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Short technical note

3D lling simulation of injection molding

based on the PG method

Huamin Zhou

State Key Laboratory of Mold & Die Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei 430074, PR China

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:

Received 16 June 2007

Received in revised form

12 February 2008

Accepted 16 March 2008

Keywords:

Filling simulation

Injection molding

Convectiondiffusion

SUPG

PSPG

a b s t r a c t

Injection molded parts with three-dimensional complex geometry, like thick or nonuniform

thickness congurations, are widely used today, which boosts the need for 3D simula-

tion replacing the 2.5D model. However, nite element methods of 3D simulation present

numerical spurious oscillations, which give an unsatisfactory result associated with the

classical Galerkinformulations of NavierStokes equations. The Streamline-Upwind/Petrov-

Galerkin (SUPG) and Pressure-Stabilizing/Petrov-Galerkin (PSPG) methods were employed in

this paper to prevent the potential numerical instabilities, by adding the weighting functions

with their derivatives. Stabilized nite element formulations using equal-order interpola-

tion functions for velocity and pressure were thus obtained. Numerical examples show that

the developed numerical algorithms perform stable and give accurate results by comparing

with the well-known commercial software Moldow.

2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

To improve the mold design and process optimization in

injection molding, increasing reliance has been placed on

numerical simulation and its applications (Huang and Lin,

2008). Over the last decades, two simulation techniques,

middle-plane technique and dual domain technique, have

been developed to predict the behavior of molten polymers

when lling the mold cavity. In the former method, an arbi-

trary middle-plane is used as the datum plane of the cavity,

which is meshed by planar triangular nite elements. While

in the latter method, the outside surfaces of the cavity replace

the middle-plane. These two techniques are both 2.5D models

with the use of the HeleShaw approximation (Chiang et al.,

1991). Inthese models, the velocity andvariationof pressure in

the gapwise (thickness) direction are neglected, which results

E-mail address: hmzhou@hust.edu.cn (H. Zhou).

in a 2D uid and heat ow problem in the ow plane (the

middle-plane or outside surfaces) and an additional 1D ther-

mal conduction problem in the thickness direction. In most

cases, the 2.5Dmodels work well when the part is thin-walled.

But with the development of injection molding techniques,

molded parts have more and more complex geometries and

the changes in the thickness are more and more notable. As a

result, the velocity and variation of pressure in the gapwise

direction must be considered, and the HeleShaw approxi-

mation cannot be applied any longer. A fully 3D simulation

for injection molding is, therefore, required. It is said that

the well-knownsoftware package, MPI 3DfromMoldow, may

have employed the control volume nite element method for

the 3D simulation of injection molding. However, it cannot be

validated because MPI 3D is a commercial program and can

only be used as a black box.

0924-0136/$ see front matter 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2008.03.017

476 j ournal of materi als processi ng technology 2 0 4 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 475480

A 3D nite element model was proposed to solve the

non-isothermal, viscous, incompressible and non-Newtonian

ow problem of injection molding in this paper. The

Streamline-Upwind/Petrov-Galerkin (SUPG) and Pressure-

Stabilizing/Petrov-Galerkin (PSPG) formulations were adopted

to prevent the potential numerical instabilities and obtain

stabilized formulations when using equal-order interpolation

functions for velocity and pressure. The presented model and

developed simulation systems were veried by comparing

with the well-known commercial software of Moldow.

2. Theory and implementation

2.1. Model problem

The basic assumptions for injection molding are as follows:

(a) the material is incompressible and purely viscous; (b) iner-

tia is neglected as compared to the viscous force. With these

approximations, the governing equations can be written as

u

i.i

= 0 (1)

2j

ij.j

P

.i

= 0 (2)

,C(T

.t

+u

i

T

.i

) =

j

2

(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

2

+KT

.ii

(3)

where

ij

= 1,2(u

i.j

+u

j.i

), i =1, 2, 3 and j =1, 2, 3 are the coor-

dinate components, the symbol , denotes derivative, and u

is the velocity with P and T being the pressure and tempera-

ture, respectively. In addition, ,, C, K and j denote the density,

specic heat, thermal conductivity and viscosity, respectively.

