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Fracture and tearing in oriented polyethylene

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Measurements of energy for crack propagation (fracture surface energy) have been made on low-density and high-density polythenes both in the undrawn state and in different states of orientation produced by drawing under various conditions. Both cleavage and tear tests were employed. For the unoriented materials the values of fracture surface energies were in the range 104 to 105 J m−2.With increasing orientation (represented by birefringence) the energy for crack propagation parallel to the direction of orientation fell by a factor of approximately 100. The differences between the low-density and high-density polymers, and between the different types of low-density polymers examined, were comparatively slight.

Measurements of crack tip diameter showed a direct relation between this quantity and fracture surface energy. From their comparable studies of the tearing of rubbers Rivlin and Thomas have interpreted such a relationship as implying that the high values of fracture surface energy arise from the work required to deform the material in the crack tip up to the point of rupture. On this basis the reduction in fracture surface energy with increase in orientation is a direct result of the reduction in the diameter of the crack tip.

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Anderton, G.E., Treloar, L.R.G. Fracture and tearing in oriented polyethylene. J Mater Sci 6, 562–571 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00550311

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  • Polymer
  • Polyethylene
  • Rubber
  • Surface Energy
  • Fracture Surface