Optimisation of multi-layer rotationally moulded foamed structures

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Multi-layer skin-foam and skin-foam-skin sandwich constructions are of increasing interest in the rotational moulding process for two reasons. Firstly, multi-layer constructions can improve the thermal insulation properties of a part. Secondly, foamed polyethylene sandwiched between solid polyethylene skins can increase the mechanical properties of rotationally moulded structural components, in particular increasing flexural properties and impact strength (IS). The processing of multiple layers of polyethylene and polyethylene foam presents unique challenges such as the control of chemical blowing agent decomposition temperature, and the optimisation of cooling rates to prevent destruction of the foam core; therefore, precise temperature control is paramount to success. Long cooling cycle times are associated with the creation of multi-layer foam parts due to their insulative nature; consequently, often making the costs of production prohibitive. Devices such as Rotocooler®, a rapid internal mould water spray cooling system, have been shown to have the potential to significantly decrease cooling times in rotational moulding. It is essential to monitor and control such devices to minimise the warpage associated with the rapid cooling of a moulding from only one side. The work presented here demonstrates the use of threaded thermocouples to monitor the polymer melt in multi-layer sandwich constructions, in order to analyse the cooling cycle of multi-layer foamed structures. A series of polyethylene skin-foam test mouldings were produced, and the effect of cooling medium on foam characteristics, mechanical properties, and process cycle time were investigated. Cooling cycle time reductions of 45%, 26%, and 29% were found for increasing (1%, 2%, and 3%) chemical blowing agent (CBA) amount when using internal water cooling technology from ∼123°C compared with forced air cooling (FAC). Subsequently, a reduction of IS for the same skin-foam parts was found to be 1%, 4%, and 16% compared with FAC.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Event21st International ESAFORM Conference on Material Forming, ESAFORM 2018 - Palermo, Italy
Duration: 23 Apr 201825 Apr 2018


Conference21st International ESAFORM Conference on Material Forming, ESAFORM 2018


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