The following sample projects are presented in a modified format to protect the identity of the client and the specific details of their project:
Industry: Food and Beverage
Problem: Yellow discoloration on packaged food product
Solution: A regional food manufacturer was experiencing discoloration of its sealed food products weeks before their expiration date. Due to the major impact of this product contamination on their business, the customer requested a special rush service. The products were delivered to our lab on a Friday afternoon, and FT-IR and GC chemical testing results were available on Monday morning. When the cause of the contamination was determined not to be chemically-based, Avomeen followed up with a full-range of microbiological tests, which determined the cause of the contamination to be coliform bacteria. The customer used our report to enforce stricter sanitation practices among their employees.
Problem: Japanese competitor sold a better product
Solution: A distributor that sells specialty pens found out that the last US manufacture of their two inks was moving their production to China. They wanted to begin producing the ink in-house to avoid any safety or quality issues from overseas production. They turned to Avomeen because they were not sure of the products exact ingredients, the quantities of the ingredients, or the products production process.
Through the use of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Gas Chromatography, Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy, and Advanced Extractions, Avomeen was able to provide the customer with a detailed report. The report included all of the ingredients in their ink, the quantities of each component, and a detailed description of the products production process. We also analyzed a competitors product and identified alternative ingredients that could be used in order to increase the sheen of the ink and shorten its drying time. The company took this information and was able to manufacture the improved product themselves.
Industry: Household Products
Problem: Developing a new cleaning product
Solution: An entrepreneur approached our product development team with a plan to create a new cleaning product. He had researched many cleaners and acquired samples of the best products that were currently on the market. He then sent the samples of these products to Avomeen. We utilized our deformulation expertise to identify the active and inactive ingredients within the existing products.
Our scientists also compiled a detailed report of new academic research and patent applications in the field to determine where improvements could be made over existing products. Finally, our reformulation experts developed three new trial formulations for the entrepreneur to test and evaluate. Once the evaluation was performed we finalized his formulation. He then acquired the ingredients list, production instructions, and full rights to the new innovative product. This allowed the client to produce the new innovative product on his own. Since he did not have the production capabilities on-site to produce the product at a large scale we helped him find and transfer his formulation over to an appropriate contract blender.
Failure Analysis Laboratory
Problem: Microscopic contamination
Solution: A producer of pressure measurement devices was manufacturing parts that measured less than 1 mm in size, and was experiencing microscopic contamination. The parts were being returned by customers, and were considered failed products. Scanning Electron Microscope and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis were used to take high magnification pictures (100-1000x) and elemental scans of the microscopic contaminant particles. Through SEM/EDS analysis, we found that the particles were loosely on top of the product, and the contamination was not the result of a structural defect. The contaminant was found to be a byproduct of plastic degradation, the cause of which was traced back to the plastic tubing used in the manufacturing process.
Extractable & Leachable Testing
Industry: Packaging Manufacturer
Problem: Choosing the right vendor for plastic bottles
Solution: A baby food manufacturer wanted to switch from glass jars to plastic bottles to market its baby food product. The client was most concerned about safety concerns, as plastics are known to leach chemicals such as additives. The manufacturer had identified three vendors that supplied plastic bottles. The challenge was to identify the plastic bottles that would release the least amount of chemicals. Our scientists performed extractable and leachable studies by exposing the plastic bottle to temperatures and foods similar to real life conditions. The leached chemicals were then identified and quantified at parts per million level, using techniques such as LC/MS and GC/MS. The study identified the supplier with the safest plastics packaging.
Scientific Litigation Support Services
Industry: Consumer Products
Problem: Identify source of chemical odor in gift bags
Solution: A fast food restaurant was concerned about a strong chemical odor that was present when children opened a gift bag containing a plastic toy and candy. There were thousands of gift bags that were defective and resulted in millions of dollars in losses. Involved parties in the legal battle were the manufacturer of the plastic toy, supplier of the bags and supplier of the candy. It was important to determine who was liable for the loss. Our scientists built specialized equipment that collected the odorous chemical using a charcoal absorbent. The chemicals were then desorbed and analyzed by state-of-art ultra-sensitive Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry instrumentation. The chemicals were identified as residual monomers in the manufacturing of the plastic toy.
Industry: Food and Beverage
Problem: Slimy material on beer bottles
Solution: A beer bottle manufacturer wanted us to identify the chemical nature of a slimy material found on their beer bottles. These bottles had been returned by the distributor. Initial research indicated the material to be a detergent. The material was carefully removed and analyzed by Raman Spectroscopy. The spectrum of the unknown was compared with thousands of spectra of detergents and cleaners. A perfect match was found with a commercial cleaning agent. The problem was traced to a failed cleaning system in the bottle filling plant.
Materials Testing Laboratory
Industry: Litigation Support
Problem: Was a police officer responsible for thefts?
Solution: A police officer on night duty was charged with trespassing and opening a safe in a local business. He had been the only person visible on the surveillance cameras during the night of the robbery. However, the officer claimed that he had only entered the building to check the premises for safety.
