A parallel-plate rheometer was constructed and used to study the development of dynamic shear modulus and cell opening under forced adiabatic conditions for a series of flexible slabstock polyurethane foams. Typical industrial formulations were used. The plates were heated to follow the adiabatic temperature profile of a real foam bun during foaming. The rheometer overcomes difficulties encountered in other methods such as heat loss and bubble damage caused by the probe. A four-stage modulus development profile was observed: initial bubble growth, bubble network, polymer stiffening and final curing. Chemical structure development was also studied under forced adiabatic conditions, using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Polymer stiffening coincided with bidentate (hydrogen-bonded) urea formation. The normal force exerted by the expanding foam on the plates was found to be a function of the rate of foam expansion and the foam modulus. A sudden drop in the normal force typically coincides with the visually observed blow-off in the reacting foam bun, thus the normal force profile is a new and accurate indicator of cell opening. The normal force profile clearly shows that cell opening occurs just after the onset of polymer stiffening, thus illustrating the role of polymer rheology in the cell opening mechanism.
- Cell opening
- Parallel-plate rheometer
- Polyurethane foam
- Structure-property relationships