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Computer-aided polymer processing analysis and design.

Three faculty members (John Vlachopoulos, FCIC, A.N. Hrymak, MCIC from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and F.A. Mirza from the Department of Civil Engineering), and about a dozen graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and scientific coworkers comprise the Computer-aided Polymer Processing Analysis and Design (CAPPA-D) group. The research objectives of the group are focused on mathematical modeling, simulation and optimization of polymer processing operations, such as extrusion, injection- and compression-moulding, calendering and thermoforming.

Finite elements, finite difference and control volume methods are used to solve the partial differential equations describing molten polymer flow through process equipment. Among the recent accomplishments of the group is a thorough analysis of fountain flow in injection- and compression-moulding, determination of 3-D extrudate swell, a study of encapsulation phenomena in coextrusion, a heuristic approach in analysis of viscoelastic flows, novel extrusion-die design methods and a thorough analysis of thermoforming.

Testing and evaluation of the mathematical models is performed at CAPPA-D laboratories or in cooperating industries and research organizations. Equipment at McMaster includes two single-screw extruders, several types of dies flat film, spiral mandrel, rod and pipe), two capillary viscometers and a small injection-moulding machine.

The group, in addition to carrying out fundamental research, has produced several user-friendly computer packages which have been licensed in North America, Europe and Japan. Polycadr is a general-purpose finite element package (about 50,000 lines of code) which solves the partial differential equations for molten polymer flows. Flatcad is a control volume package used for design of flat film (coathanger) dies. Spiralcad simulates the flow through spiral mandrel dies and predicts flow nonuniformity. Extrucad is based on the finite difference method and simulates solids transport, melting and melt pumping in plasticating extrusion. Calendercad is used to study hydrodynamic interactions in a calender gap. T-Formcad is a finite element package for the analysis of thermoforming of polymeric sheets in complex shapes. So far, over 20 different license agreements have been signed between CAPPA-D and companies from around the world. The group coordinator, Vlachopoulos, is currently negotiating with several other industries the licensing of CAPPA-D software packages. International cooperation involves frequent exchange visits with COMPUPLAST (VUGPT), Zlin, Czechoslovakia; CEMEF (Ecole des Mines), Sophia Antipolis, France, and several CAPPA-D software licensees. Members of the group are frequent lecturers in international conferences and have presented short courses to polymer professionals in North and South America and in several countries in Europe. Research funding comes from NSERC., OCMR, MRCO and software license fees.
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Author:Vlachopoulos, John
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:409
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