SPE Library

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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Flexible Packaging
Optimizing Film Bending Stiffness and Coefficient of Friction for High Speed Converting
Daniel R. Ward, May 2021
Thin polymer films with high Coefficient of Friction (COF) often perform poorly on packaging lines due to their tendency to buckle or elongate under stress. Film buckling, leads to inconsistent package dimensions and other flaws. Lowering the film’s COF by addition of slip agents reduces drag or unbalanced forces during converting can improve the packages’ dimensional consistency. However, since friction can never be eliminated, reducing COF offers limited utility. Improving the film’s buckling resistance by increasing bending stiffness may be a practical, complimentary strategy to resolve film buckling. A better understanding of the combined effects of film COF and bending stiffness can help manufacturers optimize multilayer films without increasing gauge or sacrificing key performance criteria. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the combined effects of bending stiffness and COF on the convert-ability of films in vertical form-fill-seal pouch (VFFS) lines. Specifically, we examined dimensional changes in VFFS pouches made using similar films with variable bending stiffness and COF values. The results suggest that films with the right balance of high bending stiffness and low COF exhibit less buckling and are less prone to tracking, bunching or slipping issues in VFFS conversions. A proposed mechanism is provided to explain how high COF and low bending can lead to unbalanced forces in the film and inconsistent dimensions in the finished package.
Optimization of Double-Lip Cooling Rings in Blown Film Extrusion Considering the Coanda-Effect
Lars Kraus M.Sc. | Tobias Vossel, B.Sc. | Dr.-Ing. Martin Facklam | Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Hopmann, May 2021
In blown film extrusion, heat dissipation is usually achieved by convection, using double-lip cooling rings. To maximize the heat dissipation, a narrow cooling air flow at the film bubble is essential. However, the cooling air flow is influenced by the so-called “Coanda-effect”, which describes the adhesion of a flowing medium to a surface. If the cooling air adheres at the cooling ring lip, this can lead to a dead zone in the flow field, which reduces the convective heat extraction and thus the mass throughput. Up to now, this effect has been almost unexplored in blown film extrusion, so that the IKV is investigating this effect for the first time in real flow experiments. The aim is to find out, whether the effect depends on the process parameters and the die lip design, so that this knowledge can be used in the future to optimize cooling rings. First investigations show a great potential for an optimization: Only by adjusting the die lip geometry higher mass throughputs are possible at equal energy inputs.
Adhesive Resin Technology for Oriented Multilayer Films
Mou Paul | Barry Morris | Jeff Weinhold | Karlheinz Hausmann, May 2021
Multilayer films are widely used in flexible packaging to provide an optimum balance of performance and cost. Orientation in the semi-solid state via tenter frame, double bubble and machine direction orientation processes enhances barrier and mechanical properties and offers a means towards light weighting packaging structures. Interlayer adhesion of coextruded films, however, substantially decreases during orientation as generation of new interfacial area decreases bond density and chain segments are stressed. A heuristic model is proposed that provides insight into how changes during orientation in chain segment penetration, entanglement, orientation and density affects peel strength. Examples are provided that use these insights to design novel tie resins with improved performance.
Optimization of Ethylene Acrylic Acid and Low Density Polyethylene Blend in Tie-Layer
Yong Zheng | Yiqing Jiao | Haewoong Park | Frank Chen | Byoungcheon Jo, May 2021
Ethylene acrylic acid copolymer (EAA) is widely used as tie-layer in multilayer film structures containing aluminum foil. EAA provides adhesion between foil and rest of the film structure. It can be used in pure or blending with low density polyethylene (LDPE) ordinarily in the range from 20 to 50%. However, this common practice of blending does not always work perfectly. From time to time, a clear film becomes hazed. The adhesion can deteriorate as well. This study focuses on examining the mechanism behind high haze and poor adhesion in LDPE and EAA blends and factors for optimization. The results from this study indicate that miscibility not viscosity mismatch is the dominant factor affecting the blending of EAA and LDPE. Low acid content EAA in general is more compatible with LDPE than high acid content EAA. Processing parameters, such as rotation per minute and temperature of an extruder, can also effectively change the properties of the blend.
