The aim of this work was to observe the development of the phase morphology of the PBT/ABS blends during their extrusion mixing and injection molding steps. The evolution of the blend morphology during the mixing stage was analyzed using a specially designed co-rotational twin-screw extruder with a collecting device located along the barrel. Blend samples were collected in-line along the length of the extruder barrel during the blending process. Blend morphology was also observed from specimens molded through injection molding. All the samples were observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). They were prepared by cryo-ultramicrotomy and the rubbery phase of the ABS contained in the blends was stained with osmium tetroxide (OsO4). A special function was established and is proposed to analyze the blend morphology trends through image analysis. In binary blends, the ABS phase showed better dispersion after the mixture passed through the extruder die. However, a coalescence phenomenon was observed during the next molding step. Compatibilized PBT/ABS blends showed better dispersion than binary blends, even after injection molding. The special function used to quantify the dispersion throughout the mixing and molding steps showed an excellent performance.
Polymer blends; PBT/ABS; reactive extrusion; morphology analysis; transmission electron microscopy