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Shrinkage Behavior of Polystyrene-based Foam Molded Parts Depending on Volatile Matter Content and Other Factors

  • Author(s): Ghafafian, Carineh
  • Advisor(s): Mease, Kenneth D.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Polymer foam materials play a large role in the modern world. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) bead foam is a lightweight, low density, and good thermal and acoustic insulating material whose properties make it attractive for a number of applications, especially as building insulation. However, EPS also experiences post- molding shrinkage; it shrinks dimensionally from its molded size after processing. This means parts must be stored in warehouses until they are considered stable by the industry standard, DIN EN 1603. This often takes 11-18 weeks and is thus very timely and expensive. This study aims to decrease the post-molding shrinkage time of EPS foam by understanding the mechanisms of shrinkage behavior. Samples were split into two groups based on their amount of initial volatile matter content and storage conditions, then compared to a control group. Based on thermogravimetric analysis and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry, the volatile matter content and composition was found to not be the sole contributor to EPS foam dimensional stability. Residual stress testing was done with the hole drilling method and Raman spectroscopy. As this type of testing has not been done with polymer foams before, the aim was to see if either method could reliably produce residual stress values. Both methods measured residual stress values with unknown accuracy. All samples stored at a higher temperature (60 °C) reached dimensional stability by the end of this study. Thus, air diffusion into EPS foam, encouraged by the high temperature storage, was found to play a significant role in post-molding shrinkage.

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