Friction spot welding of PMMA with PMMA/silica and PMMA/silica-g-PMMA nanocomposites functionalized via ATRP


In the present study, the feasibility of Friction Spot Welding (FSpW) of a commercial-grade poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) (PMMA GS) and PMMA 6N/functionalized silica (SiO2) nanocomposites was investigated. The silica nanoparticles were functionalized via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) with PMMA chains to achieve a uniform dispersion in the polymer matrix. The successful functionalization of silica nanoparticles with PMMA chains via ATRP was evaluated by ATR-FT-IR and TGA measurements. Rheological investigations of the silica nanocomposites showed a plateau of the storage modulus G′ at low frequencies (0.01–0.03 rad/s) as a result of elastic particle–particle interactions. Overlap friction spot welds consisting of PMMA GS and a 2 wt% SiO2-g-PMMA nanocomposite were successfully prepared and compared to spot joints of PMMA GS welded with PMMA 6N and PMMA 6N/silica nanocomposite with 2 wt% unfunctionalized silica nanoparticles. Raman mappings of selected areas of cross-sectional plastographic specimens revealed an increased mixing behavior between the two polymer plates in the case of PMMA GS/2 wt% SiO2-g-PMMA joints. Although the joints welded with PMMA 6N/silica nanocomposites showed a reduction of 22% in lap shear strength and 21% displacement at peak load compared with the neat PMMA spot welds, they can compete with other state-of-the-art PMMA welding techniques such as thermal bonding and ultrasonic welding, which indicates the potential of friction spot welding as an alternative fabrication technology for joining future nanocomposite engineering parts.
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