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Sathees Kumar et al.

, International Journal of Advanced Engineering Technology

E-ISSN 0976-3945

Research Paper

INVESTIGATION ON MECHANICAL PERFORMANCES OF


PA6 AND Al2O3 REINFORCED PA6 POLYMER COMPOSITES
1

S Sathees Kumar, 2G Kanagaraj

Address for Correspondence


1

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Latha Mathavan Engineering College,


Madurai 625301, Tamil Nadu, India.
2
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Thiagarajar College of Engineering,
Madurai 625015, Tamil Nadu, India
ABSTRACT
In this paper, the effects of adding Alumina (Al2O3) on the mechanical properties of polyamide 6 (PA6) based composites
were investigated. PA6 was reinforced with Al2O3 by varying the weight proportions. The test specimens for mechanical and
experiments were molded in an injection molding machine. The mechanical properties of PA6, Al2O3 reinforced PA6
polymer composites were investigated in terms of tensile, flexural, impact and hardness tests. The PA6 composite containing
10 wt.% Al2O3 revealed the better mechanical behaviors. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was utilized to examine the
fracture surfaces microstructure of tensile test. The addition of Al2O3 enhances the life condition of normal PA6 to a greater
extent. Also, this composite exhibits stronger interfacial bonding characteristics with improved mechanical characteristics.
KEYWORDS: PA6, Al2O3, Mechanical properties, Tensile, flexural, hardness.

1. INTRODUCTION
Polyamide 6 (PA6) and its composites have been
increasingly used in various ranges of industrial
applications such as aerospace, automotive,
electronics and chemical industries. This is because,
these materials have high strength/weight ratio in
comparison to classic material, self-lubricant
property, good damping property, corrosion
resistance, UV and gamma radiation resistance and
relatively simple and economic fabrication process
[1]. However, limitations in mechanical properties
level, low heat deflection temperature, high water
absorption and dimensional instability of pure PA6
have prevented its wide range of applications. The
fact that polymer materials have much lower
mechanical strengths at elevated temperatures, lower
thermal conductivities and higher coefficients of
thermal expansion makes them highly sensitive to
temperature changes [2]. To overcome this difficulty,
many researchers paid attention and improved the
property of PA6 significantly by using reinforcement
methods. Reinforcements are usually done by adding
solid lubricants, fillers and additive materials to
improve the properties of the base metals like
strength, stiffness, conductivity etc., Al2O3 has been
widely used as filler material in high-performance
materials to increase ductility, scratch resistance and
toughness. Al2O3 particles have excellent wear and
corrosion resistance in a wide range of environments
and temperatures, higher strength to weight ratio,
higher strength retention at elevated temperature.
In the past few years, various kinds of polymer
composites with remarkable enhancement in
mechanical and thermal properties have been
reported [3-5]. The mechanical and tribological
behavior of polyamide, high-density polyethylene,
and their composites have been studied and reported
in the literature [6-8]. Stokes et al. [9] investigated
the mechanical properties of fiber-reinforced PA6
composites fabricated using an injection molded
method. The friction and wear characteristics of
monolithic polyamide 66 (PA66) and PA66
composite reinforced with short glass fibers were
studied in [10]. They also reported that PA66
containing 40 vol.% glass fibers improved the wear
resistance. Palabiyik et al [11] observed the
mechanical and tribological properties of PA6 and
high density polyethylene, poly blends with and
without the compatibilizing agent maleic anhydride
Int J Adv Engg Tech/Vol. VII/Issue I/Jan.-March.,2016/69-74

