in the analysis of flexible packaging materials.

      Flex-Pack Engineering Provides Fast and Reliable DSC Thermal Analysis

      At Flex-Pack Engineering we bring over 30 years of experience in our flexible packaging analysis and evaluation, and DSC thermal analysis is an important tool that we use in our workflow. We know how to use DSC testing to get the information our customers need to improve their packaging products.

      Furthermore, we have invested in state-of-the-art DSC thermal analysis and testing equipment to provide reliable results with better than industry standard turnaround times. All our DSC testing equipment is calibrated to NIST traceable standards and verified to be working properly before testing begins.

      While having the knowledge and equipment necessary to provide DSC thermal analysis is important, what benefits our customers the most is Flex-Pack’s extensive background and experience in flexible packaging product and process development. We not only provide you test results, but critical insights and recommendations on how to improve your packaging design, or production line operations. We offer very competitive pricing with exceptional turnaround time and friendly customer service to help you with all your flexible packaging requirements.

      Let’s have a conversation! Contact us today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help with your DSC thermal analysis requirements today!

      ASTM Flexible Packaging Testing Services

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      ASTM Flexible Packaging Testing Services

      Flex-Pack Engineering provides ASTM flexible packaging testing services for a wide variety of analytical and physical testing for flexible packages. Whether it is one test or one hundred tests we can handle your requirements. We can also provide custom designed flexible packaging testing services.

      Flex-Pack Engineering helps our customers understand the requirements for entering new markets and provide the ASTM flexible packaging testing services to meet the fitness for use and chain of use requirements.

      What sets Flex-Pack Engineering apart from a typical testing lab is our ability to provide valuable insights into the testing results to help customers solve their flexible packaging challenges. A typical testing lab will deliver lab results but will not provide any insights into what the results mean within the context of your problems or goals. We feel it is not the testing that is so important, it is the actionable insights and recommendations that the testing results provide that can help our customers achieve their flexible packaging goals or solve their problems.

      Analytical and Physical ASTM Flexible Packaging Testing Services We Provide

      Analytical Services:

      Ash, DSC (Differential Scanning Calorimeter), TGA (Thermo Gravimetric Analysis), TMA (Thermo Mechanical Analysis), DMA (Dynamic Mechanical Analysis), FTIR Transmission and  ATR, Microscope (Fourier Transform Infrared), Solvent Extraction, GCMS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry), HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography), XRF (X-Ray Florescence), ICPMS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry Inductive Coupled Plasma), AA (Atomic Absorption), SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy), OIT (Oxidative Induction Time), UV-VIS Spectrophotometry, Karl Fisher Titration, Moisture Analysis, and more.

      Physical Testing Services:

      OTR (Oxygen Transmission Rate) , MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate) , Tensile, Elongation, Secant Modulus, COF (Coefficient of Friction), Block Re-Block, Elmendorf Tear, Dart Drop, Slow Rate Puncture, Puncture Protrusion (puncture resistance), Thickness Profile, Burst Testing, Melt Index, Density, Optical Microscopy, X-Section Analysis, Surface Analysis, Heat Seal, Heat Seal Profile, Hot Tack, Hot Tack Profile, Ink Draw Down, Ink Rub, Sheffield Smoothness, Gurley Stiffness, Gelbo Flex, Surface Tension Testing (Dyne Testing), Haze,  45 degree Gloss, 60 degree Gloss, Opacity, Lab Color Testing,  Capillary Rheometry (Rheology) and more.

      Your Best Choice for ASTM Flexible Packaging Testing Services

      At Flex-Pack Engineering we have over 30 years of ASTM flexible packaging testing experience which allows us to review a flexible packaging problem and have a good idea of the cause and recommendations on a solution. We like to tell our customers: it is not the flexible packaging testing that is so important, it is the knowledge and experience to know what is going on with a problem based on those lab results, and provide insights and recommendations on how to improve your flexible packaging products.

      Flex-Pack Engineering is here to help you find the answers you need to be more competitive and improve your products in the marketplace. Ready to start a conversation? Give us a call at 888-300-1492 or fill out the form on this page.  