The assumptions and equations above are used for the 3D

simulation. While in the 2.5 models based on the HeleShaw

approximation, further assumptions are made as follows: (a)

the pressure is independent of the thickness; (b) the veloc-

ity component in the gapwise direction is neglected; (c) heat

convection is considered only along the ow plane and heat

conduction is limited to the gapwise direction. Then, the gov-

erning equations of 2.5D models are obtained as

(bu

i

)

.i

= 0 (4)

(ju

i.3

)

.3

P

.i

= 0 (5)

,C(T

.t

+u

i

T

.i

) =

j

2

(u

i.3

)

2

+KT

.33

(6)

where i =1, 2 denote the directions on the owplane, 3 is the

gapwise direction, and b is the thickness.

As for the boundary conditions, the pressure is taken to

be zero along the advancing melt front. At the entrance of

the cavity, specied melt temperature and mass ow rate are

maintained. In addition, boundary conditions on the mold

wall can be described as

u = 0. T = T

m

(7)

where T

m

is the constant wall temperature.

The Cross-WLF viscosity model has been used for the sim-

ulation as

j =

j

0

(T. P)

1 +(j

0

,,t

)

1n

(8a)

j

0

= D

1

e

[A

1

(T(D

2

+D

3

P)),A

2

+TD

2

]

(8b)

where n, t*, A

1

, A

2

, D

1

, D

2

, and D

3

are material constants.

2.2. Formulations

Stabilized formulations played a major role in the past two

decades in making the nite element method a reliable and

powerful approach in the ow simulation. The most notable

stabilized formulations for incompressible ows are the SUPG

formulation (Brooks and Hughes, 1981) and PSPG formula-

tion (Tezduyar, 1992, 2003). The SUPG formulation is often

employed to prevent numerical oscillations caused by the

convection term especially in problems with high Reynolds

or Mach numbers, and the PSPG formulation stabilizes the

numerical solution when using equal-order interpolation

functions for velocity and pressure. The main idea of the SUPG

and PSPG methods is to add products of suitable perturbation

terms, i.e., the derivative of the test functions, and the resid-

uals of the corresponding governing equations to the classic

nite element formulations, thereby maintaining consistency.

The nal solution of the problem still satises the SUPG and

PSPG stabilized weak form.

Based on the PSPG method, the nite element equation of

pressure of the momentum equation can be written as

ju

.j

(u

i.j

+u

j.i

) d

u

.j

P

ij

d+

qu

j.j

d

nel

c

t

PSPG

,

1

q

.j

ij

[2j(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

.j

P

.j

ij

] d =

1

un

1

d1

(9)

where u and q are weighting functions, t

PSPG

=,h

2

/4j is the

PSPG stabilization parameter, and h

1

is the load acting on the

boundary of the uid. In above equation, the rst two terms

on the left hand and the term on the right hand constitute the

standard Galerkin nite element formulation of Eq. (2); the

third term on the left hand corresponds to standard Galerkin

nite element formulation of Eq. (1); and the fourth term on

the left hand is the stabilized termin which 2j(u

i,j

+u

j,i

)

,j

P

,j

ij

is the residual part of Eq. (2).

Assuming q=0 and u = 0, respectively, the following equa-

tions are obtained:

ju

.j

(u

i.j

+u

j.i

) d =

u

.j

P

i

d+

1

und1 (10)

c

t

PSPG

q

.i

P

.i

d =

,qu

i.i

d

+

c

t

PSPG

q

.i

j(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

.j

d (11)

j ournal of materi als processi ng technology 2 0 4 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 475480 477

Fig. 1 Illustration of the control volume and subelements

within a tetrahedral element.

And then assuming q=N

and u = N

tions become

c

jN

.j

(N

.j

u

i

+N

.i

u

j

) d =

c

N

.j

N

ij

d

+

1

c

N

n

1

d1 (12)

c

t

PSPG

N

.i

N

.i

P

d =

c

,N

N

.i

u

i

d (13)

where N

Because the energy equationinvolves convection, the SUPG

method is employed in the formulation, following that

,uC

V

(T

.t

+u

i

T

.i

) d+

u

.i

KT

.i

d

+

c

t

SUPG

u

j

u[,C

V

(T

.t

+u

i

T

.i

) KT

.ii

0.5j(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

2

] d

=

u[0.5j(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

2

] d+

1

uq

0

d1 (14)

where

t

SUPG

=

2

Lt

2

+

2u

n

2

+

4K

n

2

,C

V

1,2

is the SUPG stabilization parameter.

