• polylactic acid;
  • impact modifier;
  • thermal properties;
  • mechanical properties;
  • morphology


Polylactic acid (PLA) was melt-blended with different amount (0 to 50 wt %) of a commercially available ethylene acrylate copolymer impact modifier. PLA/impact modifier blends were prepared via an internal mixer and compression molded into test specimens. The thermal, mechanical, and morphological properties of the blends were investigated. The addition of impact modifier decreased the ability of PLA to crystallize and/or recrystallize. The degree of crystallinity of PLA decreased while the cold crystallization temperature shifted to higher temperatures with increasing the impact modifier content. PLA/impact modifier blends were partially miscible. This was confirmed by the dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) tests. With increasing the impact modifier content, the blends showed some improvement in the elongation at break and notched impact strength indicating the toughening effects of the impact modifier. In contrast, the yield stress and tensile modulus decreased with the increase in the impact modifier content. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrographs revealed that the toughening mechanisms among others involved shear yielding or plastic deformation of the PLA matrix induced by interfacial debonding between the PLA and the impact modifier domains. PLA with 30 wt % impact modifier showed comparable yield stress and tensile modulus and better elongation at break and impact strength (+90%) than those of polypropylene (PP). © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 123:2715–2725, 2012