Initial stage sintering of polymer particles – Experiments and modelling of size-, temperature- and time-dependent contacts
1 Max–Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, Physics at Interfaces, Ackermannweg 10, 55218 Mainz, Germany
2 Multiscale Mechanics, Engineering Technology, MESA+, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Published online: 30 June 2017
The early-stage sintering of thin layers of micron-sized polystyrene (PS) particles, at sintering temperatures near and above the glass transition temperature Tg (~ 100°C), is studied utilizing 3D tomography, nanoindentation and confocal microscopy. Our experimental results confirm the existence of a critical particle radius (rcrit ~ 1 μm) below which surface forces need to be considered as additional driving force, on top of the usual surfacetension driven viscous flow sintering mechanism. Both sintering kinetics and mechanical properties of particles smaller than rcrit are dominated by contact deformation due to surface forces, so that sintering of larger particles is generally characterized by viscous flow. Consequently, smaller particles require shorter sintering. These experimental observations are supported by discrete particle simulations that are based on analytical models: for small particles, if only viscous sintering is considered, the model under-predicts the neck radius during early stage sintering, which confirms the need for an additional driving mechanism like elastic-plastic repulsion and surface forces that are both added to the DEM model.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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