Manual Melt Rheology and its Applications in the Plastics Industry (Engineering Materials and Processes)

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Materials with the characteristics of a fluid will flow when subjected to a stress which is defined as the force per area. There are different sorts of stress e. Much of theoretical rheology is concerned with associating external forces and torques with internal stresses and internal strain gradients and flow velocities. Rheology unites the seemingly unrelated fields of plasticity and non-Newtonian fluid dynamics by recognizing that materials undergoing these types of deformation are unable to support a stress particularly a shear stress , since it is easier to analyze shear deformation in static equilibrium.

In this sense, a solid undergoing plastic deformation is a fluid , although no viscosity coefficient is associated with this flow. Granular rheology refers to the continuum mechanical description of granular materials. One of the major tasks of rheology is to empirically establish the relationships between strains or rates of strain and stresses, by adequate measurements, although a number of theoretical developments such as assuring frame invariants are also required before using the empirical data.

These experimental techniques are known as rheometry and are concerned with the determination with well-defined rheological material functions. Such relationships are then amenable to mathematical treatment by the established methods of continuum mechanics.

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The characterization of flow or deformation originating from a simple shear stress field is called shear rheometry or shear rheology. The study of extensional flows is called extensional rheology. Shear flows are much easier to study and thus much more experimental data are available for shear flows than for extensional flows.

On one end of the spectrum we have an inviscid or a simple Newtonian fluid and on the other end, a rigid solid; thus the behaviour of all materials fall somewhere in between these two ends. The difference in material behaviour is characterized by the level and nature of elasticity present in the material when it deforms, which takes the material behaviour to the non-Newtonian regime. The non-dimensional Deborah number is designed to account for the degree of non-Newtonian behaviour in a flow.

The Deborah number is defined as the ratio of the characteristic time of relaxation which purely depends on the material and other conditions like the temperature to the characteristic time of experiment or observation. Since Deborah number is a relative quantity, the numerator or the denominator can alter the number.

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A very small Deborah number can be obtained for a fluid with extremely small relaxation time or a very large experimental time, for example. Under low Reynolds numbers viscous effects dominate and the flow is laminar , whereas at high Reynolds numbers inertia predominates and the flow may be turbulent.

Applications of rheology : some example material systems 1

However, since rheology is concerned with fluids which do not have a fixed viscosity, but one which can vary with flow and time, calculation of the Reynolds number can be complicated. It is one of the most important dimensionless numbers in fluid dynamics and is used, usually along with other dimensionless numbers, to provide a criterion for determining dynamic similitude.


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When two geometrically similar flow patterns, in perhaps different fluids with possibly different flow rates, have the same values for the relevant dimensionless numbers, they are said to be dynamically similar. Rheometers are instruments used to characterize the rheological properties of materials, typically fluids that are melts or solution. These instruments impose a specific stress field or deformation to the fluid, and monitor the resultant deformation or stress.

Instruments can be run in steady flow or oscillatory flow, in both shear and extension. Rheology has applications in materials science engineering , geophysics , physiology , human biology and pharmaceutics. Materials science is utilized in the production of many industrially important substances, such as cement , paint , and chocolate , which have complex flow characteristics.

In addition, plasticity theory has been similarly important for the design of metal forming processes. The science of rheology and the characterization of viscoelastic properties in the production and use of polymeric materials has been critical for the production of many products for use in both the industrial and military sectors. Study of flow properties of liquids is important for pharmacists working in the manufacture of several dosage forms, such as simple liquids, ointments, creams, pastes etc.

The flow behavior of liquids under applied stress is of great relevance in the field of pharmacy. Flow properties are used as important quality control tools to maintain the superiority of the product and reduce batch to batch variations. Examples may be given to illustrate the potential applications of these principles to practical problems in the processing [11] and use of rubbers, plastics, and fibers.

Melt Rheology and Its Applications in the Plastics Industry

Polymers constitute the basic materials of the rubber and plastic industries and are of vital importance to the textile, petroleum, automobile, paper, and pharmaceutical industries. Their viscoelastic properties determine the mechanical performance of the final products of these industries, and also the success of processing methods at intermediate stages of production.

In viscoelastic materials, such as most polymers and plastics, the presence of liquid-like behaviour depends on the properties of and so varies with rate of applied load, i. The silicone toy ' Silly Putty ' behaves quite differently depending on the time rate of applying a force. Pull on it slowly and it exhibits continuous flow, similar to that evidenced in a highly viscous liquid. Alternatively, when hit hard and directly, it shatters like a silicate glass. In addition, conventional rubber undergoes a glass transition often called a rubber-glass transition.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was caused by rubber O-rings that were being used well below their glass transition temperature on an unusually cold Florida morning, and thus could not flex adequately to form proper seals between sections of the two solid-fuel rocket boosters.

