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What is Polymer Degradation?

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Polymer degradation is the opposite of crosslinking. When the electron from an E-beam hits a molecule, with a higher dose than that needed for crosslinking, it can break the molecular bonds. This is useful in a number of areas. For example, PTFE (polytetraflouroethylene) is an excellent engineering thermoplastic with great properties. It is most known for its very low friction, and almost slippery feel. This low friction characteristic makes it a great lubricant for high quality inks. However, ink would not be able to flow from a pen or a print cartridge very easily if it had high molecular weight polymer chains in it, so it needs to ground into a fine powder. However, because it is a great engineering thermoplastic, the does not grind into a powder easily (its fractures and gets very stringy). With the electron beam, the PTFE can be treated at a dose that will actually break down the material. This degradation of the PTFE shortens and breaks apart the polymer chains so that can be ... more
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