You are on page 1of 3

Journal of


Journal of Materials Processing Technology 57 (1996) 62 64

Materials Processing Technology

The calculation of cooling time in injection moulding

J.Z. Liang a,*, J.N.
Ness b
~'Department of Chemical Machinery, South China UniversiO, oJ' Technology, Guangzhou, People's Republic o[ China bDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Received 15 August 1994

Industrial summary

The cooling time of the polymer melt in injection moulding is a major part of the total time of the processing cycle. Because of the significance of the rate of cooling to the economics of the process, the heat-transfer phenomena which occur in polymer cooling have received considerable investigation in the literature. Research into the cooling time of polymers melts in injection moulding is reviewed in the present paper. Based on an analysis of the heat transfer from polymer melts in an injection mould, the authors present a simplified heat-transfer model and a new equation for calculating the cooling time. The cooling time calculated using this equation is close to data which have been reported in the literature.

1. Introduction

It is very important to control the time for forming polymer articles in injection moulding because the cooling time directly affects the productivity of the process and the quality of the product. A major component of the cycle time is the time required to cool a part from its injection temperature to a temperature at which it can be removed from the mould yet still retain its shape: further cooling below this temperature is a waste of processing time. The heat-transfer processes which occur in the plastic part and in the mould during the injection moulding of thermoplastics are rather complex. The situation is one of three-dimensional unsteady-state heat-transfer with a phase change. Analyses of the process have been presented in a number of references such as [1-3] and several commercial software packages which make use of numerical techniques to solve the complex differential equations for heat transfer are now available for mould-cooling analysis. These computer aided design, (CAD), programs are extremely valuable for the detailed design of the mould-coolilng system. Nevertheless, it would be useful for design engineers if a rapid but reasonably accurate method was available for estimating the part's cooling-time at the early design stages of a product. Thus a simple equation which can be used to calculate the cooling-time is considered to be of value to designers. Such an equation can be derived
* Corresponding author. 0924-0136/96/$15.00 1996 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved SSD1 0924-0136(95)02044-M

by analyzing the heat-transfer that occurs in the plastic part itself. A number of semi-theoretical and theoretical models for determining the cooling time of polymer melts in injection moulding are available [4-11]. Ballman and Shusman [5] presented the following cooling-time model: t= In L4 (1)

where t is the cooling time in seconds: S is the maximum cavity thickness, mm; ~ is the diffusivity, mm 2 s ~; 0i is the melt temperature at injection, C; 0 w is the mould temperature, C; and 0e is the ejection temperature, C, the latter being taken to be the heat deflect temperature (HDT) of the thermoplastic. However, it is recognized that the H D T is not a material constant but is dependent strongly on the processing pressure and sample thickness as well as on the type of material [7]. Busch, Field and Rosato [6] used a combination of theoretical and statistical methods to derive the following equation for estimating the cooling time: S2 [ 8 /Oi - ()w~]

(2) where Wp is part weight and N~v is the number of

cavities of the mould. It is noted that their equation explicitly incorporates the mass of plastic in the mould. Recently, Yu and Sunderland [7] presented equations for calculating the ejection temperature and the cooling

J.Z. Liang, J.N. Ness .,'Journal of Materials Processing Tecl nology 57 (1996) 62 64


time by using a combination of experimental, analytical and statistical means. The equations are of the form:
O~ = a I + a2~ + a30 i + a40w S2 ~0"

(3) (4)

t = bl + b 2 - -


+b31n 0*

where a and b are constants that depend on the material, and 0* is the dimensionless ejection temperature defined as (0~ -- 0,,.)/(0~ - 0w). Thus a pair of equations is needed for each type of material. Separate regression equations were presented for amorphous materials of low thermal diffusivity, amorphous materials of higher diffusivity and crystalline/semicrystalline materials. In the above equations the thermal diffusivity, ~, is treated as a constant. In reality the thermal diffusivity is a function of temperature and must therefore vary with time and position in the moulded part. It is preferable to use a mean value of thermal diffusivity, here represented as ~,, the effective thermal conductivity. Table 1 shows the values of ~f~ for plastic used commonly in injection moulding [7]. A cooling-time equation recommended in [8,9] is:


-S 1

Fig. 1. Schemefor the heat transfer of the part in injection moulding. mould cooling system. In this paper, the authors study the heat transfer from polymer melts in injection moulding, and present a new equation for calculating the cooling-time.

2. T h e o r e t i c a l


t= o (5)

In this relationship, the cooling time is the time for the mid-plane temperature to cool down to the solidfication temeprature of the plastic. For semi-crystalline polymers, Kirch and Menges [9] proposed the following equation t=~ln (6)

For mathematical convenience it is supposed that the polymer article in the mould can be modelled as a plate for which the thickness is 2s~, where s~ is the average distance between the centre and the surface of the moulded part, and the six surfaces are parallel. The variation of the temperature and the direction of heat flow are as shown in Fig. 1. Thus it has been assumed that a one-dimensional model is sufficiently accurate for estimating the cooling time. The temperature distribution in the plate is described by the heat diffusion equation, i.e.: & = :% ~?:.2 (8)

Berlot in [8] proposed the following simplified equation for thick moulded articles: t : KS 2, (7)

i.e., the cooling time is proportional to the square of the part thickness, where K is the proportionality constant, equal to about 1 s mm 2 when S is in mm. However, the value of K could be adjusted to reflect the quality of the Table I Thermal diffusivity, ~tr, of selected plastics Amorphous materials

x~t x 106 r t)

