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A phenomenological criterion for an optical assessment of PE-HD fracture surfaces obtained from FNCT

: Schilling, Markus; Niebergall, Ute; Marschall, Niklas; Alig, Ingo; Böhning, Martin

Fulltext ()

Polymer testing 94 (2021), Art. 107002, 10 pp.
ISSN: 0142-9418
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer LBF ()
PE-HD; FNCT; fracture surface

The full-notch creep test (FNCT) is a common test method to evaluate the environmental stress cracking (ESC) behavior of high-density polyethylene (PE-HD), e.g. for container materials. The test procedure as specified in ISO 16770 provides a comparative measure of the resistance against ESC using the time to failure of PE-HD specimens under constant mechanical load in a well-defined liquid test environment. Since the craze-crack damage mechanism underlying the ESC phenomenon is associated with brittle failure, the occurrence of a predominantly brittle fracture surface is a prerequisite to consider an FNCT measurement as representative for ESC, i.e. a time to failure dominated by craze-crack propagation.
The craze-crack propagation continuously reduces the effective residual cross-sectional area of the specimen during the test, which results in a corresponding increase of the effective mechanical stress. Thus, a transition to ductile shear deformation is inevitable at later stages of the test, leading usually to a pronounced central ligament.
Therefore, an optical evaluation of FNCT fracture surfaces concerning their brittleness is essential. An enhanced imaging analysis of FNCT fracture surfaces enables a detailed assessment of craze-crack propagation during ESC. In this study, laser scanning microscopy (LSM) was employed to evaluate whether FNCT fracture surfaces are representative with respect to craze-crack propagation and ESC. Based on LSM height data, a phenomenological criterion is proposed to assess the validity of distinct FNCT measurements. This criterion is supposed to facilitate a quick evaluation of FNCT results in practical routine testing. Its applicability is verified on a sample basis for seven different commercial PE-HD container materials.