A Network-Theory-Based Comparative Study of Melt-Conveying Models in Single-Screw Extrusion: A. Isothermal Flow
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In many extrusion processes, the metering section is the rate-controlling part of the screw. In this functional zone, the polymer melt is pressurized and readied to be pumped through the die. We have recently proposed a set of heuristic models for predicting the flow behavior of power-law fluids in two- and three-dimensional metering channels. These novel theories remove the need for numerical simulations and can be implemented easily in practice. Here we present a comparative study designed to validate these new methods against experimental data. Extensive experiments were performed on a well-instrumented laboratory single-screw extruder, using various materials, screw designs, and processing conditions. A network-theory-based screw-simulation simulation routine was written in MATLAB to replicate the flow in the metering zones investigated in the first part extruder tests in silico. The predictions of the three-dimensional heuristic melt-conveying model for the axial pressure profile along the screw are in excellent agreement with the experimental extrusion data. To demonstrate the usefulness of the novel melt-flow theories, we additionally compared the models to a modified Newtonian pumping model known from the literature.