Characterization of polymers and polymeric paints by MCT3

Polymers and polymeric paints are ever-present in modern industrial and commercial products. New materials and formulations are continuously developed and they often require new test methods for their development and subsequent quality control. This is especially important for protective and decorative paints that require precise characterization of their mechanical properties at the micrometer scale. The scratch resistance and adhesion of paints and coatings must be quantified in order to guarantee the best performance of the coating in real life. This application report will demonstrate the use of the Micro Combi Tester MCT3 for the characterization of scratch resistance and mechanical properties of both polymers and polymeric paints.


Polymers and polymeric paints can be found almost everywhere: in packaging materials, electronics, consumer goods, cars, healthcare, and even sports equipment. The use of polymers is beneficial in many areas since they often have low density as compared to metals and can be easily molded into or deposited onto complex shapes. Polymers are also increasingly used for 3D printing owing to their low melting temperature and easy formability.

Although many applications of polymers are in traditional areas such as consumer goods or packaging, new types of polymers are being developed to increase their biodegradability or improve their mechanical properties. Here, new test methods must be applied in order to confirm that the final product will have satisfactory mechanical performance. A typical example is protective polymeric coatings that must have excellent scratch resistance and the ability to recover after mechanical damage. Hardness, elastic modulus, and creep (time dependent) are other very important parameters that are crucial in the development of new polymers: harder materials usually better support mechanical loading and have less pronounced creep. Hardness and creep of polymers are therefore good indicators of the mechanical quality of a polymer. 

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