This is a study of the modelling and prediction of strain recovery in a polylactide. Strain recovery near the glass transition temperature is the underlying mechanism for the shape memory in an amorphous polymer. The investigation is aimed at modelling such shape memory behaviour. A PLA-based copolymer is subjected to stress–strain, stress relaxation and strain recovery experiments at large strain at 60 °C just below its glass transition temperature. The material is 13% crystalline. Using published data on the mechanical properties of the crystals, finite element modelling was used to determine the effect of the crystal phase on the overall mechanical behaviour of the material, which was found to be significant. The finite element models were also used to relate the stress–strain results to the yield stress of the amorphous phase. This yield stress was found to possess strain rate dependence consistent with an Eyring process. Stress relaxation experiments were also interpreted in terms of the Eyring process, and a two-process Eyring-based model was defined that was capable of modelling strain recovery behaviour. This was essentially a model of the amorphous phase. It was shown to be capable of useful predictions of strain recovery.
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