We report a novel instrument for synchrotron-based in situ x-ray scattering measurements during injection molding processing. It allows direct, real-time monitoring of molecular-scale structural evolution in polymer materials undergoing a complex processing operation. The instrument is based on a laboratory-scale injection molding machine, and employs customized mold tools designed to allow x-ray access during mold filling and subsequent solidification, while providing sufficient robustness to withstand high injection pressures. The use of high energy, high flux synchrotron radiation, and a fast detector allows sufficiently rapid data acquisition to resolve time-dependent orientation dynamics in this transient process. Simultaneous monitoring of temperature and pressure signals allows transient scattering data to be referenced to various stages of the injection molding cycle. Representative data on a commercial liquid crystalline polymer, Vectra B950, are presented to demonstrate the features of this apparatus; however, it may find application in a wide range of polymeric materials such as nanocomposites, semicrystalline polymers and fiber-reinforced thermoplastics.
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