Rheologica Acta, Vol.46, No.9, 1223-1233, 2007
A Rheotens-based setup for the constant strain rate uniaxial extension of uncured elastomers
A novel experimental setup for the uniaxial extension of uncured elastomers is presented, and room temperature experiments at constant Hencky strain rate are performed by means of a commercial Rheotens tensile tester originally designed for the determination of the melt strength of polymer melts. Successful results are obtained for materials related to many aspects of the elastomers production, namely, gum elastomers and carbon black compounds. Stress growth experiments are reported for filled and unfilled high-cis-polybutadiene, and the extensional behavior is related to the carbon black dispersion. Although originally thought as an experimental tool for polymer melts, the proposed Rheotens setup can also perform constant strain rate tensile testing on thermoplastic rubbers. Stress-strain experiments are performed on a microphase separated polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene butylene)-b-polystyrene (SEBS) copolymer and related blends with polypropylene, showing the effect of a constant deformation rate on the network response. Relaxation experiments after cessation of extensional flow are also reported for the investigated materials. With respect to commonly used tensile testing procedures for elastomers at constant elongation rate and time decreasing strain rate, a complete and accurate investigation of the extensional behavior of many uncured elastomers can be carried out with the additional advantage of using a reduced amount of material.