Isothermal recovery rates in shape memory polyurethanes
This work compares the time dependence of isothermal shape recovery in thermoset and thermoplastic shape memory polyurethanes (SMPUs) with comparable glass transition temperatures. In each case, tensile tests have been used to quantify the influence of various thermo-mechanical programming parameters (deformation temperature, recovery temperature, and stress and storage times following the deformation step) on strain recovery under zero load (free recovery) and stress recovery under fixed strain (constrained recovery). It is shown that the duration of the recovery event may be tuned over several decades of time with an appropriate choice of programming parameters, but that there is a trade-off between the rate of shape recovery and the recoverable stress level. The results are discussed in terms of the thermal characteristics of the SMPUs in the corresponding temperature range as characterized by modulated differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis, with the emphasis on the role of the effective width of the glass transition temperature and the stability of the network that gives rise to the shape memory effect.