A Hansen Compatibility Approach in Understanding Solvent Bonding Between Acrylic Copolymers
Pooja Bajaj | Kay Bernhard | Dirk Heyl | Maurice Biagini, April 2021
Flexible PVC is the tubing of choice used in infusion therapy applications as well as other medical devices applications. But the health risk awareness for the plasticizer (Diethylhexylphthalate) DEHP in flexible PVC is gearing the industry to seek alternative tubing materials. Solvent bonding between two materials is a common joining technique that relies on compatibility between the substrate polymers to the tubing material for fabricating medical assemblies. Solvent is the integral component to swell the joining components and allow intermingling, diffusing and sealing the joint. In this study, we present solvent bonding as a versatile fabrication technique for joining various plastic materials to medical tubing. Acrylic copolymers, (specifically CYROLITE® GS-90 manufactured by Roehm America LLC) are tested for bond strength against four different tubing materials, namely non-DEHP-PVC, TPU, Polybutene, and Silicone, using solvent bonding. A variety of industrially accepted solvents such as Acetone, Methylethylketone (MEK) and Cyclohexanone/MEK were tested. These solvents demonstrated strong lap shear pull force strength, replacing the carcinogenic Dichloromethane (DCM), DCM/Glacial acetic acid 90/10 or the more aggressive stress-crack inducing 100% Cyclohexanone solvents. The article also describes Hansen solubility parameter as an engineering mechanism in determining miscibility and understanding the bonding performance of acrylic copolymers, and other medical plastics such as medical grade polycarbonate (PC), and Methyl methacrylate Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (MABS) to various tubing materials.
Failure Analysis of Products with Plastic to Metal Threaded Connections
Gaurav Nagalia | Anand R. Shah, April 2021
Many products and assembled systems of different products require the use of threaded plastic to threaded metal connection to provide the mechanical integrity required for the service application. While there are design guidelines and industry acceptable standard specifications related to the design of the different thread profiles used in the connection of plastic to plastic or connection of metal to metal threaded components, there is very limited information available for designing a plastic to metal threaded connection. Generally, designing a mechanical connection between a plastic threaded component and a metal threaded component is discouraged. However, in some applications this cannot be avoided and as such the lack of understanding related to plastic to metal threaded connection leads to product failures when such connections are made or designed improperly into products. This paper reports two case studies of product failures where plastic to metal threaded connections contributed to product failure that caused either personal injury or personal property loss. A failure analysis investigation was conducted to evaluate the thread design in two products in which plastic to metal threaded connections were involved in the product failure. In the first case-study, the thread connection was found to be insufficient in the mechanical strength and in the second case study the root cause of failure was determined to be excessive tightening of the female threaded plastic component onto a male threaded metal component.
Failure Analysis Case Study: The Good and the Bad PVC Cable Coatings
Sergey Shilov, April 2021
Polyvinylchloride (PVC) is the most commonly used thermoplastic resin for electrical cable coatings. PVC that hardens after polymerization is not suitable for insulating and protecting wires and cables. The necessary mechanical, thermal, and electrical levels can only be reached with the addition of softeners, stabilizers, and fillers. Composition of the good and the bad PVC samples were analyzed using FTIR spectroscopy and TG analysis.  It was found that ditridecyl phthalate was used as a softener in both samples. Magnesium oxide was used as a filler in one sample. The higher amount of water that present in the sample at room temperature and evolves during the first stage of PVC decomposition might be responsible for the low heat resistance of one sample.
