We investigate the gradual changes of the microstructure of two blends of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyamide 6 (PA6) at opposite composition filled with increasing amounts of an organomodified clay. The filler locates preferentially inside the polyamide phase, bringing about radical alterations in the micron-scale arrangement of the polymer phases. When the host polyamide represents the major constituent, a sudden reduction of the average sizes of the polyethylene droplets was observed upon addition of even low amounts of organoclay. A morphology refinement was also noticed at low filler contents when the particles distributes inside the minor phase. In this case, however, keep increasing the organoclay content eventually results in a high degree of PA6 phase continuity. Rheological analyses reveal that the filler loading at which the polyamide assembles in a continuous network corresponds to the critical threshold for its rheological transition from a liquid- to a gel-like behaviour, which is indicative of the structuring of the filler inside the host PA6. On the basis of this finding, a schematic mechanism is proposed in which the role of the filler in driving the space arrangement of the polymer phases is discussed. Finally, we show that the synergism between the reinforcing action of the filler and its ability to affect the blend microstructure can be exploited in order to enhance relevant technological properties of the materials, such as their high temperature structural integrity.
- immiscible blends