Relationship between the micromorphology and mechanical properties of semicrystalline polypropylene
The objective of this research project was to carry out the investigation of the relationship between processing conditions, micromorphology and mechanical properties of isotactic polypropylene homopolymer using conventional and shear controlled orientation injection moulding (SCORIM) techniques by systematically changing carefully controlled processing conditions, mould geometry and compound additives. Both SCORIM and conventional techniques were employed for iPP injection moulding using three moulds of different shapes by varying the processing conditions, including nozzle temperature, mould temperature, injection speed, hold pressure and oscillating patterns of pistons. The results obtained were compared so as to indicate the differences in microstructure and physical properties resulting from the two moulding techniques. A range of analytical methods were employed. Optical transmitted light microscopy was used to reveal the skin-core morphology and preferentially oriented fibrous textures. Transmitted Electron Microscopy represented the enlargement of the fibrous alignment. Micro hardness analysed the hardness and isotropy characteristics by measuring the diagonal lengths of the indentations. Mechanical testing determined Young's modulus, the strength and toughness of the mouldings. X-ray diffraction exhibited the distribution of the cc, 6 and 7 crystalline phases of the iPP mouldings. The WAXS Debye patterns confirmed the existence of the preferred orientation through the thickness of the moulding. Differential Scanning Calorimetry analysed the thermal behaviour from the endothermal and exothermal curves. In the initial stage of the study, the polypropylene was moulded in the form of a standard tensile bar on a conventional Sandretto injection machine in order to obtain the basic characteristics of the polypropylene study material, which could then be used to compare with those properties to be gained using the SCORIM technique. A ring mould was then used in a Negri Bossi twin injection machine to investigate improvements in uniformity of micromorphology and dimensional reproducibility of mouldings made possible by four live-feed injection moulding. Later, a study was carried out on injection moulding of polypropylene by varying processing conditions, including three hold pressures, two mould temperatures and two nozzle temperatures for both conventional and SCORIM injection processes by using a rectangular bar mould in a Demag injection moulding machine. In the finial stage, the study explores the influences of composition, in essence a limited range of nucleating agents, and processing methods, and aspects of the micromorphology, dimensional control and the mechanical properties of polypropylene. Polypropylene, as a sernicrystalline polymer, represents a class of materials in which mechanical properties are strongly influenced by processing conditions and micromorphology.