How Chemical Analysis Labs Can Solve Complex Scientific Problems for Business

Chemical analysis and testing laboratories can help businesses with a myriad of complex scientific and technical issues. Customized chemical testing and analytical outsourcing services can answer perplexing, yet important questions, such as:

  • Why is my product failing?
  • What is this unknown material?
  • What is the source of product contamination?
  • Why is my competitor’s product failure rate lower?
  • What are the ingredients of this sample?

Below are three specific examples of how a chemical analysis and materials testing lab aided companies in finding a solution to a difficult problem.

Example #1 – Product Contamination Studies Find the Best Supplier
Industry: Food & Beverage
Issue: Selecting the right plastic bottle supplier
Solution: For cost and safety reasons, a baby food supplier wished to change from glass jars to plastic bottles for its baby food product line. Safety concerns were paramount, since plastics can leach chemicals such as additives. The company had identified 3 plastic bottle suppliers. The challenge was to determine which plastic bottles would release the least amount of chemicals into the product. Scientists at an analytical lab conducted extractable and leachable studies by subjecting the plastic bottle to foods and temperatures equivalent to real world conditions. The leached chemicals were detected and quantified at parts per million (PPM) levels, using techniques such as LC/MS and GC/MS. The study determined the plastics packaging supplier with the safest bottles.

Example #2 – Deformulation for Competitive Product Analysis
Industry: Paints and Inks
Issue: A competitor from Japan sold a superior pen
Solution: A ball-point pen manufacturer wished to determine why the ink from a Japanese competitor produced a brighter color and dried more quickly than its ink. A chemical analysis lab conducted a complete deformulation of the competing product to separate the various components using a series of solvent extractions and preparative chromatographic techniques. Identification of the ingredients was made using NMR, GC/MS, and FT-IR analyses. As identified by ICP-MS, the competitive product contained a metallic compound, which acted as a catalyst during the curing process causing the ink to dry quicker. The additive that was responsible for the brightness was also identified.

Example #3 – Product Failure Identification
Industry
: Automotive
Issue: Auto bumper peeling and breakage
Solution: An auto manufacturer was seeing premature breakage and peeling on a polymer-based car bumper. A blend of polymers was used to manufacture the bumper. Experts analyzed the separation of layers with high-resolution microscopy techniques and saw adhesion failure at the separation site. A compatibilizer was needed to blend the polymers completely. A FT-IR analysis revealed there was no compatibilizer present in the bumper product that was failing.

Summary

As shown by the above examples, companies can turn to chemical analysis and reverse engineering laboratories for valuable insight into competitive product formulations, batch-to-batch variations, and trade secrets in order to increase productivity, revenues, and competitiveness.