elastomer · manufacturing · Material technology · New Technology · Thermoplastic

New technology and proceses to build stronger polymers

MIT Researchers have developed a unique way to produce stronger polymers

The search for stronger materials especially polymers continues as stronger materials open lightweighting opportunities in a wide variety of industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Industrial, etc.. Materials with higher strength to weight ratio are also critical to the miniaturization Mega trend in the industry. Energy efficiency is a key benefit that stronger material can offer along with other benefits such as lower total cost of ownership and improved durability.

Researchers have also been working on improving the sustainability of materials to ensure that they meet the environmental and regulatory requirements.

Many years ago, MIT researchers were the first to measure specific types of these flaws, known as “loops,” which are caused when a chain in the polymer network binds to itself rather than to another chain. At present, the same researchers have discovered a simple way to decrease the number of loops in a polymer network and thus reinforce materials produced from polymers such as Elastomers, thermoplastics, and other materials.

To accomplish this, the researchers just add one of the components of the polymer network very gradually to a large quantity of the second component. Using this method, they were able to reduce the number of loops in half, in many types of polymer network structures. This could provide an easy means for manufacturers of industrially useful materials such as gels or plastics to strengthen their materials.

In 2012, Johnson’s group came up with the first approach to measure the number of loops in a polymer network and confirmed those results with theoretical predictions from Olsen. The researchers discovered that the loops can make up approximately 9% to about 100% of the network, based on the concentration of polymer chains in the initial material and other factors.

This method could potentially help to boost the strength of any material made from a gel or other cross-linked polymer, including membranes for water purification, adhesives made of epoxy, plastics, or hydrogels such as contact lenses.

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