Grafting Poly(Methyl Methacrylate) (PMMA) from Cork via Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) towards Higher Quality of Three-Dimensional (3D) Printed PMMA/Cork-g-PMMA Materials


Cork is a unique material and its by-products are attracting an ever-growing interest for preparing new materials in an attempt to extend the outstanding properties of cork toward innovative and high value applications. Yet, the miscibility of cork particles with thermoplastic matrices is not easy due to its low density and surface properties. Here, cork is functionalized with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) to yield cork grafted with PMMA chains particles (cork-g-PMMA). Both the ATRP macroinitiator and the cork-g-PMMA obtained are fully characterized by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR),C-13 cross-polarized magic-angle spinning solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (C-13 CP/MAS solid state NMR), scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermogravimetric analyses (TGA). The functionalized cork particles are then blended with commercial PMMA to afford cork-g-PMMA/PMMA. To compare, cork also is mixed with PMMA and the ensuing cork/PMMA sample and its morphology, thermal, and mechanical properties are compared with those of cork-g-PMMA/PMMA and commercial PMMA. The cork surface modification via ATRP of the methyl methacrylate (MMA) yields better dispersion in the matrix. Consequently, a blend with enhanced mechanical performance, higher thermal stability, and a higher melt flow index (MFI) is obtained when compared to the blend prepared using unmodified particles. The similarity of the MFI of cork-g-PMMA/PMMA to that of PMMA suggests good printability. Indeed, a three-dimensional (3D) printed specimen is obtained confirming that grafting using ATRP is a promising route for the preparation of high quality 3D printed products.



subject category

Polymer Science


Lacerda, PSS; Gama, N; Freire, CSR; Silvestre, AJD; Barros-Timmons, A

our authors


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology/MCTES. FCT is also acknowledged for the research contract under Stimulus of Scientific Employment 2017 to C.S.R. Freire (CEECIND/00464/2017).

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