With the viscosity of a sol adjusted into a proper range, both optical quality glass fiber and refractory ceramic fiber can be drawn which are used for fiber optic sensors and thermal insulation , respectively. The mechanisms of hydrolysis and condensation , and the rheological factors that bias the structure toward linear or branched structures are the most critical issues of sol-gel science and technology. The scientific discipline of geophysics includes study of the flow of molten lava and study of debris flows fluid mudslides. This disciplinary branch also deals with solid Earth materials which only exhibit flow over extended time-scales.

Those that display viscous behaviour are known as rheids. For example, granite can flow plastically with a negligible yield stress at room temperatures i. Physiology includes the study of many bodily fluids that have complex structure and composition, and thus exhibit a wide range of viscoelastic flow characteristics. In particular there is a specialist study of blood flow called hemorheology.

This is the study of flow properties of blood and its elements plasma and formed elements, including red blood cells , white blood cells and platelets.

Melt rheology and its applications in the plastics industry

Blood viscosity is determined by plasma viscosity, hematocrit volume fraction of red blood cell, which constitute Therefore, red blood cell mechanics is the major determinant of flow properties of blood. Food rheology is important in the manufacture and processing of food products, such as cheese [15] and gelato. Thickening agents , or thickeners , are substances which, when added to an aqueous mixture, increase its viscosity without substantially modifying its other properties, such as taste.

They provide body, increase stability , and improve suspension of added ingredients. Thickening agents are often used as food additives and in cosmetics and personal hygiene products. Some thickening agents are gelling agents , forming a gel. The agents are materials used to thicken and stabilize liquid solutions, emulsions , and suspensions. They dissolve in the liquid phase as a colloid mixture that forms a weakly cohesive internal structure.

Food thickeners frequently are based on either polysaccharides starches , vegetable gums , and pectin , or proteins. Concrete 's and mortar 's workability is related to the rheological properties of the fresh cement paste. The mechanical properties of hardened concrete increase if less water is used in the concrete mix design, however reducing the water-to-cement ratio may decrease the ease of mixing and application.

To avoid these undesired effects, superplasticizers are typically added to decrease the apparent yield stress and the viscosity of the fresh paste. Their addition highly improves concrete and mortar properties. The incorporation of various types of fillers into polymers is a common means of reducing cost and to impart certain desirable mechanical, thermal, electrical and magnetic properties to the resulting material.

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The advantages that filled polymer systems have to offer come with an increased complexity in the rheological behavior. Usually when the use of fillers is considered, a compromise has to be made between the improved mechanical properties in the solid state on one side and the increased difficulty in melt processing, the problem of achieving uniform dispersion of the filler in the polymer matrix and the economics of the process due to the added step of compounding on the other. The rheological properties of filled polymers are determined not only by the type and amount of filler, but also by the shape, size and size distribution of its particles.

The viscosity of filled systems generally increases with increasing filler fraction. This can be partially ameliorated via broad particle size distributions via the Farris effect. An additional factor is the stress transfer at the filler-polymer interface. The interfacial adhesion can be substantially enhanced via a coupling agent that adheres well to both the polymer and the filler particles.

The type and amount of surface treatment on the filler are thus additional parameters affecting the rheological and material properties of filled polymeric systems. It is important to take into consideration wall slip when performing the rheological characterization of highly filled materials, as there can be a large difference between the actual strain and the measured strain.

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A rheologist is an interdisciplinary scientist or engineer who studies the flow of complex liquids or the deformation of soft solids. It is not a primary degree subject; there is no qualification of rheologist as such. Most rheologists have a qualification in mathematics, the physical sciences e. Lin, Z. Ed , Yang, Y. Ed , Zhang, A. Ed Available Formats: Hardcover eBook Softcover.

Volfkovich, Y. Available Formats: Hardcover Softcover eBook. Gevorgian, S. Vassilopoulos, A. Publishing With Us. Book Authors Journal Authors. Engineering Materials and Processes. The Engineering Materials and Processes series focuses on all forms of materials and the processes used to synthesise and formulate them as they relate to the various engineering disciplines. The series deals with a diverse range of materials: ceramics; metals ferrous and non-ferrous ; semiconductors; composites, polymers, biomimetics etc. Each monograph in the series is written by a specialist and demonstrates how enhancements in materials and the processes associated with them can improve performance in the field of engineering in which they are used.

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