• Investigation of the Temperature Homogeneity of Die Melt Flows in Polymer Extrusion

      Abeykoon, Chamil; Martin, P.J.; Kelly, Adrian L.; Li, K.; Brown, Elaine C.; Coates, Philip D. (2014)
      Polymer extrusion is fundamental to the processing of polymeric materials and melt flow temperature homogeneity is a major factor which influences product quality. Undesirable thermal conditions can cause problems such as melt degradation, dimensional instability, weaknesses in mechanical/optical/geometrical properties, and so forth. It has been revealed that melt temperature varies with time and with radial position across the die. However, the majority of polymer processes use only single-point techniques whose thermal measurements are limited to the single point at which they are fixed. Therefore, it is impossible for such techniques to determine thermal homogeneity across the melt flow. In this work, an extensive investigation was carried out into melt flow thermal behavior of the output of a single extruder with different polymers and screw geometries over a wide range of processing conditions. Melt temperature profiles of the process output were observed using a thermocouple mesh placed in the flow and results confirmed that the melt flow thermal behavior is different at different radial positions. The uniformity of temperature across the melt flow deteriorated considerably with increase in screw rotational speed while it was also shown to be dependent on process settings, screw geometry, and material properties. Moreover, it appears that the effects of the material, machine, and process settings on the quantity and quality of the process output are heavily coupled with each other and this may cause the process to be difficult to predict and variable in nature. (C) 2013 Society of Plastics Engineers
    • Raman spectroscopic studies of the cure of dicyclopentadiene (DCPD)

      Brown, Elaine C.; Barnes, S.E.; Coates, Philip D.; Corrigan, N.; Edwards, Howell G.M.; Harkin-Jones, E. (2009-06-30)
      The cure of polydicyclopentadiene conducted by ring-opening metathesis polymerisation in the presence of a Grubbs catalyst was studied using non-invasive Raman spectroscopy. The spectra of the monomer precursor and polymerised product were fully characterised and all stages of polymerisation monitored. Because of the monomer's high reactivity, the cure process is adaptable to reaction injection moulding and reactive rotational moulding. The viscosity of the dicyclopentadiene undergoes a rapid change at the beginning of the polymerisation process and it is critical that the induction time of the viscosity increase is determined and controlled for successful manufacturing. The results from this work show non-invasive Raman spectroscopic monitoring to be an effective method for monitoring the degree of cure, paving the way for possible implementation of the technique as a method of real-time analysis for control and optimisation during reactive processing. Agreement is shown between Raman measurements and ultrasonic time of flight data acquired during the initial induction period of the curing process.