Plastic Weathering Demysitfied

Old Car Desert

One the biggest technological advancements in plastics over the last 30 or so years have been the improvement in UV stability. I can remember how fast vinyl dashboards in cars used to split and crack from sunlight exposure. Today, you rarely see that until the car has been in the junk yard for a few years. Even white vinyl siding and fencing seem to hold their color reasonably well for a decade or more. This is thanks to additives manufacturers developing really sophisticated stabilizers and anti-oxidants that can be compounded into various plastic materials.

In this post, I wanted to de-mystify what causes UV damage to plastics and how UV stability is tested.

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Plastics and Static Electricity

Van De Graaff Generator-4

I’m not sure if anyone does this anymore but when I was a kid it was great fun to shuffle your feet on carpeting and then zap your unsuspecting sibling with a nice static shock. This typically worked best if you had nylon carpeting and it was nice and dry in the house like in the winter time.

This worked because plastic is a great insulator and thus cannot dissipate static electricity very well. When we need to reduce the likelihood of static build up in plastics, we have some options. There are materials described as having anti-stat additives and other materials described as being statically dissipative and still others as being conductive. What’s the difference?

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