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Boundary Conditions in the Modeling of Injection

Mold-Filling of Thin Cavities


C h e m i c a l and P o l y m e r Engineering D e p a r t m e n t
U n i v e r s i t y of Detroit
Detroit, M i c h i g a n 48221

A governing equation for injection mold-filling of thin

cavities with a power-law fluid is derived. The interaction
between upstream delivery channel flow and cavity flow
results in a continuously changing gate condition as the
total viscous dissipation of the delivery channel-cavity
assembly is minimized. Depending upon the relative mag-
nitude of pressure drops or viscous dissipation across the
channel and the cavity, the boundary conditions which
determine the cavity filling process will lie between the
following two limiting cases: a Cauchy type gate condition
such that the location of the melt front is completely
determined by the upstream flow: a Cauchy type melt front
condition in which the gate condition is controlled by the
downstream flow. For most injection molding cases this
may be manifested as equilibration of dissipation density
on the melt front. Experimentally observed melt front
locations from isothermal, Newtonian filling of a constant
gap rectangular cavity and of a bi-gap rectangular cavity
are reported and the validity of the limiting cases are

INTRODUCTION constant pressure condition, while Ryan and

athematical modeling of the injection mold- Chung (9)assigned both pressure and flux con-
M filling process has been attempted by nu-
merous investigators, as reviewed by Gremela
Isobars and constant flux lines on and near a
(1). Most published models ( 1 -9) deal with thin
gate may change continuously during the mold-
filling process as a result of interaction between
cavities governed by a quasi-static pressure
delivery channel and cavity fluid mechanics,
field equation, but their applicability is limited
making it difficult to develop a model which is
to flat cavities. Wang, et al. (18)extended the
applicable over a wide range of processing con-
applicability of flat cavity equations by a lay-
ditions. Two limiting cases of the delivery chan-
flat process. This may be useful when the cavity
nel-cavity interaction are discussed in this pa-
geometry is simple in the sense that only a few
new cavity walls are created in the process of
laying a cavity flat, i.e., by bending and cutting
open the edges of the cavity. Otherwise the
abundance of permeable pseudo-edges may cre- A governing equation for a cavity-filling with
ate numerical and programming complications. a power-law fluid is derived. It will be assumed
A more general field equation applicable to var- that the cavity plane is curved, but is suffi-
iable-gap thin cavities lying on a curved plane ciently thin everywhere so that the usual thin
is proposed, which may be used alone or in cavity approximation (8, 9) is applicable. Con-
conjunction with the lay-flat process. sider the projection of such a curved, variable
The boundary condition at the gate of the gap, thin cavity onto a flat plane. For a simply
cavity has not been carefully studied in the connected cavity plane as shown in Fig. 1, the
literature. It appears that there is no consensus projection is straight-forward onto a Cartesian
on a suitable gate condition. For the case of a x-y plane. For a multiple connected cavity plane
side-gated rectangular cavity, Kamal, et al. (8) such as one shown in Fig. 2, the mapping onto
prescribed a flux condition, Krueger, et al. (5)a a circular cylinder followed by zipper-opening


S . S o h a n d C. C h a n g

G-- _ _
Fig. 2. Equivalent projection onto cylinder.

tion for an incompressible inelastic fluid is ob-

tained (6).
aP - aq au;
ax; az az
where P is pressure, z the gapwise axis, and q
the viscosity. Equation 3 transforms to the local
,/ projection coordinates as,

Fig. 1. Projection of curved cavity p l a n e o n t o f l a t plane. (4)

