Polymer Process Partitioning: Extruding Plastic Pipe
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When plastic pipe is solidified, it proceeds through a long cooling chamber. Inside this chamber, inside the hollow extrudate, the plastic is molten, and this inner surface solidifies last. Sag, the flow due to the self-weight of the molten plastic, then happens in this cooling chamber, and sometimes, thickened regions (called knuckles) arise in the lower quadrants, especially of large diameter thickwalled pipes. To compensate for sag, engineers normally shift the die centerpiece downward. This thesis focuses on the consequences of this decentering. Specifically, when the molten polymer is viscoelastic, as is normally the case, a downward lateral force is exerted on the mandrel. Die eccentricity also affects the downstream axial force on the mandrel. These forces govern how rigidly the mandrel must be attached (normally, on a spider die). We attack this flow problem in eccentric cylindrical coordinates, using the Oldroyd 8-constant constitutive model framework. Specifically, we revise the method of Jones (1964), called polymer process partitioning. We estimate both axial and lateral forces. We develop a corresponding map to help plastics engineers predict the extrudate shape, including extrudate knuckles. From the mass balance over the postdie region, we then predict the shape of the extrudate entering the cooling chamber. We further include expressions for the stresses in the extruded polymer melt. We include detailed dimensional worked examples to show process engineers how to use our results to design pipe dies, and especially to suppress extrudate knuckling.