When dealing with the electron beam processing of polymers, two terms you will often hear are crosslinking and scissioning. Although both of these things happen as a result of electron beam irradiation, they are two opposite processes. Both are used to enhance or reduce certain properties of polymers according to a company’s specific needs.
Electron beam polymer crosslinking is a process used to improve and enhance the attributes of a variety of polymers including properties such as tensile strength, impact strength, high-heat properties, abrasion and chemical resistance, and environmental stress crack resistance.
Notable products made using crosslinking include: wire and cable insulation, heat-shrinkable products, gaskets and seals, hydrogels, polyolefin foams, PEX pipe, and many more.
Scissioning is, simply, the breaking of a chemical bond. In a long chain molecule, when scissioning or controlled degradation is induced, it results in the long chain backbone of the polymer separating or breaking apart. Often times, the resulting smaller chains react with one another causing changes in the properties of the polymer. Controlled degradation generally involves changes to the molecular weight as well as the molecular weight distribution of the polymer. Some other property changes that typically occur due to scissioning include chalking, cracking, color changes, reduced ductility and embrittlement.
Scissioning can be utilized for the alteration of polymer characteristics to enable enhanced adhesion, increased melt index, recycling, and controlled partial degradation of naturally occurring products such as cellulose and chitin.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the irradiation of polymers. Just as every person has a unique personality, every polymer has a unique reaction to electron beam irradiation. Polymer crosslinking and scissioning are just two of the amazing processes possible through electron beam irradiation. If you might be interested, please check out our website and call us!
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