Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weathering: Which tests are right for which applications?

There’s a saying here in Northeast Ohio that goes, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes.” A quick internet search reveals that dozens of other cities, states, and even countries use derivations of this same saying. (

So with unpredictable weather conditions in so much of the world, it’s no surprise that a wide variety of weathering tests are necessary to predict plastics products’ performance. Americhem conducts weathering tests in real-world, outdoor settings (including Ohio, Florida and Arizona) as well as in a wide variety of accelerated weathering devices, which are either powered by fluorescent or xenon arc technology. We have learned over decades of experience that certain tests are right for certain applications.

For plastic building products, a variety of tests are required depending on polymer, setting and purpose. QUV fluorescent devices were initially used to test painted steel for the coatings industry. As it turned out, it was discovered through trial and error that these same devices also worked well for vinyl siding. We have found that vinyl, or PVC, is best tested in QUV devices, but other building products plastics, such as ASA and acrylic, reveal their failure mechanisms better in xenon arc devices. Certain polymer blends don’t respond well to accelerated testing at all, thus necessitating real world, outdoor testing. You can read more about this phenomenon in our recent white paper.

In general, when choosing accelerated weathering that requires the full range of the light spectrum, including UVA, UVB, UVC, IR, and others outside the visible spectrum, xenon arc testing is the correct choice.

In the automotive industry, each OEM specifies their own accelerated weathering testing protocol for interior and exterior parts. These are usually based on one of two industry standards created by the Society of Automotive Enigineers (SAE) – SAEJ1960 or SAEJ2527. The industry relies heavily on accelerated testing because of the extended time required for outdoor testing.

In the synthetic fibers industry, the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) specifies a test called AATCC16, which is for interior curtains, carpets and similar textiles. This test is run on xenon arc equipment. For outdoor fabrics like boat covers, awnings and tents, ISO 4892-2 is used, which is a general purpose accelerated test using xenon arc devices. This allows for the full range of exposure to UV and IR light, as well as moisture spray which simulates outdoor conditions. This is in contrast to QUV weathering, which can simulate condensation, while xenon arc devices cannot.

The synthetic turf industry also uses ISO4892-2, which is used as a screening test (as are all other accelerated tests) to determine when products will fail to hold color. Americhem has done extensive weathering studies on colors used in synthetic turf and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject.

So as you can see, plastic products run the gamut as to which weathering test is most appropriate. We’ll continue to utilize and create best practices for accelerated and outdoor weathering, working closely with the people and organizations who establish the standards.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Avoid Stress Whitening in Polypropylene

Americhem can perform comprehensive testing to see what is causing stress whitening in your polypropylene products.People don’t always like working under pressure, but stress is more than just a human issue. Everyday items endure stress as well, and like people, they can also show negative effects of undue pressure.

One example is stress whitening in products made out of polypropylene, a common polymer found in a wide variety of applications, including automotive interiors. Undue stress can damage these products, resulting in a white appearance that can ruin the look of your parts. You can’t always avoid stress, but Americhem can help you stop stress whitening before it becomes an issue.

What Causes Stress Whitening

Stress whitening starts when stress is created by the impact or tension upon a polymeric surface. In other words, if polypropylene gets hit or bent in a certain way, it may show signs of stress whitening either right away or even after some time has passed.

So Why Does it Turn White?

Stress can cause small breaks called microcrazes or microvoids, which are tiny fractures just below the surface of a material. These breaks reflect light differently than the undamaged parts of a polypropylene product, causing the area of impact or tension to appear whiter than before.

How Americhem Helps You Prevent Stress Whitening

You may not be able to stop every bad break (or bend), but that doesn’t mean that your products will be lost to the microvoid. Americhem can perform comprehensive testing regarding your color masterbatch, polypropylene copolymer, and molding process. This helps you not only find out if your product is prone to stress whitening, but also what can be done to make it more resistant.

The testing factors include:

  • Color masterbatch formulation
  • Resin selection
  • Part thickness
  • Significant force during processing

Stress whitening doesn’t haven’t to have to be a pain for your business. Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to solve your stress whitening problems.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Quality is Everyone's Business

If you talk to any of Americhem's customers, it's clear that quality is a cornerstone of our relationship. It is part of our brand promise, built up over many years, that cements a bond of trust with our customers.

