Deformulation is just one aspect of Analytical Chemistry. Analytical chemistry uses many methods, purposely designed to determine various compositional aspects of materials. Methods can be both detructive and non-destructive. They include separation methods such as chromatography, wet chemistry (titrational) methods, spectrographic methods, thermo-analysis methods, and more. Analytical chemists and engineers are constantly coming up with better ways to qualify and quantify our material world.
Analytical Laboratories and research organizations are normally designed in a way to gather compositional information on a particular type or class of material. Some specialize in gases. Some focus on liquid materials such as fuel, lubricants, or water. Others concentrate on solid materials and further break them down to metals, ceramics, or polymers. Some have a particular focus on biomaterials. Every lab is normally set-up to serve a particular purpose. Some want to measure a particular aspect of a material. Others want to determine the composition of a material.
Deformulation Laboratories are particularly interested in determining the composition of a material. Again, they tend to focus on a particular type or class of material. For example, some specialize in metals analysis, some in ceramics, some in biomatter, and some in polymers.
In the field of Polymer Deformulation, a Deformulation Lab would have instruments such as FTIR, NMR, GC-MS TGA, and XRF. These methods, along with other separation methods (i.e. LC) and wet methods such as titration can give a fairly accurate compositional analysis, with accuracy down to the 5 to 10% level. This information can be useful in the preparation of an initial formulation or synthesis pathway. In order to take a deformulation to the next level, a deformulation laboratory will need to either move toward extreme separations and more detailed types of analysis, or partner with a Formulations or Synthesis Lab to “finish the job”.
A good formulation or synthesis lab can take a Deformulation Report and use it as a starting point to drive the Re-Formulation to performance very similar or exactly to the performance of the Control material. This takes the involvement of formulation or synthesis experts, normally polymer or organic chemists with a specialty in the particular type of polymeric material. Once this is completed, a working formulation or prototype can be produced and used for testing purposes. Also, it sets the stage for Scale-up and full Production of the Reverse Engineered Polymeric Material.