This article examines changes to the morphology of rotationally molded metallocene catalyzed linear low density polyethylene brought about by varying the cooling rate during processing. These changes in morphology lead to variations in the impact performance, which is reflected in the dynamic mechanical characteristics of the materials. Various analytical techniques are used in an attempt to explain the differences in impact behavior. Slow cooling is shown to result in high crystallinity, and in the formation of large spherulites, which in turn is detrimental to the impact performance of the material, particularly at low temperatures. The high crystallinity corresponds with a shift in the β transition of the material to a higher temperature, and is shown to result in a higher brittle–ductile transition. A case study was also carried out on samples from a finished part provided by an industrial molder, one section of which failed in a brittle manner when impact tested while the other failed in a ductile manner. Microscopy results showed that the brittle material had large spherulites at the inside surface, while the ductile material showed incipient degradation at this surface, which has previously been shown to be of benefit to impact strength in rotationally molded parts. Dynamic mechanical studies again showed a β transition at a higher temperature in the brittle samples. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 101: 1963–1971, 2006
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