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Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78

Numerical simulation on solidification and thermal stress of


continuous casting billet in mold based on meshless methods
Lei Zhang a,∗ , Hou-Fa Shen b , Yiming Rong a , Tian-You Huang b
a Department of Manufacturing Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Rd. Worcester, MA 01609, United States
b Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China

Received 20 June 2006; received in revised form 7 February 2007; accepted 27 February 2007

Abstract
An integrated meshless thermal–mechanical analysis system is developed with a meshless solidification model based on Finite Point Method
(FPM) and the Meshless Local Petrov-Galerkin (MLPG) method based elastic–plastic analysis model. The system is applied to simulate the
solidification process and the thermal stress of continuous casting billet in mold. The results were consistent with the measurement and well
explained the characteristics of stress and strain distribution and the formation mechanism of the off-corner defects. The computational accuracy
was as good as when finite element method (FEM) was used, while taking advantage of rapid computation as well as flexible and dynamic node
distribution. A large deformation case is presented in this paper, which was solved by employing Lagrange description in the MLPG scheme.
The results show the potential crack problem due to the incorrect cooling and reduction parameters in continuous casting production. These
observations show that meshless method could be a powerful numerical analysis tool for the study of continuous casting processes, especially in
solving mechanical reduction production with large deformation and crack problems.
© 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Meshless method; Numerical simulation; Solidification; Thermal elastic–plastic; Continuous casting; Large deformation

1. Introduction In these methods, a localized domain, where the partial differ-


ential governing equations are defined, is often discretized into
Continuous casting is globally one of the most noted pro- meshes. A mesh is defined as any of the open spaces or inter-
cesses of steelmaking and plays the leading role in steel industry stices between the stands of a net that is formed by connecting
in many countries. During continuous casting, heat transfer, nodes in a predefined manner. By using a properly predefined
metal solidification and stress–strain evolution in the solid shell mesh with relationships among nodes, the differential equations
in continuous casting mold will directly affect the production can be approximated by a set of algebraic equations for the mesh.
quality, and even contribute to the crack formation in the mold The system of algebraic equations for the whole problem domain
[1,2]. Continuous casting is operated at high temperature above can be formed by assembling sets of algebraic equations for all
the steel melting point. Therefore, the measurement of tem- the meshes [4].
perature and stress is almost impossible. A full-scale physical Mesh is the basis of FDM and FEM, but it also limits
simulation is also very difficult and expensive. the future development of the methods. For example, FDM
Based on intensive research in the area, the physical phenom- heavily relies on the construction of evenly distributed grids.
ena of heat transfer with solidification and stress–strain evolution Therefore, it may not be very effective in providing solutions to
can be described by the mathematically model, which normally the treatment of complex boundary conditions. On the contrary,
is represented by a set of differential or partial differential equa- FEM is better in dealing with the complex boundary condition
tions. The temperature and stress are the unknown variables to problems, but with other limitations, such as the mesh distortion
be solved by using numerical methods, such as finite difference in solving large-scale deformation problem, and tedious
method (FDM) and finite element method (FEM) [2,3]. adaptive and interactive re-meshing in the simulation of crack
growth with arbitrary and complex paths. Large-scale defor-
∗ mation and crack problems often happen in continuous casting
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 508 831 5825; fax: +1 508 831 6412.
E-mail address: lzhang@wpi.edu (L. Zhang). processes and need to be predicted accurately before a process

0921-5093/$ – see front matter © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.msea.2007.02.103
72 L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78

