The missing tool in polymer extrusion? One word: Simulation

By Elspeth Mosedale

“One word: plastics”

In the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’, the young protagonist Benjamin is given this careers advice by a neighbor. The film can be seen as a satire on 1960’s middle America, with a career in plastics representing a safe, staid option. This may have been the case then, but no one can deny the importance of plastics in every aspect of our lives now. Plastics, rubber and other polymers are essential to the manufacture of modern products, from everyday essentials to innovative new technologies. I would argue that “Plastics” is now a career in an exciting and expanding field.

Extrusion, polymer die casting and polymer film casting are common industrial processes. You could consider them to be an early form of additive manufacturing: building a 3D object from layers of material. But working with polymers and plastics is challenging, due to the complex chemistry and physics of the fluids. Polymer extrusion can be expensive, both in its use of raw materials and the energy involved. If you don’t use the correct die design, the extruded product will be the wrong shape. In today’s competitive market, mistakes like this cannot happen. Companies need to ensure their production processes are as efficient and robust as possible, while also bringing new products to market in shorter time frames.

One word: Simulation

If I were advising Benjamin today I would use a different quote: “One word: simulation”.  But there is no satire here. To me, “Simulation” opens up a range of possibilities, many of which are currently underused in the plastics industry. I suspect that Benjamin (and possibly you) would be unaware of the benefits that CFD simulation can bring. Simulation gives greater understanding into extrusion and casting, and helps to reduce the raw materials and energy required.

This on-demand webinar gives more details. Learn about:

  • An overview of the available viscoelastic constitutive models in Simcenter STAR-CCM+
  • An introduction to the material calibration feature.
  • Pre-die chamber design using design manager in Simcenter STAR-CCM+
  • Polymer extrusion and die design process using the ALE approach.

One word: webinar

“The Graduate” ends with Benjamin running away with the girl he loves, and his whole future ahead of him. We don’t know what that future holds, or if plastics is the route he chooses – probably not! But 50 years on, the plastics and polymers industry is an essential and growing part of the manufacturing economy. Simulation will play an important role in its development over the coming years. To play your part, watch the webinar today!

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at