Innovation, Environment, Industry-4-0 15 December 2022

Recycling of multilayer and composite plastics

Recycling of multilayer plastics
Share post

Plastics bring value as convenient, versatile and lightweight consumer products, as well as advanced performance in high-end applications such as automobiles. However, despite their usefulness, it is clear that linear, single-use consumption of plastics is incompatible with Europe’s transition to a circular economy. This model prioritises the reuse and recycling of resources, with the aim of reducing waste and retaining as much value as possible.

In terms of plastics recycling, some progress has been made. For example, 41.5% of the plastic packaging waste generated was recycled in 2018. This is still not enough to achieve full circularity, especially in the recycling of multilayer plastics that are difficult to separate. In addition, it is essential that recycling technologies keep up with new materials entering the market

Advanced plastics recycling

The EU-funded MultiCycle project aims to develop a pilot plant for industrial recycling and treatment of multilayer plastics. This plant focuses on two important industrial segments that pose a challenge for recyclers: multilayer packaging/flexible films and fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites of the type used in the automotive sector.

Technology selection

NIR and HSI-NIR are the techniques conventionally used for container sorting. The former is suitable for individual pieces of packaging prior to shredding and can also provide an initial assessment of suitability before moving on to the latter, which provides a mode of imaging. In the MultiCycle project, packaging materials were fed onto a conveyor in the form of flakes up to 5 cm and therefore HSI was the target technique for final implementation in the prototype incoming control system. However, point NIR spectroscopy was the target technique used for monitoring dissolved and recovered plastics during and after the CreaSolv® process, where no imaging capability is required. Complementary techniques such as LIBS and FTIR have also been preliminarily tested to detect other fractions such as AlOx or to enable the detection of black containers, which could improve the accuracy of monitoring when a full system is implemented.

Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)

NIR spectroscopy is a vibrational spectroscopic technique. In this region, absorption spectra are composed of overtones and combination bands with respect to the fundamental modes of molecules in the mid-infrared region. NIR radiation has a wavelength range of 900 to 2500 nm. The absorption bands in this region are broad, due to the high degree of band overlap. In addition, due to the selection rules of the phenomena, the signal intensity is ten to a thousand times weaker than signals in the mid-infrared region. However, this lack of intensity and the high band overlap is compensated by its high specificity. The specificity of NIR spectroscopy is based on the fact that NH, OH and CH bonds strongly absorb radiation at these wavelengths, which makes it an optimal tool for the study of organic compounds and polymers. In addition, the use of multivariate methods for the analysis of spectral data has made it possible to exploit the full potential of the technique for identification, discrimination, classification and quantification purposes.

Hyperspectral imaging system in the shortwave infrared region (HSI-SWIR)

Current technologies for the monitoring and classification of solid plastic waste in the near-infrared region have incorporated hyperspectral cameras in their configuration. They allow, instead of collecting a single spectrum, to record a hyperspectral image (HSI) of the sample (hyperspectral cube), which contains not only the spatial location of the sample, but also its chemical composition and distribution. In this regard, several publications and technological developments have been made using HSI-SWIR for the classification and identification of plastics.

A basic hyperspectral imaging system, shown in Fig.3, includes in its configuration, a sensitive sensor (CCD camera); a broadband illumination source; a spectrometer, which separates the backscattered/transmitted light into its different wavelengths and, when required, a conveyor belt for sampling. In this case, it should be noted that the conveyor belt must be synchronised with the recording speed of the CCD sensor for proper image acquisition. A hyperspectral system provides a hypercube as output. A hypercube is a set of data arranged in three dimensions, two spatial (an XY plane) and one spectral (𝜆, wavelength), as depicted below.

Measurement parameters:

The most relevant parameters for hyperspectral cube recording can be summarised as follows:

  • Camera frame rate (fps)
  • Transporter speed (m/s)
  • Camera-transporter distance (cm) and collection time (µs). These parameters are interrelated and must be optimised to obtain good quality recorded spectra.

The hyperspectral images were recorded with a SWIR camera operating in the range ∼900-1700 nm, at a frame rate of 214 fps, with an integration time of 350𝜇s and a transporter speed of 25m/min.

Recycling of multilayer plastics

Figure 1: (Left) Sample set no. 1. Includes flexible plastic films of PE, PP, PA and PET. Single and double combinations of these polymers (i.e. polymer A/polymer B) were included. (Right) Classification image made by a PLSDA model.

Project conclusions

The HSI monitoring system has been able to provide a good approximation of the percentage of polymer content in a multilayer polymer sample. In the worst case, the most abundant polymer present in the sample is predicted, so with large batches, the final percentages would be fairly accurate. In terms of monitoring the dissolution process, only 1 polymer and 1 solvent were provided for testing in IRIS. The results obtained with Visum Palm™ were as expected, but no process models were tested over time. The dissolution control was not performed due to problems with the viscometer installed in LOEMI. For this reason, there are no further results in this section. The viscometer for the dissolution process was sent to LOEMI with the HSI control installation, but was not returned.

