|Mörl, M.; Steinlein, C.; Kreger, K.; Schmidt, H.-W.; Altstädt, V.: Improved compression properties of polypropylene extrusion foams by supramolecular additives, Journal of Cellular Plastics 54(3), 483-498 (2018) -- DOI: 10.1177/0021955X17695096|
Owing to the high lightweight design potential polymer foams become increasingly important. For rigid polymer foams, requiring high dimensional stability under load, a high compression modulus is a key feature. Here, we demonstrate how supramolecular additives can be utilized to control the foam morphology and to significantly improve the compression behavior of extruded foams made of linear isotactic polypropylene. Three different 1,3,5-benzenetrisamides were selected as supramolecular additives. These additives are soluble in the polymer melt and form a supramolecular nanofiber network upon cooling, acting as nucleating sites for both, foam cells and polymer crystals. It is shown that the in situ formed nanofiber network is very effective in reducing the cell size of extruded foams. Depending on the molecular structure and the concentration of the supramolecular additives, the compression modulus of polypropylene- polymer foams can be significantly increased compared to a reference foam with talc. Unexpectedly, an improvement of 100% with a concentration of only 0.02 wt% of a supramolecular additive compared to the neat polypropylene foam featuring similar densities is achieved. This improvement cannot be correlated with the foam morphology and is most likely attributed to the presence of the supramolecular nanofiber network.