propylene and they found that the best coefficient of


friction and high wear resistance were identified in
the composites consisting 40% of PA6 and 60% of
HDPE and 80% of PA6 and 20% of HDPE by
weight. Further investigation on PA6 and HDPE poly
blends compositions the maximum reduction in wear
and the coefficient of friction were obtained by filling
the poly blends with 10% of polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE) by weight [12]. Bin et al [13] reported the
friction and wear properties of polyamide 66 (PA66),
polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) and PTFE by
conducting wear test using a pin-on-disc tribometer
under dry sliding and oil-lubricated conditions. They
reported that the friction and anti-wear properties of
PTFE and PPS were improved by oil lubrication
while that of PA66 were decreased by oil lubrication.
Peihong Cong et al [14] prepared PA46/ HDPE poly
blends with different volume ratios of 8/2, 6/4, 4/6
and 2/8. They used Scanning electron microscopy
(SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and
X-ray diffraction (XRD) for investigating the phase
structure and crystalline characteristics of polyblends
and the results showed that the friction coefficient of
all PA46/HDPE blend was as low as 0.21 -0.22,
which were near the friction coefficient of pure
HDPE, and much lower than that of pure PA46.
Du-Xin Li et al [15] examined reinforced PA6 with
polyurethane (PA6 - PU) block copolymers in
different short glass proportions and found that the
addition of glass fiber content was 5%, the
coefficient of friction decreased by 30% and the
wear rate decreased by 68%. The experimental study
conducted by [16] on mechanical and tribological
properties of Polytetrafluorothylene PTFE / PA6
blends with different compositions (0, 10, 20, 30 and
40 vol.%) and reported that the optimum value of
wear reduction for the composite content was 30
vol.% of PA6. The effects of incorporating
montmorillonite (MMT) with PA6 composite were
studied in [17] and the composite were prepared by
twin screw extruder mixer technique. The
incorporation of MMTs (except 5% by weight) into
PA6 effectively enhances the wear resistance and the
composites containing 3 wt.% of MMTs in the PA6
matrix exhibit the best performance in tensile
strength and flexural strength. Bingli Pan et al [18]
analyzed the mechanical and tribological properties
of monomer casting (MC) nylon / graphene oxide
nano composites and they found that the nano

Sathees Kumar et al., International Journal of Advanced Engineering Technology

composites have lower wear rates in comparison with


MC nylon. The possibility of improving the
tribological property and thermal conductivity of
PA6 by the addition of copper and graphite
investigated in [19].
Li, D. et al [20] have demonstrated the tribological
properties of the glass fiber reinforced PA6
(GF/PA6,15/85 by weight) for high-performance
friction materials, using single or combinative solid
lubricants of Polytetrafluroethylene (PTFE), ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and
the combination of both of them. Li, M. et al [21]
examined the thermal conductivity, mechanical
properties and heat deflection temperature of the
magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2), alumina (Al2O3)
and flake graphite-filed PA6 composites.
Zafer Demir [22] investigated the sliding wear
performance of 20% mica-filled polyamide (PA6 +
20% mica) and 20% short glass fibre reinforced
polysulphone (PSU + 20GFR) polymer composites
used in electrical applications.
Jia.Z et al [23]
studied the effects of adding nanoscale lamellarstructure expanded graphite (nano-EG) on the friction
and wear properties of hot-molded polyimide-based
composites. They also found that the best tribological
properties occurred when the nano-EG content is
15 wt%. Gong.L et al [24] investigated the covalent
functionalization of graphene oxide (GO) with poly
vinyl alcohol (PVA) via ester linkages (GO-es-PVA)
as well as the characterization of modified graphenebased Nylon-6 composite prepared. The efficient
polymer-chain grafting, a homogeneous dispersion of
GO sheets in PA6 matrix and a dramatic
improvement of interface adhesion between
nanosheets and matrix were observed in PA6/GO-esPVA composites by SEM and TEM. Faghihi et al
[25] studied the effects of molecular weight and
structure of PA6 morphology and properties of
PA6/MWCNT composites.
Fasahat et al [26] studied the wear properties of PA6
nanocomposite fabrics, melt spun yarns were filled
with different concentrations of Ag/SiO2, TiO2, ZnO
and their mixtures. The above literature reveals that
there are only very few articles have investigated the
effect of Al2O3 content in PA6 with Al2O3 reinforced
PA6 composites. In this study, the mechanical
behavior of PA6, Al2O3 reinforced PA6 composites
were investigated by conducting tensile, flexural,
impact and hardness tests. The morphological images
of tensile fracture specimens were examined in SEM
for further analysis. After investigate the
experimental work PA6 / Al2O3 composite gear was
fabricated with the help of hobbing machine.
2. EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS
2.1. Materials and instrumentation
Polyamide 6 (PA6) purchased as pellets of size 3
mm, whose tensile strength was 80MPa, flexural
strength 105MPa, density 1.14g/cm3 and melting
temperature 220C respectively. Al2O3 particles of
size 150mesh ,88 micron and 0.0035 inches. The test
specimens were prepared using an injection molding
machine with maximum chamber capacity of 150g.
The muffle furnace was supplied by Prabha machine
tools, Coimbatore, TamilNadu, India. The tensile test
was conducted on a UTM DTRX 10 kN Electronic
testing machine manufactured by Deepak Polyplast
Pvt. Ltd. Ahamadabad, India. The impact test was
conducted on a Tinius Olsen tester. The hardness test
Int J Adv Engg Tech/Vol. VII/Issue I/Jan.-March.,2016/69-74

