Surface Modification of Fibers and Nonwovens with Melt Additives

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Title: Surface Modification of Fibers and Nonwovens with Melt Additives
Author: Datla, Vasantha Madhuri
Advisors: Dr. Alan Tonelli, Committee Member
Dr.Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Committee Chair
Dr.Eunkyoung Shim, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Keith Beck, Committee Member
Dr. Jan Genzer, Committee Member
Abstract: Polypropylene (PP) fibers, widely utilized in woven and nonwoven industry, have highly inert and hydrophobic surfaces. Therefore a modification aimed at the creation of a more polar surface is an important issue in the application areas where wettability and adhesion properties are required. One way to impart surface hydrophilicity into polypropylene is blending of the melt additives prior to or during the fiber spinning process. It is reported that some oligomeric melt additives spun with host polymer migrate to surface and generate surface reactivity at low concentration without altering bulk properties. The principal objective of the study is to explore effective ways of imparting hydrophilicity to polypropylene fibers and nonwovens with the melt additives based on an understanding of hydrophilic surface formation on polypropylene and key parameters related to the process. It involves study of possible interactions between polypropylene polymer and the melt additive leading to a hydrophilic surface by melt additive surface migration. For this purpose, different classes of nonionic melt additives were melt extruded with a twin-screw extruder using a melt additive concentration of 2% to investigate how hydrophilic surfaces are created. The mechanism of hydrophilic surface creation by melt additives was explored using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and dynamic contact angle analyses. XPS analysis revealed migration and surface enrichment of melt additives by increase in the surface amount of polar oxygen groups leading to a more hydrophilic surface. Melt additives with different chemistries were studied for their surface modifying effectiveness. It is found that both size and characteristics of hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups in melt additives as well as their relative size; represented by HLB (Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance) value, affect the rate and the degree of surface additive segregation. The surface energy and the polar contribution of the polypropylene film increased due to the migration of low-molecular-mass components (additives) to the surface resulting in increase in surface wettability. Low molecular weight oxidized materials were observed in the form of a globular morphology on the surface of the film. Additionally thermal analysis of melt blended PP films using DSC revealed phase-separated nature. We also found that resulting surface characteristics are very dynamic, so melt additive containing polymer surfaces response to water or heat application effected surface properties and composition. Some melt additive containing PP films response to water enhanced surface migration and wettability leading to a durable hydrophilic PP surface. Analyses of melt additive concentration effects established that the minimum additive concentration to cause surface chemical changes is about 1 wt%. Finally evaluation of surface properties of spunbond PP nonwoven fabrics with the melt additives indicated that the structural and geometrical differences between the films and fabrics clearly affected the polymer surface characteristics and migration on surface wettability. It is shown that hydroentangling and heat calendering, which are typical spunbond nonwoven bonding processes, resulted in changes in the fiber surfaces. Heat calendering hastened the blooming of the melt additive by facilitating surface migration leading to enhanced wettability over time and found that 130°C is an optimum temperature to bring the desired surface hydrophilicity (complete wettability) in PP films or fabrics with 2-wt% of ethoxylated alcohol melt additives.
Date: 2008-12-19
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Fiber and Polymer Science

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