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        Biodegradable Flexible Packaging Solutions

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        Biodegradable Flexible Packaging Solutions

        What is a biodegradable polymer?

        Biopolymers have been around for quite some time. Here at Flex-Pack Engineering, we have been working with biopolymers for at least 20 years. During that time, we have seen biodegradable polymers continue to evolve to offer more and more options for the flexible packaging industry. Biodegradable polymers are a special class of polymer that breaks down after its intended purpose by bacterial decomposition process and results in natural byproducts.

        Probably the most common biodegradable polymer is PLA which is a polylactic acid polymer. PLA is different from thermoplastic polymers since it is derived from renewable resources such as corn or sugar cane. In contrast, most plastics are derived from petroleum resources. Bioplastics is a term that is used to describe plastics that are derived from biopolymers such as PLA.

        Challenges in Using Biodegradable Polymers in Flexible Packaging Products

        There are many challenges when considering using biodegradable polymers for a flexible packaging product. Currently, there is limited production with biopolymers as compared to standard polymers, so the economies of scale are not present which makes producing biodegradable packaging more expensive. A typical polyethylene manufacturing facility can produce hundreds of millions of pounds of material annually while availability of biopolymers is limited to millions of pounds. Additionally, the availability of biodegradable polymers which are fully renewable and sustainable and can also function and contain our food products and industrial products is challenging. The materials must be strong, clear, shiny, allow for printing, and can be run through standard equipment and have fitness for use characteristics equal to standard plastic options, as well as be price competitive. It is a serious challenge.

        Future Considerations and Expectations with Biodegradable Packaging

        As technology for biodegradable polymers continues to evolve we expect more and more opportunities to integrate bioplastics into our everyday workflow for flexible packaging products. Currently, there is a spectrum of expectations regarding biopolymers. On the one side is the expectation that biopolymers have to match existing materials in physical property performance, shelf life, and cost expectations. On the other side of the spectrum is the reality of where biopolymer technology and performance are at today. As the technology for biodegradable polymers continues to improve we feel the expectations will shift from the outer edges of the spectrum and converge more in the middle allowing for more integration of improving bioplastics into flexible packaging products.

        How Flex-Pack Engineering Can Help Make Sense of Biodegradable Polymers

        At Flex-Pack Engineering we help customers make sense of biodegradable polymers from an engineering perspective. We help sort out and characterize biodegradable polymers along with all of the other polymers available in the marketplace. We can analyze standard film products vs. biofilm products and make informed recommendations on the applicability of one product vs. another in fitness for use and chain of use criteria.

        Furthermore, our team can provide the flexible packaging testing and consulting services related to proof of concept on compounding, film making, printing, and laminating. We have the knowledge and expertise with biodegradable products and are actively working on projects that are utilizing biodegradable plastics with our customers to produce biodegradable packaging. We are an experienced and talented partner for companies who want to develop biodegradable packaging products.

        When you are ready to have a conversation about if biodegradable packaging is an option for your packaging products, call Flex-Pack at 888-300-1482 or fill out our request information form.

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          MVTR Testing – Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate Testing

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          MVTR Testing, Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate Testing

          WHAT IS MVTR?

          Moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) also known as water vapor transmission rate is the process of measuring the amount of water that can permeate through a polymer package film or membrane on a square meter basis in 24 hours. Flex-Pack Engineering has the experience and highly specialized instruments which measure MVTR by creating a moisture gradient from one side of the film to the other that allows the moisture to pass through the material and measures the permeation value.  

          MVTR testing is important in the flexible packaging industry because it ensures that food products maintain the necessary amount of moisture within their package: not too dry, not too moist, just right!

          Flex-Pack Engineering provides MVTR Testing for customers for a variety of reasons including quality control or to allow a manufacturer to provide a certificate of conformance that certifies the moisture permeation value for a particular package. Additionally, we can provide MVTR Testing as part of the design and development process to evaluate if a new film material has a better MVTR than the previous film design. We also help customers who are having issues with the MVTR of a particular film and assist in tracking down the problem and offering recommendations for a solution.

