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The Application of Advanced Control Theory To Enhance Molding Machine Performance

Thomas C. Bulgrin and Thomas H. Richards Van Dom Demag Corporation 11792 Alameda Drive Strongsville, OH 44136-3000
Abstract -- The computing power and system design of recent custom designed control systems makes possible the application of modem control theory in injection molding machines to achieve new standards of performance without expensive, special purpose equipment. The new line of controls from the Van Dom Demag Corporation uses digital filters, state transition logic, and high order temperature state control to more accurately control the molding machine process. The use of digital filters together with state transition logic reduces the controller response time latency, improves cycle to cycle repeatability, and predicts future positions of the molding machine clamp for use in clamp braking. The temperature state control system uses real time mathematical modeling of the barrel and tracking of estimated thermal disturbances to better control the barrel temperature. These techniques are applied to a wide variety of injection molding machine types and sizes and can be done in a way which makes the programming and operation of the machines less difficult than with traditional methods.


Complex expressions are easily represented using Boolean logic statements or expression structures such as ladder logic. The IMM sequence processing must be frequently modified due to many factors. Different types of machines, such as fully hydraulic machines or toggle machines, and different sized machines, must be controlled in different manners. Machine component changes can require extensive sequence modifications. Adaptation of the control to process various custom devices such as material loading systems, mold core systems, robots, automatic mold changing systems, and other such equipment requires modifications to the sequence program. PLCs are designed to be programmable. Typical IMM PLC systems utilize a distributed architecture due to the complex and concurrent nature of the control process. On the Pathfinder control system, analog sensor processing is performed by one intelligent card while machine sequence processing is performed by mother. The temperature control system is implemented in a third intelligent card. The operator interface card is a fourth intelligent card which allows communication of the machine setpoints and actual data to the i f t h intelligent card ) or to a printer or operator station ( a f diagnostic computer. B. Problems and Constraints of Traditional PLCs

A. Injection Molding Machine Control

The classical approach to the control of an injection molding machine (IMM) is to apply a standard programmable logic control system (PLC). A PLC is well suited for the IMM control task for several reasons. The injection molding process is cyclic in nature. An IMM repeats the basic process of closing the mold, injecting the material, and opening the mold, to produce parts. PLCs are designed to perform repetitive tasks. A PLC sequence program (sometimes referred to as the logic program) is created to perform the steps of the application process. The steps are then cycled to perform the repetitive process. Control of an IMM involves scanning analog and digital inputs, processing the input information, and adjusting analog and digital outputs according to the processed data. PLCs typically scan input information, perform a single execution of the logic program, and when the logic program scan is complete, update output information. IMM sequence processing typically requires execution of Boolean logic. Outputs are based on the states of various input combinations. The logic can become extremely complex and involve nested levels of expressions. Most PLC programming languages provide direct support of Boolean expressions.
WCH3394-4/94/$4.00 Q 1984 IEEE

Although PLCs are well suited for IMM control, the use of the traditional PLC can cause problems related to response time delays and variations, the simple translations of analog control loops which do not utilize available information, and an overall constraint in the control solution formulation related to the simple scan table model of the PLC. IMM control requires execution of a series of complex processes. In order to perform these processes, a relatively large sequence program must be executed which can consume extensive computing resources. The scanning technique used by PLCs (scan inputs, execute sequence program, write outputs) adds an inherent delay to the processing of input information. This response delay as well as the variation in this delay can result in molding process problems unless special, sometimes difficult, steps are taken to reduce this delay as described in Section 111. Also resulting f r o m the translation of hardware components into microprocessor based systems and also from the need for PLC to be able to be used for a wide variety of applications are the relatively simple control loops used for machine motion and temperature control. The PID loop, for instance, although


extremely well suited as a general control loop which may be programmed for many different uses through setting of its gain terms, can never compare to the performance of model predictive control systems designed for and tuned to specific IMM functions. In this paper, the use of modem control techniques in a custom designed PLC type system to address these problems is described. Following a background section on digital filters, the extension of the scan table model for use with digital filters together with modem real time programming structures for the reduction of response time and variation is described. In the next section, the extension of this technique to make setup of the machine easier and safer through prediction is described. Following this a modem feed-forward temperature state controller used on the Pathfinder system is presented.

