Study of the causes of color variation (pinking) on lateral portions of polyethylene coils.
The customer has commissioned us to carry out quality control and defects on a product. Specifically, it required an investigation to determine which external (environmental and conservation) and chemical (derived from the composition of the artifacts) factors caused the coloring on side portions of polyethylene film coils.
After thorough bibliographical research and the examination of the published cases related to the subject material, we hypothesized a path of analysis to determine which hypothesis suggested to the customer was the most plausible.
The instruments used include the Perkin Elmer FTIR spectrometer model Spectrum Two and the Shimadzu UV-2600i spectrometer.
The assumptions made and investigated were as follows:
- Hypothesis 1 – The presence of pigments in the production process
- Hypothesis 2 – The iron ion pollution of the film (chemical oxidations)
- Hypothesis 3 – The photooxidation of a component of the artifact
Through interviews with the production staff and the inspection of the production site, we immediately excluded the hypothesis that the pigmentation of the film was caused by contamination by colored masterbatches present in the plant (hypothesis 1).
To further investigate the possible causes, we conducted spectroscopic analysis of the defective product and a defect-free reference sample in order to identify the main formulation chemicals potentially involved in the phenomenon.
To determine whether the phenomenon was caused by chemical oxidations (hypothesis 2) or photochemical reactions (hypothesis 3), we exposed the samples that had UV light staining, using an Accelerated Weatering Tester (Q-Lab’s QUV UV). We observed a “fading” of the defective portion that excluded the presence of metal ions (hypothesis 2) which led us to hypothesize the presence of an optically active organic component.
By combining all the information obtained from the analysis it was possible to determine the component responsible for the coloring and also the vector within which it entered into the film.
By combining FT-IR and UV/Vis spectroscopic analysis we discovered that it was an antioxidant molecule present in one of the formulation chemicals, which became colored once oxidized by light. In addition, we observed that the phenomenon was reversible if subjected to light again.