Plastics identification information


The machine CAN identify:

  • transparent, translucent and opaque samples

  • samples of any colour except dark grey and black due to carbon black (see below)

  • all the materials in the table below

The machine CANNOT identify:

  • Samples containing carbon black. This pigment causes all the infrared light to be absorbed and as a result, we don't get any useful information from the sample.  This is a problem shared with other NIR identification machine and there isn't much we can do.

  • Films thinner than ~ 20 µm. This is because of thin film interference (this is the same as oil forming rainbows on water puddles) affecting the spectra. Some identification might be possible by folding the films repeatedly.

  • The presence of fillers such as glass or talcum - these don't have unique signatures in the NIR region where we perform the measurement and as a result, the spectra look the same as if there was no filler.

  • Painted / coated samples. The paint or coating would have a different NIR spectrum to the uncoated part - always scan the unpainted parts of the samples!

  • PTFE (Teflon). Our machine primarily measures the vibrations of carbon-hydrogen bonds - but Teflon doesn't have any and as a result, its NIR spectrum is largely flat.

  • Blends of plastics & multilayers - though we have some plans to implement this, please let us know if it is important for you!


Supported materials

Our PlasTell supports the following materials:

Polymer Identification comment
PET (polyethylene terepthalate)
PE (polyethylene) It is not possible to reliably recognise between the PE grades (LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE) with NIR. Any of these three will shows as PE.
PVC (polyvinylchloride) Spectra are quite varied due to the variety of plasticisers used but our library is also quite wide so generally works.
PS (polystyrene)
PC (polycarbonate) Work in progress on ABS-PC blend recognition
ABS (poly(acetonitrilebutadienestyrene))
Work in progress on ABS-PC blend recognition
PP (polypropylene) 

All types of PP (isotactic, atactic etc.) will be identified as "PP".
PLA (polylactic acid)

PETG (glycol-modified PET)
Quite similar to 
PU (polyurethane)
TPU will also be recognised as PU due to their similarity.
PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate, acrylic)

PVDF* (polyvinylidene fluoride) experimental support
PEEK* (polyether ether ketone) experimental support
POM* (polyoxymethylene, acetal) experimental support
PAI* experimental support
ASA* (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate) experimental support
PSU* (polysulphone) experimental support
PEI* (polyetherimide) experimental support
SAN* experimental support
EVA* experimental support
paper* (cellulose) experimental support

*not enabled by default - please enable it if you need it.

Other (or custom) materials 

If you would like to identify other materials, we made it possibly to add new materials and samples to the library!