A. What is a Digital Filter

Digital filtering is a part of the general field of digital signal processing which deals with the processes of smoothing, predicting, differentiating, integrating, separating of signals, and removal of noise from a signal [l 3. For purposes of this discussion, these processes involve the application of algorithms which perform mathematical operations on the current and past values of input signals in order to produce output signals which vary in a useful way from the input signals. The transformation of an input signal to an output signal may be termed a filter and the discrete time application of these transformation algorithms by a control system to a digitized signal may be referred to as a digital filter. The signals we are discussing are samples of the voltages read from sensors on the injection molding machine and include the clamp position, hydraulic pressure, ejector position, and screw position. By applying basic techniques of digital filtering in the control system, the responsiveness of the injection molding machine may be improved as described in Section I11 and the operation of the machine may be changed to make operation simpler and safer as described in section IV.

analog to digital converter in order to reduce the high frequency noise before sampling. [2 3 The choice of the sampling rate at which readings are taken from the input sensor and stored will effect many aspects of the control system response as well as defining the anti-aliasing filter required. More samples improve the performance of the system by improving closed loop control, although not a major problem with the relatively slow time constants involved in most motions of an injection molding machine. More importantly, increased sample rates reduce the jitter in the response of the machine due to the discrete time steps of the PLC control loop as described in the introduction. The tradeoff is that more processor time andor hardware are required for higher sampling rates to buffer and process this data. In order to access the value of a sensor at a particular time in the past it is necessary to store the sensor readings in a buffer at least as long as the longest time into the past at which access is required and at a resolution of at least the minimum resolution of the time coordinates of the sample to access. This can amount to a considerable burden on processor time on a system without a hardware method of buffering samples especially since the desired sampling rate may be faster than the rate at which the processor may wish to read the buffer. On the Pathfinder Control System a custom hardware sample buffer and analog to digital conversion system was designed to transparently buffer the samples at a 4khz rate per channel into a FIFO buffer without burdening the processor.
C. Finite Impulse Response Filters

With the equally spaced sampled readings of a given channel stored in the buffer, we may now construct a linear combination of these values. If we refer to the nth sample of a given channel as U , and the weighting coefficients as {ck} then, restricting ourselves to calculations involving the last N samples, the formula may be written as

Yn =


B. Reading and Storage of Input Channels

The application of digital filters requires the reading and storage of information from analog input sensors before the mathematical operations may be performed on the signals. This may be accomplished in a number of ways, but in any method care must be taken in the analog pre-filtering of the signal, the sampling rate of the analog to digital conversion, and the method of buffering past samples. Injection molding machines operate in factory conditions and experience has shown a certain amount of high frequency noise will be present on the input sensor readings. In order to more accurately read the sensor value and reduce the results of the aliasing effect whereby energy at frequencies above one half the sampling rate is misread at lower frequencies, an analog filter, referred to as an anti-aliasing filter, should proceed the

This common filter configuration is referred to as a Finite Impulse Response filter. Descriptions of this filter as well as comparisons with other filters are common in control system literature including descriptions of the implementation on various processors. [3 ] Although the FIR filter is not capable of the steepness of the frequency response curve of a filter which includes terms from its own output such as the Infinite Impulse Response Filter, due to the fact that the F.I.Rs transfer function is a polynomial and not a rational function [4 1, this filter is well suited for this application due to guaranteed stability implied by the polynomial transfer function and the relative ease of selecting filter coefficients when compared to more complex filters. The implementation of digital filtering provides powerful new capabilities for the injection molding machine control system. The FIR being a type of real time discrete convolution integral may extract signals which have been distributed over numerous

past samples. Likewise, the filter may be used as a feed forward element in the control loop to deconvolve the predicted controller response before this response occurs. In the Pathfinder control system, FIR filters are used both for smoothing and prediction. The simplest application of the FIR filter is the smoothing of data. In this process, the FIR is use to compute the arithmetic average of the last N samples. The coefficients c l through cN in this case may all be set to 1 i N to equally weight all samples or the weights may be modified, using different windows to decrease the amount of noise transmitted at higher frequencies. [5 ] In either case the algebraic sum of the weights should equal one for unity gain. Another use of digital filters is for prediction. In the simplest case of straight line prediction the coefficients are selected to estimate the rate of change of the signal which is then used to predict the future value of the signal. If the signal at sample 1 is given by u1 and the signal at sample number N is given by U, then the rate of change of the signal may be estimated by (U, U , ) / ( t * N ) where t is the time between samples. By simple linear extrapolation the predicted value of the signal at time T, into the future y(T,J may be given by the formula



