Mould design is a very complex undertaking that must consider not only fluid dynamics and metal solidification patterns, but problems that may arise from the mould itself and how it reacts to stresses from heat transfer. CM Taricco, a mould maker company based in Italy, recently encountered a problem of metal leakages at the bottom of one of their new moulds. The cause of the mould leakages was initially obscure and only appeared after a few process cycles. It was evident that the problem was critical, since it would compromise the production timeline and dramatically increase the costs to cast the part.
Investigation of an idea
The process itself was a gravity casting, with well-controlled pouring dynamics and overflow designs, so the problem could not come from the fluid dynamics part. The hypothesis of Gabriele Taricco (owner of CM Taricco) was that the metal leakages were resulting from a bad design of the thermal dissipation of the mould, causing a non-uniform distribution of temperature and hence large and unwanted deformations at the bottom of the mould, that were enforced cycle after cycle up to the opening of a critical area where metal could flows out. To verify this and to find a quick solution to the problem, a FLOW-3D simulation was run to exactly visualize what was happening to the mould as it was being heated.
After a filling simulation, to ensure a good filling pattern, the focus of the simulation was redirected to a thermal die cycling analysis. The setup in this case is fast and straightforward requiring only 1 hour to reproduce 10 production cycles on a common desktop machine (i7 5930K, commercial value 1500 dollars). The result confirmed CM’s initial hypothesis: by looking at the temperature field, from various points of view and cross sections in a single image using FlowSight, it was clear that the temperature distribution of the mould would easily cause the expected deformations and metal leakages.
Simulation of the mould’s temperature during the die cyclings
Further analysis with the Fluid-Structure Interaction module
Once the problem was identified and the technical staff could start designing an improved mould, CM Taricco wanted to have a final confirmation running a FEM analysis of stresses and deformations on the die. To perform this analysis, XC Engineering Srl helped CM in setting up and performing the calculation. The result of the analysis showed exactly what CM thought was happening: FLOW-3D was able to reproduce with extreme accuracy the same location and size of the real deformations found on the mould after few pouring cycles. This was good news for CM, and enforces an additional recommendation to use the FSI module at the design stage to predict the real die deformations based on the real casting conditions.
Deformation of the mould during the die cyclings, simulated using the Fluid Structure Interaction model. Deformations are amplified x20.