The blending and permeability of polymers for packaging applications
In this study, commercially available isotactic polypropylene (PP) and nylon-6 (PA6) blends and laminates were prepared, to develop a material with optimal water vapour and oxygen barrier properties. The effect of compatibilizers on phase dispersion has been investigated using three commercial Polybond's, PB3002, PB1001, and PB3009. Three compatibilizers prepared in-house were also used as, maleic anhydride(MA) grafted on PP, MA and butyl methacrylate(BMA) co-polymer grafted on PP, and BMA grafted on low density polyethylene. The effect of two silanes( methacrylate functional and vinyl functional) on PP were also investigated and also the plasticization of PA6 with formic acid. The results were compared with a commercial blend of PP and PA6, Orgalloy R-6000. Light microscopy with phase and fluorescence contrast has been used for morphological evaluation. Chemical changes were studied by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and rheology by dynamic and steady state measurements. Barrier properties were determined gravimetrically for water vapour and organic solvents, and for oxygen by an Oxtran apparatus. The results have shown that phase dispersion can be more easily explained by molecular interactions than by the rheological parameters. The blend slip factor has been improved however by compatibilizers and consequently the phase dispersion, which had little effect on the barrier properties of the blends and indeed the laminates were more effective water vapour barriers. The availability of particular functional groups, which can interact with the permeant is the most important parameter, which can be affected by processing and blending conditions. The addition of hydrophobic functional groups into polypropylene was therefore the most effective method for enhancing the barrier properties of polypropylene. Cross-linking of the matrix polymer has improved the barrier properties to a lesser extent. It has also been shown, that PP solvent permeability (particularly di-chloromethane) can be improved, by silane addition.