Transient heat transfer phenomena in the rotational molding of plastic parts are modeled in this study. Natural convection and radiation from the furnace and flue gases to the mold housing are analyzed. Other models include transient heat transfer through the mold, single-phase conduction through the particulate plastic material prior to phase change, melting of the plastic, and heating of the liquid pool. Subsequent staged cooling and solidification of the mold and plastic using a combination of free and forced convection and radiation is also modeled. Information about the properties of the plastic in powder, liquid and solid forms is obtained from the literature. Assumptions about the behavior of the plastic powder and the molten plastic during the rotational operations are also made in accordance with the available literature. The mold wall, melt and solidified plastic regions are divided into a number of finite segments to track the temperature variation with time during the molding process. The corresponding variations in masses and thicknesses of the melt and solidified plastic regions are also estimated. Consequently, the energy consumption rates in the process are estimated. The model is applied to a specific molding process in a commercial rotational molding plant. Parametric studies of the effect of heating and cooling durations on the plastic temperatures and the energy consumption rates are also conducted. These analyses provide insights about opportunities for optimization of the heating and cooling schedules to reduce overall energy consumption and also improve throughput.

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