Fiber reinforcement orientation in thermoplastic injection-molded components is both a strength as well as a weak point of this largely employed manufacturing process. Optimizing the fiber orientation distribution (FOD) considering the shape of the part and the applied loading conditions allows for enhancing the mechanical performances of the produced parts. Henceforth, this research proposes an algorithm to identify the best injection gate (IG) location/s starting from a 3D model and a user-defined load case. The procedure is composed of a first Visual Basic Architecture (VBA) code that automatically sets and runs Finite Volume Method (FVM) simulations to find the correlation between the fiber orientation tensor (FOT) and the IG locations considering single and multiple gates combinations up to three points. A second VBA code elaborates the results and builds a dataset considering the user-defined loading and constraint conditions, allowing the assignment of a score to each IG solution. Three geometrical components of increasing complexity were considered for a total of 1080 FVM simulations and a total computational time of ~390 h. The search for the best IG location has been further expanded by training a Machine Learning (ML) model based on the Gradient Boosting (GB) algorithm. The training database (DB) is based on FVM simulations and was expanded until a satisfactory prediction accuracy higher than 90% was achieved. The enhancement of the local FOD on the critical regions of three components was verified and showed an average improvement of 26.9% in the stiffness granted by a high directionality of the fibers along the load path. Finite element method (FEM) simulations and laboratory experiments on an industrial pump housing, injection-molded with a polyamide-66 reinforced with 30% of short glass fibers (PA66-30GF) material were also carried out to validate the FVM-FEM simulation frame and showed a 16.4% local stiffness improvement in comparison to the currently employed IG solution.
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- fiber orientation optimization
- gradient boosting (GB)
- injection gate design
- injection molding
- machine learning (ML)
- short fiber reinforced composite (SFRC)
- stiffness optimization