Tag: Material selection

Is Using MFR the Best method for Material Selection?

By Bozilla
December 1, 2022

When a material selection comes down to flow rate, is using the (Mass Flow Rate) MFR or Melt Index (MI) the best choice? To answer this, we need to understand why the Melt Index test initially came about

The Origin of the Melt Index Test Method (ASTM D-1238)

ASTM D 1238: Test Method for Flow Rates of Thermoplastics by Extrusion Plastometer

Before there were standards to test polymers, there was a need to determine the differences in how polymers would flow when melted A method was created to keep all polymers on the same level playing field This method places the material in an Extrusion Plastometer or Melt Indexer

furnace of the plastometer and extrusion plastometer

The standard has the barrel of the melt indexer heated to a specific temperature The user would obtain a resin sample and place it in the barrel where a piston would be inserted A specific load would be placed on the piston, and the melted polymer would be extruded through a capillary die (with a particular orifice size) The extrusion would take place for 10 minutes, and the amount of polymer would be weighed in grams yielding an output in g/10 minutes

Having MFR data for all materials allows one to compare them side-by-side, giving a respective idea of how each will flow with the other

The limitation of this test method is that it is, in fact, one point on the viscosity curve and is at a shear rate of nearly zero, which is not indicative of the injection molding process

When materials experience shear during injection molding, shear rates may be experienced up to and possibly exceeding 100,000 1/sec Some materials become more viscous at higher shear rates, but these are uncommon

So how do we compare materials at these higher shear rates?

Since the inception of the melt indexer (1950s), a much more accurate test method was designed using a Dual Capillary Rheometer

Dual capillary rheometer

A dual capillary rheometer can produce a series of viscosity data points over a range of shear rates, such as the image below

rheology curve

A Rheology curve provides exact viscosity data based on specific shear rates at specifically tested temperatures Notice how the Melt Index MFR point does not provide any data relating to the injection molding process A curve like this will allow one to understand the exact behavior of the material and shear rate

Read More

Homopolymer vs. Copolymer

By Bozilla
May 24, 2022

Material selection for an injection molding application can sometimes prove to be very challenging What happens if you identify a material then find that it can be supplied as a homopolymer or a random copolymer Is there a difference? The answer is YES The choice made for your project can affect part quality  

The Homopolymer:

homopolymer chain

A homopolymer has the same base unit which causes the molecular chain to have a high degree of consistency and size However, length can vary depending on how long the polymerization process is allowed to occur

The high degree of consistency in a homopolymer creates a high degree of regularity When many of these changes flow and combine, they are able to create a very tight entanglement and when they cool and shrink, they also have a high degree of crystallinity which increases shrink

The Copolymer:

copolymer chain

A copolymer, as shown in the image above, has more than one base unit and each base unit is a different size There can be more than two base units Due to the variation in size of the base units, the copolymer chains will be spaced much further from each other and have a higher degree of irregularity And similar to the homopolymer, the length of the molecule will depend on how long the polymerization process is allowed to occur

The high degree of irregularity does not allow the polymer chains to form a tight structure, leaving a lot of space between the molecular chains Therefore, when the polymer flows, there can be alignment but there will be more irregularity and not as tight of a structure which prevents excessive shrinkage

When comparing the two types of polymers, assuming each is the same length (same molecular weight, per se) the homopolymer will be much more organized and structured therefore creating more mechanical strength and chemical resistance but have high shrinkage The copolymer will have more random orientation which will create space between the molecules allowing for easier chemical attack and less mechanical strength and also have lower shrinkage Of course, we could discuss these comparisons in much more detail but we will stick to the basics for now

As material selection relates to injection molding, the properties of the material is a crucial factor

The major properties when comparing homopolymers to copolymers are:

  • shrinkage
  • chemical resistance
  • mechanical strength

Each of these properties must be considered with regards to the outcome of part quality

For example, when injection molding

Read More