Processing of thermoplastic polymers using reactive solvents

H.E.H. Meijer, R.W. Venderbosch, J.G.P. Goossens, P.J. Lemstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)


The use of reactive solvents offers an interesting and flexible route to extent the processing characteristics of thermoplastic polymers beyond their existing limits. This holds for both intractable and tractable polymers. The first mainly applies for amorphous high-Tg polymers where processing may be limited due to the high temps. required which can cause problems related to degrdn. and where the solvent helps to decrease the processing temp. considerably. A prime example here can be found in the system poly(phenylene ether) PPE/epoxy. The second mainly holds for semicryst. polymers and the attention here is focused on obtaining low viscosities in order to be able to apply alternative processing routes, like pouring or casting, for those polymers which are generally easy to process by more conventional techniques like injection molding or extrusion. Such a system is represented by polyethylene (PE)/styrene. In both cases, based on intractable and tractable polymers, the solvent is polymd. after molding, thus converting into a non-solvent, and becomes, after the concurrent phase sepn. and phase inversion, an integral and often structural part of the final product. Interestingly, specific morphologies, in terms of the size of the dispersed (previous solvent) phase formed or the position and thickness of in situ formed interlayers when polymn. occurs in the presence of a polar surface, can be obtained by the above described process which cannot be otherwise formed or can be formed only with extreme difficulty. Moreover, flexibility of the choice of the reactive solvent creates tuneable mech. (and, if requested, other) properties of those phases, varying from glassy, with a Tg of typically 200 DegC, to complete rubbery, with a Tg far below room temp. Of course a disadvantage of the technique is that a polymn. step must occur after the shaping process. Compared to more std. reactive processing techniques, however, clear advantages can exist with respect to the occurrence of early vitrification (yielding a fast demolding possibility) induced by he reaction-induced phase sepn., and the fact that the continuous thermoplast phase ultimately dets. the main product properties, including the possibility of second-stage deformability and reprocessability
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-167
JournalHigh Performance Polymers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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