Comparison of the Foamability of Linear and Long-Chain Branched Polypropylene—The Legend of Strain-Hardening as a Requirement for Good Foamability
Polypropylene (PP) is an outstanding material for polymeric foams due to its favorable mechanical and chemical properties. However, its low melt strength and fast crystallization result in unfavorable foaming properties. Long-chain branching of PP is regarded as a game changer in foaming due to the introduction of strain hardening, which stabilizes the foam morphology. In this work, a thorough characterization with respect to rheology and crystallization characteristics of a linear PP, a
... linear PP, a PP/PE-block co-polymer, and a long-chain branched PP are conducted. Using these results, the processing window in foam-extrusion trials with CO2 and finally the foam properties are explained. Although only LCB-PP exhibits strain hardening, it neither provide the broadest foaming window nor the best foam quality. Therefore, multiwave experiments were conducted to study the gelation due to crystallization and its influence on foaming. Here, linear PP exhibited a gel-like behavior over a broad time frame, whereas the other two froze quickly. Thus, apart from strain hardening, the crystallization behavior/crystallization kinetics is of utmost importance for foaming in terms of a broad processing window, low-density, and good morphology. Therefore, the question arises, whether strain hardening is really essential for low density foams with a good cellular morphology.