What plastics are in my collection ?

Knowledge of the composition of plastics in museum collections is necessary to establish a proper approach to the preservation of these materials and in understanding degradation, estimating risk and defining appropriate conservation treatments.

Some plastics can be harmful when in contact with other materials; some are sensitive to cleaning with water, etc. Unfortunately identification of the plastic in an object is not a simple matter. Plastics are a huge family of materials that includes many different polymers often complex, which can make identification a real challenge. Therefore, a proper and correct identification of plastic objects requires suitable analytical techniques and needs the support of reference materials.

In order to assess the advantages and limitations of those analytical approach, a sample collection of plastics artefacts of about a hundred standard and reference plastic objects representing the major polymer families was assembled (SamCo : Sample Collection).