is designed. To satisfy this requirement, meshless method, stabilize the numerical approximation. In heat transfer problem,
which has been studied since 20 years ago, may have some the Neumann boundary condition is convection-dominated and
advantages and need to be studied for a successful application may lead to inaccuracy and instability problems when solving
in simulating the continuous casting processes. The meshless the equations of substituting the approximation with the arbi-
method constructs the approximation entirely in terms of nodes. trary use of the weighting function into a non-symmetric finite
Therefore, meshing is not needed, where the non-connectivity difference format of the derivative of the temperature. There-
concept is involved [4]. It also means that it is not necessary fore, the special treatment is needed to stabilize the problem.
to have relationships between nodes, which helps adding or The same stabilization scheme for the thermal elastic–plastic
deleting points, or nodes, whenever and wherever needed. It problem does not work well. Compared with FPM, MLPG is
is advantageous in solving large-scale deformation and crack not easy to implement, but it is more accurate and stable. Fur-
extension problems [4]. For this reason, meshless method may thermore, with MLPG the same discretized model can be used
have a great future in the simulation of continuous casting. as that of FPM. Therefore, the temperature results from FPM
Meshless method uses a set of nodes scattered both inside can be directly added on the same points as the thermal loads
the solution domain and on the boundaries to represent the to solve the elastic–plastic problem. In this paper, an integrated
problem domain and its boundaries. The first step of meshless meshless thermal–mechanical analysis system is developed with
method is to construct the approximation of the unknown func- an FPM based solidification model and an MLPG based ther-
tion based on these points. An interpolation method (e.g., the mal elastic–plastic model to simulate heat transfer, solidification
Moving Least-Square, MLS, method) can be used to minimize and thermal stress–strain evolution of continuous casting billet
the error between the approximation and the real value. Then the in mold. And the predicted results of the system showed con-
unknown function is replaced by the approximation with resid- sistency with the measurement and reasonable characteristics of
ual differences from the governing equations and the boundary stress and strain distribution as well as the formation mechanism
conditions. Finally, the problem is solved by minimizing the inte- of the off-corner defects. Meanwhile, the same accuracy as that
gral (strong form) or the step integral (weak form) of weighted of FEM can be achieved with potential applications to the cases
residual over the entire domain and boundary. not suitable for FEM.
There are more than 10 meshless methods or schemes have
been developed and some of them are listed in Table 1. The clas- 2. Model development
sification of meshless methods is normally based on the how the
approximation of the unknown field function is constructed, i.e., An integrated meshless thermal–mechanical analysis system
the choice of test function, and the system equation to be solved. has been developed. The meshless scheme for the solidification
Among these meshless methods, when the background cell analysis is developed based on FPM, and the Neumann boundary
integral is needed, the complexity and difficulty of the solu- conditions are modified based on Onate stabilization method.
tion will be grandly increased. Smooth particle hydrodynamics Then a meshless scheme for solving the elasto-plastic thermal
method does not need the background cell integral, but it is par- stress is built based on MLPG. The system is used to simulate
ticularly effective in solving unbounded problems [6]. The Finite the solidification process and the thermal stress of continuous
Point Method (FPM) [7,8] and Meshless Local Petrov-Galerkin casting billet in mold.
(MLPG) method [9,10] are the real meshless methods that only
need nodes. 2.1. Shape function and its derivatives
FPM is relatively easy to implement. However, the numerical
stability could be an issue. For non-self adjoint problems, such Moving Least-Square method [11] is used to construct the
as occurring in fluid mechanics, special treatment is needed to shape functions. First, let the approximation of unknown func-

Table 1
Meshless methods [4,5]
Method System equation Method of function Need background cell Need integral
to be solved approximation

Diffuse element method Weak form MLS approximation, Galerkin Yes Yes
method
Element Free Galerkin (EFG) method Weak form MLS approximation, Galerkin Yes Yes
method
Meshless Local Petrov-Galerkin (MLPG) method Local weak form MLS approximation, No Yes
Petrov-Galerkin method
Finite Point Method (FPM) Strong form Finite differential representation No No
(Taylor series), MLS
Smooth particle hydrodynamics Strong form Integral representation No No
Reproducing kernel particle method Strong form or Integral representation (RKPM) Yes Yes
weak form
hp-Clouds Weak form Partition of unity, MLS Yes Yes
Partition of unity FEM Weak form Partition of unity, MLS Yes Yes
L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78 73

