Polymer Testing and Packaging Tools

- January 01, 2016 -

Using a wide variety of precision polymer testing and unique packaging modeling tools, Dow experts work with converters and brand owners to design and develop new packaging, optimize current designs, and troubleshoot problems. This saves time (and costs) by taking the guesswork out of creating packaging that performs better, and can be manufactured more efficiently.

Dow physical and analytical labs evaluate material performance at both the polymer and structural level. Our packaging modeling and simulation tools reduce development time and cost by eliminating iterations before any film or packaging structure is made, and by determining the right process prior to production. Links to a few tools are provided below, so you can start the design process anytime.

Global Lab Capabilities

Through polymer, physical, and mechanical analysis, we can recommend specific structure design changes to optimize performance. Our corporate labs have the ability to perform such analytical services as mass spectroscopy, surface and particle science, X-ray, and rheology.

The three areas that our global packaging labs focus on are physical polymer testing, barrier testing, and material identification, using a wide range of equipment to analyze performance properties and determine material type.

Physical Testing:

  • Sealability: Including seal strength, hot tack and seal through contaminants
  • Optical properties: Including transparency, haze, and gloss
  • Physical properties: Including flex testing, tensile, melt index, impact, puncture resistance, tear resistance, hardness, abrasion, interlayer adhesion, COF (Coefficient of Friction), and weatherometers

Barrier Testing:

  • Permeability: Including H2O, O2, CO2, and hydrocarbons
  • Structures: Film, substrate, and containers
  • Sensory testing: Including helium leak and head space

Material Identification via:

  • Gas chromatographs
  • Infrared spectrometers
  • Cross-section microscope IR
  • Differential scanning calorimeters
  • Thermogravimetric analyzer
  • Density gradient tubes
  • Photographic layer thickness analysis
  • Moisture content analysis

Unique Processing and Structure Design Modeling Tools

Over 70% of our predictive modeling tools are unique to the packaging industry. Since they require a large amount of data, beyond what a packaging customer could easily input, similar tools have only been available within academia. Over time, Dow experts have developed an extensive set of tools that are academically rigorous, yet easy enough to use to solve packaging challenges.

Processing Tools

These tools help determine if problems such as poor extrusion, flow instabilities, or curl may occur during film fabrication, and how to prevent them. Please contact your Dow representative to access these tools.

  • Viscosity Matching: Predicts flow instabilities for over 200 resins in coextrusion systems, to ensure quality film
  • Curl (in Coextruded Blown Film): Analyzes variables for effect on curl in coextruded blown film
  • Blown Film Scale-Up (Process Time): Accounts for differences in adhesion from different coextruded processes
  • Extrusion Coating Stress Analysis: Analyzes processing variables that can have a detrimental effect on adhesion
  • Heat Transfer Analysis: Combines heat transfer and molecular diffusion to predict sealing performance of structure
  • Structure Design and End-Use Tools

Downgauging/Life Cycle Analysis

When designing downgauged structures, compute the bending stiffness and keep it constant, in order to maintain performance, minimize package failures, and avoid negative consumer perception of flimsy packages. You can also calculate material cost and calculate and compare non-renewable energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of film materials of different thickness.

Please note this peer-reviewed model allows you to evaluate the life cycle analysis of packaging materials only. Since it does not consider converting costs, the effects of downstream processing, consumer use, or end-of-life scenarios, it should not be used to make larger business decisions.

Additional Structure Design Tools

  • Permeability Calculator: Determines the barrier of multilayer structures to ensure package integrity.
  • Heat Seal/Hot Tack Modeling: Considers different film thicknesses and multiple layers, and predicts performance of ionomer films on high-speed packaging lines.
  • Bending Stiffness: Analyzes the effect of the conversion process on stiffness, e.g., extrusion vs. adhesion lamination. This model is part of the Downgauging/Life Cycle Analysis tool, but can also be used on its own.

Whether you need to solve a current packaging dilemma, evaluate a new material, or design a packaging structure for a new application, Dow packaging tools and polymer testing can get you to the right solution quickly and efficiently.