Failure of Polycarbonate/Polyethylene Terephthalate Appliance Housings
Housings (being tested as part of a material conversion) from an electrical appliance failed during an engineering evaluation. They had been injection molded from a commercial polycarbonate/PET blend. Parts produced from the previous material, a nylon 6/6 resin, had consistently passed the testing regimen. Grease was applied liberally within the housing assembly during production. Investigation included visual inspection, 24x SEM images, micro-FTIR in the ATR mode, and analysis using DSC. No signs of material contamination were found, but the thermograms showed a crystallization of the PET resin. The grease present within the housing assembly, analyzed using micro-FTIR, was composed of a hydrocarbon-based oil, a phthalate-based oil, lithium stearate, and an amide-based additive. The conclusion was that the appliance housings failed through environmental stress cracking caused by a phthalate-based oil that was not compatible with the PC portion of the resin blend. Thus, the resin conversion was the root cause of the failures. Additionally, during the injection molding process the molded parts had been undercrystallized, reducing their mechanical strength. More importantly, the resin had been degraded, producing a reduction in the molecular weight and reducing both the mechanical integrity and chemical-resistance properties of the parts.