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Applied Rheology in Polymer

The polymer components may
be manufactured either from
i) low viscosity liquid polymers or
their solutions and emulsions like
monomer solutions in the reaction
injection moulding or rubber latexes
for making latex goods
ii) Polymer or rubber melts to
manufacture various extruded or
moulded components
The processing stages and
equipments used in the
manufacture of latex and
solution based components are
not highly energy intensive due
to the low viscosity of the
starting fluids.
On the other hand solid
polymers (both rubbers and
plastics) are used for the
corresponding component
manufacture and the energy
required for their processing is
very high because of their high
melt viscosity.
The elastic nature of rubbers
presents additional processing
The important equipments used in the
polymer processing are mixers,
calenders, extruders, injection and
other moulding systems.
During processing the polymer melts
are subjected to different stresses like
shear, compression, tensile and are
deformed accordingly under high
temperature, pressure and shear rate
The compounds flow through varying cross
sections while passing through different
equipment thereby requiring high-energy
The viscosity and therefore the rheological
behaviour of these compounds plays a very
important role in optimizing the energy
consumption in these high energy intensive
Shear: Strain produced by
pressure in the structure of
substance, so that each layer
slides over the next.
Flow situation in different processing equipment
In processing equipments the melt flow involves the high degree of shearing
deformation of polymer matrix achieved by making it pass through small cross-
section area like
i) nip region in a two-roll mill associated with manual cutting and folding
ii) rotor tip and the chamber wall area in a Banbur, mixer associated with cross
flows due to design features of the rotors
iii) Screw tip and the barrel wall in the intermix along with the cross flows
obtained due to special screw and barrel cross section design.
Banbury mixer
Barrier screw design for
continuous mixer
Schematic view of
transfer mix (shear mix)
Flow situation in Extruder
The polymer melt flow through the screw
channel and the gap between the screw
flight top and barrel surface in a screw
extruder .
The flow of melt through screw extruder is
complex in nature due to screw design.
The melt is subjected to high pressure and
shear stress in a continuously varying cross
section area.
Because of high pressure there may result
of back flow of the melt and also
considerable heat generation.
At the end of extruder the melt enters the
die region and also the die cross section is
much smaller as compared to barrel the
melt is subjected to the flow contraction
and circulation.
Therefore the knowledge of
rheological behaviour of the melt
is very essential for the analysis
of such flow problems.
Die entry flow pattern
Why Rheology ?
The manufacture of different polymer components
requires the polymers to be processed in various process
The polymer melt and solutions are likely to be
subjected to shear and extensional deformations at different
deformation rates under various applied stresses during
flow through different flow channels under high pressure
and temperature.
The volumetric flow rate pressure drop relationship,
which depends on the rheological behaviour of the
polymers, is of considerable importance from the point of
view of energy consumption in processing.
The study of rheological behaviour of polymers therefore forms an essential part of
polymer processing.
Rheological principles
Hooke in 1676 developed the first
scientific relationship between the extent
of deformation and applied force based on
the experimental observations of change
in length of an elastic metallic rod
subjected to the elongational force in the
direction of length.
The relationship is known as Hookes law
and states that in the linear range, the
deformation is directly proportional to the
applied force. The materials which follow
this relationship, are known as the
Hookean solids.
The science of rheology deals with the study of deformation of materials
under applied stresses. It describes the interrelation between the extent and
rate of deformation with magnitude of stress.
Rheological principles...
Newton in 1686 studied the
deformation of simple liquids
and established that the rate of
deformation of liquids is
directly proportional to the
applied shear stress.
The relationship is known as
Newtons law of viscosity and
all fluids which follow this
relationship, are known as
purely viscous Newtonian
Rheological principles...
The purely elastic materials are capable
of storing all the energy used in
deformation and releasing it as useful
work as soon as the applied force is
The purely viscous fluids on the other
hand dissipate all the energy as heat due
to viscous resistance. These materials
start flowing as soon as subjected to the
shear stress and do not go back to their
original state i.e., they flow irreversibly.
Purely elastic and purely viscous nature
form two extreme cases of
deformational behaviours.
In 1867 Maxwell suggested that
all substances must possess both
these characteristics to a varying
Polymer melts and solutions show
both characteristics when
deformed implying there by part
of deformational energy will be
stored as elastic energy and the
remaining will be dissipated as
heat due to the viscous drag. Such
systems are known as viscoelastic
Rheological principles...
The stored elastic energy manifest itself
in different forms depending on the
application for example, in melt
extrusion it shows up as die swell
where the extrudate diameter is larger
than die diameter or the rod climbing
effect where stirred solution climbs the
stirrer rod as against the newtonian
fluids which show a downward
parabolic profile.
Rheological principles...
The polymers contain long
chain molecules in coiled
spatial structure, which during
flow or rotation tend to uncoil
and orient in the direction of
application of the force
resulting in stressing of the
chains and storing of elastic
This stored elastic energy is the cause of
developing normal stresses giving rise to die
swell or the rod climbing effect. This is
known as the stress relaxation process in
which the long chain molecules tend to
acquire their original spatial configurations
showing some sort of memory effect and
therefore these fluids are also known as
memory fluids.