It further becomes

c

,C

V

(u+t

SUPG

u

j

u)(T

.t

+u

i

T

.i

) d+

c

u

.i

KT

.i

d

=

c

(u+t

SUPG

u

j

u)[0.5j(u

i.j

+u

j.i

)

2

] d+

1

c

uq

0

d1

(15)

Taking u = N

c

,C

V

(N

+t

SUPG

u

j

N

.j

)

Lt

+u

i

N

.i

T

n+1

d

+

c

KN

.i

N

.i

T

n+1

d

=

c

(N

+t

SUPG

u

j

N

.j

)[0.5j(N

.k

u

i

+N

.i

u

k

)

2

] d

+

c

,C

V

(N

+t

SUPG

u

j

N

.j

)

N

Lt

T

n

d+

1

c

N

q

0

d1

(16)

Based on the above formulation, the nite element equa-

tion can be derived by using equal-order linear interpolation

for velocity and pressure and also linear interpolation for tem-

perature.

Additionally, the control volume method with a tetrahe-

dral element mesh is used for tracking the free moving ow

front. This technique is a 3Dapproach of the owanalysis net-

work (FAN) method that uses a xed reference (Tadmor et al.,

1974). In this method, each tetrahedral element is divided into

four subelements and the control volume of a node comprises

its joint subelements, as shown in Fig. 1. The free moving

front is implicitly tracked from the partially lled control vol-

umes and an indicator function is used to represent the lled

fraction. That is, the interface will lie within control volumes

having a lled fraction between zero and unity. The melt front

is updated by calculating the lled fraction with a given ow

rate.

The ow chart of the solution procedure is shown in Fig. 2.

It shouldbe noticedthat the solutionof the uidowis divided

into the velocity calculation by Eq. (12) and pressure calcula-

tion by Eq. (13). These two equations include both the pressure

and velocity parameters, and therefore an iterative procedure

should be used.

3. Results

An in-house simulation software has been developed based

on the above SUPG/PSPG method, namely, HsCAE3D. Exam-

ples are presented for verication of the system, by comparing

with the commercial package Moldow MPI. The mesh and

dimensions of the test cavity are shown in Fig. 3, with the

gate marked by . The linear tetrahedral elements amount

to 52721 with the node number 10412, and the linear inter-

polation is used for the velocity, pressure and temperature

components. The selected material is 6733: Taiwan PP. The

parametric constants corresponding to n, t*, A

1

, A

2

, D

1

, D

2

,

and D

3

of the viscosity model are 0.219, 56,351Pa, 28.44, 51.6K,

1.310

14

Pas, 263.15K, 0K/Pa. And the major processing con-

ditions are lling time (s): 0.5, injection temperature (

C): 240,

and mold temperature (

C): 50.

The ow front advancements of the developed system and

Moldow MPI 3D (the 3D model) at three representative time

steps are both reported in Fig. 4, which shows a similar front

478 j ournal of materi als processi ng technology 2 0 4 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 475480

Fig. 2 The ow chart of the solution procedure.

pattern. As polymer melt lls the cavity, the velocity on the

cavity wall is regarded as zero because of the no-slip bound-

ary condition. Therefore, a cavity with a thick-wall section

offers a signicant lower ow resistance than that with a

thin-wall section. If the cavity has both thick-wall and thin-

wall sections, the thick section can accelerate the ow like a

uid director, which is called as speedway phenomenon.

Because the central section of the test cavity is thinner than

the frame around, the polymer melt ows faster in the thicker

frame. As shown in Fig. 4, the speedway phenomenon is

Fig. 3 The mesh and dimensions of the test cavity, with

the gate marked by .

clearly demonstrated when using the 3D model mentioned

above.

