Testing Combustible Properties of Plastics in Building Materials

Many plastic materials burn when ignited, and their combustible properties make them a potentially dangerous accelerant. When used in construction as part of the building envelope, it is imperative that they adhere to established minimum requirements to reduce the risks imposed by fire.

For use in buildings, some regulations, such as the International Building Code (IBC), require that plastics be tested to ASTM D1929, the Standard Test Method for Determining Ignition Temperature of Plastics. This bench-scale standard is often used to measure the response of materials to heat and flame by determining the Spontaneous Ignition Temperature (SIT) and the Flash Ignition Temperature (FIT) of plastics using a hot-air furnace.

  • Spontaneous Ignition Temperature (SIT): the lowest temperature at which combustion initiates and continues in a substance when it is heated in the air
  • Flash Ignition Temperature (FIT): the lowest temperature at which vapors of the material will ignite when given an ignition source

Testing plastics to ASTM D1929 can play a significant role in determining the relative safety of organic polymers to ensure that spontaneous and flash ignition temperatures remain above established threshold limits. This can be particularly important during construction or renovation when vulnerable areas are often more exposed.

Additionally, ASTM D1929 can play an essential role in quality control by ensuring consistency of production, product development by screening formulations or materials, or as part of fire investigations to determine the relative performance of suspect materials.

Element will partner with you to test your plastics, providing the data you need to ensure your building materials adhere to the established requirements. To learn more, or to start your project, contact us today.

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