tion u(x) be defined as with A−1 −1 −1


,ij = A A,j A A,i A
−1
− A−1 A,ij A−1 +
m −1 −1 −1
 A A,i A A,j A .
h
u(x) ≈ u (x) = pI (x)aI (x) ≡ pT (x)a(x) (1) The MLS approximation, Eq. (9), can be used in different
I=1 meshless methods, such as FPM, MLPG, and EFG, to replace
where pI (x) is complete monomial basis function of order m, the unknown field functions in the corresponding meshless
and aI (x) is undetermined coefficient as a function of the space formulas. The shape functions and their derivatives of MLS
coordinates x = [x1 , x2 , x3 ]T . approximation are known and can be calculated by using Eqs.
By using MLS method, a(x) is determined by minimizing a (10.1) and (10.2). Therefore, solving the unknown field func-
weighed discrete L2 error norm tion becomes to solve for û. The unknown field functions are the
 temperature functions in heat transfer problem and displacement
 2
J(x) = wI (x) pT (xI )a(x) − ûI = [Pa − û]T W[Pa − û] functions in stress–strain analysis case. Solving the equilibrium
I equations for û and replacing it in Eq. (9) will finally lead to
(2) obtain the unknown field functions.
where wI (x) is the weight function of node I with compact sup-
port [9,12], ûI is the unknown nodal value. The matrices P and 2.2. Solidification model
W are defined as
⎡ T ⎤ The steady-state condition is assumed in the calculation of
p (x1 ) the heat transfer and solidification process of continuous cast-
⎢ pT (x ) ⎥ ing billet in mold. Fig. 1a is the section view of the continuous
⎢ 2 ⎥
P =⎢ ⎥ (3) casting billet process. It can be simplified as 2D cast billet slice
⎣ ··· ⎦
moving along the casting direction. At different heights, differ-
pT (xn ) n×m ent fluxes at the boundary are determined by the water cooling
⎡ ⎤ capacity. The 2D computational model of the problem is shown
w1 (x) · · · 0
⎢ ⎥ in Fig. 1b, with coordinate axes x in thickness, y in width, and z
W = ⎣ ··· ··· ··· ⎦ (4) in casting direction.
0 · · · wn (x) If enthalpy H of the material is known, the energy equilibrium
equation in continuous casting process can be expressed as,
and
∂H ∂T
ûT = [û1 , û2 , . . . , ûn ] (5) k∇ 2 T = Vρ (11)
∂T ∂z
Then J(x) can be minimized by setting the derivative of J(x) with where T is the temperature, V the casting speed, ρ the density, k
respect to a equal to zero the thermal conductivity and H is the enthalpy function.
∂J And on the surface of the strand, i.e., the boundaries of the
= 2P T W [Pa − û] = 0 (6) solution domain in Fig. 1b, the heat flux boundary condition is
∂a
∂T
solving this for a −k + qn = 0 (12)
∂n
−1
a=A Bû (7) where n is the normal vector to the boundary, qn is the known
where, heat flux at the boundaries and determined by the cooling water
in mold.
A = P T WP, B = P TW (8) At meniscus, the temperature is initialized by
Then replacing a in Eq. (1) leads to T |z=0 = Tpour (13)
uh (x) = (pT A−1 B)û = ΦT û (9) where Tpour is the pouring temperature.
FPM is employed to solve the energy equation with specific
where  are called the shape functions of the MLS approxima- boundary conditions of the continuous casting billet in mold.
tion. The solution area (see Fig. 1b) is discretized into nodes, i.e., a
The first derivative of the shape function is obtained as [13] series of points or nodes are scattered both inner the area and on
ΦT,i = pT,i A−1 B + pT A−1 T −1
,i B + p A B,i (10.1) the boundary, as shown in Fig. 2b. Eqs. (11)–(13) can be directly
solved on these points and the following equations are obtained
withA−1 −1 −1 ⎧
,i = −A A,k A .And the second derivative is, ⎪ ∂H ∂TI

⎪ k∇ 2 TI − Vρ = 0, I ∈ Ω

⎨ ∂T I ∂z
ΦT,ij = pT,ij A−1 B + pT,i A−1 T −1 T −1
,j B + p,i A B,j + p,j A,i B ∂TI I = 1, 2, . . . , N

⎪ −k + qn = 0, I ∈ Γ
+pT A−1 T −1 T −1
,ij B + p A,i B,j + p,j A B,i



∂n
TI |z=0 − Tpour = 0
+pT A−1 T −1
,j B,i + p A B,ij (10.2) (14)
74 L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78

Fig. 1. Schematics of continuous casting billet process. (a) Physical model; (b) computational model.

where N is the total number of points or nodes, Ω the solution above FPM solidification scheme, and show the better accuracy
area, Γ is the heat flux boundary. of the scheme.
The MLS approximation function of TI and their derivatives
(see Eqs. (10.1) and (10.2) are substituted into Eq. (4). Besides 2.3. Deformation and stress model
this, a stabilization item [8] is added to the Neumann boundary
condition. Then the final FPM formulas of the solidification The deformation and stress–strain of the solid shell in con-
problem in continuous casting become tinuous casting billet in mold can be obtained from the thermal
⎧ elastic–plastic stress–strain relations and the boundary condi-
h


