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Runner Sizing

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MOLD MAKING AND MOLD DESIGN D35

n/a

Zombade, Nivant; Univ. Mass. Lowell, Dept. Plastics Engineering

Kazmer, David; Univ. Mass. Lowell, Dept. Plastics Engineering

Page 1 of 5

FOR COOLING TIME AND RUNNER SIZING

Nivant Zombade, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA

David Kazmer, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA

Abstract

rules of thumb which have become almost standard

guidelines in industry practice. This paper analyzes and

validates two common guidelines for 1) estimation of

cooling time and 2) determination of runner sizing. The

common guideline for cooling time estimation is

compared to the analytical solution of the heat equation

and found to have a small average error but significance

variance across material properties and processing

conditions. The common guideline for runner system

designs was found to provide very good results compared

with optimal designs produced with the Hagen-Pouiselle

flow equations.

calculating cooling time is with the help of nomograms

which can be found in literature [1]. A commonly applied

rule for estimating cooling time is given as:

Introduction

Estimating cooling time and optimizing runner

geometry have significant effects on the final mold design

of an injection mold. Cooling time analysis not only helps

the designer to predict the cycle time but it also helps in

determining the number of cooling channels, flow rate of

coolant required, and the final layout of the cooling

circuit. Though the Ballman-Shusman equation is accurate

it still needs to be solved using coefficients for the thermal

and processing conditions for a given material. Hence an

easier rule that can predict the cooling time within 1020% of the exact value can be very useful for the mold

designer. The suspected origination and performance of

one commonly used rule is subsequently analyzed.

Runner size on the other hand plays a critical role not

only in the final quality of the molding but also in the

overall economics of the process. Though large size

runners ease the forward movement of melt, they also lead

to a large scrap volume which needs to be regrinded hence

increasing the overall cost of the final product. Other

disadvantages with large runners are increase in the

cooling time and clamping pressure because of large

cross-sectional and projected area respectively. Runners

can be sized with the help of software tools to minimize

the total volume. Alternatively, mold designers often use a

rule to size downstream runners based on the dimension

of the primary runner diameter. The performance of this

commonly used rule is subsequently analyzed.

tc = 2 H 2

(1)

in millimeters. For comparison, the cooling time given by

Ballman-Shusman cooling equation is as follows [2, 3]:

tc =

H2

2

ln

8 TM TC

2

TE TC

(2)

thickness to reach the specified ejection temperature, TE,

TM is the temperature at which melt is injected, TC is the

mold coolant temperature, H is the part thickness and is

thermal diffusivity. This equation is the result of the

solution of the one dimensional heat equation across the

thickness of the cavity shown in Figure 1, so it neglects

the heat transfer in the transverse direction.

By inspection, it is observed that the forms of

Equations (1) and (2) are quite similar, with cooling time

being proportional to the thickness squared. This leads to

the supposition that the rule for cooling time estimation is

derived from the Ballman-Shusman equation. Let us

consider the constant of proportionality, K, such that

tc = K t 2

where

K=

1

2

ln

8 TM

2

TE

(3)

Tm

Tm

(4)

temperature, mold temperature and the ejection

temperature chosen; frequently, the heat deflection

temperature (HDT) is taken as the ejection temperature as

previously discussed [4]. Table 1 shows some common

processing parameters for few commercial polymers.

Substituting values for TM, Tm, TE and for different

materials in equation (1) gives the values of K shown in

Table 2. To visualize the results, Figure 2 charts the

deviation of the K values for the different materials from

the commonly used rule. It is observed that the average

value for K across several materials is very close to 2,

which corresponds well to the design rule.

In fact, this result may be expected since most

thermoplastics have thermal diffusivity values in the same

range. However, some significant variances etween the

rule and the Ballman-Shushman equation are observed.

Page 2 of 5

small range, ejection temperatures values varies for

materials like nylon and HDPE. Hence final cooling time

depends significantly on the ejection temperature chosen.

