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Case History: Determination of the cause of breakage of ABS sample

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Category: Laboratory

Understanding your Problem: the need to determine the cause of breakage of a sample in ABS. The client reports that the sample breaks after a few months' use.


Providing your Solution: Firstly, analysis was performed to determine the composition of the ABS sample. The material was broken down into its main components: acrylonitrile - butadiene - styrene.

- Acrylonitrile (AN): 21% (p/p%)

- Butadiene (PB): 15% (p/p%)

- Styrene (PS): 64% (p/p%)

The analyses performed showed that the material used conforms to the customer's specifications.

Having verified that the material's composition is correct, we proceeded with analysis to determine the cause of the breakage.

Two samples were compared, one stored in the warehouse (reference) and a sample in which breakage had occurred.

This analysis demonstrated the presence of an extraneous (contaminating) substance in the sample in which breakage had occurred which was not present in the reference sample. As the figure shows, the IR spectrum of the broken sample has signals not attributable only to the polymer base (ABS), but also includes absorption signals typical of phthalates.

To confirm the presence of a phthalate contaminant, a procedure of extraction and washing of the zone subject to breakage was also performed, which supported the presence of this contaminant.


Phthalates are substances which are incompatible with the ABS polymer matrix, and the cause of breakage of the sample is therefore ascribable to the presence of this extraneous substance.


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