Semi-solid forming processes such as thermoforming and injection blow moulding are used to make much of today's packaging. As for most packaging there is a drive to reduce product weight and improve properties such as barrier performance. Polymer nanocomposites offer the possibility of increased modulus (and hence potential product light weighting) as well as improved barrier properties and are the subject of much research attention. In this particular study, polypropylene-clay nanocomposite sheets produced via biaxial deformation are investigated and the structure of the nanocomposites is quantitatively determined in order to gain a better understanding of the influence of the composite structure on mechanical properties. Compression moulded sheets of polypropylene and polypropylene/Cloisite. 15A nanocomposite (5. wt.%) were biaxially stretched to different stretching ratios, and then the structure of the nanocomposite was examined using XRD and TEM techniques. Different stretching ratios produced different degrees of exfoliation and orientation of the clay tactoids. The sheet properties were then investigated using DSC, DMTA, and tensile tests .It was found that regardless of the degree of exfoliation or orientation, the addition of clay has no effect on percentage crystallinity or melting temperature, but it has an effect on the crystallization temperature and on the crystal size distribution. DMTA and tensile tests show that both the degree of exfoliation and the degree of orientation positively correlate with the dynamic mechanical properties and the tensile properties of the sheet.
- D. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)
- D. Dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA)
- D. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
- D. X-ray diffraction (XRD)