Experimental and statistical study of the effects of material properties, curing agents, and process variables on the production of thermoplastic vulcanizates



A comprehensive experimental study together with statistical analysis was performed to identify the optimal process conditions, materials selection, and curing system for the production of thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs) based on EPDM rubber and polypropylene. Two types of curing systems were studied together with five different types of EPDM rubber. The TPV products were assessed according to elastic modulus and degree of swelling (indicators of crosslink density), ultimate tensile strength, ultimate elongation, tear strength, and compression set. A design of experiments method was applied to minimize the number of experiments and to obtain response surface and regression models for this complex and highly interactive system. From the modeling results, optimum values for the influential factors were obtained to achieve the target end product properties. It was found that a phenolic resin-based curing system gave the best product properties and that the most influential factors were the rubber characteristics (ethylene content, ethylidene norbornene content, and molecular weight) and the polypropylene content in the formulation. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2010