Embrittlement of a Polycarbonate Bracket
A plastic bracket exhibited relatively brittle material properties, which ultimately led to catastrophic failure. The part had been injection molded from a medium-viscosity polycarbonate resin and had been in service for a short duration prior to the failure. Investigation (visual inspection and analysis using micro-FTIR in the ATR mode) revealed the spectrum showed changes in the relative intensities of several bands, as compared to the results representing the base material. A spectral subtraction was performed, and the results produced a good match with diphenyl carbonate, which is a common breakdown product produced during the decomposition of polycarbonate. The conclusion was that the most likely cause of the molecular degradation was improper drying and/or exposure to excessive heat during the injection molding process that in turn caused the material degradation.