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Effect of uniaxial stretching on thermal, oxygen barrier, and mechanical properties of polyamide 6 and poly(m-xylene adipamide) nanocomposite films



In this study, the effect of uniaxial stretching on the thermal, oxygen barrier and mechanical properties of aliphatic polyamide 6 (PA6) and aromatic Poly(m-xylene adipamide) (MXD6) nylon films as well as their in-situ polymerized nanocomposites with 4 wt% clay were studied. Cast films were prepared by extrusion process and rapidly cooled using an air knife. The precursor films were uniaxially stretched at 110°C with draw ratios varying from 1.5 to 5. DSC results showed that the cold crystallization temperature (Tcc) of the uniaxially stretched MXD6 and MXD6/clay films drastically shifted to the lower temperatures when draw ratio increased. The aromatic nylon films had lower oxygen permeability than those of the aliphatic films, due to more rigidity and chain packing. However, the oxygen permeability of the stretched films increased with draw ratio (DR) up to a critical value for each sample, while further stretching resulted in a reduction in the oxygen permeation. This phenomenon was related to the changes in free volume upon uniaxial stretching. The ability of different geometrical models to describe the experimental relative permeability data was investigated. The Bharadwaj model that took into account clay orientation was the most successful one to predict the oxygen barrier characteristics of the stretched nanocomposites at high draw ratios. The Young's modulus and tensile strength of the aliphatic and aromatic nylons increased with uniaxial deformation, while the flexibility and elongation at break of the former decreased with increasing DR. A larger increase in the Young's modulus of the uniaxially stretched nanocomposite films compared with the neat samples was observed and could be related to the improvement in the clay orientation as well as a better alignment of the crystalline phase due to incorporating the clay platelets in the polymer matrix. In contrast, the flexibility of the stretched MXD6 improved remarkably (ca., 25 times) compared with the precursor film (DR = 1) when the draw ratio increased to 1.5. This could be related to the effect of hot stretching on the enhancement of polymer chains relaxation and mobility at low draw ratios. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 55:1113–1127, 2015. © 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers