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Keywords:

  • hot compaction;
  • polyethylene;
  • naphthalate

Abstract

In this article, we describe the production of single polymer composites from polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) multifilaments by using the hot compaction process. In this process, developed at Leeds University, highly oriented tapes or fibers are processed at a critical temperature such that a small fraction of the surface of each oriented element is melted, which on cooling recrystallizes to form the matrix of the composite. This process is, therefore, a way to produce novel high-volume fraction polymer/polymer composites where the two phases are chemically the same material. A variety of experimental techniques, including mechanical tests and differential scanning calorimetry, were used to examine the mechanical properties and morphology of the compacted PEN sheets. Bidirectional (0/90) samples were made at a range of compaction temperatures chosen to span the melting range of the PEN multifilaments (268–276°C). Measurement of the mechanical properties of these samples, specifically the in-plane modulus and strength, allowed the optimum compaction temperature to be ascertained (∼ 271°C), and hence, the optimum mechanical properties. The optimum compacted PEN sheets were found to have an initial modulus close to 10 GPa and a strength of just over 200 MPa. The glass transition temperature of the optimum compacted sheets was measured to be 150°C, nearly 40°C higher than compacted poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) sheets. In previous work on polypropylene and PET hot compacted materials, it proved instructive to envisage these materials as a composite where the original oriented multifilaments are regarded as the reinforcing phase, and the melted and recrystallized material are regarded as the matrix phase. Dynamic mechanical bending tests (DMTA) were used here to confirm this for PEN. DMTA tests were carried out on the original fibers and on a sample of completely melted material to determine the fiber and matrix properties, respectively. The composite properties were then predicted by using a simple rule of mixtures and this was found to be in excellent agreement with the magnitude and measured temperature dependence of the hot compacted PEN material. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 93: 796–802, 2004