For the monitoring of the automotive samples, the selected technique was LIBS. The optimisation of LIBS was complicated, as it was the first time it was used. Models were run by changing different parameters to select the best conditions. The PATbox tool for LIBS did not allow data acquisition at the same speed as the LIBS software, so the models had to be modified. Finally, the models were calibrated and tested to predict the type of fibres in the black plastics PP and PA. The results obtained in the 3 batches were satisfactory, as the predictions given by the models (chemometrics and machine learning) were close to the real content. Some tests were performed to differentiate between PP and PA, but the classification rate was around 80% of good predictions. In general, mislabelling and soiling of the samples were not very useful for the development of the prediction models.

By IRIS Technology Solutions
Environment, Innovation 3 August 2022

Circular Economy: Bioplastics vs. black plastics

Share post

Circular Economy: Bioplastics vs. black plastics

By 2022, a significant share of used plastics – in some countries more than two thirds – will be incinerated or sent to landfill, and only a small share will be recycled (30%). In this context, there is an urgent need to find biodegradable substitute materials for black plastics that cannot be recovered today by traditional optical and sorting techniques, while maintaining their functional properties in industrial applications.

In this context, IRIS Technology presented last July at SIMULTECH 2022, its research “Biodegradation prediction and modelling for decision support”, a mathematical AI model that allows predicting the biodegradation of natural materials of food origin that are candidates to replace carbon compounds currently used in the automotive industry, electronics, plastic bags, among others.

Bioplastics and black plastics

The term bioplastic is a complex one, encompassing materials that come from renewable sources and materials that are biodegradable. While many plastics, under certain natural or man-made conditions, are degradable, not all are recoverable. In particular, black plastics, because of their pigment or colour, escape the traditional infrared systems used in the recycling industry for their separation.


The work being carried out by IRIS Technology together with a dozen European entities falls under the umbrella of the European BIOnTop project, which aims to develop a range of bioplastics and complementary coatings and validate their use in food and personal care packaging, determining their environmental impact and the economic viability of an extended substitution project in the industry.

Administrations and Companies participating in the project

  • Germany: European Bioplastics EV, Fachhochschule Albstadt-Sigmaringen
  • Belgium: Istrazivanjei Razvoj Centre Scientifique & Technique del’Industrie Textile Belge ASBL, Organic Waste Systems NV, Sioen Industries NV
  • Slovenia: BIO-Mi Drustvo S Ogranicenom Odgovornoscu za Proizvodnju
  • Spain: AIMPLAS, Cristobal Meseguer SA, Emsur Macdonell SA, IRIS Technology Solutions SL, Queserías Entrepinares SA, Ubesol SL
  • Estonia: Wearebio OU
  • Italy: Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali, Enco SRL, Laboratori Archa SRL, Movimento Consumatori, Planet Bioplastics SRL, Romei SRL
  • Netherlands: Total Corbion PLA BV
  • Czech Republic: Silon SRO
By IRIS Technology Solutions
Industry-4-0, Innovation 24 January 2022

IRIS Technology develops the first industrial system for the chemical control and inspection of melamine boards

Image HyperSpectra
Share post

IRIS Technology, a Spanish engineering company that manufactures photonic solutions for online quality control, has developed the first industrial system for real-time quality control of melamine or particle boards with NIR and hyperspectral technology.


The wood industry, and consequently the furniture and furnishing industry, is a sector that continues to grow by leaps and bounds worldwide, with a year-on-year increase of 6.5%, still boosted by the increase in consumption during the pandemic. So, not surprisingly, technology is accompanying the industry in this growth by combining production and operations techniques with smart technologies such as photonics, analytics and artificial intelligence brought about by Industry 4.0.


The new chemical vision industrial system, manufactured and patented by IRIS Technology, uses NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) technology and machine learning together with chemometric models to analyse the composition of each melamine board unit produced, non-invasively, It can quantitatively analyse the distribution of the moisture parameter on the impregnation line and classify the curing level of each board in order to detect defects early, correct factory processes and reject or remanufacture boards.


Until now, the control of this type of parameters in the melamine production process was only carried out through destructive laboratory methods and visual inspection, implying a high cost for the manufacturer and the difficult -if not impossible- inspection of all the units produced. This new technological application stands as a solution for the inspection of this type of boards, thus reducing defective units, losses, claims and consequently improving the brand image of the manufacturer.


For more information please contact IRIS Technology

By IRIS Technology Solutions
Industry-4-0, Innovation, Pharma-4-0 27 October 2021

Pre-release: The new Visum Raman analyzer will go on pre-sale to a small number of pharmaceutical companies.