the cylinder yields a projection equivalent to one Upon double integrating Eq 4 with the bound-
which is onto a flat plane. The derivation given ary conditions,
here is in terms of the simply-connected case, dUi
and thus is applicable to a wide range of cavi- - -- 0 at z = O
Assuming that the tangent of the cavity plane ui= 0 at z = H(x,y) (6)
is not perpendicular to the projection plane any-
where in the cavity, it is possible to establish a one obtains a n expression for the velocity field:
local Cartesian coordinate system on each plane
with mutually orthogonal base vectors; (7)
ei.ey = hisi, 11) For a variable gap cavity, the equation of con-
where ei, and ej, are the based vectors and the tinuity must be obtained in terms of volume
primed and unprimed coordinate systems rep- flux across the half-gap H (13),
resent a cavity plane and a projection plane,
respectively. hl is a scale factor and 6, the Kro-
necker delta.
Transformation from a local projected coor-
dinate to a global projected coordinate involves Defining the conductance, A, as
a rotation of the coordinates, but will not be
pursued in detail as the observations made for (9)
one coordinate system are applicable to an-
other. the continuity equation becomes
A s only thin cavities are considered here, a
cavity volume under a projection is preserved
by assigning the identical half-gap clearance
field H(x, y) perpendicular to the local projected
plane. Then velocity and other vectors trans- Thus a curved cavity filling problem has a n
form by Eq 2, equivalent problem on a flat plane with aniso-
tropic conductance.
For the case of power-law fluid, i.e., a material
ui = hill: (2) with constitutive equation,
where u, i s the i-th component of the velocity
vector. q = KI.;.I"-'
Neglecting the effects of gravity, inertia, and where K is consistency and y the sheer rate, it
acceleration, a quasi-static momentum equa- is shown in Appendix 1 that the directional

Boundary Conditions in Mold-Filling of Thin Cavities

conductance observed on a projected coordinate surface present as the melt front and with neg-
is ligible inertia, the melt front location and the
gate condition will be free to adjust continuously
in order to minimize the systemwide vicous dis-
sipation, or to minimize the total pressure drop
for the case of constant flow rate ( 1 5).
Two limiting cases of such interactions are
possible: In the first case, most of the pressure
drop and viscous dissipation takes place in the
It may be noted that Hieber and Shen (6)derived delivery channel. Then filling will proceed with
a similar continuity equation, one which is ap- a Cauchy type gate condition (12) where the
plicable to a flat cavity plane, but their defini- pressure and the flux of the gate will be deter-
tion of conductance appears to be incompatible mined to yield minimum dissipation in the up-
with Eq 9. stream delivery channel. Such a case may be
observed in filling a large cavity through a nar-
LIMITING BOUNDARY CONDITIONING row delivery channel, or in a n initial phase of
In the previous modeling efforts (1-9). a gate most cavity filling operations, i.e., when the
contour is assumed and either a pressure or pressure drop in the cavity is small compared
flux value on it is assigned as a boundary con- to that in the delivery channel. A conformal
dition. This is equivalent to assuming a specific mapping method first used by Ryan and Chung
influence of upstream delivery channel flow. (9) may provide a good approximation of this
Considering that pressure and its gradient case when a point source is used to model the
change rapidly near the gate, a solution thus gate (1 7). A Cauchy type gate condition leaves
obtained may well be very sensitive to the lo- no degree of freedom on the melt front, and a
cation and the assigned gate condition. There- theoretically predicted melt front location may
fore it will be worthwhile to examine the con- undergo a discontinuous jump when the direc-
sequences of the interaction between upstream tion of the side wall is suddenly changed, e.g.,
delivery channel flow and the cavity flow. I t is as in turning a sharp corner as is shown in Fig.
quite possible that the actual gate condition 5 for the case of a point source gate in a uniform
may change during filling, so that a n originally gap rectangular cavity ( 17).
assigned boundary condition which adequately In the second limiting case the pressure drop
described the initial phase of filling may fail to across the cavity is much larger than through
represent the filling condition at a later stage, the delivery channel. This may be observed for
as shown schematically in Fig. 3. a thin cavity filling through a runnerless injec-
In a n assembly consisting of a delivery chan- tion mold, or in the final phase of filling for
nel and a cavity region being filled by a fluid,
as shown in Fig. 4, the rate of mechanical
energy dissipation will be the sum of contribu-
tions from the delivery channel dissipation and
that of the cavity. With the usual quasi-static
assumption, the kinetic and the potential en-
ergy of the filling fluid are considered negligible
and the pressure drop is always balanced by
viscous dissipation, or Fig. 4. Interaction between delivery channel and cavity
A = QAP(13)
where Q is the pumping rate of the plunger and
C F N I I H I.!
AP is the systemwide pressure drop. With a free


\ I . I

WFORC W L r i i ~ t ,LIIRNI it

:.IELT FRONT nr r i x T

ISOBAR A l I l l l E I l.-==dc-
--A- .~

Fig. 5. Discontinousjump of meltf ront in conformal rnap-

Fig. 3. Change of gate condition duringfilling. ping solution.

