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Short technical note
3D lling simulation of injection molding
based on the PG method
Huamin Zhou

, Bo Yan, Yun Zhang


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

Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 27 87543492; fax: +86 27 87554405.


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

, the above two equa-


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

is the interpolation function.


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

, the above equation can be written as

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).
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