Nearly 93 million miles away, the sun rests in the center of our solar system. While the distance seems great, the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays only need eight minutes to reach the Earth's surface. The eight-minute delay gives you just enough time to throw on your favorite pair of sunglasses, a hat and some sunblock before heading over to the family cookout. But what protects the outdoor furniture and accessories designed to help make your outdoor experience so memorable?
Look around your deck or patio. Everything made of plastic is vulnerable to the sun's harmful UV rays. Your plastic Adirondacks, outdoor bar stools, corn hole set and grill accessories can’t fight the dangerous combination of UV radiation and air on their own.
UV wavelengths create a photochemical effect within polymer-based materials that can lead to product degradation. The damage occurs when UV light hits the polymer while oxygen moves through the material. The oxygen and UV light combine to create free radicals (or unpaired electrons), which then disrupt the molecular structure of the polymer.
The damage typically begins on the plastic’s surface, but the effects can be quite substantial. Discoloration is often the first evidence. In addition to your plastics turning yellow, you also may see chalking, clouding, cracking and a reduction of strength and flexibility. The stress caused by the UV radiation speeds up the aging process and shortens the product’s lifespan.
Protection for polymers begins during the development process. UV packages – a set of plastics additives – inhibit or absorb UV light, dissipating the excess energy, preventing the creation of free radicals and giving plastic products an excellent long-term defense against photodegradation. Defusing harmful free radicals is the key to keeping the polymer chain intact so that the product’s color remains true and structure is unharmed.
The sun’s unforgiving rays are relentlessly hitting your outdoor furniture and aging them beyond their years. Fortunately, UV packages can be added during most thermoplastic manufacturing processes, including sheet and film extrusion, fibers, blow molding, injection molding and compression molding. So it doesn’t matter what type of plastic outdoor furniture or accessory item you are designing, you can use a UV package to protect your products.
To ensure your product is ready to stand strong against the weather, consider contacting an accredited lab to conduct a QUV test. QUV tests use high-powered fluorescent UV lights to simulate the effects of sunlight and replicate how your product will perform under real-life conditions. The process varies from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the product’s needs. Equally important, a successful QUV test makes your product eligible for ASTM certification.
As a leader in plastic coloring and innovation, Plastics Color can assist you with all of your UV package needs. Plastics Color does all of its QUV testing in-house. If you are interested in learning more about UV packages and how they can help protect your outdoor furniture or accessory items, contact Plastics Color today.