The influence of reactive modification on the compatibility of polyolefins with non-olefinic thermoplastics
2011-05-16T10:02:52Z (GMT) by
Polyethylene (PE) resins being non-polar in nature and having a high degree of crystallinity have limited miscibility and compatibility when blended with polar polymers. The miscibility and compatibility of these blends are generally worsened when they are prepared by direct injection moulding without a precompounding process. Such situations are commonly encountered in particular by polymer converters when blending colour and/or additive concentrates, commonly known as masterbatches. Typically, masterbatches are mixtures containing high loading of pigments and/or additives predispersed in a suitable solid vehicle (commonly known as carrier) such as a polyethylene resin. These masterbatches are usually used for the colouration of a wide range of polymers and the carrier used must therefore be compatible with these matrix (host) polymers. The preliminary stage of this study involved the investigation of the properties of blends based on high density polyethylene (HDPE) and a range of engineering thermoplastics (ABS, PC, PBT, PA6), prepared by injection moulding. Five different types of compatibilisers namely, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer, ethylene-methyl acrylate (EMA) copolymer, ethylene-glycidyl methacrylate (E-GMA) copolymer, ethylene-methyl acrylateglycidyl methacrylate (E-MA-GMA) terpolymer and maleic anhydride grafted HDPE (HDPE-g-MAH) copolymer were evaluated with respect to their efficiencies in compatibilising HDPE with the four engineering polymers. The pre-compounded HDPE/compatibiliser binary blends at 2 different blend ratios (1:1 and 3:1) were added at 15 wt% concentration to each engineering thermoplastics and test samples were produced directly by injection moulding. Results of mechanical testing and characterisation of the blends showed that glycidyl methacrylate compatibilisers, E-MA-GMA, in particular have the most universal compatibilising effectiveness for a range of engineering thermoplastics including ABS, PC, PBT, and PA6. Blends compatibilised with E-MA-GMA compatibiliser had the best notched impact performance irrespective of matrix polymer type. The presence of an acrylic ester (methyl acrylate) comonomer in E-MA-GMA resulted in increased polarity of the ii compatibiliser leading to improved miscibility with the polar matrix polymers demonstrated by fine blend morphologies, melting point depression and reduction in crystallinity of the HDPE dispersed phase. The second stage of this study involved the reactive modification of HDPE using a low molecular weight di-functional solid diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A (DGEBA) type epoxy resin compatibilised with HDPE-g-MAH in an attempt to improve its compatibility with ABS, PBT and PA6. The maleic anhydride moieties in HDPE-g-MAH served as reactive sites for anchoring the epoxy moieties while the HDPE backbone was miscible with the HDPE resin. An excessive amount of reactive groups resulted in the formation of crosslinked gels while the addition of EVA co-compatibiliser helped in the reduction of gel content and further improved the dispersion of the epoxy. The effectiveness of epoxy grafted HDPE (with and without EVA co-compatibiliser) in compatibilising ABS/HDPE, PBT/HDPE, and PA6/HDPE was investigated by injection moulding of 5 wt% functionalised HDPE with these matrix polymers into test bars for mechanical testing, and characterisation by differential scanning calorimtery (DSC) and optical microscopy. The reactively functionalised HDPE blends, improved the mechanical properties of ABS and PA6 blends especially with EVA as co-compatibiliser. However, the mechanical properties of PBT blends were unmodified by the functionalised HDPE which was believed to be due to end-capping of the PBT chain-ends by ungrafted epoxy resins.