• Effects of mould wear on hydrophobic polymer surfaces replicated using plasma treated and laser-textured stainless steel inserts

      Dimov, Stefan; Romano, J.-M.; Sarasa, J.F.; Concheso, C.; Gülçür, Mert; Dashtbozorg, B.; Garcia-Giron, A.; Penchev, P.; Dong, H.; Whiteside, Benjamin R. (2020)
      The mass production of polymeric parts with functional surfaces requires economically viable manufacturing routes. Injection moulding is a very attractive option however wear and surface damage can be detrimental to the lifespan of replication masters. In this research, the replication of superhydrophobic surfaces is investigated by employing a process chain that integrates surface hardening, laser texturing and injection moulding. Austenitic stainless steel inserts were hardened by low temperature plasma carburising and three different micro and nano scale surface textures were laser fabricated, i.e. submicron triangular LaserInduced Periodic Surface Structures (LIPSS), micro grooves and Lotus-leaf like topographies. Then, a commonly available talc-loaded polypropylene was used to produce 5000 replicas to investigate the evolution of surface textures on both inserts and replicas together with their functional response. Any wear orsurface damage progressively built up on the inserts during the injection moulding process had a clear impact on surface roughness and peak-to-peak topographies of the replicas. In general, the polymer replicas produced with the carburised inserts retained the wetting properties of their textured surfaces for longer periods compared with those produced with untreated replication masters.