s & & ,

Analog b.fl

- 1


which is seen to be a linear combination of past values of U where c1 = 1 + T,/tN and C, = - T,,/tN. Higher order predictions can be made which can be interpreted as fitting higher order polynomials through more data points. By first smoothing the data in order to reduce the noise amplification inherent in differentiators such as the prediction filter and then predicting the value of the signal at small enough times so that non-linear effects such as changes in the hydraulic system due to digital solenoids changing would not be seen, accurate predictions of the future value of the signals may quickly and easily be made available to the control system.
D. Setpoint Comparisons using Digital Filters

Fig. 1. The traditional method of setpoint comparison (a) and the modified method (b) using digital filters fl,f2, and f3.

As described in the introduction, one of the key tasks of the injection molding machine controller is to wait for input channels to cross operator defined positions and then to modify the output to the hydraulic system in response to these events. In traditional control systems, the sensor values are read, some simple averaging may or may not be performed, and then the values are compared with the defined positions referred to as setpoints. This is shown in fig. l(a). The status of these comparisons are then made available for decision making by the control system which evaluates the current status of the machine and the status of the setpoint comparisons and then commands outputs based on these inputs. Through the use of digital filters in the Pathfinder Control System, not only is the recent past position of the sensor used for setpoint comparison as in traditional control systems but also the value of the input channel passed through up to eight different digital filters is also

compared to the setpoints and the sequencer is notified of the status of these comparisons. This is shown in fig. l(b). In the traditional control system, the status of the comparison may be accessed in the logic program as a control relay whose state is checked for true or false. In the Pathfinder Control system the logic program accesses the status of a comparison in a similar fashion, only with one additional keyword which specifies which filter through which the input is passed. For example, to load the status of a comparison of the clamp input channel against the close slow setpoint, a command such as LOAD IpCloseSlow would be executed in a traditional system. In the Pathfinder, the command LOAD 1pCloseSlow.at would be executed to load the current status or the command LOAD 1pCloseSlow.approaching could be executed to load the predicted status of the relay at a programmable amount of time into the future, where the at and the approaching keywords specify specific programmable digital filters. This method allows a PLC programmer familiar with the simple operation of loading a comparison to access the power of general digital filters without additional training. The programming of the digital filter coefficients is transparent to the PLC programmer.

A. Response Latency

As we have described, current controllers typically have one bit for the status of a setpoint comparison and that bit is set true in a sequencer card at the beginning of a program loop or "scan" some time after the event has occurred and that data has been transmitted from an analog input card. Logical operations are then performed with that bit and the outputs are set to begin some new function. The outputs for that function are set either at the end of this or the next scan. Before analog output changes such as valve changes can begin, data must also be transferred back from the sequencer card to the analog output card. This method results in control response latency which is a sum of the time from: (1) when the input channel value physically crosses the setpoint until the analog input card reads and processes this data, (2) the time it take the input card to transmit this information to the logic program, (3) the delay until the logic program accepts the information from the analog input, (4) the length of time to process this input, ( 5 ) the length of time to transmit the new desired information to the analog output card, and (6) the time until the analog card reaches the point where it reads commands from the sequencer, (7) the time it takes the analog card to process and execute this command. The total time delay from when the setpoint is actually crossed until the new operation is begun is the controller response latency and the range of observable response latency times indicates the response time repeatability. This response latency results in "overtravel" before the new operation is begun. Variations in the rate of change of the sensor reading from cycle to cycle during this overtravel combined with the variations of the response time itself from cycle to cycle can result in considerable variations in the actual sensor readings when the new operations begin. The numerous problems resulting f r o m these variations include inconsistency in part qualities due to variations of conditions at cutoff and screw fully retracted position, increased cycle times to achieve sufficient mold protection, and variations in overall cycle time as the individual uncertainties of every response accumulate throughout the cycle. The fact that this variation is also affected by machine setup parameters increases the difficulty of machine setup. Techniques such as increasing processor power, dedicating high speed communication channels between intelligent cards, and creating application specific circuitry will help to reduce response latency and repeatability errors. However, this approach can only reduce latency and repeatability errors to a point. Sequence program execution and inter-processor communication will always take time. Increasing system power will only reduce this time factor. Future demands on the control system, such as adding new control sequence instructions to perform new functions, will add to the response latency and repeatability errors. The result is a moving target which will constantly require control system redesign to provide additional resources and power. A second approach to reducing the control system response latency and repeatability errors is to code the machine sequence instructions in a low level language to optimize for execution time. Low level languages are not practical for IMM PLC sequence instruction coding as the sequence program must be constantly modified to provide special custom sequences. Low