E-ISSN 0976-3945

was conducted on a Shore D hardness test machine


(Model - SRT-102) manufactured by S. C. Dey &
Co. Kolkata, India.
2.2. Preparation Process of PA6 and Al2O3
reinforced PA6 composites
In order to evaluate the mechanical and tribological
properties of PA6 blended with Al2O3, the blends
were produced in different proportions of PA6 and
Al2O3. In the test specimen preparation process, the
Al2O3 was added to PA6 with 5 wt.%, 10 wt.%, 20
wt.% and 30 wt.% ratios. The Al2O3 particles with
high melting point do not blend with PA6 in right
proportions. Therefore, Al2O3 was preheated below
melting temperature. The preheating was carried out
in a muffle furnace maintained at the temperature of
1970C. After reaching the temperature of 1970C
the preheated Al2O3 was added with PA6 pellets for
through mixing. The specimens of PA6 and Al2O3
reinforced PA6 composites were molded by using an
injection molding machine at temperatures from 230
to 250 C. Fig.1 shows the preparation process of
test specimen using an injection molding machine.
The Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) sensor
is inserted in the circumference of the injection
molding machine for temperature measurement. The
sensing temperatures of PA6 material were observed
using digital indicator. The molding die was pre
heated up to 75C for the free flow of melted
composites. The temperature of mixtures plays an
important role in the composite materials, because
heating improves the blending nature of polymers
with other materials.
2.3. Specifications of PA6 polymer composites
The test specimens for mechanical and tribological
experiments were molded in the following
composition (given in % weight) using an injection
molding machine.
100 wt.% PA6
95 wt.% PA6 + 5 wt. % Al2O
90 wt.% PA6 + 10 wt. % Al2O3
80 wt.% PA6 + 20 wt. % Al2O3 and 70 wt.% PA6
+ 30 wt. % Al2O3

Fig.1. Preparation Process of Al2O3 reinforced PA6


Specimens

The natural properties of PA6 and Al2O3 which are


used to form the reinforced polymer are shown in the
Table.1.

Sathees Kumar et al., International Journal of Advanced Engineering Technology


Table.1. Natural Properties of PA6 and Al2O3
Materials

PA6
Al2O3

Tensile
strength
(MPa)
80
260

Tensile
Modulus
(MPa)
3000
300x103

Flexural
strength
(MPa)
105
345

Hardness

82 (Shore -D)
14710 16180
(MPa)
(Vickers)

2.4. Testing conditions and measurement


The PA6, Al2O3 reinforced PA6 composite test
specimen were cut into required shape and machined
according to test standards. The tensile and flexural
tests were conducted on a UTM DTRX computer
controlled Universal Testing Machine at room
temperature. The cross-head speed of the machine
was set at 5 mm/min for tensile test. The specimen
size of the tensile test was 115 mm long, 20 mm wide
and 3 mm thickness according to the ASTM D638
standard.
The measurements were made at five constant loads
for five specimens were recorded. Tensile strength
and elongation values were obtained from the loaddisplacement curve.
The specimen size of the flexural test was 110 mm
long, 15 mm wide and 3 mm thickness according to
the ASTM D790 standard. The cross-head speed of
the machine was set at 2 mm/min. The measurements
were taken at five magnitudes of the constant load for
five specimens. The impact test was conducted on a
Tinius Olsen tester according to the ASTM D256 at

Fig.3.Tensile strength of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

Fig.5.Elongation at break of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

Fig.5. shows the percentage elongation of all


specimens. PA6/10 wt.% Al2O3 has the highest
value followed by PA6/5 wt.% Al2O3, compared
with PA6.
3.2. Comparison of flexural properties for PA6
composites
The fig.6 and fig.7 shows the Bending strength and
flexural modulus of the unreinforced PA6 and PA6
reinforced with Al2O3. It is observed that the
bending strength and flexural modulus increased
obviously with that addition from 5% Al2O3 to
10% Al2O3 weights.
The unreinforced PA6 shows the flexural modulus
of 3189Mpa and PA6 10% Al2O3 exhibits the
flexural modulus of 4894Mpa. Correspondingly the
bending strength of 10% Al2O3 increased the
range of 187.55 MPa compared with unreinforced
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E-ISSN 0976-3945

room temperature. The specimen size of the impact


(Izod) test was 65 x 15 x 3 mm. The hardness test
was conducted on a Shore D hardness test machine.
3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
3.1. Comparison of tensile properties for PA6
composites
The fig.3 and 4 shows the tensile properties of the
unreinforced PA6 and PA6 reinforced with Al2O3
composites. It can be seen that tensile strength and
tensile modulus enhanced obviously with the addition
of Al2O3 in the PA6 composites. The tensile strength
of unreinforced PA6 having 67.21MPa when
compared the PA6 reinforced with 5% Al2O3 and
10% Al2O3 drastically increased the tensile strength
from 84.32MPa to 91.642 MPA respectively. At the
same time, the tensile modulus of unreinforced PA6
having 3500 MPa when compared the PA6
reinforced with 5% Al2O3 and 10% Al2O3 obviously
increased the tensile modulus from 4120MPa to
4774Mpa respectively.
We can obtain the better tensile strength and its
elastic modulus is larger showing 10% Al2O3
reinforced with PA6.The addition of contents, the
developed composites turn into a hard and brittle
property, though its hardness value rises, yielding
point is low , elongation is slight and can involve less
elastic strain energy easily cracking.

