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The SPE Library contains thousands of papers, presentations, journal briefs and recorded webinars from the best minds in the Plastics Industry. Spanning almost two decades, this collection of published research and development work in polymer science and plastics technology is a wealth of knowledge and information for anyone involved in plastics.

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Sustainability
Various topics related to sustainability in plastics, including bio-related, environmental issues, green, recycling, renewal, re-use and sustainability.
Weld Lines Behaviour in Melt Blended and In-Situ Polymerised Nylon 6 Nanocomposites
J. Tung, R.K. Gupta, G.P. Simon, G.H. Edward, May 2004
Nylon 6 nanocomposites containing organically-modified montmorillonite made either by the melt blending or in-situ polymerised routes are investigated. Both nylon 6 nanocomposites are examined in X-ray diffraction and Transmission Electron Microscopy, to verify the level of intercalation / exfoliation of the organoclay layers in the nanocomposites. The materials are injected into tensile specimens either with single or double end-gated (with a weld line). Neat nylon 6 and single end-gated samples are used as a control, allowing comparison the performance of nylon 6 nanocomposites when weld line is present. The results show that the tensile strength and strain-to-failure of the neat nylon 6 exhibits little variation when comparing the single and double end-gated samples and thus no weld line behaviour is seen clearly. The melt blended nanocomposites show a greatly reduced in strain-to-failure for both single and double end-gated samples although the tensile modulus is increased significantly. In contrast, the in-situ polymerised nanocomposites show more ductile behaviour at single end-gated, compared to the double end-gated samples. Both nanocomposites show brittleness when the weld line is present. The fracture tensile surfaces are examined using Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy and the results show that much larger micron-sized organoclay entities exist in the melt blended nanocomposites and that these, rather than nano-sized individual layers, cause the final behaviour. Whilst the dispersion is much finer for the in-situ polymerised than that of the melt blending nanocomposites.
Welding of Recycled Thermoplastic Lumber for Structural Components
David Grewell, Avraham Benatar, Prabhat Krishnaswamy, May 2004
This paper reviews experimental work on welding of reinforced recycled thermoplastic lumber for the fabrication of structural components. Recently the use of thermoplastic lumber has become more accepted due to the materials longevity. However, because of extrusion difficulties, such as shrinkage holes and long cooling times, plastic lumber has not been widely used for structural components, such as pilings and supports. In order to solve some of these issues, it has been proposed to extrude standard, relatively small cross sectional components, such as 2x4 and 2x6, and join these components into larger structural components, such as 6x6 to 10x10 or engineering components such as I-beams. This work evaluated a wide range of welding processes, including; hot plate, vibration, IR and non-contact hot plate welding as well as adhesive bonding. Star design of experiments was conducted for each process and relevant parameters. Process optimization was preformed for each process in order to minimize cycle time and maximize weld strength. In addition, flexural tests of selected samples were performed. It was found that welding could produce joints as strong and as stiff as the base material.
Creative Thermoplastic Composite Materials for Use in Automotive Load Floors
Rich Simmons, John Stoll, Lloyd Hilligoss, September 2004
This paper offers a glimpse at emerging technology related to the application of composites in automotive structures. In a practical embodiment of this technology composites comprised of thermoplastic polymers and fiberglass are married with a structural core and garnished with a decorative carpet to form an automotive load floor. The exclusive polymer used throughout this particular load floor is polypropylene. Thus the composite structure is comprised entirely of polypropylene and fiberglass. Among the major advantages of this design are the following characteristics: structural integrity low weight excellent thermal stability acoustic abatement incorporation of recycled raw materials and the opportunity for end-of-life component recycling. Regarding processing of this load floor additional key advantages exist such as: low cycle time good formability one-step part consolidation high automation and the low environmental impact associated with thermoplastic polymers. Conceptually products of this type promise to have a lasting impact on the environment through all phases of product life cycle. This is achieved at first by utilizing recycled raw materials going into the product. Next offal from processing is recycled back into the materials stream. In addition the system creates a product of a known common composition of materials which possesses a higher potential for recycling as a whole after the useful life of the vehicle.