The processing range for these materials is such that their

ratios are always close to each other as can be seen in

Table 3. Another factor that is responsible for the cooling

time differences in different materials is the type of

materials itself. Since most of the commodity plastics like

PS, HDPE and PP etc are run on almost same temperature

conditions, hence any change over from amorphous to

crystalline or vice versa will give different cooling times

because of difference in specific enthalpies of crystalline

and amorphous materials.

Consider the simple branching runner design with

one primary runner with two secondary runners shown in

Figure 3. One of the key aspects to consider during sizing

the runner system is the overall pressure drop that would

result from a given runner size. Runners should be

designed such that the overall pressure drop should be

kept to minimum without increasing the overall cycle

time. Rules regarding runner layout to minimize volume

have been previously proposed [5]. Methodologies for

optimizing cooling channel layout using flow simulation

have also been developed [5-7]. Studies have also been

conducted on understanding the effect of mold material on

cooling system [6].

A common rule of thumb for runner sizing states that

Ain = Aout

(5)

i.e. area of the primary runner should be equal to the sum

of the areas of secondary runners. For the runner layout of

Figure 3, this design rule leads to the relationship:

Secondary

Primary

(6)

cause the polymer melt to continue flowing at the same

linear velocity through the runner system. However, the

preservation of linear melt velocity does not necessarily

ensure a good runner system design.

Alternatively, the pressure drop in each branch of the

runner system can be analyzed to develop an optimal

design that balances the pressure drop and runner volume.

Equation (4) is the Hagen-Pouiselle equation for pressure

drop in circular channel for power law fluid [8-10]:

P =

1 + 3n

n R3

2KL n

Q

R

(7)

radius of cylindrical channel, L is the length of channel, Q

is the flow rate of plastics melt flowing through the

channel, n is the power law constant, and K is the

consistency index of plastics. This equation was applied to

the HDPE resin with n= 0.59 and K= 4700 Pa.sn.

with optimal runner design using the Hagen-Pouiselle

equation, optimization of the runner design has been

conducted using Microsoft Excels solver with a

spreadsheet in the form of Table 4. The objective was to

select the diameters of all runners to minimize the total

runner system volume while constraining the pressure

drop through the runner system to a specified maximum.

Optimization of runners was carried out for two

generation runners with one primary runner and two

secondary runners. Ratios of the primary to the secondary

runner lengths were varied from 0.2:1 to 15:1 and the

optimization was performed for a volumetric melt flow

rate of 87 cm3/s. Optimization was carried out to

minimize the total volume ( V) subjected to the total

pressure drop ( P) equal to 30 Mpa (4,500 psi). Once the

optimized diameters were found out they were compared

with the runner diameters obtained by thumb rule for

same pressure drop.

For comparison purposes, this paper examines the

ratio of the volumes of the runner system designs derived

using the runner sizing rule to the optimal runner system

design. If the runner sizing rule is effective, then this ratio

should approach 1. If the runner sizing rule is not

effective, then the ratio will be much greater than 1. The

ratio is plotted as a function of the ratio between the

primary and secondary runner lengths in Figure 4.

In Figure 4, it was found that the volume predicted by

rule always lies within 9% of the optimized runner

volume. As such, our primary conclusion regarding the

runner sizing rule is that it is quite effective. Indeed, it is

observed that the rules efficiency approaches 1 for large

or small runner lengths ratios. The reason for this lies in

the fact that for long primary runner, the overall volume

of the runner system is dominated by primary runner

diameter as it controls most of the pressure drop.

Whereas, for short primary runner, the opposite is true i.e.

overall runner volume is dominated by secondary runner

diameters which also controls most of the pressure drop

associated with runners. Due to the dominance of one or

the other diameter, the dominant diameters take values

closer to each other during optimization for both the

optimized and thumb rule case as can be seen in Tables 5

and 6. Hence, the efficiency of the runner sizing rule

approaches one. Due to the same above reason there is a

peak inefficiency then the ratio of the primary to

secondary runner lengths is 2. At this length ratio, none of

the diameters dominate and both share equal amount of

runner volume which makes the rule inefficient.