We examined the uniform that the police officer had worn on the day of the crime using a high-powered microscope. Metallic particles were seen on the uniform, which were removed and analyzed by a Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with a Energy Dispersive X-Ray System (SEM-EDX). The composition of the metallic particles removed from the officer’s uniform were identical in composition to the surface coating of the safe that was broken into. One of our Ph.D. scientists then served as the expert witness and explained to the members of jury the analysis, methodology, and results.
Product Failure – Manufacturing
Industry: Automotive Manufacturing
Problem: Breakage and peeling on an auto bumper
Solution: An automobile manufacturer noticed peeling and premature breakage on a polymer-based automobile bumper. The bumper was made using a blend of polymers. We examined the separation of layers with high-resolution microscopy and found adhesion failure at the separation. Furthermore FT-IR analysis revealed that there was no compatibilizer in the failed product which was necessary in order for the polymers to blend fully. Our chemists helped to reformulate their products formulation adding a compatibilizer which fixed the manufactures breakage and peeling problem.
Unknown Material ID
Problem: Black particles in Aspirin pills shuts down production
Solution: A manufacturer of Aspirin tablets found black specks in their product. Since the manufacturer performed release testing on each lot developed, they knew this contaminant both originated and was contained to their last lot produced. Since the client did not know the source or identity of this unknown contaminant, they were concerned about the safety of their product. This concern forced them to shut down their production line until a more in depth investigation was conducted.
Avomeen’s chemists analyzed some of the contaminated tablets with a FT-IR equipped with a microscope, and obtained spectra of the black particles. This analysis determined that the contaminant was comprised of a polymer based material, most likely from a rubber part used within the manufacturing line. Since the plant used several types of rubber gaskets and connectors, our skilled scientists compared the chemical composition of the product’s contaminant to samples of the various replacement rubber parts used within the facility.
This analysis helped to narrow down the number potential parts that could be the source of the defect. Using this knowledge the manufacturer was able to more effectively examine their equipment, which revealed the damaged gasket. Further testing confirmed that the black particles were of the same chemical composition as the damaged gasket that was found, verifying that this piece was indeed the source of the contamination.
The manufacturer swapped out the damaged part and cleaned out their plant’s machinery. The client was then able to restart the production line. Release testing of their product after the damaged part was swapped out showed that the product was now free of contaminants, much to the satisfaction of our client.
Product Safety – Import Hold Alert
Industry: Consumer Products
Problem: Shipment of tattoo ink seized by U.S. Custom’s officials
Solution: A shipment of ink being imported by a tattoo product distributor was held by authorities at the border. This hold up was due to suspicion that some of the artificial coloring ingredients in the inks were banned. The company importing these inks however, believed that the product complied with all of the U.S. regulations that govern over these products.
They had a sample of the ink sent to our laboratory in order to analyze and definitively determine a conclusive finding to the question of whether the product contained any banned ingredients. We analyzed the colors using UV/Vis spectroscopy and NMR spectroscopy to determine which ingredients the product contained. One of our product importation specialists reviewed the data developed, and verified that none of the ingredients contained within the product were on the banned coloring compounds list. We then worked with the U.S. Customs agents and were able to get our client’s shipment released without any further interruptions, much to their satisfaction.
Manufaturing Problem Solving
Industry: Food and Beverage
Problem: Product Defect – Plastic film found floating in beer cans
Solution: As customers of a popular beer company opened up their drinks, they were surprised by finding of an unknown thin film material floating in their beverage. Concerned about protecting their brands reputation and ensuring the safety of their product, the company contacted Avomeen to analyze their beverage.
Our chemist’s goals in solving their product’s defect were to:
- Identify the unknown material
- Quickly develop a solution to prevent the foreign substance from contaminating their product
- Ensure the safety of their product
- Help them get their production line restarted
The polymer film was isolated and then analyzed by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). Our analysis determined that the unknown material was actually parts of an epoxy resin that was used to protect the aluminum can from oxidizing. This material is commonly used as an interior coating on beverage cans, but due to an adhesion failure caused from an incomplete curing process, it was becoming dislodged during shipping.
Working with the manufacturer our scientists were able to help them properly adjust their cans curing process, which in turn solved the coatings adhesion failure and eliminated the film material from coming loose and floating in their beverage product. We also helped them put proper quality control tests in place to prevent this type of product failure from happening in the future.
The client was very pleased that we were able to quickly solve their product defect and get their production line back on track. The client also used the announcement of their new quality control procedures to help reassure their customers of their ongoing mission to develop a quality product.
Problem: Entrepreneur sought formula for an innovative anti-aging treatment
Solution: An entrepreneur approached our chemists with an idea to develop a cosmetic product that worked as an anti-aging treatment. While the product’s performance was his primary concern, he also wanted the product to be all-natural. He had found samples of three different competing products that were currently on market and wanted to take certain desirable qualities from each of these products.
Avomeen’s deformulation chemists reverse engineered these samples to identify and quantify the exact ingredients that each of the competing product’s formulations were comprised of. This analysis was performed using advanced instrumentation including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS).
Using data compiled from the deformulation analysis, our formulation scientists then developed a new product using all-natural ingredients. The client was very satisfied that we were not only able to meet his detailed specifications, but that we delivered him an innovative all-natural product formulation that was of higher quality than any current product on the market.