Investigation of the drawing mechanism of UHMWPE fibers
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The influence of draw ratios (DR) of gel-spun ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers on resultant morphologies, tensile, degrees of orientation, and crystal phase transition properties were investigated using wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The anisotropic crystalline structure with full concentric circular rings originally shown on the WAXD patterns of the as-prepared and drawn UHMWPE fibers gradually transform into oriented fibers with azimuthal spots on the equator as their DR values increase from 1 to 20, in which their orthorhombic crystals, percentage crystallinity, crystalline orientation, and the birefringence values increase significantly. As evidenced by SEM and WAXD analysis, the chain-folded molecules originally present in kebab crystals of the as-prepared UHMWPE fiber specimens gradually transformed into shish-like crystals with relatively high orientation as their DR values increase from 1 to 20. In contrast, the crystallinity and crystal orientation values of the drawn UHMWPE specimens increase only slightly, as their DR values increase from 20 to 40, wherein both crystallinity values of orthorhombic and monoclinic crystals increase slightly. In fact, barely any oriented kebab but only shish crystals were observed on the surfaces of drawn UHMWPE fiber specimens with DR values higher than 20. The birefringence values increase only slightly with further increasing DR values, while crystallinity and crystal orientation values of the drawn UHMWPE fiber specimens remained relatively unchanged as their DR values increase from 40 to 150. In the meantime, the monoclinic crystals gradually grow at the expense of the orthorhombic form crystals as the DR values of drawn UHMWPE fiber specimens increase from 40 to 150. Possible reasons accounting for these interesting properties found for the drawn UHMWPE fibers with varying draw ratios are proposed in this study.
KeywordsUHMWPE Draw Ratio Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene Monoclinic Crystal Orthorhombic Crystal
The authors would like to express their appreciation to National Science Council (NSC 95–2221-E-253-008-MY3) and Department of Industrial Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs (95-EC-17-A-11-S1-057) for their support of this work. Thanks are also extended to Drs. M. H. J. Koch, A. Gabriel, Y. S. Sun, and Y. H. Lai for their help in WAXS measurements.
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