S . Soh and C. Chang

most thin cavities. The rate of mechanical en- TO CAMERA

ergy dissipation in a filled region of a thin cavity
is expressed by Eq 14 as derived in Appendix

where the integrand will be referred to as the

local dissipation density, and d A is a differen-
tial cavity area.
Hieber and Shen (6) reported a melt front
locating algorithm based on extrapolating the
velocity on the melt front. Such a method ig-
nores the forces of constraint imposed by solid
walls and may show poor numerical stability.
In fact, melt front location predictions using
this algorithm are observed to cross over im-
permeable side walls, the cross-over flow being
returned to the cavity region arbitrarily (6).
Whether such manual adjustments to the solu-
tion produces a numerically stable algorithm is
at best unclear. It should be noted that accord-
ing to dAlemberts principle (14) the forces of
constraint do not perform any work on the sys- FROil SYRINGL IllllP
tem so that they do not influence the rate of
dissipation. For the special cases occurring Fig. 6. Construction of cavity.
when the dissipation density is kept constant
at the gate, the minimum dissipation occurs
when the dissipation density is also constant was 3 / 3 ~inches and made of a Luer syringe lock,
along the melt front (11 ) . This additional bound- flush mounted to the steel plate. The diameter
ary condition on the melt front will be referred of the syringe was 1 inch I.D. Compared to the
to as equilibration of dissipation density. In the cavity gap of 116 and 132 inches, the syringe
authors opinion, it is quite possible that the diameter was much larger and the pressure
variation of the dissipation density for filling drop in the delivery channel was considered to
according to the second limiting case may be be negligible for the entire filling process. Two
small for most thin cavity filling processes even cavities were used. One was a 4 by 8 inches,
when constancy of the dissipation density is side gated rectangle. The thickness was deter-
not rigorously obeyed on the gate contour. If mined by the thickness of the gasket and data
this is true then the equilibration principle may were collected for thicknesses of % 6 and /32
be applied to most case 2 type fillings as a n inches. Different runs with different injection
approximation. The experimental data pre- rates or different thicknesses did not produce
sented in this paper seem to support the equil- different melt front locations at the identical
ibration principle although more data may be extent of filling. This was regarded as evidence
necessary to obtain a definitive conclusion. that effects due to nonisothermalty, inertia, and
acceleration were negligible. The other cavity
EXPERIMENTS was a 2 by 8 inches side gated rectangle with
% 6 inch thickness, but contained a region of 132
The objective of experiments was to test the
validity of the proposed principle of equilibra- inch thickness. The geometry of the two cavities
tion of dissipation density for the limiting case. are shown in the Fig. 7.
To avoid complicating effects of nonisother- The contours of isobars or constant flux lines
malty and non-Newtonian behavior, glycerin for filling these cavities are not obvious, and
was used as the filling fluid. Experimental ap- thus provide a test of the usefulness of the
pratus consisted of cavities made by tightening equilibration principle for a constant gap cavity
together a plexiglass plate and a polished steel filling and a variable gap cavity filling, respec-
plate with a polypropylene gasket in between, a tively.
syringe pump powered by a variable speed DC Snapshots of melt fronts a t various stages of
motor through a 1: 18 reduction gear, and a slide filling were taken by a Kodak Litagraphic Visual
table. The slide table pushes the syringe by Maker which was slide mounted to the top plex-
linear motion. A schematic of the cavity appra- iglass plate at a focusing distance of 12 inches
tus is found in Fig. 6. Experiments were per- above the top plate. Photographs of melt fronts
formed at a room temperature of about 78F. were digitized manually using a ruler and scaled
The pumping rate was kept constant by run- graph paper. The pressure distribution of the
ning the motor at constant speed. The gate I.D. digitized melt front was calculated by a finite
Boundary Conditions in Mold-Filling of Thin Cavities

