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Why is polystyrene brittle and polycarbonate

tough and what can we do about it?



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3 authors, including:

Han E H Meijer
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven


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Why is polystyrene brittle and polycarbonate
tough and what can we do about it?
R.J.M. Smit, W.A.M. Brekelmans, H.E.H. Meijer
Eindhoven University of Technology,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
P.O. Box 513, NL 5600 MB Eindhoven

90 MPa
84 MPa

Polycarbonate: at a global 78 MPa

72 MPa

On a macroscale, polystyrene (PS) is brittle and poly- strain of 1.1%, the notchtip 66 MPa
60 MPa

carbonate (PC) is tough. On a microscale, however, causes critical dilative stresses 54 MPa
48 MPa

craze craze fibrils (length scale nm) break after 300% (> 90MPa) PC crazes 42 MPa
36 MPa

strain in PS and 100% in PC1 . This contradictory PC, dilative stress 30 MPa

behaviour is elucidated and the toughening by the 2 PS is brittle because of high defect sensitivity
addition of cavitating rubbery particles is explained. 2 PC is tough because of low defect sensitivity

Intrinsic material behaviour Improving toughness

Uniaxial compression experiments and model fits Enhance toughness by minimizing defect sensitivity.
(true stress versus compressive strain, =draw ratio): Possible routes:
c 90

e 80 1. reduce yield stress: minimizes (unstable) strain

1. softening and reduces triaxial stresses
zz [MPa]

zz [MPa]

50 2. improve (stabilizing) strain hardening
30 150
a PC 10
0 0
True stress [MPa]

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 1 2 3 4 5

(21/) (21/)
Deformation stages: (a-b) linear elastic; (b-c) non- crosslinking
linear viscoelastic (c) yield; (c-d) strain softening; (d- preorientation
1: blending with rubber
e) strain hardening. 50

2 strain softening: decreasing stress results in

addition of plasticizers
creation of surface (voids)
increasing strain unstable deformation addition of heterogeneities

2 strain hardening: increase in stress needed for 0

0 50 100 150 200
increase in strain stable deformation Linear strain [%]

2 PS: more strain softening, less strain hardening

3. avoid high triaxial stress states by incorporation of
3. voids or cavitating rubbery particles
Polystyrene shows intrinsically a less stable
deformation behaviour than polycarbonate Rubber toughening is successful because:
- cavitating rubbery particles reduce triaxial stresses
2 crazes initiate after yield, triaxial stress level during - heterogeneous microstructure eliminates softening6
craze initiation in PS 40 MPa and PC 90 MPa4,5 - rubbery particles improve strain hardening
2 model offers accurate description of yield- and Conclusion
post-yield behaviour in arbitrary 3D stress states3,4
Brittleness of glassy polymers depends on unstable
Consequence for toughness post-yield behaviour and triaxial crazing stress. Re-
ducing softening, improving hardening and avoiding
Deformation of a notched bar of PS and PC with a high triaxialities are the keys to enhanced toughness.
minor defect to model realistic (imperfect) specimen:
defect References

1. Donald, A.M. and Kramer, E.J. (1982). Deformation zones and entanglements in glassy poly-
mers. Polymer, 23, 1183-1188.
2. Hasan, O.A. and Boyce, M.C. (1993). Energy storage during inelastic deformation of glassy
polymers. Polymer, 34, 5085-5092
45 MPa 3. Timmermans, P.H.M. (1997), Evaluation of a constitutive model for solid polymeric materials:
43.5 MPa Model selection and parameter quantification. Ph.D. thesis, Eindhoven University of Technology.
Polystyrene: at a global strain 42 MPa 4. Tervoort, T.A. (1996) Constitutive modelling of polymer glasses: Finite, nonlinear viscoelastic
40.5 MPa behaviour of polycarbonate . Ph.D. thesis, Eindhoven University of Technology.
of 0.22%, the defect triggers lo- 39 MPa
37.5 MPa
5. Narisawa, I. and Yee, A.F. (1993), Crazing and Fracture of Polymers. In: Cahn, R.W., Haasen,
P., and Kramer, E.J., editors, Materials Science and Technology. A Comprehensive Treatment,
cal yielding, resulting in a critical 36 MPa
34.5 MPa
Vol. 12: Structure and Properties of Polymers, vol.ed.: E.L. Thomas. page 699. VCH, Weinheim.
6. Smit, R.J.M., Brekelmans, W.A.M., and Meijer, H.E.H., Prediction of the large-strain mechanical
dilative stresses (> 40MPa) 33 MPa
31.5 MPa
response of heterogeneous polymer systems. Part 1. J. Mech. Phys. Solids, submitted.

PS crazes PS, dilative stress 30 MPa

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