Development of New Green SMC Resins and Nanocomposites from Plant Oils
Jue Lu, Richard P. Wool, September 2004
Sheet molding compound (SMC) is widely used in automotive parts appliances furniture and construction. These materials heavily depend on the petroleum supply which is depleting fast. The use of plant oils as an alternative source for SMC resins presents economic and environmental advantages over petroleum. Two synthetic methods have been used to develop new resins from triglycerides. The double bonds presented on the fatty acid chains were first converted to epoxy or hydroxyl functionality; the hydroxyl groups were maleinized while the epoxies were acrylated and then further maleinized. When these functionalized oils were combined with 33.3 wt% styrene the polymers showed mechanical properties comparable to those of commercial unsaturated polyesters. In addition these new resins exhibit adequate thermo-reversible thickening behavior with MgO. These triglyceride-based resins have good compatibility with natural fibers such as hemp and flax to form low-cost green composites. New bio-based nanocomposites were also developed using these new resins and organo-treated clays and the nanocomposites showed considerable increase in modulus and toughness. These new green materials show the promise to be used in the automotive industry.
Development of Sustainable Nanocomposites from Cellulose Ester for Automotive Applications
Hwan-Man Park, Manjusri Misra, Amar K. Mohanty, Lawrence T. Drzal, September 2004
Sustainable nanocomposites have been successfully fabricated from renewable cellulose acetate (CA) environmentally benign triethyl citrate (TEC) plasticizer and organically modified clay. The effects of processing conditions such as mixing methods pre-plasticizing times retention times (RT) and addition of compatibilizer maleic anhydride grafted cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB-g-MA) on the performance of these nanocomposites have been evaluated. The cellulosic plastic with CA/TEC (80/20 or 75/25 wt. %) was used as the polymer matrix for nanocomposite fabrication. The morphologies of these nanocomposites were evaluated through X-ray diffraction (XRD) Atomic force microscope (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies. From all the sequential mixing methods used powder-powder mixing leads to the most transparent nanocomposites. Cellulosic plastic-based nanocomposites obtained using increased pre-plasticizing times and RT showed better-exfoliated structures. Cellulosic plastic-based nanocomposites with 5 wt.% compatibilizer contents showed better-exfoliated structure than the counterpart having 0 or 7.5 wt.% compatibilizer contents. Polygonal shape of exfoliated clay platelets was observed with 500 nm width and 800 nm length by AFM and TEM imaging. The mechanical properties of the nanocomposites have been correlated with the XRD and TEM observations.
Equal-Channel Angular Extrusion of Thermoplastic Matrix Composites for Sheet Forming and Recycling
T. S. Creasy, Y.S. Kim, September 2004
Equal channel angular extrusion creates novel properties in metal and polymer materials. Recently the authors investigated the effects of this process on commercial short fiber composites. Experiments show that ECAE provides a means for controlling fiber length and orientation in the extrudate. The process might transform continuous fiber thermoplastic matrix composite sheets into high volume fraction discontinuous fiber sheet for thermoforming. In addition the process might provide a method of recycling reground components into high-value sheets with a known fiber orientation.
High Performance Natural Fibre Reinforced Sheet Molding Compound for Automotive Applications
Merry Lo, Suhara Panthapulakkal, Mohini Sain, September 2004
This research work aims to replace glass fibres in sheet molding compounds (SMC) by renewable natural fibres. These eco-efficient and cost effective SMC with natural fibres are gaining much attention in the automotive industry because of their specific properties. The specific objective of the work was to develop a high performance natural fibre hybrid SMC to meet the specifications required for automotive parts such as front fenders body panels etc. Hemp fibres with and without a combination of a small amount of glass fibres were used to reinforce vinyl ester resin for making SMC. Different combinations of layers of hemp and glass fibres were made to prepare SMC. Mechanical properties such as tensile and flexural properties and impact strength of the SMC prepared were found to be highly promising. The current OEM specifications for automotive parts for example rare lift gate and front fenders recommend the composite should have tensile strength of 62 MPa and tensile modulus of 2 GPa (Source of Automotive Engineers Car Technology yearbook 2000” USA 2000 Body panels Properties). SMC prepared by the combination of 45% of hemp fibres and 5% of glass fibres showed tensile strength and modulus were more or less same or better than that of the requirements for car body parts such as rare lift gate and front fenders (Tensile strength greater than 62 MPa and tensile modulus of 2 GPa).Use of this SMC with natural fibre is an economically viable alternative to SMC with glass fibres and at the same time it helps reducing the green house gas emission as there is lesser amount of synthetic resins and plastics.
