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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A micro-mechanically based continuum model for strain-induced crystallization in natural rubber

  • Author(s): Mistry, SJ
  • Govindjee, S
  • Editor(s): Govindjee, Sanjay
  • Papadopoulos, Panayiotis
  • et al.

Recent experimental results show that strain-induced crystallization can substantially improve the crack growth resistance of natural rubber. While this might suggest superior designs of tires or other industrial applications where elastomers are used, a more thorough understanding of the underlying physics of strain-induced crystallization in natural rubber has to be developed before any design process can be started. The objective of this work is to develop a computationally-accessible micro-mechanically based continuum model, which is able to predict the macroscopic behavior of strain crystallizing natural rubber. While several researchers have developed micro-mechanical models of partially crystallized polymer chains, their results mainly give qualitative agreement with experimental data due to a lack of good micro-macro transition theories or the lack of computational power. However, recent developments in multiscale modeling in polymers give us new tools to continue this early work. To begin with, a micro-mechanical model of a constrained partially crystallized polymer chain with an extend-chain crystal is derived and connected to the macroscopic level using the non-affine micro-sphere model. Subsequently, a description of the crystallization kinetics is introduced using an evolution law based on the gradient of the macroscopic free energy function (chemical potential) and a simple threshold function. Finally a numerical implementation of the model is proposed and its predictive performance assessed using published data. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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