Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Vol.92, No.7, 1181-1188, 2014
Application of single site catalyst metallocene polyethylenes in extruded films: Effect of molecular structure on sealability, flexural cracking and mechanical properties
Three single site catalysts metallocene polyethylenes (mPE) different in molecular structure were selected and films from them were produced using a semi-industrial cast film extrusion line. Rheological and gel permeation chromatography tests were performed on the mPE resins to assess their molecular structure. Mechanical, physical and sealability properties of the films were evaluated as well as flexural cracking and particles encapsulation (caulkability) and the results are discussed in relation to the molecular structures of the resins. It was found that molecular weight and distribution of short chain branching (comonomer) on the backbone of the polyethylene chains are the main factors that control sealability, flexural cracking and mechanical properties. The placement of comomoner on medium length chains generated crystals with smaller size that show a lower melting peak. Sealing was controlled by crystal distribution, chain diffusion and entanglement formation at the interface. mPE with lower melting point and linear molecular structure showed greater hot tack and seal strength. Polydispersity along with molecular weight contributed to toughness and puncture resistance. Flexural cracking resistance was revealed to be related to crystallinity, tie chain density and more importantly to fraction of amorphous phase. The amorphous part could absorb flexural energy and hinders crack initiation and propagation. Seal through contamination (caulkability) was found to be related to flowability of the melt. The resin with stronger shear thinning in melt state and lower heat seal initiation temperature showed an improved caulkability.