Fig.4.Tensile Modulus of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

Fig.6.Bending strength of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

PA6 bending strength value of 119.85MPa.The


above results exhibits the addition of Al2O3 with
PA6, increased the bending properties from 5%
Al2O3 to 10% Al2O3 weights.
The tension and flexural behavior of PA6 with 20%
Al2O3 and 30% Al2O3 reduced the deformation of
composites apparently. As the contents of Al2O3
particles increase the ability of the composites to
resist the tensile and bending strength.
The
improvement on bending strength of the composite as
Al2O3particle increased to the ideal level is attributed
to the abrasive nature. The composition of the Al2O3
can be changed to enhance particular desirable
material characteristics.

Sathees Kumar et al., International Journal of Advanced Engineering Technology

Fig.7.Flexural modulus of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

3.3. Comparison of hardness properties for PA6


composites
Fig.8.shows the results of the hardness values of
unreinforced PA6 and PA6 reinforced with Al2O3.
Al2O3 in contents added to the base polymer (PA6)
increases the hardness apparently. With the
maximum raise observed for concentrations of 30%
Al2O3. The highest hardness and thus resistance
undergo deformation have a mixture containing 30%
Al2O3. Slightly lower hardness of the composite
material is characterized by the addition of 20%
Al2O3. It is observed that within increase in wt % of
Al2O3particles in the polymer matrix the hardness
values of the composites increases. The improvement
in hardness may due to increased surface area of filler
in the matrix. On the other hand, as can be suggested
from the hardness test, the elastic behavior of the
matrix proportionately varies with the addition of
PA6 with 20% Al2O3 and 30% Al2O3 particles. An
increase in the concentration of Al2O3 particles
increases the ability of matrix to absorb hardness and
thereby reducing the tensile and flexural strengths.
3.4. Comparison of impact properties for PA6
composites
The fig.9 shows the impact strength of the PA6 and
Al2O3 reinforced with PA6 composites. It is observed

E-ISSN 0976-3945

Fig.8.Shore D Hardness of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

that the impact strength increased obviously with that


addition of PA6 with 30 wt. % Al2O3 followed by
PA6 with 20 wt. % Al2O3, PA6 with 10 wt. % Al2O3
and PA6 with 5 wt. % Al2O3. The lowest value
observed by PA6. Impact strength of PA6 with 30 wt.
% Al2O3 composite was improved up to 41.17%
compared with PA6.

Fig.9.Impact strength of PA6 and PA6 with Al2O3

It was observed that the impact strength of


composites increased upto 30wt.% with increasing
Al2O3 content in PA6 matrix. At high percentage of
Al2O3 content were found to fine agree with the
experimental results.
Table 2 summarizes the improved properties of
prepared polymer materials and their physical and
mechanical properties.

Table 2 Polymer materials tested and their physical and mechanical properties
Properties
Density (g/cm3)
Tensile strength at break (MPa)
Tensile Modulus (MPa)
Eloangation at break (%)
Flexural strength (MPa)
Impact Strength (kJ/m2)
Hardness, Shore D

PA6
1.242
71.217
3024
10.58
119.85
17
78.4

PA6 + 5% Al2O3
1.295
84.32
4120
13.99
143.92
19
81.8

3.4. SEM of tensile fracture surface of the PA6


and Al2O3 reinforced PA6 composites
The images of the specimen obtained using Scanning
Electron Microscope (SEM) of tensile fracture
surface of the PA6 and composites are represented in
Fig.10 ae. Tensile fracture surface of these samples
were examined. Fig.10 a. reveals the fracture surface
of PA6. Fig.10.a. shows the fracture mechanism of
PA6 specimen. It is clearly observed that severe
plastic deformation and some broken particles are
occurred on the surface due to the absence of Al2O3
reinforcement. Fig.10.b. shows the fracture
mechanism of 5 wt% of Al2O3 reinforced PA6.The
poor interfacial bonding is observed in Fig.10.b. Due
to the uneven distribution of Al2O3 and improper
mixing results PA6 detached from the Al2O3
particles. At the same time, this Fig.10.b. Reveals
that some plastic deformation and numerous micro
gaps are identified in the polymer matrix material. In
Fig.10.c. It is interesting to note that the presence of
micro gaps decreased as the amount of Al2O3 in the
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Materials
PA6+ 10% Al2O3
PA6+ 20% Al2O3
1.37
1.46
91.642
79.51
4774
3380
16.21
9.18
187.55
165.52
21
22
86.6
90.3

