The processing conditions of injection molding have a complex influence on the morphology and on the mechanical properties of a semicrystalline polymer. Therefore, to establish correlations between processing conditions, morphology and mechanical properties constitutes a difficult task; finding these correlations is one of the goals of a materials engineer.
The purpose of this work was to study the influence of the injection molding conditions on the morphology and mechanical properties of poly(p-phenylene sulphide), PPS, using artificial neural networks, ANNs. First, a statistical analysis was done to find the more influential processing parameters that affect the morphology and mechanical properties of the PPS. Second, ANNs were applied to establish correlations between processing conditions, morphology and properties.
It was found that the variables with the highest influence on the morphology and the mechanical properties were the injection and mold temperatures (T inj and T mold, respectively), as they showed a straight relationship with the crystallinity index of the injection molded part.
Three different ANNs were built to predict the correlations. The ANN-1 predicted the crystallinity gradient along the thickness of the injection molded part from T mold, T inj, and flow rate, Q; the ANN-2 predicted the elastic and flexural modulus, E, and the yield stress from the crystallinity gradient, while the ANN-3 predicted the mechanical properties directly from the processing conditions. All ANNs were built with only fifteen experimental data and were trained with the group cross-validation method, GCV and with a training-test set method. Both methods showed similar and excellent performance. Thus, it can be concluded that ANNs can be used as a powerful tool in the learning of these complex correlations.