around the half-circular cavity, due to symme-

try requirement. The experimental melt front

;1 3/32

shown in the figure closely follows this theoret-
ical prediction, except that the contact angle
between melt and side wall deviates from the
theoretical value of 90. Yet calculated gradients
along the melt front calculated by a 19 by 16
I 1/16 GAP
Ili/ polar mesh were within 5 percent of the aver-
age, as expected.
i- 8 I
In the second stage shown in Fig. 9, the melt
front has already turned a corner. Calculated
isobars are shown in the figure. The longest
(A) U N I F O R M GAP R E C T A N G U L A R C A V I T Y and the shortest distances along hand-drawn
streamlines between a melt front and a n isobar
of 0.01 of the gate pressure were within 15
percent of the average. The calculation was
done on a 32 by 36 sq mesh. The deviation
seems within experimental and computational
For the third stage shown in Fig. 10, melt
I 1/16 G A P
! front flattens and the pressure gradients cal-
culated were within 5 percent. Thus it is con-
cluded that the equilibration principle is valid
within experimental and numerical error for
(B) BI-GP..P R E C T A N G U L A R C A V I T Y the filling of constant gap cavity.
Fig. 7. D i m e n s i o n s of c a v i t i e s . For the case of a split-level cavity of Fig. I I ,
it can be clearly seen from the shape of the melt
difference numerical solution of Eq 10 with
successive overrelaxation, the details of which
are found elsewhere ( 1 0). The boundary condi-
tions used were:
-= 0 along the side wall ( 1 5)
where n is a line segment normal to the side
P =0 along melt front (16)
and -

Fig. 8. R a d i a l f l o w s t a g e of r e c t a n g u l a r c a v i t y f i l l i n g .
P =1 along tip of gate (17)
where P is the ratio of pressure to the gate
The variation of the dissipation density as
calculated from the experimental melt front po-
sition and the conventional boundary condi-
tions of E q s 15-1 7 provides a test of compati-
bility between previous models and the pro-
posed equilibration principle. A s calculated dis-
sipation densities tend to fluctuate, partially
due to the relatively coarse meshes used, and
partially due to experimental and digitization Fig. 9. T r a n s i t i o n s t a g e of r e c t a n g u l a r c a v i t y f i l l i n g .
errors incurred in representing the melt front,
the dissipation densities along the melt front
were estimated from the distances connecting
melt fronts and suitably selected isobars close
to melt fronts, measured along reasonable
streamlines hand-drawn perpendicular to both
the melt fronts and the isobars.
Filling of a constant gap, slide-gated rectan-
gular cavity proceeds in three distinct stages. In
the first stage, as shown in Fig. 8,the melt I -

front and isobars form concentric circles Fig. 10. P a r a l l e l f l o w s t a g e of r e c t a n g u l a r c a v i t y f i l l i n g .

S. Soh a n d C . Chang

i. = Rate of shear.
A = Rate of viscous dissipation.
6 = Kronecker delta.
A = Conductance.
17 = Apparent viscosity.

