Abstract

The addition of the low-cost mineral filler kaolin to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) creates a composite with both improved stiffness and toughness properties. This study focuses on two aspects of the toughness of these composites: the fracture toughness increment produced by work at the fracture surface and the directionality induced by the injection molding fabrication process. The Essential Work of Fracture (EWF) method gives results which show that a higher volume fraction of kaolin produces more surface work, consistent with earlier work using Compact Tension (CT) tests. The EWF method also demonstrates that a lower volume fraction can produce a higher overall plastic work and apparent toughness. A heat treatment which removes the orientation of the matrix but not that of the particles was applied to study the effect of matrix crystallinity. The results indicate that the matrix supramolecular structure (crystallinity and skin-core effect) is responsible for the directionality of toughness, and that a heat treatment can be used to produce high toughness behavior in both major directions.

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