All of our plants have quality certifications and accreditations, but these only assure that a company has proper system controls and documentation. Lots of companies have that. Those certifications alone do not guaranty a quality product.

What counts is what's in the systems. Do the systems and procedures fully define what is required to make a quality product every time, day in and day out? Are those systems consistent between plants and does each employee understand their role and responsibility as it relates to making a quality product every time?

A big part of Americhem quality is our commitment to continuous improvement. What constitutes a quality product today will not necessarily constitute a quality product tomorrow. The world is constantly improving and Americhem keeps pace by continually monitoring our processes, materials, methods and products to upgrade them to give our customers the competitive advantage. By keeping a continuous improvement mindset, we keep pace with the market's demand for better products, better materials, better delivery schedules and better customer service.

Americhem has long held to these tenants of quality. In fact, our company vision states, "Our employees will provide solutions to meet our customers' needs through technology, innovation and a philosophy of continuous improvement." This dedication to quality has been instilled in us through our founders, who knew that providing a top quality product, backed firmly by the company, was the key to not only growing the business, but the businesses of our customers.

Year in and year out, we look at our entire manufacturing process, from purchasing materials from our suppliers to providing technical service at the customer's plant. Through these reviews, we identify areas of improvement and focus, and apply best practices shared by other world-class manufacturing operations.

All of this effort begins with our customers. It starts with a deep understanding of what the customer really needs - not just what's in the specification - but what constitutes real value to them.

Most importantly, all of our efforts must touch all parts of our business and help us keep our quality promise to our customers. The responsibility belongs to all of our employees, working together to deliver the best product and service quality in the industry.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing and Communications Manager, Americhem, Inc. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Synthetic Turf: Is Your Stadium Ready for Next Season?

Is your turf ready for some football? Synthetic turf is a popular choice for sports, with more than 11,000 synthetic turf sports fields currently in use throughout the United States according to the Synthetic Turf Council. But is your turf ready for some football?

Synthetic turf has many advantages, including saving you anywhere from 500,000 to one million gallons of water each year, but you also want your turf to look good in the long run. Americhem has created solutions to help synthetic turf last longer and look better after years of wear and tear.

Effects of Weather on Synthetic Turf

Just like grass, synthetic turf has to deal with the elements. Most turf fields are warranted for between eight and 10 years, but weather and general use can greatly affect the quality of your field and cause your turf to fade prematurely. Weathering factors include:
    Americhem can provide solutions that will improve the look and durability of your synthetic turf.
  • Radiant energy from sunlight
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Oxidation
  • Rainfall
  • Particulate and gaseous contaminants
  • Stress

How Americhem Makes Synthetic Turf Last Longer

To improve a product, you need to test it, which is why Americhem has thoroughly tested the impact of the environment on the durability of turf systems. Through our research, we’ve been able to develop custom color masterbatches, with additives that help protect turf against the threat of UV light and oxidation.

Even after coming up with solutions that will offer superior colorfastness, color consistency, and long-term durability, our research isn’t done yet. Americhem’s central analytical department continues to perform tests to continue to improve our synthetic turf solutions.

Improve Your Turf Today

Americhem is more than just a supplier for the turf industry. We partner with you and fully integrate into your processes to help you enhance your existing products and bring them to market faster. Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to see the benefits of working with Americhem for yourself.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Color of the Month - Blue

Blue is calming. It can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. Blue has more complex and contradictory meanings than any other color. Almost everyone likes some shade of the color blue.

Blue comes from nature; from the blue in the sky and earth’s waters. It’s calming and cool and seems to make time pass more quickly. Blue is also important and demands respect. It’s intelligent, steady, and traditional.

Blue, in all of its shades and tones, ranks so high as a favorite color that it can achieve many desirable outcomes for your products.

Global Meanings of Blue*
  • Blue is the #1 favorite color of all people.
  • 53% of the flags in the world contain blue.
  • Blue jeans are worn all over the world.
  • Aristocracy is blue-blooded in all European languages.

Unique Meanings of Blue in Different Cultures*
  • Greeks believe that blue wards off "the evil eye.”
  • “Prince Charming” is called “The Blue Prince” in Italy and Spain.
Let Americhem help you create a blue that speaks to customers, with all of its nuances.