level languages are hard to maintain, require longer development time, are more prone to errors, and again, only reduce response latency and repeatability errors and cannot eliminate them. Another method used to reduce control system response latency and repeatability errors is to code critical response functions at an interrupt level. Used in combination with powerful hardware and tightly coded low level functions, response latency can be reduced with this method. However, problems begin to arise due to the nature of interrupt level coding and the IMM control application. The IMM control sequence requires the interaction of complex logic expressions. Attempting to isolate those terms which are required to perform the critical event interrupt processing tends to produce an interrupt level function almost as large as the main sequence program. B. State Transition Methodology for Logic Programming The IMM process can be divided into a discrete number of states. Each state is used to represent a major step of the IMM process such as mold close, injection, recovery, and mold open. Each state need only be concerned with the inputs, processes, and outputs specific to that phase of the machine cycle, thus reducing execution time. State transitions can be performed using the feed forward digital filtering technique to eliminate response latency and reduce repeatability errors. In order to facilitate the use of event predictive digital filters, a high level programming language can be designed which models the state transitions of a process. The language should allow machine sequences to be structured as procedures based on specific machine states where transitions between states are initiated by predicted critical events. The predicted events can be presented to the sequence program as Boolean data (signals) and used in normal PLC Boolean expressions. In keeping with the traditional execution scanning techniques used by PLCs, the event signals can be updated between state execution scans as long as the event is predicted enough in the future to allow state sequence execution to complete before the event actually occurs. The event predictive techniques allow the machine sequencing instructions to be created without extensive concern for execution time or need for interrupt level processing. Other modern programming techniques such as object oriented data representation can be applied to facilitate the maintenance of machine control software.
C. Elimination of Response Latency and Variation With DigitaI Filters and State Transition Logic

Consider the simple case of two processing states, A and B. Execution begins and remains in state A until critical event E occurs. Upon detection of event E, output 0 is to be set to state 0' and sequence execution is to continue at state B. In normal PLC systems, an average response latency of at least 1/2 of time TA,the execution time of the state A sequence instructions, will be realized in setting output 0 to state 0' and switching sequence execution to state B. By introducing the

feed forward event detection concept, this response latency is easily reduced or eliminated. A digital filter can be designed to predict critical event E at a time greater than TA in the future. Using this information in state A to perform the transition to State B, the response latency is eliminated. When a critical event is predicted, execution of the main state processing can be terminated so that the system can be prearmed for the next state. Once armed, the system can then wait for the actual event to occur and apply all output and execution transitions at that time thereby synchronizing the sequencer scanning loop with the physical crossing of the setpoint. The reporting of the "actual crossing'' may also be predicted just slightly ahead of the actual event to eliminate any latency inherent to distributed control architecture.
D. Results

Fig. 2 shows the results of a test of control system response latency of the Pathfinder control system using digital filtering and state control logic programming. The data is a histogram of measurements of the time from when clamp close slow position is met until the control system changes the value out to the clamp proportional flow control valve. The average response time was found to be 0.93 ms and the standard deviation was found to be 0.39 ms. The measurements were made by recording the clamp position and valve command signals during the closing of the clamp. The time of the setpoint voltage was found on the trace to within .1 ms and then the time of the output change was recorded to within .1 ms. The difference in time is the response delay. This response delay was calculated for 60 samples and the data sorted into .2ms bins.

