In this work a cycloaliphatic amine-cured epoxy (EP) resin was modified by micron-scale rubber particles (RP). Nominal RP, in sizes of 200 and 600 µm respectively, were produced using worn truck tires and ultra-high-pressure water jet cutting. The RP were dispersed into the EP resin using different mixing techniques (mechanical, magnetic, and ultrasonic stirring) prior to the introduction of the amine hardener. The dispersion of the RP was studied using optical light microscopy. A longer mixing time reduced the mean size of the particles in the EP compounds. Static (tensile and flexural), dynamic (unnotched Charpy impact), and fracture mechanical (fracture toughness and strain-energy release rate) properties were determined. The incorporation of the RP decreased the stiffness and strength values of the modified EPs. In contrast, the irregular and rough surface of the RP resulted in improved toughness. The fracture toughness and strain-energy release rate were enhanced up to 18% owing to the incorporation of 1% by weight (wt%) RP. This was traced to the effects of crack pinning and crack deflection. Considerably higher improvement (i.e., up to 130%) was found for the unnotched Charpy impact energy. This was attributed to multiple cracking associated with RP-bridging prior to final fracture.
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