          Flex-Pack Engineering offers very competitive MVTR Testing rates and turnaround times. However, the most important element that Flex-Pack offers our customers is the interpretation of MVTR test results and providing recommendations to help solve flexible packaging problems or improve a new film design. A traditional testing lab will deliver testing results but not provide the insights into what the results mean in context of a customers’ goals or issues. With our consultative approach at Flex-Pack, we always discuss MVTR testing results with our customers to make sure they understand the data and how it effects the overall product design.

          Flex-Pack Engineering, Your Turn-Key Provider for MVTR Testing and Analysis

          At Flex-Pack Engineering, we bring our 30 year education in developing packaging products to not only bring you MVTR testing results, but to help you understand those results to improve your business. We offer very competitive pricing, quick turnaround times, and outstanding customer service to help you with all of your flexible packaging testing requirements.

          Ready to have a conversation? Contact us today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help with your MVTR Testing!

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            Specialty Plastic Compounding

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            Specialty Plastic Compounding

            Flex-Pack Engineering can assist with all of your specialty plastic compounding requirements. If you are looking to work with out-of-the-ordinary specialty additives, specialty minerals or specialty polymers, for example biodegradable additives, minerals and fillers, Flex-Pack Engineering has the technical knowledge and engineering expertise to provide reliable plastic compounding solutions.

            Additionally, if your specialty plastic compounding needs are related to low volume short runs and small batches, Flex-Pack Engineering is your ideal choice. We routinely work with our customers on small batches of a few lbs to a few thousand pounds and have a wide variety of resources available to handle low volume requests.

            Specialty Plastic Compounding Product Development and Process Development

            The team at Flex-Pack Engineering has the expertise and resources to assist with your product development as well as process development of your specialty compounding needs.

            For product development cases we can analyze the fitness for use criteria and develop the best product to perform based on that fitness for use as well as chain of use criteria. We examine what you want the package to do, how it must perform, and how the package will be used to fill or hold product as well as the environmental conditions in which the package must endure. By determining the exact package requirements, we can design a better package that meets all criteria and can save money on the packaging materials.

            For process development or process optimization where the lab work has already been completed and you are now looking to scale up to commercial production, Flex-Pack Engineering can provide process optimization to help produce that product in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

            Flex-Pack Engineering, Your Ideal Choice for Specialty Plastic Compounding

            At Flex-Pack Engineering we have an over 30 year education in working on specialty plastic compounding projects. Our team brings a high-level of technical expertise as well as engineering and lab capabilities to test and validate specialty plastic compounding products. We can further take those products and make film and packaging out of them to help get products into the marketplace faster. Our long chain of experience can help your company find the best solutions and optimize production runs to help save money on your specialty compounding projects!

            Ready to start a conversation? Give us a call today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help with your specialty plastic compounding.

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              Flexible Packaging Solutions

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              Flexible Packaging Solutions by Flex-Pack Engineering

              Flex-Pack Engineering can meet your most demanding flexible film packaging challenges for food packaging or industrial packaging. We offer a wide variety of flexible packaging services, testing and consulting including, but not limited to:

              Our flexible packaging engineers work hard to design the RIGHT flexible packaging products for your application. Our solutions are designed to a set of fitness for use (FFU) criteria through thoughtful analysis of the product life cycle and chain of use (COU). By determining the exact package requirements, our team can design and produce a better flexible package that meets all of the criteria and can save money on packaging materials.

              Flexible Film Packaging Testing: Results with Actionable Intelligence

              The Flex-Pack Engineering team doesn’t just deliver fast test results, we offer insights and recommendations for our customers to interpret the test results and make better decisions on their flexible packaging products and processes. We contribute our 30 plus years of experience in the science and practice of flexible film packaging to our customers’ projects to improve efficiencies, save money, and get products to market faster! For a more complete list of our analytical and physical testing services, visit our Flexible Packaging Testing Services article.  

              Flex-Pack Engineering – Your Best Choice for Flexible Packaging Solutions

              At Flex-Pack Engineering we offer competitive pricing, quick turnaround times, and thoughtful, quality driven customer service. If you are looking for product development, process optimization, testing services, or have a tough problem that you need help solving, reach out to the team here at Flex-Pack and we can help with all of your flexible packaging challenges, and solutions!

              Let’s have a conversation! Call us today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form.

