The role of microcrystalline structure on optical scattering characteristics of semi-crystalline thermoplastics and the accuracy of numerical input for IR-heating modeling

Abstract : Infrared (IR) heating is widely used for thermoforming of thermoplastic polymers. The key benefit of radiation heating is that a significant amount of the radiative energy penetrates into the polymers thanks to their semi-transparency. For the case of heating unfilled semi-crystalline polymers, the relation between their microcrystalline structure and optical properties is the key to develop a predictive IR-heating model as microcrystalline structure introduces an optically heterogeneous medium. In this study, a relation between the microcrystalline structure of a polyethylene (PE) and its effect on the thermo-optical properties was experimentally analyzed considering a two-step analysis. At very first step, the relation was analyzed considering samples with identical thicknesses and different morphologies, characterized here in terms of degree of crystallinity (Xc (%)). Using Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy and integrating sphere, optical characteristics of the PE samples were analyzed in near-infrared (NIR) and middle-infrared (MIR) spectral ranges. The analyses showed that a slight variation in Xc (%) has a great effect on the optical characteristics of PE, particularly the transmission characteristics in NIR range. The wavelength-dependent effect of Xc (%) on the transmission behaviors opened a discussion about the fact that the microcrystalline structures -in particular spherulites or their substructures such as lamellae- are responsible for optical scattering. Using the optical properties obtained from the two-step experimental analyses, two different thermo-optical properties were calculated, namely extinction and absorption coefficients, and used as a numerical input for the parametric numerical studies. The numerical studies were performed using an in-house developed radiation heat transfer algorithm -RAYHEAT-. Both the experimental and numerical analyses demonstrated the importance of the optical scattering regarding the identification of thermo-optical properties, used as a numerical input for radiation heat transfer models.
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Sinan Boztepe, Rémi Gilblas, Olivier de Almeida, Christian Gerlach, Yannick Le Maoult, et al.. The role of microcrystalline structure on optical scattering characteristics of semi-crystalline thermoplastics and the accuracy of numerical input for IR-heating modeling. International Journal of Material Forming, Springer Verlag, 2018, 11 (5), pp.717-727. ⟨10.1007/s12289-017-1386-z⟩. ⟨hal-01869104⟩

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