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New article: Application of melt-blown PLA fibres in self-reinforced composites

The aim of our research was to produce poly (lactic acid)(PLA) fibres with diameters in the micrometer size range, serving as the reinforcing phase in self-reinforced (SR) PLA composites. Nonwoven PLA mats were manufactured by solvent-free melt-blowing technology. Three types of PLA differing in d-lactide content were processed with a productivity as high as 36 g/h. The crystallinity of the PLA microfibres was enhanced by thermal annealing. A 2–3-fold increase in the degree of crystallinity was obtained, as measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Fibre diameters between 2–14 µm were revealed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Static tensile tests were performed on the nonwoven mats, showing the reduced moduli of the annealed fibres due the amorphous relaxation. The PLA mats were processed via the hot compaction technique and formed into SR–PLA composites. The morphological and mechanical properties of the obtained microstructural composites were comprehensively studied. Composites prepared from annealed, thermally more stable PLA nonwoven mats showed superior mechanical properties; the tensile strength improved by 47% due to the higher residual fibre content. 

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