Characterization of Polycarbonate – Using Thermogravemetric-Rheology Analysis
Jamal Al Sadi, May 2020
The objective of this work is to study the rheological characteristic of the formulations and the processing of plastic production. In this work, introduced two polycarbonate resins were melt blended using two different twin-screw extruders, targeted to investigate the PC blends on the characterization behavior of the grade. Formulation and processing parameters showed an excellent effect on controlling the viscosity. The research aims to identify the underlying science by conducting a systematic study of two stages. First, the polycarbonate 30/70% (Grade-3) was chosen from historical data mining extracted in our project as was showing a high number of adjustment; the material was melt-blended using (Coperion) a Co-rotating twin-screw extruder (SB). The two polycarbonate resins (PC1/PC2) were PC1 content (30wt%-pph) of MFI (25gm/10mins) and PC2 content (70 wt.%-pph) of MFI (6.5gm/10mins). The grades also included four different color pigments and three additives. The second stage, the same material was included the same composition were blended in steps of eleven in a Thermo Haake Mini Lab II twin-screw micro compounder (ML). The steps (%PC1/%PC2) were (100%/0%), (90%/10%), (80%, 20%)… (0%/100%). This resulted in eleven batches. The rheological behavior of the compositions with pigment (WP), without pigments and additive (WOP) at 280 0C have been characterized through experimental measurements. The viscosity measurements of Variation PC blends of (30-70%) and at (0%, 30%, and 100%) were characterized at certain processing of (SB) and (ML). Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was performed under the effect of heating rate, Glass transition temperature (Tg) for PCs blends was measured and related it is affected by the minute variation blends, viscosities, and the various interactions indicated a significant effect on color changes.
Durability of Cellulose Nanomaterials under Industry Relevant Shear Stresses
Bradley P. Sutliff, May 2020
The effects of high-shear flow on cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were studied to characterize potential impacts of industrial processing on these materials. A microcapillary rheometer was employed to study the rheological characteristics ofaqueous CNC suspensions at concentrations ranging from 1.5 wt% to 12.1 wt%.Increased cellulose content in the suspensions produced increased viscosities. A Sisko model was successfully fit to the data which display high shear Newtonian plateaus. Shear rate sweeps at these concentrations failed tofullyreduce to a master curve. Furthermore, repeated testing of the same sample volume at nearly 800000 s-1led to a permanent decrease in viscosityfor all samples.Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) probed CNC morphology to observe any changes in the CNC dimensions which may have contributed to this phenomenon. AFM resultsindicate significant decreases in both height and length of the CNCsafter repeated testing at high shear rates.
Effect of Coating Anisotropy on Scratch Behavior
Mohammad Hossain, May 2020
Three-dimensional finite element method (FEM) modeling has been carried out in this study to investigatethe scratch-induced surface deformation and damage mechanisms in composite coatings applied on polymer substrate. Composite coating systems with anisotropic properties and variation in thicknessare considered in the numerical framework to study the influence of coating anisotropy and layer thickness on scratch behavior. The results show that coating anisotropysignificantly affectsthe scratch resistance of coating systems. Implications of the numerical findings on scratch resistance of coating systems are discussed.
Effect of Long-Chain Branching on Scratch Behavior of Polypropylene
Chia-Ying Tsai, May 2020
The effect of long-chain branching (LCB) on scratch behavior of polypropylene (PP) was investigated. In this study, the model LCB PP samples were modified viareactive extrusion process by incorporating increasing amount of polyfunctional monomerin PP. Small amplitude oscillatory shear results show that LCB level in PP increases with increasing polyfunctional monomer introduced. Moreover, increasing LCB content slightly improves the tensile strength of PP. ASTM D7027/ISO19252 standard scratch test was employed to determine the scratch resistance of the model LCB PPs. It is found that incorporation of LCB delays the onset of fish-scale formation.
Fabrication of Multifunctional PVDF/MWCNT Nanofibrous Membrane via Electrospinning for Membrane Bioreactors
Esrat Jahan, May 2020
Nanofibrous membranes in membrane technology applications for water and wastewater treatment have gained interests among researchers because of their high mechanical and chemical resistances. In this study, Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) nanofibrous membranes were prepared by electrospinning method with 20 wt% PVDF solution. The effects of processing parameters including flow rate, applied voltage, tip-to-collector distance and presence of multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) on fibers morphology were observed using scanning electron microscopy. The changes of fiber diameters, pore size, and membrane porosity were investigated to investigate the characteristics of nanofibers as a function of processing parameters. The modified membranes with MWCNT were characterized with contact angle analyses and water filtration tests to evaluate the performance of the membranes.
