Layering It on Thin

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Multi-Layer_Blog_1You wash your hair with it,
You top off your sandwiches with it,
You chase away headaches with it,
You hydrate yourself with it.

No, we aren’t talking about some shampoo-ketchup-tylenol-water hybrid (that’d just be weird), but actually about what these products come in:

Plastic bottles!

The plastic bottle and preform (the pre-blown form of a bottle) market is HUGE – about 48.1 billion huge! Think about it; from cosmetics to condiments, plastic bottles keep many of our day-to-day items fresh and accessible.

There is often a lot more to these plastic bottles than meets the eye however as plastic bottles are typically made up of several different layers –  around five, in fact!

Each of these layers serves an important purpose in the overall structure of a plastic bottle, but the most important layer may be the thin and costly barrier layer.

(Aka, the layer that keeps that ketchup of yours tomatoey-fresh! Mmmm!)

Thinner than a strand of hair, the barrier layer is priced more than 5x higher than the others and poses difficult challenges for manufacturers when it comes to detecting and locating it within the structure as well as measuring its’ thickness.

Peeling-plastic-bottleCurrent measurement methods include techniques such as manually peeling and measuring each layer or cutting the bottle in half and viewing the layers under a microscope. Both methods are contact-based and highly destructive of the bottle or preform – not ideal when little contact is desired or when considering cost and associated waste.

In a market that is slated to grow to $60 billion within coming years, a solution is needed that saves on time, money and environmental impact.

Terahertz metrology solutions, such as TeTechS’ PlastiMeasure™ will play an instrumental role and restructuring the way measurements of plastic bottles and preforms are conducted.

The PlastiMeasure™ multi-layer thickness measurement system for instance, provides non-contact, non-ionizing and non-destructive thickness measurement for plastic bottles and preforms. Built upon the unique characteristics of terahertz waves, which are able to see through materials such as translucent and opaque plastics, PlastiMeasure™ can measure individual layer thickness of layers thinner than a strand of hair (which is ~0.1mm by the way!) in a quick and efficient manner.

Plastic bottles are seemingly here to stay, having become a staple in our every day lives. With the continued use of this packaging for practically EVERYTHING, knowing exactly what lies beneath the surface (and where it is located) is key to the consistency, quality and longevity of some of our favourite – beauty, health, cleaning, food and beverage – products!

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