When the uid is injected into a relatively cold mold, solid

layer is formed on the cavity wall immediately because of

Fig. 4 The ow front advancements at three

representative time steps (0.125, 0.25, and 0.375s) of: (a) the

presented system (HsCAE3D) and (b) Moldow MPI 3D.

j ournal of materi als processi ng technology 2 0 4 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 475480 479

Fig. 5 Illustration of the fountain ow of: (a) the presented

system (HsCAE3D) and (b) Moldow MPI 3D.

the mold cooling. The velocity of uid at the center is much

higher thanthe average value, resulting inthe uidinthe front

deecting towards the walls. So the shape of the ow front

looks like a fountain, which is called as fountain ow. This

owphenomenoncannot be caught by the 2.5Dmodel, but can

be predicted by 3D models (HsCAE3D and MPI 3D), as shown

in Fig. 5.

The predicted gate pressure is illustrated in Fig. 6, with

a comparison of results from the presented 3D simulation

(HsCAE3D), Moldow 2.5D model (MPI Fusion) and Mold-

ow 3D model (MPI 3D). It can be seen that the predicted

gate pressure based on the presented 3D model is in

good agreement with that based on Moldow 3D model,

but demonstrates a large deviation from that of Moldow

2.5D model.

Fig. 6 The gate pressure predicted by the presented model

(HsCAE3D), Moldow 2.5D model (MPI Fusion) and

Moldow 3D model (MPI 3D).

Fig. 7 The required injection pressure for different ow

rates predicted by the presented simulation (HsCAE3D) and

Moldow MPI 3D.

Other comparisons between the presented model and

Moldow 3D model are shown in Figs. 7 and 8, and good

agreements are demonstrated. Fig. 7 shows the changes of the

required injection pressure (maximum gate pressure) for dif-

ferent owrates. AndFig. 8 shows the predictedgate pressures

for a different kind of material (PS Styron 678E: Dow Chemical

Europe).

From above results, it can be seen that the pressure cal-

culated by HsCAE3D is a little lower than that of Moldow

MPI 3D. The reason for this may be due to the decoupling

of the uid ow and heat transfer. During lling, the uid

ow inuences the heat transfer because of the convective

term, which in turn inuences the uid owbecause the poly-

mer viscosity is temperature-dependent. This implies that a

coupled simulation of the uid ow and temperature should

be performed simultaneously, which is very time-consuming.

Considering the high viscosity and low thermal conductiv-

ity of polymer melt, it can be assumed that the temperature

in a time step is constant. As a result, the PSPG and SUPG

methods are used, respectively to solve the momentummass

and energy conservation equations, as shown in Fig. 2. This

decoupling method may overestimate the temperature a lit-

Fig. 8 The predicted gate pressure for a different kind of

material (PS Styron 678E: Dow Chemical Europe).

480 j ournal of materi als processi ng technology 2 0 4 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 475480

tle, which leads to a low viscosity and therefore a low

pressure.

4. Conclusions

A numerical method based on a 3D nite element model was

presented to simulate the injection molding lling. The SUPG

and PSPG formulations were employed to prevent the poten-

tial numerical instabilities caused by the convection item of

the energy equation and the unmatched interpolation orders

of velocity and pressure. Simulation results show that the

developed models could give accurate results.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge nancial support from

the National Natural Science Foundation Council of China

(Grant No. 50675080) and the Research Fund for the Doctoral

Programof Higher Educationof China (Grant No. 20060487056).

r e f e r e nce s

Brooks, A.N., Hughes, T.J.R., 1981. Streamline

upwind/Petrov-Galerkin formulations for convection

dominated ows with particular emphasis on the

incompressible NavierStokes equations. Comput. Methods

Appl. Mech. Eng. 32, 199259.

Chiang, H.H., Hieber, C.A., Wang, K.K., 1991. A unied simulation

of the lling and post-lling stages in injection molding. Part

I. Formulation. Polym. Eng. Sci. 31, 116124.

Huang, M.S., Lin, T.Y., 2008. An innovative regression

model-based searching method for setting the robust

injection molding parameters. J. Mater. Process. Technol. 198,

436444.

Tadmor, Z., Broyer, E., Gutnge, C., 1974. Flow analysis network

(fan)method for solving ow problems in polymer

processing. Polym. Eng. Sci. 14, 660665.

Tezduyar, T.E., 1992. Stabilized nite element formulations for

incompressible ow computations. Adv. Appl. Mech. 28, 144.

Tezduyar, T.E., 2003. Computation of moving boundaries and

interfaces and stabilization parameters. Int. J. Numer.

Methods Fluids 43, 555575.

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