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Polymers 2018, 10(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10010036

Improved Processability and the Processing-Structure-Properties Relationship of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene via Supercritical Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide in Injection Molding

1
Polymer Engineering Center, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53715, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 December 2017 / Revised: 27 December 2017 / Accepted: 28 December 2017 / Published: 30 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Processing-Structure-Properties Relationships in Polymers)
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Abstract

The processability of injection molding ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) was improved by introducing supercritical nitrogen (scN2) or supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) into the polymer melt, which decreased its viscosity and injection pressure while reducing the risk of degradation. When using the special full-shot option of microcellular injection molding (MIM), it was found that the required injection pressure decreased by up to 30% and 35% when scCO2 and scN2 were used, respectively. The mechanical properties in terms of tensile strength, Young’s modulus, and elongation-at-break of the supercritical fluid (SCF)-loaded samples were examined. The thermal and rheological properties of regular and SCF-loaded samples were analyzed using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and parallel-plate rheometry, respectively. The results showed that the temperature dependence of UHMWPE was very low, suggesting that increasing the processing temperature is not a viable method for reducing injection pressure or improving processability. Moreover, the use of scN2 and scCO2 with UHMWPE and MIM retained the high molecular weight, and thus the mechanical properties, of the polymer, while regular injection molding led to signs of degradation. View Full-Text
Keywords: ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE); microcellular injection molding; supercritical fluid; supercritical N2; supercritical CO2 ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE); microcellular injection molding; supercritical fluid; supercritical N2; supercritical CO2
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Yilmaz, G.; Ellingham, T.; Turng, L.-S. Improved Processability and the Processing-Structure-Properties Relationship of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene via Supercritical Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide in Injection Molding. Polymers 2018, 10, 36.

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