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An in-house laboratory conducts physical and characterisation analyses both on incoming materials and on the materials processed in the extrusion and thermoforming facilities. The tests include resistance to high temperatures, delamination, failure loads, brittleness tests, stratigraphy, determination of specific weight. For specific checks, such as alimentarity and leaching tests, the company has entered into agreements with certified external laboratories.
These tests are conducted by means of dynamometers that measure tensile strength and creep flow in films and sheets. They are used for the mechanical characterisation of extruded films and extruded/laminated films.
The main analyses determine:
resistance to delamination of mated films
static and kinetic coefficients of friction (COF)
The laboratory is equipped with a Fourier transform IR spectrophotometer. This instrument is used to characterise the plastic materials through an analysis of FT-IR spectra that are acquired and automatically compared with standard spectra. It is used in incoming materials acceptance tests and for the characterisation of extruded materials.
The laboratory is equipped with a colorimeter for the evaluation of reflection and transmission values in extruded coloured films. This instrument measures the light from three (visible spectrum) light sources that is reflected and transmitted in the specimen being analysed. It works based on the principle of the measurement of the quantity of light.
The company uses a laboratory sealing machine to determine the compatibility of two materials by setting the relevant parameters: temperature, pressure and time in contact.
For these analyses, Arcoplastica uses a microtome installed in a cryostatic chamber. The specimen to be analysed is frozen in a cryostat fitted with a freeze bar; once frozen, it is cut into thin slices which are then analysed with the aid of an electron microscope.
The Melt Flow Index (MFI) of a molten polymer is determined by placing a specimen in a heated chamber and having the molten material flow through a capillary tube; the weight of the polymer that flows out during a given time period gives you the value of the Melt Flow Index. The greater is the weight of the material that has come out, the greater is the Melt Flow Index and the lower is the viscosity of the polymer.
The moisture content of a material is determined quickly and efficiently by means of a thermogravimetric analyser. The specimen is weighed before and after being heated and the moisture content is determined from the difference in weight. This analysis is carried out on incoming materials.
Suitability for food use is attested by global and specific migration analyses performed by accredited external laboratories that evaluate the release of chemical substances from the materials in contact with specific stimulants.
Additional analyses performed by external laboratories include:
gas chromatography (headspace, release of volatile substances when heated)
chemical and physical analyses for the characterisation of materials.