Another aspect about runner sizing apart from

pressure drop is its affect on overall cooling time. A low

pressure drop runner system yields large diameters

requiring high cooling time which in turn affects the

overall cycle time. Cooling time for the same HDPE

runner system was found out using the Ballman-Shusman

cooling equations similar to that given by equation 2.

Cooling time for the runner systems based on

Page 3 of 5

ratio vs. corresponding length of that particular runner.

In Figure 5, it can be seen that for short primary runner,

the runner design rule yields a runner resulting in to an

increase in cooling time up to 60%. Thus, following the

thumb rule for sizing the runners for very thin parts whose

cooling time is very less will result in an increase in

overall cycle time.

Another comparison between runner sizes based on

optimization and thumb rule can be made by comparing

the performance of both at different pressure drops. The

same approach was followed for 10 MPa and 50 MPa

pressure drop. Runner volume and cooling time was noted

for each case and plotted as shown in Figure 6. Both

runner volume and cooling time increases with a decrease

in pressure drop due to the increase in runner diameter. It

can also be observed that runners based on the design rule

will require much higher cooling times at lower pressure

drop (about 70% more time at 10 MPa) as compared to

cooling time at higher pressure drop (about 50% at 50

MPa).

Figure 7 shows the cooling data for some actual

runners that were analyzed. For the same system

optimized runner sizes and runners based on thumb rule

was found out and their cooling time was compared with

the actual values. In Figure 7, it can be seen that

optimized runner sizes would save a lot of cooling time.

For e.g. optimizing runner diameter reduces the cooling

time from 20s to 15s and from 30s to 20s. Similarly

runners based on thumb rule would have reduced the

cooling time as well from 30s to 25s. This decrease in

cooling time would become more critical for cavities with

thin walls because that would mean runners will govern

the cooling time and hence overall cycle time thereby

damaging the productivity. Figure 8 shows the runner

volumes for the same actual and optimized runner system.

Though they are close to each other but at higher volumes

some significant difference can be observed which again

stresses the point of optimizing the runner system for

large volume runners.

One of the key aspects with the runner sizing is that

the runners are sized for a particular pressure drop. Hence

a different value of pressure drop would yield a totally

different runner system. Thus it can be said that the

constraint based optimization is a pressure depend design.

This pressure dependency will in turn limit the machine

size on which the part will be molded.

Another issue that needs to be resolved is the distribution

of pressure in various segment of runner system. This can

be done either by distributing equally for different

segment or other approach would be to distribute the

pressure drop in proportion to respective lengths of the

segment. Another factor to consider while sizing the

runners is the flow rate of melt which is adjusted by the

molder. This in turn will affect the pressure drop and

hence leads to a different runner volume as can be seen in

figure 6. Thus a runner system optimized to run at a

flow rate.

Conclusion

Mold designers often use design rules for cooling

time estimation and runner sizing. The two rules have

been analyzed and found to provide a simple and often

reasonable approach for mold design. In fact, both design

rules were found to have very low expected error on

average. The term expected error is used here to

represent the average error across many different mold

design applications. While the expected error may be low,

these design rules can provide very high errors on an

application by application basis.

Specifically, the cooling times for predicted with the

cooling time rule for acetal and HDPE were near the exact

values of those predicted with the Ballman-Shuchman

equation. However, the cooling times predicted for PC

and PA6 were under predicted, while those for PS were

over predicted. For this reason, the common rule for

cooling time estimation can be quickly used for noncritical estimates, but more advanced analysis should be

used for determination of mold cavitation and cooling

system design.

Similar performance was observed between the

results predicted with the runner sizing rule and the

optimal runner designs developed with the HagenPouiselle equation. In general, the runner sizing rule

provide designs that had volumes that were just a few

percent above the optimal designs. When examining

cooling times, however, the runner sizing rule was far

from optimal. Accordingly, mold designers should

perform appropriate analysis on an application by

application basis rather than blindly following previous

practice or general design rules.

