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Keywords:

  • mechanical properties;
  • reinforcement;
  • transparency

Abstract

Ethylene–vinyl acetate copolymer (EVM) vulcanizates with good mechanical properties and high transparency were obtained using sodium methacrylate (NaMAA) as a reinforcing agent. Sodium methacrylate was in situ prepared through the neutralization of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and methacrylic acid (MAA) in an EVM and used to reinforce the EVM cured by dicumyl peroxide (DCP). Different factors such as the DCP content, NaMAA content, and the mol ratio of NaOH/MAA were included to study their effects on the mechanical properties, optical properties, stress-relaxation behavior, and crosslink structure of the EVM vulcanizates. The rheological behavior of the EVM compounds was also investigated and compared with that of the high abrasion furnace carbon black (HAF)/EVM compounds. The experimental results show that with an increase of the NaMAA content the curing rate index (CR) of the EVM compounds is greatly speeded up, while the Mooney viscosities of the compounds remain nearly unchanged. The mechanical properties and optical properties of the NaMAA-reinforced EVM vulcanizates depend on the NaMAA content and the mol ratio of NaOH/MAA. The formulation of DCP of 3 phr and a NaOH/MAA mol ratio of 1.0 is recommended for the EVM vulcanizate with high mechanical properties. At a given NaOH/MAA mol ratio of 1.0, all the EVM vulcanizates are transparent and the light transmission is over 76% in the NaMAA content range of 10–50 phr. The NaMAA/EVM vulcanizates show faster stress relaxation and more obvious stress-softening effects than those of the HAF/EVM vulcanizates. Crosslink density analysis indicated that the EVM vulcanizates contain both covalent and ionic bonds. The ionic crosslink densities greatly increase with an increasing NaMAA content. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 89: 2192–2200, 2003