Polymer, Vol.137, 209-221, 2018
Effect of moisture exposure on scratch behavior of model polyurethane elastomers
Effect of moisture exposure on scratch behavior of four model cast polyurethane (CPU) elastomers with different soft segments is investigated. Two model CPU systems contain less polar ether groups and the other two contain more polar ester groups in the soft segment polyols. The ASTM D7027/ISO 19252 standard scratch test was chosen to determine the scratch behavior of the model CPU systems in dry and water-saturated conditions. It is found that the absorbed moisture alters the surface characteristics, mechanical properties and the corresponding scratch behaviors of PU elastomers in different fashions, depending on the PU chemical constituents. The homogeneously absorbed water molecules in the less polar polyether-based PU elastomers serve as plasticizer to degrade the mechanical properties and increase the coefficient of friction (COF), thus leading to deterioration in scratch resistance. However, for the more polar polyester-based PU elastomers, because of the interaction between water molecules and the polar bonding sites, clustering of water occurs on the surface and acts as lubricant to decrease the COF, which improves the scratch resistance. A 3-D finite element method (FEM) modeling was conducted to further understand the observed scratch-induced deformation in the model systems. The present study provides guidelines for preparing scratch-resistant PU elastomers that are exposed to humid environment during service. Published by Elsevier Ltd.