Plastics, polymers, and rubber are combined with a number of different additives to give them properties that are important to many different markets. These products are commonly analyzed as beads, pressed or molded into plaques, in its finished form.
XRF spectrometers offer several unique solutions for the whole chain: from research and development to production, process control and recycling. Here are a few of the most common uses of XRF for monitoring these products:
Zinc in Polystyrene and other polymers- Zinc Stearate is a common additive in polymers and can be measured by XRF.
Bromine and Antimony Fire Retardants in Styrofoam and Plastics- Bromine in Styrofoam is a very old XRF application, since XRF is one of the better analytical chemical methods for Br analysis. Antimony is also added to many plastic as a fire retardant. Bromine and Antimony in polymer-based fabrics is another very important application.
P, Ca, Ba, Zn in polymers- Other polymers use a combination of stabilizers and lubricants such as P, Ca, Ba, and Zn that can be measured by XRF.
Silicones in polymers- Silicones are popular release agents used in polymers that can be readily analyzed by XRF.
Sulfur in Polyurethane- Sulfur in polyurethane is another existing XRF application that can be done with most types of instruments.
Mg, Al, Si, Fe in Fiberglass- The fibers in fiberglass have glass-like mineral composition. They can be monitored by XRF.
Plastics Compounding- Color, weight, finish, and aging characteristics vary widely in finished products. Plastics are also often diluted with cheaper oxides like calcium carbonate to reduce the total costs. Plastic compounders blend specific mixtures together to meet customers’ needs.
Chlorine in Rubber and Plastic- Chlorine is added to rubber to minimize oxidation. XRF analyzers are commonly used in windshield wiper and tire manufacturing. Chlorine is added to some plastics as an antioxidant as well.
Sorting PVC from other Plastics- PET and other polymers are recycled, but even a small amount of PVC can contaminate the resin. XRF is used as part of a sorting and screening tool, because it can readily detect PVC by its high chlorine content.