Color motion pictures have been made of the flow of low-density polyethylene, polystyrene, and isotactic polypropylene at 180°C in the reservoir approach to a capillary extrusion rheometer. Detailed observations of the variation of flow patterns with extrusion rate were made. At low flow rates, essentially radial flow into the capillary entrance was observed in all polymers. With increasing flow rate, the included entrance angle α for the polyethylene and polystyrene decreased from 180°C and a “wine glass” structured velocity field was observed with stagnant circulating regions in the corners and the melt channeling in through the wine glass to the capillary entrance. The angle α was related to entrance pressure drop Δpe and capillary wall shear stress σw data through the semilogarithmic equation
where α is in degrees; Δpe/σw is interpreted as a Weissenberg number. The breakdown of stable laminar flow of the melts in the reservoir and the distortion of extrudates was observed. These phenomena seemed to be initiated by the formation of a spiralling motion in the reservoir.