Polymer composite sheets using a low-cost filler (local natural sand) and polymer (high-density polyethylene, HDPE) as a replacement of the traditionally used wood-fiber-based sheets for paper-based applications were developed. The sand/polymer composite sheets were prepared by melt extrusion in a melt blender followed by compression molding. The effects of varying particle size, concentration, and the use of a compatibilizer (polyethylene-grafted maleic anhydride) was studied on the mechano-chemical performance properties of the composite sheets such as morphology, thermal and mechanical properties, and wettability characteristics used in the printing industry. In terms of thermal stability, filler (sand) or compatibilizer addition did not alter the crystallization, melting, or degradation temperatures significantly, thereby promoting good thermal stability of the prepared sheets. Compatibilization improved anti-wetting property with water. Additionally, for the compatibilized sheets prepared from 25 µm sand particles, at 35 wt%, the contact angle with printing ink decreased from 44° to 38.30°, suggesting improved ink-wetting performance. A decrease in the elastic modulus was also observed with the addition of the compatibilizer, with comparable results to commercial stone paper. Results from this study will be considered as a first step towards understanding compatibility of local natural sand and polymers for paper-based application.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Polymers and Plastics