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Recent Award Highlight: Better Extrusion Means Better Manufacturing

The IMA is pleased to be featured for the second time in two years in the NSF’s Award Highlight series. The article below, "Better Extrusion Means Better Manufacturing" was published the week of March 26, 2012.

Researchers have devised a computer simulation to characterize and predict the behavior of fluids in extrusion processes—manufacturing methods that push or draw a thick fluid containing suspended, hard particles through a die to form parts.

This research may help engineers explore the effects of changes in the properties of the fluid and the suspended particles, as well as the conditions that generate the flow. Such a simulation tool, when realized, will help lead to major improvement of manufacturing processes that involve extrusion.

Many modern manufacturing processes rely on extrusion. However, this process is so complicated that until now, understanding it has been more of an art form than a science. The simulation developed by former University of Minnesota postdoctoral associate Weigang Zhong, now with Oracle, and Amy Rovelstad of Corning Inc., models the motion of a fluid using Navier-Stokes equations, which are commonly used by mathematicians to describe flow. Each suspended object is tracked as it interacts with other particles, the suspending fluid and the solid boundaries (such as the die used for the extrusion).

The equations were solved using a powerful computational scheme based on the Immersed Boundary Method, a numerical method for calculating the interactions of solids and fluids, developed in the late 1970s by Charles Peskin of the Courant Institute for simulating blood flow in the heart.

To read the previous NSF highlight, "Mathematicians Advance Next-Generation Auto Safety Systems," visit http://goo.gl/9qFvD.

Photo courtesy of Corning, Inc.

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