⎪ k∇ 2 T h − Vρ ∂H ∂TI = 0, I ∈Ω tions based on small deformation theory. In the 2D strand slice

⎪ I
∂TI ∂z
⎨ (Fig. 2), the stress–strain evolution problem is governed by the
∂TIh h I = 1, 2, . . . , N following equations [3]


⎪ −k + qn − k∇ 2 TIh = 0, I ∈ Γ

⎪ ∂n 2 Equilibrium equation:
⎩ h
TI |z=0 − Tpour = 0
(15) σij,j + bi = 0 in Ω (16.1)

where TIh is the MLS approximation (9) of TI , and h is the Force boundary condition:
characteristic length [7,8]. σij nj − t̄i = 0 on Γt (16.2)
Compared with other meshless method, the FPM scheme is
easy to implement, and with high accuracy by employing stabi- Displacement boundary condition:
lization item. In Fig. 3, a solidification problem is solved by the
above FPM scheme. The results are verifying the validity of the ui = ūi on Γu (16.3)

Fig. 2. Shape, sizes and nodes discretization in the solution area (qtr.). (a) Geometry model; (b) discretized model.
L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78 75

Fig. 3. Verification of the FPM scheme by solving solidification problem. (a) 1-D solidification problem (Stefan problem); (b) FPM predicted solid front results vs.
the exact solution.

where σ ij is the stress tensor, bi the known body force in Ω, in the solid shell in continuous casting in mold
and ( ),i denotes ∂( )/∂xi . t̄i and ūi are the prescribed tractions
and displacements, on the traction boundary Γ t and on the dis- K · uh = F = F 0 + F 1 + F 2 (19)
placement boundary Γ u , respectively, and ni is the unit outward
where
normal to the boundary Γ .   
Von Mises yielding criterion and the Prandtl-reuss flow
KIJ = εv DBJ dΩ + α vSΦJ dΓ − vNDSBJ dΓ
rule are used to establish the stress–strain relations. In elastic Ωs Γsu Γsu
deformation range, the relation of stress increment and strain (20.1)
increment is
 
σ = De (ε − ε̃T ) (17.1) FI0 = vt̄ dΓ + α vS ū dΓ (20.2)
Γst Γsu
And in plastic deformation range, is  
FI1 = εv D ε̃T dΩ − vNDS ε̃T dΓ (20.3)
σ = Dep (ε − ε̃T ) + σ̃T (17.2) Ωs Γst
 
where σ is the total stress increment, ε the total strain incre-
ment, De the elastic stiffness matrix, Dep the elastic–plastic FI2 = vNS σ̃ T dΓ − εv σ̃ T dΩ (20.4)
Γst Ωs
stiffness matrix, ε̃T the thermal strain increment, and σ̃T
is the thermal stress increment [14]. with I, J = 1, 2, . . ., N, where D is the stiffness matrix, and in the
Meshless Local Petrov-Galerkin method is used to solve the corresponding deformation range it needs to be replaced by De or
above problem. By using the generalized local weak form of Dep , N the unit outward normal matrix, BJ the derivatives matrix
the governing Eq. (16.1) over the local sub-domain Ωs , which from the MLS approximation, and S is the boundary condition
is conveniently taken to be a circle centered at a point x, and definition matrix [9,10].
with a penalty parameter α  1 is used to impose the essential
boundary condition and the divergence theorem to impose the
natural boundary condition, the MLPG formula of Eqs. (16) are
then obtained
  
εv σ dΩ + α uv dΓ − vt dΓ
Ωs Γsu Γsu
  
= vt̄ dΓ + α vū dΓ + vb dΩ (18)
Γst Γsu Ωs

where u and v are the trial and test function vectors, respectively,
εv denotes the strain matrix from the test functions and σ denotes
the stress vector from the trial functions, and Γ su is a part of
the boundary ∂Ωs of Ωs , over which the essential boundary
conditions are specified. Γ st is a part of ∂Ωs , over which the
natural boundary conditions are specified, as shown in Fig. 4.
The nodal model (Fig. 2b) can be applied, Eq. (9) is sub-
stituted into Eq. (18) for all nodes to approximate u, and the
thermal elastic–plastic relationship in Eq. (17) between stress
and strain is imposed into Eq. (18). This leads to the following
MLPG discretized system of the thermal elastic–plastic problem Fig. 4. Schematics of the MLPG method [9].
76 L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78

