Crosslinking refers to the linking of one polymer chain to another. Crosslinking leads to the polymer chains forming a three-dimensional network structure creating insoluble and infusible polymers. Polyethylene (PE) is one such polymer that is crosslinked to achieve desirable results. Crosslinking changes the nature of the plastic to a more durable non-melting polymer matrix i.e. from thermoplastic to thermoset. PE is thermoplastic in nature and thus capable of being re-processed. It loses its critical physical properties at high temperature making its application limited.
Crosslinking of PE helps create a more durable polymer matrix increasing its range of applications.
Trenchlesspedia Explains Crosslinking
PE that has been crosslinked are extruded or injection molded. Low degree crosslinking results in a compound known as crosslinkable polymer. Carbon atoms of same or different PE chains join together to form a three-dimensional network structure essentially forming a bond between the polymer chains. Crosslinking reduces the melt index and elongation at break while improving other factors such as impact strength, resistance to crack propagation, environmental stress crcak resistance and creep resistance.
PE such as linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) are crosslinked PE's.