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Keywords:

  • biodegradable;
  • composites;
  • molding;
  • recycling

Abstract

An approach for making poly(lactic acid) (PLA) single-polymer composites (SPCs) on the basis of PLA's slowly crystallizing characteristics was investigated. As a slowly crystallizing polymer, PLA can be processed with standard polymer processing techniques into end-use products with varied crystallinities, from amorphous films to highly crystalline fibers. In this study, amorphous PLA sheets and crystalline PLA fibers/fabrics were laminated and compression-molded to form an SPC at a processing temperature substantially lower than PLA's melting temperature. The effects of the major process conditions on the performance of the SPC were studied. The processing temperature played a profound role in affecting the fiber–matrix bonding properties. As the processing temperature increased, a drastic improvement in the interfacial bonding occurred at a temperature of around 135°C, which indicated the lower boundary of the process window. The compression-molded SPC exhibited enhanced mechanical properties; particularly, the tearing strength of the fabric-reinforced SPC was almost an order higher than that of the nonreinforced PLA. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2008