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Y. Krähenbühl, Modelling and Technolgy Development Ltd.

and N. Fiétier, Laboratory of Computational Engineering

ABSTRACT --- Finite Element Method (FEM) simulation of 3-D flow and temperature evolution

during extrusion cycles is being integrated at production sites in extrusion tool conception and

fabrication. The model has been validated and calibrated by comparison with measurements of

pressure and temperature in various process conditions. The development of specific methods and

algorithms have permitted a reduction in both the geometry preparation time (FEM mesh), and the

CPU time so that the schedules imposed by production can be obeyed.

mastered:

Extrusion technology is traditionally based on

die conception know-how, validated by press trials. - select, adapt and standardize an adequate FEM

To obey the demand for increasingly complex meshing technique in order to respect the deadlines

extrusion shapes, advanced 3-D finite element imposed by industrial production;

modeling techniques are being integrated in the die

conception phase. This also permits a reduction in - validate and calibrate the model parameters for a

the costs related to press trials. wide range of conditions (viscosity, coefficients,

initial and boundary conditions, friction in tool,

Although 3-D simulation of aluminum flow in bearings and recipient) and die geometries;

complex die geometries is a well-mastered

technique[8],[14],[16], its application in industrial - adapt relevant numerical algorithms to enable a

practice remains uneasy. Indeed, a large gap exists sufficient reduction of the computing times.

between mastering a 3-D extrusion flow

computation, and employing 3-D simulation THE 3-D MODEL AND ITS VALIDATION

techniques on industrial sites in a standardized and

reliable manner in the context of die conception. To establish its reliability, the model is being

checked and calibrated on the basis of

In this paper we discuss some aspects of the comparisons with measurements on production

integration of flow simulation techniques in the installations. The present section is concerned with

extrusion tool conception practice. The key words the description of the model and its validation.

here are time and reliability. Time, because in

industry there are schedules which must be obeyed State-of-the-Art in Extrusion Simulation

(e.g. FEM meshing times exceeding one working

day cannot usually be accepted), and reliability, A common way to simulate the extrusion

because if one wants to reduce the number of trials, process of aluminum alloys is to use viscoplastic

the numerical models must predict correct values of models to describe the material behavior. Either

temperature, pressure and flow evolution during the rigid-plastic[7],[16] or equivalent fluid models[5],[14] have

press cycles. Sufficient reliability implies that the been considered in the literature. The use of the

model must be calibrated and validated for various latter type of model has been justified by various

process conditions and geometries. authors[10],[17] , when the plastic deformations are so

large that the elastic strain is negligible. It can

Therefore, to enable efficient integration of FEM therefore be shown that the problem can be

3-D techniques in the practice of tool conception modeled with an incompressible, viscous, non-

Newtonian flow with prescribed boundary velocities.

241

However, depending on the geometry of the denote the rate-of-strain tensor, identity tensor,

extrusion tooling (for example in the bearing velocity, temperature, density, heat capacity,

region), the deformation of the material may be thermal conductivity, and viscosity. The viscosity is

relatively small, and elastic effects may locally play a function of temperature and magnitude of the

a non-negligible role. In that case, general solute-

dependent elasto-viscoplastic constitutive models rate-of-strain tensor ( D = 2 Dij D ji ) .

based on the Sellars-Tegart law can be used[8].

The viscosity is obtained by fitting parameters of

Aluminum alloys in the range of considered the equation:

temperature [400°C-580°C] can be modeled by

using fluid models with pseudo-plastic rheological µ (φ&, T ) = A exp(−α (T − Tref ))φ& n

properties. Temperature and rate-of-deformation to existing data from hot torsion tests[2]. The

dependent viscosity laws are introduced in the parameters n and α must be considered as

momentum equation. Conservation of mass is functions of temperature to obtain good fits.

imposed through the incompressibility constraint,

while the evolution of temperature with time is The flow stress k f and strain rate φ& are related

derived from the conservation of energy.

by the equation:

Plane-strain slip-line field theory[13] and upper .