Functional Alkane Solvent Systems
Ying-Hua Fu, May 2020
An oligomeric hydrocarbon, Poly(α-olefins) (PAOs), were previously reported as a potential greener solvent to replace conventional alkanes solvent due to its lower toxicity, flammability and volatility. However, its poor solubility toward most organic substrate may limit its applications as solvent. This work demonstrated three strategies to introduce polarity in PAOs and recycle polar additives simultaneously: polymerization of polar monomers onto a PAO anchor, host-and-guest interaction and end-group modification of a PAO anchor, vinyl-terminated polyisobutylene (PIB). In the first method, RAFT polymerization gave a better control of polar polymers onto PIB in order to maintain hydrocarbon solubility over other two polymerizations (hydroboration/O2 initiation, ATRP polymerization). Secondly, the polar polymer, poly(isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) could be successfully brought into and recover back out an alkane phase by treating with chemicals via a hydrogen bond network. The reversible solubilization of PNIPAM were used in recyclable Rhodium catalyzed hydrogenation. Lastly, a hydrophilic moiety (Hexamethylphosphoramide, HMPA) was successfully incorporated onto PIB. The hydrocarbon soluble Lewis base catalyst can be used in allylation of benzaldehyde in PAOs. Other ongoing studies are exploring this molecular recognition based solubilization with other solubilizing agents, other precipitation agents and exploring the use of this chemically responsive solubility both as a tool to prepare new solvent systems and new sorts of recyclable catalysts.
How Poor Selection of Materials, Design, Tooling and Design Errors Affect the Aesthetics of Plastic Parts and What Designers Need to Know About the Science of Color and Appearance - Part 1
Vikram Bhargava, May 2020
Most engineers and designers come from the metal world. Therefore, many of them make assumptions on the predicted performance of plastic properties based on their metals background. Unlike metals, the knowledge of color and appearance is extremely important in the case of plastics. Most plastic parts have dual functions— physical performance and aesthetics. Aesthetics are important since very few of the parts need to be painted or otherwise decorated if designed and manufactured with due diligence. On the other hand, even if we are designing the most aesthetically critical metal components such as exterior automotive parts, we mostly choose the metals and alloys based on the physical properties, weight, and cost. The aesthetics are left to the paint specialist, who will in most cases find a paint system (primer, paint, and application method) that will meet the cost, durability, and cosmetic requirements. In other words, aesthetics and physical properties are quite independent of each other. A vast majority of metal parts meet their aesthetic and environmental requirements just by getting brushed, plated, chromate conversion coated or anodized. Plastic parts not only need to meet the short-term color and appearance requirements, but also need to be resistant to long term color shift and fading. This paper is in two parts. Part 1 - Appearance and Color Factors - Material - Design - Tooling and Processing Part 2 –The fundamentals of Color and Appearance, Specifications, Measurement and Tolerances
Optical 3D Metrology the Ultimate Biomechanics Tool
Justin Bucienski, May 2020
3D Digital Image Correlation (DIC) provides the ability to measure non-contact 3D coordinates, displacements and strains of materials and structures. Although widely accepted in mechanical engineering and materials engineering, this tool as yet to prove its capability within the biomechanics industry with soft tissues, bones and most medical-specific materials. Known for its unique capability to be used for rapid full-field measurements from material characterization to full component testing, providing the equivalent of the results of over 10,000 contiguous strain gauges or displacement sensors, this technique is now recognized and certified (NIST, Boeing...) as equivalent to standard mechanical testing tools in the aerospace and automotive industries. 3D DIC is used across industries for improving the quality and the accuracy of the data collected to best understand mechanical behaviors of components or validate FEA models. This work focuses on the integration of the DIC technology with load frame such as Instron, MTS and Zwick for simple coupon testing of soft tissues, implants and prostheses. It was shown that DIC could in fact provide a more flexible measurement platform with capabilities for any coupon size, very small to large strains with a single instrument as well as multi-axial data in every direction for each and every one of the biomechanics applications evaluated.
