Nucleating agent for polyamide

mei 18, 2021
blog

The amorphous form of polyamide is obtained by rapid quenching of molten polymer to a temperature below the glass transition temperature of the polyamide. In this article, we will take a closer look at a nucleating agent for polyamide. A compound that induce the formation of polymer crystals.

Physical properties

Both the amorphous and gamma-forms are relatively unstable when applied with heat and moisture. Heating amorphous material to a temperature between approx. 55°C and 150°C results in least partial conversion of the amorphous form into the gamma-form. A transition of the gamma in to alpha-form occurs at temperature above 150°C. This monoclinic alpha structure represents a highly ordered crystalline form. Moreover, it is stable at temperature up to the melting point of the polyamide. It is the most desirable crystalline form from the standpoint of obtaining the optimum physical properties with polyamide including mold shrinkage and maximum dimensional stability.

The super or morphological structure in which the crystalline units are arranged also effects the physical properties of polyamide. The crystalline units are arranged in polycrystalline aggregates known as spherulites. They are characterized by a more or less symmetrical growth in all directions from a nucleus and are composite structure made up of crystalline and amorphous regions. The number and size of the spherulites determines the texture or graininess in the bulk of the material and influences optical as well as physical properties.

Physical properties

Physical properties improve with increasing homogeneity and fineness of the spherulitic structure throughout the bulk of the material. To obtain optimum physical properties in articles fabricated from polyamide, it is desirable to produce highly crystalline materials. Crystallized predominantly in the stable alpha-form, with an extremely fine, dense and uniform morphological structure. Among the physical properties affected by increased crystallinity and improved morphological structure. For example, abrasion resistance, heat distortion temperature, inherent stability or resistance to deformation. Resistance to hot water, coefficient of expansion, hardness, tensile yield strength and surface hardness.

Customary fabricating procedures used with polyamide such as injection molding, which include rapid cooling from the melt. It generally result in articles which contain the different crystalline structural forms to a varying degree depending upon the thermal history of the article.

It is known that a greater degree of crystallinity is obtained when polyamides are cooled extremely slowly from the melt. However large spherulities develop under these conditions and the process is not economical. Crystallinity and uniformity of the morphological structure can also be increased by annealing treatment after solidification. However such practices are not economically feasible in ordinary industrial fabricating procedures as ,  for example, injection molding. Polyamide having a homogeneous and fine spherulitic structure can be obtained by addition to the polyamide melt of finely divided solids which act as crystallization nuclei.

Primary function

The primary function of this nucleating agent for polyamide now follows. When cooling semi crystalline polymers from the molten to the solid form, increasing the number of nuclei formed in a given time interval at a predetermined temperature. However, the final and overall crystallinity depends not only on the number of nuclei that are formed. It also depends on the spherulitic growth rate from such nuclei.

In order to be of practical use, the nucleating agent not only must produce a large number of nuclei. It also must facilitate rapid spherulitic growth rate under condition of rapid cooling to a temperature above the glass transition temperature of the polyamide. In other words, they must reduce the time that is necessary under the given set of condition for crystallization to start. We usually call this time as induction time. Subsequent growth from the spherulitic centre depend s on the polymer chain mobility.

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