The polymerisation, morphology and mechanical properties of a two-component in-situ reacting system consisting of a rubbery dimethacrylate and a rigid epoxy polymer were investigated. The methacrylate component of the mixture was photocured using UV light exposure and, in a second curing process, the mixture was thermally postcured. The polymers formed a partially miscible system with two glass transition temperature (Tg) peaks measured using dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA). The composition and relative rate of reaction of the two orthogonal polymerisations influenced the extent of miscibility of the two polymer-rich phases and the samples were transparent, indicating that the two phases were finely dispersed. The addition of a glycidyl methacrylate compatibiliser further increased the miscibility of the two polymers. The utility of this polymer system for additive manufacturing was investigated and simulated through layer-by-layer processing of the mixture in two steps. Firstly, the methacrylate component was photocured to solidify the material into its final shape, whilst the second step of thermal curing was used to polymerise the epoxy component. With the use of a simulated photomask, a simple shape was formed using the two orthogonal polymerisation stages to produce a solid object. The mechanical properties of this two-phase system were superior to a control sample made only of the methacrylate component, indicating that some reinforcing due to polymerisation of the epoxy across the interfaces had occurred in the postcuring stage.
- Additive manufacturing
- Interpenetrating polymer network