AbstractAn experimental and theoretical study was carried out to achieve a better understanding of bubble growth during the filling of gas‐charged molten polymers into a rectangular mold cavity. For the experimental study, a rectangular mold cavity (15.24 × 4.55 × 0.64 cm) was constructed, with glass windows on both sides to permit recording on a movie film of the growth of gas bubbles in the mold cavity as a molten polymer containing inert gas was injected into it. Sodium bicarbonate (generating carbon dioxide) was used as a chemical blowing agent, and the polymer used was a general purpose clear polystyrene. All experimental runs were made at isothermal molding conditions, and the injection rate was varied. It was found that, at and above a certain injection rate, little bubble formation was observed in the mold cavity during injection except at and near the moving melt front. For the theoretical study, the growth of a single gas bubble in a viscoelastic medium (represented by the DeWitt model), subjected to high injection rates, was considered by including the effects of diffusion from the liquid phase to the gas phase, interfacial tension between the liquid and the gas phases, and stress relaxation of the melt upon ejection. It was found that the level of stresses, built up in the met during injection, has a profound influence on the formation and growth of gas bubbles during the initial stage of mold filling. Also, a multichannel mold cavity was employed in order to observe the effect of processing variables on the cell size and its distribution in molded specimens. A uniform cell structure was obtained at higher injection pressures, at an optimum injection melt temperature, and with an optimum combination of blowing agent and nucleating agent concentrations.

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