Natural Fibers Thinking Out of the Box
Garry E. Balthes, Harry R. Hickey, September 2004
Most people are aware of what natural fibers are but few know of the diverse capability of this natural resource and unfortunately industry pressures over the past several years to reduce costs focused on trying to refine well established technologies using glass or wood fibers or to a certain extent injected molded polymers. It has only been through recent pressure by some of the larger OEM’s that natural fibers have been gaining broader interest for both their performance and environmental benefits as compared to older more comfortable based technologies. Cost versus performance is a delicate balancing act. Fortunately natural fibers go a long way on striking a balance between both of these most common demands. When considering performance natural fibers offer an unlimited range of lighter weight possibilities for interior and exterior applications. Most common today natural fibers are commingled into a nonwoven mat with fiberized thermo plastic polymers such as polypropylene and polyester for use in common interior applications that include door panels center consoles pillars and inserts. However advancements in the range of available natural fibers and specialty polymers along with a continuous improvement of the nonwoven process are now providing for greater heat stability to meet the elevated requirements for over head systems package trays and topper pads. Increased demands for occupant safety give further reason to consider natural fibers as few other materials provide the same impact characteristics with the base material. For exterior applications natural fiber mats used as the base material in sheet molding compounds will find their way into bumper reinforcements wheel well liners and under hood applications. The industry historically focused on direct material cost. In this simplified approach natural fibers seldom will come out to be the low cost alternative but when considering the benefits derived from one-step processing the end cost of the finis
Blends of Polylactide with Thermoplastic Starch
P. Sarazin, M.A. Huneault, W. Orts, B.D. Favis, May 2005
Blends of polylactide with thermoplastic starch are prepared using a one-step extrusion process. These materials, subsequently processed via injection molding, possess interesting properties. The tensile properties in these samples are related to the composition of the blends and also to the glycerol plasticizer content in the thermoplastic starch. These materials possess an advantage for the environment since they are fully biodegradable and are derived principally from renewable sources.
Chain Extended/Branched PET-Organoclay Nanocomposites
Ulku Yilmazer, Ali Emrah Keyfoglu, May 2005
The effects of chain extension and branching on the properties of nanocomposites produced from recycled poly (ethylene-terephthalate) and organically modified clay were investigated. As the chain extension/branching agent, maleic anhydride (MA) and pyromellitic dianhydride (PMDA) were used. Both MA and PMDA improved the mechanical properties of the nanocomposite owing to the branching and chain extending effects that increase the molecular weight. However, PMDA gave better results at lower content.
Advanced Development of Molded Expanded Polypropylene and Polyethylene Bead Foam Technology for Energy Absorption
Steven R. Sopher, May 2005
Recent advancements in the field of polyolefin resins in the area of PP+PE copolymers, impact co-polymers, and homopolymers have allowed for the creation of a new class of thermoplastic foam products. These new products are capable of improved performance due to the advancements that have been made in the area of polyolefin resin catalyst systems. These new Metallocene catalysts are being used to create resins with improved mechanical properties that otherwise were not available using the traditional Ziegler- Natta catalyst systems currently being used to produce a majority of the thermoplastic materials available today.This paper describes these recent advancements and how they allow for improved properties in the area of moldable expanded bead foam used in the automotive, marine and recreational occupant safety and cushioning system designs. This technology allows for improvements in the mechanical properties of these thermoplastic foam components, while allowing them to be produced on existing processing equipment. This paper will also compare these advancements to those currently being used, and demonstrate how improvements in performance, system integration, and cost can be realized. Compliance to existing and new environmental substance regulations and restrictions are also addressed.
Characterization of Virgin/Recycled Nitrile Rubber Blends
M.A. García, M. Hernández, M. Ichazo, J. González, May 2005
Blends of Virgin and Recycled Nitrile Rubber within a blend ratio of 10-30 %wt recycled NBR were studied. Reference was made to mechanical and physical properties. Results obtained indicate that a maximum percentage of 20%wt recycled rubber can be added to a NBR formulation without diminishing considerably final properties, since higher percentages promote a premature vulcanization. Concerning chemical resistance, an excellent oil resistance and a very low resistance to polar solvents were obtained for all formulations.
Clay Nanocomposites Incorporated into Biodegradable Polymers
Matthew Jackson, May 2005
Nanocomposites based on biodegradable polycaprolactone (PCL) and mica clay organically modified with L-arginine were prepared through solvent blending. Their properties were analyzed with TGA, DSC, and tensile testing. The addition of the organically modified clay caused an increase in properties, but at large incorporation, properties began to decrease. Samples of 3%, 5% and 10% organically modified clay were compared to pure PCL.
