Use of Pressure in Rotational Molding to Reduce Cycle Times: Comparison of the Thermomechanical Behavior of Rotomolded Reed/Polyethylene Composites

Zaida Ortega, Luis Suarez , Jake Kelly-Walley, Paul Hanna, Mark McCourt, Bronagh Millar

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Abstract

Rotational molding advantages include the production of a hollow part with no welding lines, either of small or big sizes, with no internal stresses and good surface details. However, the process is limited by the long cycle times, and its related high energy consumption. Different strategies can be followed to reduce such energy use. This work assesses the use of pressure inside the molds during the densification and cooling stages, finding reductions in overall cycle time of approximately 20%, because of the reduction in the heating time required but also to the increased cooling rate. The influence of such an approach on the production of composites with reed fibers has also been assessed, finding a similar trend towards cycle time reductions. The rotomolded samples’ thermomechanical and rheological behavior were determined, finding that viscosity was not affected due to the incorporation of air during the moldings; besides, the homogeneity of the composites increased due to the mold pressurization. The parts obtained show good aesthetics and good thermomechanical behavior along the entire temperature range studied, and particularly for 10% composites; higher fiber ratios should be prepared via melt compounding. Therefore, the mold pressurization allows us to reduce both oven and cooling times, which can be translated into an increase in productivity and a decrease in energy consumption, which are undeniably related to the increase in the products’ sustainability and cost
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Composites Science
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 04 Jan 2024

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