A three-stage molding process involving microcellular injection molding with core retraction and an “out-of-mold” expansion was developed to manufacture thermoplastic polyurethane into lightweight foams of varying local densities, microstructures, and mechanical properties in the same microcellular injection molded part. Two stages of cavity expansion through sequential core retractions and a third expansion in a separate mold at an elevated temperature were carried out. The densities varied from 0.25 to 0.42 g/cm3 (77% to 62% weight reduction). The mechanical properties varied as well. Cyclic compressive strengths and hysteresis loss ratios, together with the microstructures, were characterized and reported.
thermoplastic polyurethane microcellular injection molding cavity expansion compressive strength hysteresis loss ratio
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The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Kuo K. and Cindy F. Wang Professorship, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship, the Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, the 3M Fellowship, and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
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