Share post

IRIS Technology presents in the latest edition of Farmespaña Industrial Magazine – Farmaforum Special – its line of PAT analyzers for the pharmaceutical industry with a great novelty for the industry, the expectation for the launch of its Raman analyzer, which will be available both to work at-line or integrated to the line, for the beginning of next year, and whose official launch will begin with a pre-sale stage to a limited number of Spanish pharmaceutical companies.


“Our industry knowledge and PAT experience have led us to develop this new member of our Visum family of spectroscopic analyzers, mainly to meet many needs for in-line formulation control, where the particularities of each project and the chemometric modeling work behind each one of them is extremely complex,” said Alejandro Rosales, Science and Technology Manager at IRIS.


IRIS Technology’s technical teams are currently working on expanding Raman analyzer applications to processes at different stages of the drug manufacturing industry prior to launch, and invite pharma companies interested in particular applications to perform ad-hoc modeling at no cost.


Visum Raman achieves a signal-to-noise ratio far superior to its market competitors because, thanks to its temporal resolution, it physically mitigates the undesirable effects of fluorescence, making it possible to extend the range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry beyond identification.


“It is important to us that the Visum Raman, like its NIR siblings, is strongly oriented to the process and production industry, and helps operators and technicians in the factory to make technological decisions at the line and in real time. For this reason, we have already been collaborating with some companies in response to particular challenges, but with a strong transversality to other products and processes. In relation to the reasonable technological uncertainty that this type of industrial-scale projects always generate, at IRIS we work under the “proof of concept” scheme, i.e., we previously validate the success of the project on a reduced scale and in comparison with the criteria agreed with the client”, remarked the Deputy Director of IRIS, Joan Puig.


Do you have a challenge for our Raman analyzers? Do you want to participate in the pre-sale? Write to us here.


By IRIS Technology Solutions
Digitalization, Innovation, Pharma-4-0 3 June 2021

IRIS presents its VISUM® real-time quality monitoring devices for pharmaceutical companies.

NIR and Raman Spectroscopy
Share post

Read the complete press release in Farmespaña Industrial “Especial Ingeniería Farmacéutica” about the new NIR and Raman Spectroscopy technology used by IRIS in its projects.

By IRIS Technology Solutions
Industry-4-0, Innovation 14 May 2021

IRIS Technology among the Top 10 Spanish mechanical engineering startups of 2021

Share post

The company IRIS Technology, is awarded in the ranking “Top Mechanical Engineering Startups in Spain 2021”, elaborated by the British portal ““, in the position Nº6 of the most innovative companies in the mechanical engineering industry and worth following this year. bases its selection on the performance of companies in categories such as: innovation, innovative ideas, innovative route to market, innovative product, growth, exponential growth, exponential growth strategy, management and social impact. Look the entire publication here.

About IRIS Technology

IRIS ( is an advanced engineering company that manufactures PAT systems for in-line process and quality control in the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries with its own devices registered under the VISUM Devices trademark. As a manufacturer, it realizes tailor-made solutions and ad-hoc configurations for different processes and analytical or control needs, from the actual engineering development to the specific chemometric modeling. In addition, it actively collaborates in numerous EU innovation projects with international partners and has in its staff physicists, mathematicians, chemometricians, opticians, engineers, software developers and highly specialized profiles from the world of science and technology.

By IRIS Technology Solutions

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year of adaptation, of pivoting, of resilience. A year that has unearthed the strengths, the grit, and the commitment of people to keep pushing forward.

In as much as 2020 will be remembered as a year that accelerated change and transformation in how we communicate, how we work, how we learn, how we engage and how we do business, it will also be remember as the year when society as we know it hit the ‘reset’ button.

At the individual level, it’s a year that has shone a light on our priorities, on what is important to us. It is a year that has rekindled an appreciation for the basic things in life: family and friends, pristine nature, the ability to get out in the fresh air and exercise, the importance of access to a secure supply of healthy and locally sourced food, …

At the political level, and particularly in Europe, we are hearing more and more about the importance of a sustainable and green Recovery, in digital and manufacturing sovereignty, of ensuring security of supply, in promoting our local economies, among others.

At the industry level, while there has been a buzz of rapid transformation to adapt and thrive, in IRIS, as in many companies, it’s also been a time for consolidation. Consolidation of our teams, our technology, our values, and of our relationships with our partners and our clients. We have also consolidated and validated a transformation started years ago in digitising how we work, how we connect, how we manage and how we engage. This meant that we were ready for the overnight remote working shift.

As 2020 comes to a close, we look towards 2021 with a sense of anticipation and an energy for seizing the opportunities that lie ahead. In preparation for ‘the New’, we have taken the time to reflect on our evolution to date and we have used our learnings to sharpened the message around our key role in the digitisation of industry in our renewed website. We have also refreshed our logo by anchoring it in our core photonics specialisation with an adaptation of light breaking into its constituent spectral colours. Just like the year gone by, this logo brings everything into focus. It brings us back to basics.

By IRIS Technology Solutions