Dispersive mixing of immiscible polymer blends as well as polymer systems containing solids is achieved in compounding equipment at two stages of the system's processing experience: first, while one or more of the polymer components are melting, and second, after all polymer components have melted. That is, the first mode of dispersive mixing occurs during the melting mechanism of "dissipative mix melting" (Ref. 1), while the second is melt-melt mixing. During the compounding of a given blend system, there are a number of processing parameters that can be changed in order to improve mixing. These range from machine operating variables to the addition of processing aids. If such processing changes fail to produce the desired morphology, the most common change to consider is the screw geometry. This, in practice involves a trial and error procedure, or the use of an existing database built from prior experience. The role which the thermomechanical and rheological properties of the blend component play in dissipative mix melting and melt-melt mixing has not yet been well understood. The reason for this is that although most blend systems have components which are strongly non-Newtonian and strongly viscoelastic, the thinking and rules of thumb for mixing such materials has been heavily influenced by the analysis of G. I. Taylor (Ref. 2), who in 1932 addressed the phenomenon of the dispersion of a single Newtonian droplet by a Newtonian matrix flowing in laminar shear flow. This paper addresses the strong role that the rheology of blend components, under processing conditions, play in laminar dispersive mixing of polymer blends. From a practical point of view, if the dispersion mechanisms and rates of dispersion depend on the component rheology, then such knowledge can lead us to the selection of advantageous mixing element designs and processing conditions. The experimental results were obtained in dispersive mixing carried out in devices developed in the Polymer Mixing Study (Ref. 3). Such model devices include the Couette Flow Intensive Mixer (CIM) (Ref. 4), where a constant shear stress is applied on the blend components and the Twin Screw Mixing Element Evaluator (TSMEE) (Ref. 5), where the mixing flows are those encountered in actual mixing/compounding operations. The TSMEE will be described in the body of this paper together with its on- and off-line morphology determination capabilities and its in-line rheology sensor. The low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polystyrene (PS) polymers studied were selected because they cover a wide spectrum of rheological properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry