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Most polymeric materials, particularly polyolefins and their derivatives, present a low surface energy which is the cause of their poor wettability and limits processes such as adhesive bonding, painting, or metalizing. Many methods have been developed and used to modify polymer surfaces for improved wetting, including mechanical treatments, wet-chemical treatments with strong acids or bases, and exposure to flames or corona discharge.In this paper the improvement of wetting properties of several polymeric materials widely used in the automotive industry, such as high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP) and silicone, is studied by means of surface mechanical abrasion using sandpapers of different grain sizes (1000, 180 and 80). Measurements of the surface roughness are performed using a Hommel Tester T8000 device equipped with a diamond stylus, which provides data on the arithmetic average roughness Ra parameter and Abbott-Firestone curve. Variations in the polymers surface energy (SE) are estimated through contact angle measurements using five test liquids of different polarities. Both components of the SE, dispersion (sigmaD) and polar (sigmaP), as well as total (sigmaT) at different conditions of treatment are analyzed using the Owens-Wendt-Rabel-Kaelble (OWRK) method. Morphological changes induced in the surface are analyzed by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Additionally, measurements of the static friction coefficient (mus) are carried out by the standard method ASTM D 1894-08. A slight enhancement in surface wettability is found with the mechanical abrasion pre-treatment from the SE increase. Finally, a higher value of mus is achieved for the abraded specimens as the normal force acting onto the system is increased.
polymer surface abrasion; roughness; contact angle; wettability; surface energy