Thermoplastic starch films: DOE and O2PLS methodology for optimization and increased understanding of polymer processing
The combined effect of a plasticiser (glycerol) and a cross-linking agent (borax) on the mechanical properties of commercially extruded thermoplastic hydroxypropylated starch films was examined. The use of Design of Experiment (DOE) was demonstrated and used to predict and optimise formulations for a given set of material properties. As an extension to DOE, Orthogonal 2 Partial Least Squares (O2PLS) provided insight into joint correlations between the machine and transverse direction mechanical properties. Specific information regarding individual measurements or samples was also obtained with this analysis. O2PLS identified unique variables in individual compositions that were potentially incorrect measurements, or processing defects, which in turn can be used to aid quality control or processing optimisation with regards to DOE. Overall, DOE and O2PLS showed that within a starch borax-glycerol blend, borax increased mechanical strength and enhanced creep and recovery, whilst glycerol increased elongation and decreased modulus. There were competing interactions between the two dependent on concentration, and variation between machine and transverse properties was due to the extrusion induced molecular orientation of amylose. The optimum concentrations of borax and glycerol needed to achieve higher elongation, tensile strength, modulus and creep recovery than a control was found to be approximately 0.5% and 10%, respectively.