New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
A hands-on activity was implemented in a sophomore-level materials engineering laboratory to illustrate how the structure and properties of polymeric materials are directly influenced by the method of processing. The mechanical properties of specimens cut from the walls of poly(ethylene terephthalate) cups, oriented parallel and perpendicular to the thermoforming direction, were measured in tension. The parallel sample displayed greater elastic moduli, yield stress, and predominantly ductile deformation behavior compared to the relatively weaker and more brittle perpendicular sample. This observed mechanical anisotropy was related to the processing-induced orientation of polymer molecules within the cup. Students’ learning outcomes were assessed and it was found that processing-structure-property relationships were communicated most effectively by encouraging the students to describe their ideas through molecular-scale sketches and further challenging them to design their own hypothesis-driven experiments as compared to a traditionally prescribed lab activity.
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