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Compression Molding of Flax Fiber-Polypropylene Composites: Factors Affecting Selected Properties

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:   No Citation available.
Authors:   M Soleimani, L Tabil, S Panigrahi, Xue Li, B Crerar
Keywords:   flax, fiber, polypropylene, composite, compression molding, tensile strength, bending strength, water absorption, density

Natural fibers have the potential to be used as reinforcement in thermoplastics, but they may have some undesirable effects on the mechanical and physical properties of the product. In this study, oilseed flax fiber was used as reinforcement for fiber-polypropylene composite manufactured by compression molding. For this purpose, retted flax fiber was used in different forms: untreated, sodium hydroxide treated and bleached (sodium hypochlorite treated), added at 15 and 30% of the total product mass. To investigate the effect of compatibilizer on product properties, maleic anhydride grafted polypropylene(MAPP) was added at 5% by mass in the formulations. After preparation of different formulations (12 formulations containing PP and flax fiber with or without MAPP), they were extruded in a single-screw extruder and the extrudates were pelletized to be formed further using compression molding. Typical mechanical and physical tests including: tensile strength, bending strength, water absorption and density were performed to evaluate the effect of different parameters on product quality. Results from the measurements indicated that fiber loading without compatibilizer caused inferior properties of composite especially tensile strength (even compared to virgin polypropylene), however (alkaline treated or bleached) fiber loading besides compatibilizer resulted in composites with favorable properties, especially improved mechanical properties.

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