Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


College of Engineering


Thomas Mackin

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


A polymer laminate consisting of multiple layers of proprietary blends of Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH) and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) and used in the construction of air bladders was evaluated for hygroscopic effects driving delamination and multiple layer fragmentation. These air bladders are observed to suffer delamination during a manufacturing process that involves immersion in an alcohol/water solution. A plausible underlying mechanism is differential swelling and absorption by the laminate constituents. Both room and elevated temperature swelling tests were carried out to find the absorption and swelling coefficients of the constituents. These coefficients served as input into a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) model used to predict laminate failure. The diffusion coefficient for EVOH could not be obtained because the material did not reach saturation within the available timeframe of the experiment. The diffusion coefficient of the TPU was found to be 4.09E-12 [m^2/s] at room temperature and 1.26E-11 [m^2/s] at 40°C. The diffusion coefficient for TPU was an order of magnitude larger at elevated temperature and the TPU reached saturation much quicker than the EVOH, suggesting that the diffusion coefficient for the TPU was significantly greater than that of the EVOH. The swelling coefficients were 1.03E-3 m^3/kg and 9.97E-4 m^3/kg for the EVOH at room temperature and 40°C respectively, and 1.16E-3 m^3/kg and 1.09E-3 m^3/kg for the TPU at room temperature and 40°C respectively. The swelling coefficient was very close across materials and within the margin of error across temperatures. These results are required for future FEA simulations to confirm that differential swelling is the driving mechanism behind debonding and laminate failure. Tensile testing was done on laminated sheets used in production to identify cracking and layer separation at strains of 20%, 40%, and 100%. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging was used to understand damage initiation and accumulation in the layers.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 02, 2023