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                Plastic Compounding

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                Plastic Compounding by Flex-Pack Engineering

                Solving Tough Plastic Compounding Challenges

                At Flex-Pack Engineering we enjoy taking on the toughest toll, custom and specialty plastic compounding challenges. Through careful analysis of the fitness for use (FFU) and chain of use (COU) and understanding of the performance expectations for your compounded product, we can select the best raw materials, engineer the best performing screw designs, and develop the process and manufacturing control plans to ensure a smooth running and high performing result.

                For example, consider a challenging application of compounding a very high viscosity, polyethylene – which is extremely difficult to compound on its own and you also have the need to include a difficult functional filler, such as clays, glass, or nanoparticles into the mix. It takes a significant amount of torque, requires a special screw design, and a great deal of expertise in process understanding to achieve a winning result. This type of technical challenge is at the center of our wheelhouse at Flex-Pack Engineering. We can analyze, design, and put in place a plan to produce the best results for these types of technically challenging plastic compounding applications.

                Once the ideal design and process are created and proven we then select the best plastic compounding line on which to run on from our network of solid, reliable, and consistent contract/toll plastic compounding partners who share our philosophy of taking on the toughest plastic compounding jobs and who can produce high quality compound quickly and cost effectively.

                Additionally, when working with Flex-Pack Engineering for your custom plastic compounding needs you have our entire team as your partner throughout the process. Since we selected the materials and engineered the screw designs and processes, we understand what can go right and what can go wrong and are in the perfect position to troubleshoot any issues that may occur in the plastic compounding process. We work synergistically between production and customer as a very well informed and educated bridge throughout the business relationship.  

                Flex-Pack Engineering: An Ideal Partner for Plastic Compounding

                In our 30+ years of experience we have worked with customers who have had a wide array of technical challenges related to plastic compounding, or who needed short runs for proof of concept. We can accept smaller jobs and are an ideal choice to get plastic compounding projects done quickly. By applying sound science and engineering principles to solve the toughest plastic compounding challenges as well as provide overall flexible packaging solutions, we help our customers overcome those challenges and make a great product that can help win new business. And we can get it done quickly!

                Ready to have a conversation? Contact us today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help with your difficult custom plastic compounding challenges!

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                  OIT, Oxidation Induction Time Testing

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                  OIT Testing, Oxidation Induction Time Testing

                  Oxidation induction time, also referred to as oxidative induction time or abbreviated as OIT (ASTM D3895) is a standardized test performed via DSC (differential scanning calorimetry) which measure the level of thermal stabilization of the material tested. OIT testing allows us to take many types of materials and determine their thermal stability, especially in a hot environment. Oxidative induction time testing can be used in a variety of applications, but we are always testing the level of thermal stabilization of the material.

                  The process for oxidation induction time (ASTM D3895) testing involves putting the material in a DSC, heating the material to a certain temperature and over time evaluating when the material starts to thermally degrade. At Flex-Pack Engineering, our process would typically include heating the material up beyond its melting point in an inert gas such as nitrogen and holding it at this temperature for the duration of the testing.   We would then change the atmosphere from nitrogen to air or pure oxygen and hold the material at a constant temperature and evaluate the heat flow curve start to change. Where the heat flow curve starts to change, its rate of change and when the changes end, helps us determine the thermal stability of the material.

                  Oxidation induction time testing allows Flex-Pack to analyze the thermal stability of materials and find better performing materials relative to thermal stabilization for specific customer requirements and situations.

                  Why Flex-Pack Engineering for OIT Testing?

                  At Flex-Pack Engineering, we have experience not only with polymers but with additives and additive chemistries and the mixing and blending of those additives through compounding to improve thermal material performance. We understand the materials, we understand the additives, we understand how to put them together and we understand how to test the materials to evaluate their performance. Moreover, we understand what the material performance means as it relates to application development and can make recommendations to our customers to achieve the best thermal performance results.

                  As part of our flexible packaging solutions we not only provide you testing results, but we also provide insights and recommendations on what the results mean and how to improve or upgrade your current materials for better overall performance.

                  Let’s have a conversation! Contact us today at 330-704-9436 or fill out our request information form and learn how Flex-Pack Engineering can help with your OIT Testing.

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