Polymer, Vol.46, No.20, 8819-8837, 2005
Does the length of the short chain branch affect the mechanical properties of linear low density polyethylenes? An investigation based on films of copolymers of ethylene/1-butene, ethylene/1-hexene and ethylene/1-octene synthesized by a single site metallocene catalyst
Three nearly identical linear low density polyethylene resins based on copolymers of ethylene with 1-butene (B), 1-hexene (H) and 1-octene (O) were utilized to investigate the effect of short chain branch length on the mechanical properties of blown and compression molded (quenched and slow cooled) films. The content of short chain comononer in the three copolymers was ca. 2.5-2.9 mol% that 3 corresponded to a density of 0.917-0.918 g/cm(3). Within a given series, the tensile properties of these films do not show any significant difference at slow deformation rates (up to 5 10 mm/min), even though the DSC and TREF profiles of 'H' and 'O' differed slightly in comparison to 'B'. However, at higher deformation rates (ca. 1 m/s), the breaking strength of these films was found to increase with increasing short chain branch length. In addition, the Spencer impact and Elmendorf tear strength of the blown films were also observed to increase with increasing short chain branch length. Further, dart impact strength and high-speed puncture resistance (5.1 m/s) of 1-octene and 1-hexene based samples was also observed to be higher than that based on 1-butene. The blown films displayed low and comparable levels of equivalent in-plane birefringence and crystalline orientation by wide angle X-ray scattering. This confirms that the differences in mechanical properties in the blown film series are not attributable to differences in molecular orientation. The deformation behavior of both the compression molded and blown films were also investigated in a well-defined controlled regime by analyzing their essential work of fracture. It was found that the essential work of fracture of films based on 1-hexene and 1-octene was higher than that of films based on 1-butene. While the origin of these differences in mechanical properties with increasing short chain branch length is not fully understood, the present investigation confirms this effect to be pronounced at high deformation rates for both the blown and compression molded quenched films. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.