Thermoforming Quarterly is a journal published quarterly by the Thermoforming Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers. The magazine is a great way to keep up with industry trends and developments. SPE Thermoforming Division members receive the magazine by mail four times a year. Non-members can access old issues here via PDF file. If you are not an SPE member this is a great reason to join! Become a member today to start receiving this valuable information in your mailbox.
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Second Quarter 2020
The New Face of Plastics
It is not stretch to say that the world has changed since our last issue. Much ink has been spilled about COVID-19 and it will be some time before we can make sense of the short- and long-term disruptions to life and business. For those of us in the plastics industry, at least two comments can be made with certainty: one, plastics are an indispensable part of modern life; two, social and political pressures against certain types of plastics have abated. This commentary will focus on the former, but it would be mistake for the plastics industry to forget about or abandon what led to such an increase in global awareness of the impact of plastic waste on the environment.
In each issue of Thermoforming Quarterly, we carefully select articles from around the world where thermoforming is featured. Sometimes these are related to business activities such as M&A news; sometimes they are local stories about apprenticeship programs. This quarter, it has been almost impossible to keep up with the amount of “thermoforming in the news” given the massive outpouring of production support for health care workers. Machinery, tooling, and materials are all in high-demand, with most workers deemed essential.
Improving Thermoformability of IPP Through Multilayer Co-Extrusion
While the flow forces governing primary melt-based polymer processing techniques, such as extrusion and injection molding, have been extensively studied, characterization of forces in secondary processes such as thermoforming is limited. In this work we utilize multilayer coextrusion to create an extruded film with 100s of alternating linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and isotactic polypropylene (iPP) layers; and by extension, 100s of interfaces. The combination of LLDPE, iPP, and these interfaces decreases the elastic storage modulus (E’) and broadens the rubbery plateau observed via dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). The broadening of the rubber plateau is correlated with an observed improvement in LLDPE/iPP multilayer thermoformability compared to the homopolymer LLDPE and iPP films.
Due to its low cost and rigid mechanical properties, isotactic polypropylene (iPP) makes an excellent candidate for packaging applications. However, it is notoriously difficult to thermoform due to its low melt strength. Some applications use high molecular weight (low melt index) iPP for thermoforming.  Macauley et al. have shown that incorporating nucleating agents improves the thermoformability and extensional processing of iPP.  A number of other researchers have utilized reactive extrusion to create long chain branched iPP to improve thermoformability. [3,4] Specifically, Münstedt and colleagues correlated the improved thermoformability to strain hardening behavior observed during transient extensional viscosity measurements.
Full articles appears in print magazine mailed to members.