The process of rotational moulding consists in manufacturing plastic parts by heating a polymer powder in a biaxial rotating mould. In order to optimise the production cycle of this process, a complete simulation model has to be used. This model should describe the phenomena of heat and mass transfer in a moving granular media with phase change, coalescence, sintering, air evacuation and crystallization during the cooling stage. This paper focus on the study of heat and mass transfer in a quiescent polymer powder during the heating stage. An experimental device has been built. It consists in an open plane static mold on which an initial thickness, e, of a polymer powder is deposited. This powder is then heated until it melts. An inverse heat conduction method is used to determine the heat flux and temperature at the interface between the mold and the powder. This interfacial heat flux is taken as a boundary condition in a numerical heat transfer model witch takes into account the heat transfer in granular media with phase change, coalescence, sintering, air bubbles evacuation and rheological behaviour of the polymer. For the numerical simulation of the heat transfer, the apparent specific heat method is used. This approach allows to solve the same energy equation for all the material phases, so one do not have to calculate the melting front evolution. This fine modelling, close to the real physical phenomena makes it possible to estimate the temperature profile and the evolution of the polymer powder characteristics (phase change, air diffusion, viscosity, evolution of the thermophysical properties of the equivalent homogeneous medium, thickness reduction, air volume fraction...). Several results are then presented, and the influence of different parameters, like the thermal contact resistance, the process initial conditions and the polymer’s rheological characteristics are studied and commented. Indeed the predictions of the temperature rises in the polymer bed, agree well with the experimental measurements.

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