the past to numerically investigate the mechanics of

extrusion. With the advent of powerful computer These equations have been solved by the

resources, most refined simulations are now based FEM[3]. A weak (Galerkin) formulation is used to

on flexible finite element methods,[8], [14], [16] although transform the previous set of equations into integral

developments with the upper-bound method have equations, which are discretized in space with

been carried out in particular three-dimensional classical low-order finite elements[3] and in time with

geometries[6]. This method may be considered as finite difference schemes. A decoupled technique is

an efficient alternative to heavy FEM simulations. used to solve the overall set of equations. The

mass-momentum set of equations is first solved

Friction and slippage of the materials on the with a prescribed temperature distribution to obtain

neighboring walls in the bearing section is a very the pressure and velocity fields using either a

important aspect to be taken into account in order Picard (fixed-point) or a classical Newton-Raphson

to obtain a suitable computational model [1],[11],[15]. iterative procedure. Then the produced velocity field

is inserted in the energy equation via the

convection and heat source terms, which is solved

Model Description for the temperature field. These two steps are

carried out until convergence criteria on the various

To model the aluminum flow through the tooling, fields are satisfied. A specific FEM environment,

five unknown quantities have to be predicted: three optimized to obey specific requirements (quick

components of velocity, pressure and temperature. meshing and CPU time, user friendliness) have

Three conservation equations are considered to been developed on the basis of the Djinn-Phys[4]

obtain the equivalent fluid model. Conservation of finite element library, whereas the necessary

mass is obtained by the continuity equation, which validation and benchmark procedures were realized

enforces a divergence-free velocity field: with the commercial program POLYFLOW[9].

r

∇.v = 0

Principle of the Experimental Validation and

Since the ram speed is low enough, Stokes Model Calibration

equation is used for momentum conservation:

∇.(− pI + 2 µ ( D , T ) D ) = 0 The profile exit velocity can easily be observed,

whereas the velocity field into the die is difficult to

Temperature is determined by solving the measure. Here it is assumed that the measurement

energy equation: of pressure and temperature at some critical

r

ρC p ∂T + ρC p(v .∇)T −∇.(k∇T)−2µ( D ,T)D :D =0 positions in the die are sufficient to validate the

∂t model.

In the previous set of equations, the The model validation and calibration proceed in

r the following standardised manner:

quantities D , I , v , T , ρ , C p , k , µ respectively ,

242

1. Equip specific extrusion tools with measurement

devices such as thermocouples and pressure

gauges, located at various crucial positions (internal

surface of the weld chamber, recipient and

bearings). The measurements are performed over

several press cycles.

conditions (example: by varying the billet

temperature, initial die temperature, extrusion

speed, alloy composition, etcetera. Most important Figure 1. Instrumented tube (Ø 250mm) die.

is to check the effect of changing geometrical Thermocouples are inserted at positions 1 through

parameters (for example, profile thickness, weld 5

chamber height, bearing lengths).

First, the model results are being checked over

3. Perform FEM press cycle simulations under the a given series of cycles (given tool geometry; given

same conditions. process conditions). Transient measurements are

compared with computations (step four of the

4. Compare transient measurements with results of validation procedure). Figures 2 and 3 respectively

simulations for a given tool and well-defined show plots of the computed and measured

process conditions (one series of press cycles). evolution of temperature at locations 1 through 5 in

the die (see Figure 1 for reference), and of the ram

5. Perform comparisons between cycles pressure for four tube extrusion cycles. In the

corresponding to different process conditions or tool present example the ram speed was varied from

geometries. This enables one to enlighten 1.7 mm/s (first cycle) up to 3.0 mm/s (fourth cycle).

dependencies of quantities such as for example the The two intermediate cycles correspond to 2.3

extrusion pressure and temperature as functions of mm/s.

bearing length, profile thickness, weld chamber

height, billet temperature, and extrusion speed. In Finally, the model results are being checked by

the case of hollow profiles, the tube geometries are comparison with experiment for different process

particularly adequate to quantify such types of and geometry conditions (step five of our validation

dependencies because of their simplicity. procedure). As an example, the effect of tube

thickness on pressure and profile exit temperature

Experimental Validation is presented in figure 4. The comparison procedure

is being repeated for as many different cases as

In the example presented here, pressure and possible (different dies, different process

temperature have been measured. The measured conditions), thus leading to a reliable model

pressure data are: calibration. This is a necessary condition for

integrating the 3-D FEM within the industrial

- ram pressure evolution over the press cycles;

environment, and for getting reliable and realistic

- pressure within the weld chamber, measured by predictions.

elastic steel capsules’ deformation which are being

specially inserted for that purpose, as described in

[18]

a previous paper . The measured temperature

data are:

tools. For that purpose the tools have to be

instrumented with thermocouples, as schematized

in Figure 1.