PA6+ 30% Al2O3


1.59
74.909
3110
6.16
133.84
24
94.6

PA6 polymer composite decreased. The SEM image


(Fig.10.c.) of 10 wt.% Al2O3 reinforced PA6 displays
the less micro gaps and crack propagation of Al2O3
particles in PA6. It is clearly observed that a good
interfacial bonding between graphite and polymer
material matrix. Hence, no plastic deformations are
found on the surface of the PA6 with 10 wt.% Al2O3.
The enhanced composite performance is due to
improved interfacial relations between the PA6 and
Al2O3 particles.Fig.10.d and Fig.10.e. Shows the
SEM images of 20 wt.% and 30 wt.% Al2O3
reinforced PA6 composite test specimens surface
under tensile fracture test conditions. With the
addition of Al2O3 content the tensile fracture surface
of PA6/ Al2O3 indicates the crack propagation of the
matrix, and some particles pull out from the matrix
also visible. Addition of Al2O3 revealed negative
effect on tensile properties of PA6 polymer
composites; this fact was found back to
inhomogeneity, plastic deformation and numerous
micro gaps in the matrix.

Sathees Kumar et al., International Journal of Advanced Engineering Technology

E-ISSN 0976-3945

10. SEM images of the fractured surfaces a. PA6 100%,


b. PA6 95 wt.% Al2O3- 5 wt.% , c. PA6 90 wt.% Al2O3- 10 wt.%
c. PA6 80 wt.% /Al2O3- 20 wt.% and d. PA6 70 wt.% /Al2O3- 30 wt.%

On the other hand, inhomogeneity may occur by


increasing the micro size particles such as Al2O3
(Fig.10.d and Fig.10.e.). In this Fig.10.d and Fig.10.e
. The particles were poorly bonded to the polymer
matrix and debonded easily during the tensile test
process. This absence of particle matrix linkage
implied that the particles were incapable to crack
trapping and thus could not help improvements in the
tensile test. Moreover, the poorly bonded Al2O3
particles acted as defects in the polymer material,
thereby lowering the resistance to crack growth and
thus leading to weakening in the tensile strength. In
summary, the uniform distribution of the Al2O3
particles in the microstructure of the PA6 material is
the major responsible factor for the improvement in
mechanical properties of PA6.
3.5. Fabrication and specifications of composite
gear
After complete the experimental work Al2O3 /PA6
composite gear has fabricated with the help of gear
hobbing machine as shown in Fig.10. Specification
of composite gear as follows: No. of teeth on gear
33, module 3mm, pitch circle diameter 99mm.

Fig.11. Al2O3/PA6 composite gear

4. CONCLUSION
In this work, PA6 and Al2O3 reinforced PA6
composites were prepared by using an injection
Int J Adv Engg Tech/Vol. VII/Issue I/Jan.-March.,2016/69-74

molding machine. The mechanical properties of PA6


and Al2O3 reinforced PA6 composites were observed
by conducting tensile, flexural, impact and hardness
tests. The morphological images of tensile fracture
tests were examined in SEM. The incorporation of
Al2O3 in PA6 significantly increased the mechanical
behavior. The uniform distribution and incorporation
of the Al2O3 particles in the microstructure of the
PA6 material is the major factor responsible for the
enhancement of the mechanical properties. The good
affinity between the PA6 and Al2O3 are drastically
improved the tensile, flexural, impact and hardness
properties. The mechanical behavior test results show
that addition of Al2O3 particles content had obvious
effect on reinforcing the PA6 matrix. Moreover, by
introducing small amounts of Al2O3, the mechanical
properties of PA6 composites can be improved
tremendously. We found that the composites
containing 10wt.% of Al2O3 in the PA6 matrix
exhibited the best performance in tensile strength,
flexural strength. Simultaneously, the composites
containing 30wt.% of Al2O3 in the PA6 matrix
revealed the best performance in hardness and impact
strength. The test results obtained from this
experimental work, these grade of composites can be
useful for broaden applications in engineering fields.
(e.g. to increase their durability of PA6 gears).
Subsequently investigate the experimental work PA6
/ Al2O3 composite gear was effectively fabricated.
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