Investigation of the Processing, Structure and Properties of Poly(phenylene sulfide) (PPS) Melt Spun Fibers

Prabhakar Gulgunje, The University of tennessee


Numerous publications are available on the structure and properties correlation of fibers spun from polymers with flexible chains such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon, polypropylene. Also considerable amount of work is reported in fibers spun from rigid rod polymers like poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide) due to their value in high performance fibers category. However, very limited literature is available on the structure-properties relationship in fibers manufactured from poly(phenylene sulfide) (PPS), a high performance polymer which possesses chain flexibility between above two classes of polymers. A few researchers have studied crystallization kinetics and the fibers by extruding the polymer using capillary rheometers. However, there is a lack of in-depth study of conversion of PPS into fibers through melt spinning and further enhancement of properties by drawing and annealing experiments.

The purpose of the present research was to fill this void by systematically studying the fiber manufacture from PPS polymers. Four variances of proprietary Fortron® linear PPS resins differing in MW were analyzed for their characteristics such as molecular weight (MW) and MW distribution (MWD) using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), rheological properties using melt flow indexer (MFI) and capillary extrusion rheometer, and crystallization kinetics using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The fibers were spun on a pilot melt spinning facility, using a multi-hole spinneret, under different processing conditions. As-spun fibers were drawn and annealed subsequently by varying draw-annealing conditions. Thorough characterization of the as-spun and drawn-annealed fibers was carried out using various analytical techniques such as tensile testing, DSC, polarized light optical microscopy (POM), wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS), and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Relationship between polymer characteristics, process conditions and structure-properties in the fibers was analysed statistically.

A strong correlationship between polymer molecular weight, processing conditions during melt spinning and draw-annealing, processing behavior during melt spinning and drawing, fiber tensile properties and fiber morphology is reported herein. Interaction effects of material and process variables in evolving fiber structure and properties are also discussed. Through optimal combination of material and process variables, PPS fibers of tenacity close to six gpd were obtained. With the help of several characterization tools listed earlier, melting behavior of PPS polymers and fibers is decoded, and probable structural model of high tenacity PPS fibers is proposed.