In this work, multifilament, continuous polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber tow was solution spun mimicking industrial processing at the small pilot scale (0.5 k tow), while carefully altering the composition of the coagulation bath, in order to determine the effect on the resulting fiber shape, density, orientation, and tensile properties at varying points in the spinning process. Novel here are the abnormally high coagulation bath solvent compositions investigated, which surpass those often reported in the literature. In addition, the coagulation bath was maintained at a slightly chilled temperature, contrary to reported methods to produce round fibers. Further, by altering the composition of the bath in a step-wise fashion during a single spinning run, variations in all other process parameters were minimized. We found that with increasing solvent composition in the coagulation bath, the fibers not only became round in cross section, but also became smaller in diameter, which persisted down the spin line. With this decrease in diameter, all else equal, came an accompanying increase in apparent fiber density via a reduction in microvoid content. In addition, molecular orientation and tensile properties also increased. Therefore, it was found that inadequate understanding of the coagulation bath effects, and spinning at low coagulation bath solvent compositions, can hinder the ability of the fiber to reach optimum properties.

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Published in Fibers, v. 3, no. 4, p. 560-574.

© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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