References

[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

to Make Injection Molds," 3rd ed: Hanser, 2001.

P. Ballman and R. Shusman, Easy way to

calculate injection molding setup time. New

York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1959.

R. L. Ballman, R. L. Kruse, and W. P. Taggart,

Polym. Eng. Sci., vol. 10, pp. 1541, 1970.

H. Xu and D. O. Kazmer, "A Stiffness Criterion

for Cooling Time Estimation," International

Polymer Processing, vol. 13, pp. 249-255, 1999.

C.-C. Lee and J. F. Stevenson, "Optimizing

Runner System for Multicavity Injection Molds.

Part1: Runner Sizing," Polymer Engineering and

Science, vol. 39, 1999.

R. K. Irani, S. Kodiyalam, and D. O. Kazmer,

"Runner system balancing for injection molds

using approximation concepts and numerical

optimization," presented at 18th Annual ASME

Design Automation Conference, Scottsdale, AZ,

USA, 1992.

Page 4 of 5

[7]

Handbook: Tools for Successful Injection

Molding: Hanser, 2004.

D. H. Harry and R. G. Parrott, "Numerical

Simulation of Injection Mold Filling," vol. 10,

pp. 209-14, 1970.

E. Broyer, C. Gutfinger, and Z. Tadmor,

"Theoretical Model For the Cavity Filling

Process in Injection Molding," Transactions of

the Society of Rheology, vol. 19, pp. 423-444,

1975.

H. A. Lord and G. Williams, "Mold Filling

Studies For the Injection Molding of

Thermoplastic Materials: Transient Flow of

Plastic Materials in the Cavities of Injection

Molding Dies," Canadian Controls and

Instrumentation, pp. 318-328, 1975.

[8]

[9]

[10]

Runner

Optimized

Thumbrule

length(mm)

Diameter(mm)

Diameter(mm)

8

40

40

6.35

5.83

5.83

8.07

5.71

5.71

Runner

Optimized

Thumbrule

length(mm)

Diameter(mm)

Diameter(mm)

600

13.95

14.47

40

12.81

10.23

40

12.81

10.23

Processing

Mold temp

Ejection

temp (0C)

(0C)

temp (0C)

Polycarbonate

300

83

130

HDPE

210

33

75

Polyacetal

200

70

150

Polystyrene

200

45

85

Nylon 66

290

80

150

Table 2: K values for different polymers

Polymer

K

Polycarbonate

0.93

Acetals

2.09

Polystyrene

1.86-2.09

HDPE

3.06-3.86

Nylon 66

0.84

4

3.5

ln

Polycarbonate

HDPE

Polyacetal

Polystyrene

Nylon 66

Length

L1

L2

L3

8 TM

2

TE

4.72

4.15

3.89

4.19

4.50

Diameter

Volume Flow rate

1

2

3

Tm

Tm

V1

V2

V3

V

Q

Q/2

Q/2

Constant of Proprtionality,K

Polymer

2.5

2

1.5

1

0.5

0

Polycarbonate

Pressure

drop

P1

P2

P3

P

HDPE

Polyacetal

Polystyrene

Nylon 66

Page 5 of 5

optimised

rule

12000

volume(mm 3)

10000

8000

6000

4000

2000

0

20

40

60

80

100

120

cooling time(s)

Figure 6: Pressure dependent volume and cooling time

1.09

40

1.07

1.06

1.05

1.04

1.03

1.02

0

10

12

14

16

LPrimary/Lsecondary

Vrule / Voptimum

1.08

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Figure 7: Actual vs. optimal cooling time

1.8

1.4

6000

3

volume(mm )

t (ru le )/ t (o p tim is e d )

1.6

1.2

1

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0

0

10

12

Lprimary/Lsecondry

14

16

5000

4000

3000

2000

1000

0

0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

Figure 8: Actual vs. optimal runner volume

6000

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