Table 2
Production parameters
Size of the mold (mm) 115 × 115

Radius of fillet (mm) 8


Meniscus (mm) 100
Length of mold (mm) 700
Casting speed (m/min) 2.3
Carbon percentage of steel (wt%) 0.16
Pouring temperature (◦ C) 1520

3. Results and discussion

The heat transfer and solidification as well as the stress–strain


evolution in the solid shell in continuous casting billet in mold
were calculated by using the meshless model. Fig. 2a shows the
geometry of the mold. Evenly distributed nodes are dispersed Fig. 7. Isotherm plots at mold exit (temperature unit: ◦ C).
in the solution area. The space step is set to be 1.2 mm with
total 2395 points defined as shown in Fig. 2b. Table 2 shows the
production parameters. Relative error of the FPM predictions is less than 20%. And
Seven points, with two in the corner and five on the surface it can be seen in Fig. 6 that the FPM model results match well
of the strand (see Fig. 2a), are checked for temperature profiles. with the FEM results. And the same observation is seen in the
The results are shown in Fig. 5. It can be seen that the cooling isotherm results at mold exit as shown in Fig. 7.
rates of the points on the surface of the strand are obviously The predicted average thickness of the solid shell at mold
higher than that of the points in the inner corner of the strand. exit shown in Fig. 7 is around 10 mm, which also agreed with
Heat is quickly extracted from the surface of the strand to the results calculated based on classic solidification square-root
solidify and form a shell. And the results of the thickness of the law [16].
solidified shell at corner versus the distance from the menis- Different cooling rates at different position may generate ther-
cus are plotted in Fig. 6 together with the FEM results and mal stress. Points at corner cool down more quickly than at other
measurements for comparison [15]. positions. Therefore, at these positions higher thermal stresses
may be obtained. That can be seen in Fig. 8, which plots the
Mises equivalent stress variation versus the distance from the
meniscus.
The Mises equivalent stress and Mises equivalent strain dis-
tribution at mold exit is shown in Fig. 9a and b, respectively.
It shows that the thermal stress concentration at corner due to
the highest cooling rates there. Deformation occurs in the initial
solid shell with the plastic deforming first and followed by elas-
tic deforming as the temperature further goes down. The solid
shell continues cooling and shrinking, this results in the stress
concentration at the corner zone which quickly features strong
elasticity and is hard to deform. Finally, large deformation is

Fig. 5. Cooling curves of the different points.

Fig. 6. The thickness of the corner variation vs. the distance from the meniscus. Fig. 8. Mises equivalent stress variations vs. the distance from the meniscus.
L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78 77

Fig. 9. Contour plots of the predicted stress and strain at mold exit. (a) Mises equivalent Stress (MPa); (b) Mises equivalent strain.

Fig. 10. Contour plots of the predicted temperature and displacement at the last reduction step (reduction: 12 mm). (a) Temperature; (b) displacement, x; (c)
displacement, y.

Fig. 11. Contour plots of the predicted stress and strain at the last reduction step (reduction: 12 mm). (a) Mises equivalent stress (MPa); (b) Mises equivalent strain.
78 L. Zhang et al. / Materials Science and Engineering A 466 (2007) 71–78

generated at the off-corner zone where the temperature is higher off-corner defects, with the same accuracy as that of FEM can
and is in the well-plastic deformation range to release part of be achieved.
the stress. This can be seen in Fig. 9b and well explains why the Compared with FEM method, the meshless scheme will take
permanent deformation often happens at the off-corner zone. advantage of rapid computation as well as flexible and dynamic
The calculated results also agree with the characteristics of the node distribution when solving large deformation problem. The
stress–strain distribution and the formation mechanism of the deformation and stress, strain evolution of a solidified casting
off-corner defects. billet, which suffered a 12 mm mechanical reduction, was solved
Compared with FEM method, the meshless scheme will take by employing Lagrange description in the MLPG scheme. The
advantage of rapid computation as well as flexible and dynamic results show the potential crack problem due to the incorrect
node distribution when solving large deformation problem. By cooling and reduction parameters in continuous casting pro-
employing Lagrange strain description method [14], the scheme duction. These observations show that meshless method is a
shown in Eq. (19) can be used to solve the large deformation potential numerical analysis tool for the analysis of the contin-
problem. The predicted results of the deformation, stress, strain uous casting process.
of a solidified billet, which suffered a 12 mm reduction at the
end of solidification, are plotted in Figs. 10 and 11. References
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