An Investigation into the Reuse of Painted TPO Regrind
Adam Nadeau, Hardik Valia, Jeremy Perras, May 2005
Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) is currently the material of choice for automotive bumpers and fascias. The part is generally painted with thermoset paint after molding. Unless removed, this paint layer creates problems during recycling of rejected parts. It causes a change in the processing characteristics and properties. The techniques used for removing the paint layer from the TPO create additional steps in the process and adds extra costs. The concept studied is the possible reuse of painted regrind by reducing the paint particle size in an injection molding process; possibly eliminating the need for paint removal in some recycling applications.A modified progressive double row grater screw was used to reduce the particle size of the paint flakes. The physical properties of these material blends are compared to similar blends obtained using a general-purpose screw. It is shown that reducing the paint flake size has a marginal effect on mechanical properties. However, the surface finish is greatly enhanced when the paint flake size is reduced.
Comparative Performance and Barrier Properties of Biodegradable Thermoplastics and Nanobiocomposites vs. PET for Food Packaging Applications
D. Cava, A. López- Rubio, L. Cabedo, E. Giménez, J.L. Feijoo, R. Gavara, J.M. Lagaron, May 2005
This paper reports about the comparative behaviour, regarding PET, of biodegradable biopolymers such as PCL, PLA and PHBcoV and their nanobiocomposites, in terms of thermal and retorting resistance (thermal humid processes) and oxygen, water vapour and aroma barrier by means of time-resolved synchrotron radiation, FT-IR and permeation methods.
Degradaton Mechanisms and Environmental Effects on Poly Pphenylenebenzobisoxazole (PBO) Fibers
Alan J. Lesser, Xianbo Hu, Peter J. Walsh, May 2005
Recent reports have shown the fibers made from polyp- phylenebenzobisoxazole show a significant reduction in properties after relatively mild exposure to environmental conditions. This paper discusses potential mechanisms responsible for the degradation and reports results on degradation of fiber properties due to various environmental exposure conditions.
Design and Optimisation of a Standard Milk Crate Using FEM
S.H. Masood, Sachin K. Zanvar, May 2005
This paper presents an investigation on the design and optimization of plastic milk crates using the finite element method (FEM) with the aim of reducing the mass and simplifying the shape of a standard milk crate. The paper also explores the possibility of manufacturing such milk crates using recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) instead of virgin HDPE or virgin polypropylene (PP) to make it more cost effective.
Development and Characterization of Thermoplastic Biodegradable Nanocomposites
Lluís Cabedo, José L. Feijoo, José Ma. Lagarón, Juan J. Saura, Enrique Giménez, May 2005
Biodegradable blends of amorphous Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) have been developed by melt blending. The morphology of these materials was characterized by means of WAXD and TEM, showing that silicate layers of the kaolinite (chemically modified kaolinite) were intercalated and evenly distributed within the biodegradable matrix. Mechanical, thermal and gas barrier properties of the different blends and nanocomposites were studied and the effect of clay addition on the above-mentioned properties was evaluated.
Dupont Sorona® Polymer: A New Sustainable Platform for Growth
Joseph Kurian, Randy Milby, Ray Miller, May 2005
Responding to environmental, sustainability, business and market needs, DuPont has recently commercialized a new polymer platform Sorona®. Sorona® polymer is produced from fiber-grade 1,3- propanediol (PDO). It is a linear semi-crystalline polymer with a melting temperature of ~228°C and a glass transition temperature of about 50°C. (See Figure 1)
Bioactive Composites for Tissue Regeneration
G. Chouzouri, M. Xanthos, May 2005
A wide variety of bioactive composites for bone regeneration have been developed and investigated over the last decades. In order to promote bioactivity, certain types of glasses, ceramics and minerals are incorporated into biodegradable or biostable polymers. In this study, several established and novel fillers such as calcium phosphates, silicates and glasses were screened for bioactivity. Promising candidates were then incorporated into two different grades of poly-?-caprolactone by solution mixing, and testing was conducted in a simulated body fluid to determine in vitro bioactivity. At different time periods the exposed samples were characterized by SEM, EDX and FTIR microscopy in order to investigate the formation of the apatite layer needed for bone ingrowth. The screening results of this work produced suitable polymer/filler combinations for further in vitro and in vivo testing in different types of tissue engineering applications.


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