Interfacial rheology of coextruded elastomeric and amorphous glass thermoplastic polyurethanes
In this work, we report on the sensitivity of rheometrical techniques to the nature and size of the interface/interphase in coextruded thermoplastic urethanes (TPUs). In particular, the interphases developed during coextrusion of an amorphous glass (hard) TPU (Isoplast ® ETPU 301) with one of two elastomeric (soft) TPUs (Estane ® TPU 58277 and Estane ® TPU X1175) were studied. Differences in the thickness and nature of the interphase of the two coextruded bilayer films were observed by atomic force microscopy. In one case, the interphase is thicker and rough, and in the other case, it is thinner and flat. Rheology was used in order to probe the type and characteristics of the interphases, with coextruded films having been tested in steady shear, small-amplitude oscillatory shear (SAOS), uniaxial extension, and stress relaxation after a step strain in shear. The results were compared with theoretical predictions assuming zero-thickness interfaces and no interfacial slip. For SAOS and stress relaxation experiments, expressions were deduced in order to enable such a prediction to be made. Of all four rheometrical tests, only stress relaxation after a step shear did not follow the theoretical predictions and, thus, was sensitive enough to detect the presence of the interphase.