In the case of full open and mid-die stop positions, this means that the rest positions will be past the fully open or clamp stop operator setpoints. In the case of fully-closed position this means the close slow position must be set far enough back for the current close fast speed to ensure sufficient deceleration or mold damage may result. By providing the machine sequence control program ( the logic program ) with a bit which represents the expected state of the setpoint comparison a programmable amount into the future, the logic program can begin the change to the new setpoint early enough that the clamp may respond to the event so as to reach its desired state at the time that the actual position setpoint is reached. For fully open and die stop, this means the clamp will stop at the operator entered setpoints. For fully closed position this predictive "braking" means that the clamp cannot be "slammed" no matter what close slow settings are entered. For the close slow position, this means that you enter the position at which you want the clamp to be traveling slow, not the point to begin its deceleration. Furthermore, since in previous controllers the overtravel is typically a function of the clamp speed, all of the clamp setpoints must be adjusted when the speed is changed in order to provide similar amounts of overtravel. With this new method, digital filters are applied in real time to the input channel, thereby constantly tracking the clamp's current speed and acceleration, and responding further in advance for faster speeds, thereby making clamp setup and adjustment easier.
B. Elimination By Feed-Forward Prediction

Pathfinder Response Time

Fig. 2. Measurements of the time from when a setpoint is crossed until the valve command signal changes.

In order to predict the status of the comparison of an input channel against a setpoint, a programmable finite impulse response filter is applied to the input channel. For this application, the mold hlly open position and the clamp closed position are processed by these filters and their status reported to the logic program. The order, tap positions, and tap weights of the filters required to feed forward the effect of the hydraulic system may be programmed by the controls engineer for a given size machine and may be derived theoretically using standard digital filter design techniques and then verified experimentally for a given size machine. The logic program then uses the filtered setpoint comparison based on the predicted clamp position instead of the current clamp position to initiate a new state.


A. Barrel Temperature Control


A. Clamp Overtravel

Due to the time it takes for the control system to detect events and respond to them and for the hydraulic and mechanical systems of the clamp to respond to the outputs from the controller, a molding machine's clamp will typically overshoot a position before effects of reaching of that position are observed.

This control method sets the duty cycle (percentage of the heater period for which the bands are on) of the heater bands of an injection molding machine barrel in order to quickly reach operator specified temperature setpoints with minimal overshooting of the temperature and to accurately maintain this temperature in response to thermal disturbances and changes in operator setpoints. This control technique also explicitly estimates the internal temperatures at various points in the barrel

and the thermal disturbances occurring within the barrel as well as the rate of change of these disturbances. This information is made available for display and monitoring as well as for predicting future states of the barrel and thereby better controlling the barrel temperatures. Reducing the number of degrees by which the temperature exceeds the operator entered setpoints during heating of the barrel (reduced overshoot) reduces degradation of any plastic in the barrel and more quickly achieves a stable temperature to begin molding thereby allowing more temperature sensitive materials to be used and also increasing the productivity of the molding machine. Similarly, the improved ratio of the temperature change in the barrel to an applied disturbance such as shear heat from the plastic in the center and fiont zones of the barrel or the conduction of heat away from the barrel by the plastic in the rear zones, i.e. increased disturbance response, also reduces degradation, increases shot consistency, improves part quality and makes the use of temperature sensitive materials easier and safer. The explicit estimation of the temperatures and thermal disturbances at multiple nodes within the barrel provides a previously unavailable method for monitoring the heat induced by the molding process as well as for the accurate identification of disturbances that are indicative of problems such as heater band burnout and thermal runaway.

be found in text books on partial differential equations and frequently involves the method of separation of variables. [7 ] This method results in a solution which is usually an infinite series of exponential terms where the coefficients and powers are chosen to satisfy initial conditions. Representing the solution of the differential equation (4) as T(x,y,z,t), the goal of the control system may now be expressed mathematically as a boundary value problem with initial conditions (5), desired temperature reading at thermocouple coordinates (xn,yn,n) of Tn as shown in (6), steady state conditions (7), with heater band energy in zone n of bn(t) (8), thermal load disturbance (9), and convective heat loss to the environment which may be represented by Newtons law of cooling [8 ] (10) where h represents the atmospheric heat loss coefficient and T , the ambient temperature. The problem is then to find a series of duty cycles {U}which which will generate a bn(t) such that all the conditions are met.


