Environmental stress cracking (ESC) is the occurrence of cracking a polymer by contact with a liquid or vapor environment, combined with stress. In environmental stress cracking, the presence of an ESC agent accelerates the effect of stress on a polymer material. 

An assessment of polymer resistance to potential ESC agents is undertaken during the design stage of development, where an appropriate test program can measure the impact of these primary environments on the material. However, many polymer failures also derive from environmental stress cracking, where secondary environments have inadvertently come into contact with the item and causing it to fail.

The ESC testing process involves applying a known stress to the polymer under test conditions and exposing it to the relevant ESC environment. Our experts can design a testing program to assess your material’s performance when exposed to both primary and secondary stress cracking agents.

Stress Cracking Agents Tested

  • Paints
  • Adhesives
  • Cleaning agents
  • Lubricants
  • Plasticizers
  • Inks
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Leak detection fluid
  • Fruit essences
  • Vegetable oils

Industries We Serve

Common Standards

  • ASTM D543 – Standard Practices for Evaluating the Resistance of Plastics to Chemical Reagents
  • ISO 220088 – 3:2008

Our Expertise

Our laboratories are fully equipped to test to industry standards or design custom testing protocols to meet your specific needs. Our experts can provide advice during the product development stage on materials selection for your product or component, supported by test programs to evaluate thermoplastics against anticipated ESC agents, and conduct initial performance assessments. We also offer failure analysis and can advise on design changes or alternative polymer options to address challenges rooted in ESC.
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