243

INTEGRATION OF FLOW SIMULATION IN DIE

CONCEPTION

precedent section permits continuous improvement

of the 3-D model reliability. However, as such, it is

not sufficient for integrating a numerical approach in

the die conception and fabrication processes on

industrial sites, and to obey schedules imposed by

production requirements. The main problems are

the following:

the 3-D FEM mesh.

problem, especially in the case of complex

Figure 2. Measured and computed temperatures geometries and multiple extrusion cycles.

at various locations in the press. Locations of

temperatures gauges are indicated in Figure 1 To overcome those difficulties, specific methods

which we call “dual grid alternate algorithm” and

“generalized FEM upper bound method” have been

developed. The aim is to reduce preparation and

computational times, thus enabling utilization of 3-D

flow simulation in die conception and fabrication.

day) standard CAD integrated mesh generators are

often employed. But in the case of extrusion flow

simulation, this is not possible a priori, because the

CAD integrated automatic meshing algorithms do

not guarantee the generation of adequate FEM

meshes. Indeed, the difficulty is to obtain 3-D

meshes of which nodes coincide at the interface

Figure 3. Measured and computed ram pressures between the tooling and aluminum. In fact, one

generally cannot avoid meshing the tooling system,

because the thermal losses through the die are of

crucial importance: ignoring them leads in many

cases to overestimate temperature and

underestimate pressure and ram force. Therefore,

two main regions have to be meshed: the aluminum

flow region, and the tooling system.

employed in order to implement meshes which

coincide at the interface between both regions. The

typical mesh generation time is along the order of

one day to two weeks, depending on the

geometrical complexity. In the production phase,

Figure 4. Measured (curves) and computed (dots)

such an approach is not usually possible because

profile exit temperature (red) and ram pressure

of the tight schedules that are imposed.

(blue), shortly before the end of typical extrusion

cycles.

To overcome this problem, a so-called “dual grid

alternate algorithm” was developed. Its principle is

the following:

244

- both the aluminum flow region alone and the full validated and calibrated by comparison with

tooling system are meshed separately, employing a measurements of pressure and temperature in

standard CAD integrated mesh generator ; various process conditions. The development of

specific methods and algorithms have allowed

- the connection between both regions is realized reduction in both the geometry preparation time

through a procedure which we call “dual grid (FEM mesh), and the CPU time, so that the

algorithm.” At the interface between aluminum and schedules imposed by production can be obeyed.

tool, temperature values are automatically An example of a quickly computed field is given in

interpolated between the nodes of both grids during Figure 5.

the FEM computation.

Nowadays FEM simulation permits validation,

The method has been validated for multiple then to optimization of a priori given tool concept.

press cycles by comparison with a standard Before starting the simulation, an initial tool CAD

approach. Employing the dual grid alternate has to be realized. In future, it will be desirable to

algorithm generally permits a reduction in the mesh integrate flow simulation early in the conception

generation time to less than one working day. phase, and couple it directly with the CAD design

itself.

The Mixed FEM Upper Bound Method.

sufficient for integrating the 3-D numerical approach

in the die conception and fabrication processes.

The FEM computation of flow problem may take up

to several days CPU time on standard work

stations, especially in the case of multiple extrusion

cycle computations in complex 3-D geometries. As

mentioned in the first chapter, as an efficient

alternative to heavy FEM-based simulations, the

upper-bound method has been employed, in

particular three-dimensional geometries[6]. The

upper-bound method, lacks flexibility, and is much

too cumbersome to apply in the case of complex 3-

D geometries. The upper bound theorem[12],

however, can be employed in view of performing

the FEM iterations quickly, for example, by the

following procedure:

obeying the requirements of the upper bound Figure 5. Example of aluminum pressure field into

theorem. The pressure field is obtained on the basis the recipient and die

of the momentum equation and constitutive

viscosity law ;

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

- perform transient thermal time steps in a

decoupled manner. This development has been funded by the

Commission pour la Technologie et l’Innovation

We call this approach “mixed FEM upper bound (CTI), of which support is gratefully acknowledged,

method,” because it simultaneously takes and promoted by Prof. M.O. Deville from EPFL. A.

advantage of both the upper bound theorem and of Brunetti and O. Nanchen from Alcan Inc. should

FEM, thus leading to tractable computational times. also be warmly thanked for designing and installing

the measurement devices, as well as collecting the

experimental data.

CONCLUSIONS AND PROSPECTS

REFERENCES

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