B. Mathematical Problem Formulation

Within a solid object, heat will flow from the warmer to cooler section of the object at a rate proportional to the difference in temperature between the sections. Inserting the proportionality constant which is given by the thermal conductivity of the material k and the cross sectional area A normal to the temperature gradient, this relationship for the heat flow q is expressed by the following, known as Fouriers Law of Heat Conduction (3) from which may be derived the general heat conduction equation for constant thermal conductivity and heat production (4)

4(x, Y ,Z , O = fk Y ,2

9 0


for x,y,z in contact with melt

aT aT a 2 T -+-+-+-=-ax

1 aT


k a



where T is the temperature, q is the heat generated within the solid, and alpha is the thermal diffisivity of the material and is given by the thermal conductivity k of the material divided by the product of its specific heat and density. [ a ] This partial differential equation, a form of the diffision equation, specifies a relationship between the rate of change of temperature with respect to time and the current spatial temperature distribution. From this relationship describing the instantaneous temperature change, we may seek an equation which specifies the temperature at all points of the solid as a h c t i o n of time. Descriptions of the analytical solution of heat conduction equation (4) for different boundary conditions and shapes may

Although technically possible to solve in this form when a solution does exist ( which might very well not happen due to the limitation of only limited positive control force (8) and the uncontrolled load disturbance (9) ) using numerical techniques for boundary value problems such as shooting methods, [9 ] this is currently unfeasible in real time and many of the variables are not available for sensing by the control system. To make a formulation which is usable in the control system, we seek a simplified model which, although not exact, will represent the important features of the energy storage mechanism within the barrel and the geometrical arrangement of barrel temperature zones. To do this, the simplest of finite difference methods can be used which provides sufficient accuracy and stability of the model [10 1. Through experimentation and verification of the model against actual experiments, the formulation in the Pathfmder was chosen based on a 16 state lumped heat capacity analysis.
C. Lumped Heat Capacig Analysis and State Formulation

The basic control technique for the four zone barrel is a variation of a 16th order state controller. In a state controller, the values of pertinent quantities are used directly in a system of


simultaneous differential equations to determine the control force required in order to bring the deviation of the current temperatures from the desired temperatures to zero. The state variables used in this implementation are the temperatures at the heater bands, the outer layer of the barrel, the middle layer of the barrel, and the inner layer of the barrel which is in contact with the melt, for each of the four zones. These four temperatures per each of the four zones comprise the 16 state variables. Fig. 3 shows this division of the barrel.

estimated through an observer technique. Equation (12) may then be integrated to determine the temperature at time t into the future

X'( t ) = A X( t )+ B * U( t ) + F( t )
D.Parametric Syxtem Identification


Fig. 3. A cut-away view of the 9 states representing the average temperature in three layers of three zones. Not shown are states representing heater band temperatures and nozzle temperatures. Through a formulation based on a lumped heat capacity analysis the rate of change of the temperature of a single node (a particular layer of a particular zone) may be estimated by repeatedly applying Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction (3) for each surrounding node and Newton's Law of Cooling (10) for each surface node taking into account the surface area separating nodes and the distance between nodes as well as the thermal conductivity, specific heat, and mass of the barrel together with the atmospheric loss coefficient. Equation (1 l), for example, may be written for the rate of change of , is the temperature in the outer layer of a front zone where X average temperature in node n, r, the surface radius, r, the radius to the start of the surface layer, r, the distance from the center of the surface layer to the middle layer, x2 the position of the center thermocouple, x, the position of the front thermocouple, I the length of the zone, and V, the volume of the zone.

Before using terms from (12) in the control law, we must first determine the coefficients of the B matrix and some of the parameters which appear in the A matrix. The determination of the values of the A and B matrices for a particular barrelheater band arrangement is done once at the factory during a 'System Identification' procedure. In this procedure, a known input sequence is applied to the system and the system's response is recorded. Parameters are then determined which would generate the matrices A and B which best explain the recorded data. The 'best' in this case refers to a minimum of the squared error of the actual minus hypothesized data which is found using a multidimensional curve fitting algorithm. This minimization may be done by any number of methods including conjugate gradient methods in multidimensions. [l 1 ] Upon successful completion of the minimization, the 'best fit' values of A and B are written to battery protected calibration data.
E. The Control Law

2 h rI X 2' = [-27chrsEX2+ 3 (X, - X 2)

An equation similar to (1 1) may be written for each node. These simultaneous equations may be written in matrix notation as shown in (12) where the 16 formulas similar to (1 1) are used to construct the homogeneous coefficient matrix A and the driving force matrix B is given by the heater band wattage. X represents the temperature state vector, u(t) the status of the contactors, and F(t) the load disturbances as in ( 9 ) which are

