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Mechanical properties of rotomolded parts with abaca fiber: effect of manufacturing with 1, 2 or 3 layers

Zaida Ortega, Luis Suarez, Jake Kelly-Walley, Mark McCourt

Quarterly No. 3, 2023 pages 158-166


keywords: rotomolding, abaca, cycle time, mechanical properties, DMA, composit

article version pdf (1.16MB)

abstract The range of materials suitable for rotational molding is not as wide as for other polymer processing technologies. An option to reduce the carbon footprint of such materials is to introduce natural fibers, such as abaca. In this work, different loadings of abaca fibers (5 to 20 % by weight) were molded using one, two and three-layer constructions. A comparison of the mechanical behavior (tensile, flexural, and impact properties) with the fiber content, considering the method of obtaining the composite (1, 2 or 3 layers) was performed. The thermomechanical behavior of the matrix was not affected due to the introduction of the fibers; apart from a reduction in the storage modulus, especially at low temperature, the curves have a similar profile. In general terms, the tensile and flexural strength were not affected by the incorporation of the fibers, that is, the composites exhibit similar behavior to neat polyethylene. Significant improvements in the tensile modulus were obtained for the parts manufactured with 2 layers, with 10 wt% fiber in the internal one. As expected, the impact strength was reduced for all the composites, although the layer of PE on the inner side that coats the fibers counteracts this reduction to a certain extent. An increase in the heating time was observed for all the composites made in different layers; although the incorporation of fibers slightly modifies the course of the curve, the heating time is only significantly increased for loadings over 10 %. The higher energy consumption needed to obtain the part in the different layers would only then be justified by an increase in the composite properties, which is not the case of the parts obtained in this work.

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