Crystalline materials

,9et x 106 r (m2 s-~)

0.090 0.085 0.070 0.065 0,075 0.090 0.050 -0.065 -

where ~,, is the effective thermal diffusivity of the plate, and x is the coordinate of the part thickness (see Fig. 1). The boundary and initial conditions can be determined by noting that the temperataure gradient at the mid-plane must be zero by symmetry, the temperature at the face is taken as the mould wall temperature and the initial temperature is set equal to the injection temperature. Thus, the boundary and the initial conditions are given by:
Ol~.= :,- I = i" t

0.105 0.085 0.080 0.075 0.070




0i J

Using the method of separation of variables, a general solution may be obtained for the above model. The solution is in the form of an infinite series, it can be shown that, except for the very early stages of the cooling process, the infinite series solution is approxi-


J.Z. Liang, J.N. Ness /Journal of Materials Proeessing Technology 57 (1996) 62 64

Table 2 Cooling time calculated by the use of various equations

t (s)
Material ABS (1) ABS (2) PC PP Eq. (5) 27.2 35.4 25.1 38.4 Eq. (6) 18.0 26.2 18.2 27.2 Eq. (7) 16 16 16 16 Eq. (10) 20.1 28.4 19.8 29.8 Ref. [12] 20 120 20 120 20-90 20 90

Conditions ABS (1): 0 i = 180, 0w =60, 0~= 100, C; ABS (2): 0i= 240, 0 w =60, 0~= 100, C; PC: 0~ =280, 0w = 80, 0~= 130, C; PP: Oi=250, 0 w : 3 0 , 0~=90 C.

relatively low if calculated from Eq. (7). The constant K in this equation needing to be increased to better reflect the reality of the actual cooling system. The time as calculated from Eq. (6) is also below the recommended values. It is well known that if the mould is opened with too short a cooling-time, it will maintain high temperature inside the article for too long, residual stresses in the final product may be high and the shrinkage of the part will be relatively high. Thus, the size, precision and quality of the moulded part will be affected.

mated very closely by the first term in the series: such an assumption is made here. Furthermore, by judicious selection of the representative ejection temperature, the following equation for determining the cooling time of a polymer part in injection moulding can be derived: t = ~-25_2 In - (~effT/"

4. Conclusions


3. Results and discussion

To compare the above Eqs. (5-7,10), three common plastics, ABS, PC and PP are considered. A part of relatively thick section (4 mm) is assumed and appropriate boundary conditions selected from the normally recommended processing conditions for these materials are assumed. The respective values for the thermal diffusivity are selected from Table 1. The results calculated by using the above equations are shown in Table 2. It is noted that there is reasonable agreement between the results of Eq. (6) and those of the equation proposed in this paper, Eq. (10). Eq. (5) predicts a much longer cooling time in all cases, since for this equation the cooling-time is the time for the mid-plane temperature to reach the ejection temperature. The requirement that the mid-plane temperature should reach the ejection temperature is unnecessarily restrictive, especially for a part with a thick section, as thick-section articles can be ejected from the mould even though the core has not reached the HDT. It is not necessary for the opening of the mould to be dealyed until the temperature at the centre of the part section is quite low in practical processing. It seems that the cooling time that is estimated by using the average temperature of the cross section for the moulded part corresponds with practical processing, especially for a part of thick section. According to the data provided in Ref. [12], the cooling time of ABS should be 20-120 s (see Table 2). It is obvious that the value of the cooling-time is

With the development of computer technology, increasing use is being made of automation of polymer processing operations. Automation offers several advantages that have a direct bearing on part quality and cycle times. Time control in processing is a critical factor. Therefore, it is worthwhile establishing the equations for calculating the cooling-time in injection moulding which correspond with the practical production situation. In this paper the authors have compared several equations for estimating the cooling-time. Calculations of cooling-time based on an averaged temperature over the crosss-section for the moulded part that is taken as the de-moulding temperature, may correspond better with practical processing than do calculations based on the mid-plane temperature.

[1] Louis T. Manzione (ed.), Applications of Computer Aided Engineering in bljection Moulding, Hanser, Munich, 1987. [2] James L. Throne, Plastic Process Engineering, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1979. [3] Kamar J. Singh, in lsayev 1. Avaraam (ed.), Injection and Compression Molding Fundamentals, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1987. [4] J.Z. Liang, Die and Mould lndusto,, 4 (1988) 24. [5] R. Ballman and T. Shusman, Mod. Plast., (Nov.)(1959) 126. [6] J. Busch, F. Field, Ill, and D. Rosato, Proc. SPE RETEC, Boston, Vol. 1, 1988, [7] C.J. Yu, J.E. Sunderland, Polym. Engng Sci., 32 (1992) 191. [8] J.L. White, in E.C. Bernhardt (Ed.), Computer Aided Engineering /br Injection Molding, Hanser, New York, 1983 pp. 105 106. [9] G. Wubken and 1. Catic, Kunst~'-Berater, 9 (1971) 779. [10] G. Wubken, European Plastics and Rubber Con]i 2 (1979) E-5. [11] D. Kirch and G. Menges, SPE ANTEC Teehnical Paper, 31 (1985) 761. [12] Beijing Plastics Company, Design Jor Plastics Mould, Light Industry Press, Beijing, 1977, pp. 67 68.