Fig. 11. Filling of bi-gap cavity.
1. M. Gremela, Polyrn. Eng. Sci., 2 , 673 (1984).
2. J. L. White and W. Dietz, Polyrn. Eng. Sci., 19, 1081
front that the thicker region fills faster than ( 1975).
the thinner region of the cavity. From a finite 3. Y . Kuo and M. R. Kamal, AICHE J.,22,661 (1976).
4. E. Broyer, C. Gutfinger, and 2. Tadmor, Trans. SOC.
difference solution, using a n 18 by 28 rectan- Rheol., 19, 423 (1975).
gular mesh, an isobar of 0.001 of the gate pres- 5. W. L. Krueger and Z . Tadmor, Polyrn. Eng. Sci., 20.
sure was used to estimate the pressure gradient. 426 (1980).
Except near the edge where cavity thickness 6. C. A. Hieber and S. F. Shen, J . Non-Newt. Fluid Mech.,
7 , 1 (1980).
changes abruptly, the estimated values were 7. C. A. Hieber, L. S. Socha, S. F. Shen. K. K. Wang, and
within t-10 percent of the average in each gap A. 1. Isayev, Polyrn. Eng. Sci., 23,20 (1983).
region, but the averages of the two thickness 8. M. R. Kamal, Y. Kuo, and P. H. Doan, PoIyrn. Eng. Sci.,
regions differed only 5 percent. 15. 863 (1975).
It appears that when cavity pressure drop 9. M. E. Ryan and T. S. Chung, Polym. Eng. Sci., 20, 642
dominates the total pressure drop, dissipation 10. C. J. Chang, M. S. thesis, Univ. Detroit (1985).
density equilibrates along the melt front at least 11. S. Bergen and M. R. Schiffer, Kernal Functions and
approximately even when the exact gate condi- Differential Equations, pp 58-71, Academic Press,
tion is not known. It is admitted that the limited New York (1953).
12. P. M. Morse and H. Feshbach, Methods of Theoretical
experiments presented here do not prove the Physics, Part I, pp 676-706, McGraw-Hill, New York
proposed equilibration principle. But the au- (1953).
thors do feel that the proposed melt front con- 13. Sung K. Soh, submitted to AIChE J . (1985).
dition may be tentatively accepted in the ab- 14. A. L. Fetter and J. D. Walecka, Theoretical Mechanics
sence of contradictory theory or experiments. of Particles and Continua, McGraw-Hill, New York
We welcome more debate and testing of the 15. H. Lamb, Hydrodynamics, p. 568, Dover (1932).
proposed condition. 16. K. H. Huebner, The Finite Element Method for Engi-
neers, pp 1 13- 117, McGraw-Hill, New York (1975).
17. Sung K. Soh, unpublished results.
CONCLUSIONS 18. V. W. Wang, C. A. Hieber, and K. K. Wang, presented
1 . A new field equation for variable gap, in SPE ANTEC (1985).
curved cavities is derived based on the thin
cavity approximation. APPENDIX I
2. Two limiting cases of the interaction be-
tween delivery channel flow and cavity flow Directional Conductance
have been discussed. When the pressure drop The shear rate li.1 in Eq 11 is expressed on
in the cavity exceeds that of the upstream deliv- the cavity plane as
ery channel, dissipation density on the melt
front equilibrates.
3. Experimental melt front shapes from iso-
thermal filling of a Newtonian fluid were found
to be compatible with the proposed equilibration Using the coordinate transform of Eqs 2 and 7,
principle. the shear rate is expressed on the projection
ei = Unit base vector.
H = Half-gap thickness. (1-2)
hi = Scale factors.
i, j = Coordinate direction, 1 , 2 or x, y. + h;
K = Power law consistency.
n = Power-law exponent, or line seg-
ment perpendicular to side wall. Combining Eq 1 1 and Eq 1-2 yields a n expres-
= Pressure. sion for the apparent viscosity,

(m) + hz (5)1
= Volume feed rate at the gate. 2 (n-l)/2n

Ui = Velocity component. 17 = K 1 / n ~ - l / n[h: (1-3)
xi,x, z j = Coordinates on the projected plane.
z = Gapwise coordinate. Substituting Eq 1-3 into Eq 9 produces Eq 12.

B o u n d a r y Conditions i n Mold-Filling of Thin Cavities

dQ = A, dn (11-2)
Viscous Dissipation in Thin Cavity
Equation 16 may be derived from the varia-
Combining Eqs IZ-1 and 11-2 and integrating
tional calculus (16)or as follows:
over the filled region gives
Consider the integration of the pressure gra-
dient along a streamline on the projection plane,
which will yield the cavity pressure drop.

AP = sgate
melt front
ds (11-1)

= JJ ( E) A, rz)
along a n isobar


across filled region


where d s is the contour along the streamline.

The volumetric flow rate passing through con- Equation 11-3 along with the definition of the
tour d n , an isobar, is given by Eq 10, directional conductance, Eq 1, gives Eq 16.