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Plastics such as polypropylene and polyethylene are susceptible to a number of degradations issues. Thermal degradation, photodegradation, oxidative degradation, and UV degradation can occur, limiting the service life of a plastic product. Components of the long-chain backbone of the polymer can begin to weaken and react in ways that change the properties of the polymer.

Many black woven polypropylene fabrics used in horticulture and agriculture suffer from weathering (UV degradation) and thermal degradation. The black color heats up in sun exposure and is also vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. If the right chemical additives are not uniformly present in the plastic to retard these types of degradation, the service life of the product will result in a steady decline in the original mechanical properties.

Just having a reasonable loading of a black colorant to block UV rays is not enough as it needs additional stabilizers to counter the potential for thermal degradation. We typically utilize outdoor-rated black pigments in combination with other light and heat stabilizers so that the service life of the product is protected.

Thermal degradation generally involves changes to the molecular weight of the plastic. Other property changes include a reduction in ductility and embrittlement, chalking, color changes, cracking, and a general reduction in desirable physical properties.

Polypropylene is susceptible to thermal degradation and must be properly enhanced for adequate protection. Plastics like polypropylene and polyethylene can be protected from thermal and UV degradation by incorporating the right stabilizer packages during the plastic extrusion process. These stabilizers are used to keep the polymer chains, and the original molecular structure intact. Physical properties such as strength, stiffness, and toughness can now be retained over a longer period of time.

Belton Industries uses state-of-the-art gravimetric blenders to ensure precise loading of chemical stabilizers in the plastic batch, and the extruders are designed to properly mix these additives so that polymer additives are dispersed properly for optimal protection. For more information on Belton’s agriculture and horticulture products, visit our product guide and select Agriculture & Horticulture to learn more. You can also contact us for custom solutions for your specific needs.