Quantitative Determination of Interfacial Strength of Multilayer Films Using an Instrumented Machine
Kwanghae Noh, May 2020
The ASTM D3359 and ISO 2409 standards are currently utilized to rank the adhesive strength between the coating layer and substrate by quantifying the damaged area across the crosshatched region after a tape pulling. However, these standards neither specify the forces needed to cut the film and rub the tape nor spell out the speed and angle of the tape required during peeling. These uncertainties lead to inconsistent results. Another issue is that the current standards only apply to rigid substrates. Consequently, the above methods cannot be applied to soft multi-layer films for adhesive strength determination. In this study, a new test methodology has been developed for quantitative determination of adhesion in soft thin multi-layer polymeric films. The depth of the surface cutting was controlled using an instrumented machine. The processes of attaching, rubbing, and peeling the tape were also automated by the instrumented machine to allow for repeatable and reliable test results. Lastly, instead of using visual assessment to rank adhesive strength of the multi-layer films as instructed in the standards, our proposed new method will quantify interfacial adhesion between the top-layer and in-layer of the multilayer films based on the principle of energy conservation. Fundamental structure-property relationships on multilayer films can now be established.
Ship Less Air –Flexible Chip Bag Filling Simulation for Sustainability
Jay Yuan, May 2020
The snack flexible packages on the market today, such as potato chips, pita chips, taco chips, tortilla chips, etc., are typically sold by weight, that is, the packages need to fulfill the label claims by weight. However, the size of the packages is determined by the overall volume of the products. The determination of the overall volume of a given product weight is not trivial. The volume is a function of chip broken rate, chip size distribution profile, bag width, bag film gage and material, production line speed (bag/minute), VFFS machine type, etc. Traditionally, the size of the bag is determined by trial & error process through iterative lab testing and production trials. This approach typically results in unnecessary large bags due to the concerns of sealing contamination induced leakage issues in the case of the bag being too small. This leads to significant sustainability issues in shipping and distribution since the shipping trucks are often cubed out by volume (not by weight) for chip/snack packages. The energy is wasted by shipping more air (thus, less chip/snack packages) during distribution. In this work, authors propose a novel approach of bag size determination by using a virtual simulation of the VFFS chip filling process, where the potential influential attributes, such as chip broken rate, chip size distribution profile, bag width, bag film gage and material, production line speed (bag/minute), and VFFS machine type, can be modeled and their impact on the bag size can be quantified. A progressive 3-case simulation is performed and presented in this paper. The results are directionally correct based on the authors’ observation and past experience. Currently, authors are looking for industry partners (brand owners, co-packers and machine manufacturers) to collect production data and validate the analysis model. The intent of this paper is to bring the awareness of applicability of the simulation technology regarding to the bag size determination and chip/snack filling process, and ultimately help the industry in adopting the technology to make the chip bag filling process more sustainable, i.e., to ship less air.
Windows of Opportunities for Single Site Catalyst
Prithu Mukhopadhyay, September 1999
What makes company A produce 50,000 tons/year more of the same PE or PP than company B at the same cost? Catalyst, catalyst and catalyst. Very quietly, catalyst research has brought revolution in the plastics industry. So-called single-site catalysts (many of which are metallocenes) are closely guarded secret of alpha-olefin "big guys". A single metal atom held between two carbon rings builds metallocenes. They might look naive but provide greater control over molecular chain length and structure of polyolefins. These polymers are stronger, purer, and clearer. Upon utilizing these catalysts, material suppliers can accurately design tailor-made resins for specific applications.

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