Crash Course Recap: Crosslinkable Polymers

The last E-BEAM Crash Course tackled the subject of crosslinkable polymers. But just what are crosslinkable polymers?

Ionizing radiation produced by the electron beam breaks bonds within the molecules of the polymers. With some polymers, these bonds reform in a beneficial way, which we call crosslinking. For example, polyethylene is a polymer that is relatively easy to crosslink (if you have an electron beam, that is 😉 ). In the polyethylene crosslinking process, a hydrogen atom is broken, allowing the carbon  backbone of the molecule to bond with the carbon backbone of an adjacent molecule. This imparts beneficial properties like: better abrasion resistance, less permeability, higher operating temperatures, and the ability to instantly know the winning numbers for the next jackpot lottery.

(Ok, so that last one might be a bit of an exaggeration, but manufacturers often feel as if they’ve won the lottery once they see how a simple process like electron beam crosslinking can increase the value of their products.)

So can all polymers be crosslinked? Not really. Some polymers crosslink easily, some require additional additives or special processing environments, some are radiation resistant, and some degrade.

This Crash Course, though, provides a list of a few of the polymers that can be crosslinked.

Polyethylene and polyamide, polyesters and polyvinyl chloride, ethylene vinyl acetate, and polylactic acid. TPEs and TPUs, silicone rubber and isoprene, chlorinated polyethylene, and polycapralactone (just to name a few!).

Not sure what response to expect with your polymer? Just give us a call; we’d be happy to provide you with information.

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