Having represented the problem formulation in the general state control form, (12) numerous options are available for the multi-in multi-out control law. These include the state equivilant of the porportional or P controller, the proportional control with integrator or state PI controller, and a variety of multiple degree of freedom control laws ranging from two degree of freedom systems to Linear Quadratic optimal control laws [12 3 which use a weighted series of terms in order to consider the effect of each period of application of heater band energy to all other periods, and thereby selecting the gain terms to minimize a loss function. Although not requiring the complexity and processor burden of the optimally weighted combination of terms as with Linear Quadratic control, the control law used in the Pathfinder does use a complex summation designed to annihilate the predicted disturbance and barrel transient response through a variation of a two degree of freedom system with bias estimation. The general form of the control law is shown in (13). The GI function here represents the predicted steady state error correction term, sometimes termed the feed forward term and the G2 function represents the proportional term. The R vector represents the desired setpoints. Note that with this control law the X, F, F' vectors are not actually read, but rather estimated with observer techniques. Related to this is the somewhat unusual ability of a multi-in multi-out model predictive system to be run even with sensor failures on some of its inputs or in an open loop fashion in the case of no inputs.


RHP400 Barrel Temperature Step Response







Fig 4. A graph of the temperature of the nozzle, front, center, and nozzle zone during the first twenty minutes from powerup. The methods described in this paper represent only the beginning of the capabilities of modem control theory. By including knowledge of the process being controlled into the control system, better control is possible. As more is learned about the injection molding process itself, this information may be included into the control system.

u(t>= G,(A,B,R,F(t),F(t))

+G,(A,B, R, X(t),F(t),F(t))
G. Results


Shown in Fig. 5. is a recording of the temperature rise of a 48 oz. injection barrel. On a barrel of this size a temperature overshoot of 15 to 25 degrees F. would not be unusual using a traditional, auto-tuned PID loop. As shown, the peak overshoot with the state control system is less than 3 degrees F. Also of interest is the behavior of the quicker rising nozzle zone which clearly shows the effect of the two degree of freedom system. The state control, being a multi-in multi-out system, includes terms as we have described which model the heat flow from one zone to another. The feed forward term of the nozzle zone in this case contains an expected amount of energy from the front zone once it reaches setpoint. The bias estimate term therefore does not integrate this error since the heat is expected to arrive once setpoint is reached. On a system with a standard integrator instead of the bias estimation using the cross-zone feed forward term the nozzle would come up to heat sooner, but only to overheat as the front zone temperature rises, and then would require a much long time for the control loop to respond and the nozzle temperature to drop. VI. CONCLUSION By using modem control theory and software engineering techniques on custom hardware platforms for the control of injection molding machines, considerable advances in machine performance are possible. These performance enhancements may result in better quality plastic products and in quicker and safer operation of the molding machine.

[ l 3 R.W. Hamming, Digital Filters., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1989, pg. xii. [ 2 ] K. J. Astrom and B. Wittenmark, Computer Controlled Systems, Theory and Design, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1990, pp. 29-32. [3 ] A. Lovrich and R. Simar, Jr., Implementation of FIR/IIR Filters with the TMS32010/TMS32020, Digital Signal Processing - Semiconductor Group, Texas Instruments, Digital Signal Processing Applications with the TMS320 Family, 1986. [4] R.W. Hamming, Digital Filters, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1989, pg. 232. [5 ] R.W. Hamming, Digital Filters, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1989, pp. 37-42. [6 ] J.P. Holman, Heat Transfer, New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1976, ch. 1, pg. 2. [7] W. E. Boyce and Richard C. DiPrima, Elementary Diferential Equations and Bounaby Value Problems, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1977, ch. 10, pp. 452460. [8 ] J.P. Holman, Heat Transfer, New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1976, ch. 1, pg. 12.


[9] Herbert B. Keller, Numerical Solution o f Two Point Boundary Value Problems, Montpelier, VT: Capitol City Press, 1990, ch. 1, pp 1-2. I10 ] William F. Ames, Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations, Boston, MA: Harcout Brace Jovanovich, 1992, ch. 1, pp. 14-15. [ 11 ] William H. Press, Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukolsky, Willioam T. Vetterling, Numeral Recipies in C, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge university Press, 1988, ch. 10, pp. 317-324. [ 12 ] Karl J, Astrom and Bjom Wittenmark, Computer Controlled Systems, Theory and Design, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1990, ch. 11 pp. 338-350.