Strain hardening in polypropylenes and its role in extrusion foaming

Pieter Spitael, Chris Macosko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Extensional viscosity of several polypropylene polymers and their blends was measured and the foam processing of these blends using carbon dioxide blowing agent was studied. Foaming was carried out on a co-rotating twin-screw extrusion line, with a gear pump to build pressure. A linear isotactic polypropylene and two branched polypropylenes were considered. The uniaxial extensional viscosity was quantified and the foam characterized based on bulk density, cell size, and cell concentration. The linear polymer exhibits no strain hardening, while both branched polymers show pronounced strain hardening. Blends of low concentrations of branched polymer in the linear polypropylene show significant strain hardening down to 10-wt% branched polypropylene. Strain hardening is expected to prevent cell coalescence and lead to higher cell concentrations. The branched polymers were found to have a lower cell concentration than the linear polymer. Yet blends of linear and branched polypropylenes attained a cell concentration higher than either of the neat polymers. This suggests that even small amounts of branched polypropylene blended in linear polypropylene can improve the foaming process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2090-2100
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer Engineering and Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004


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