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The flow of polyethylene from a reservoir into a capillary has been studied visually using a new technique for observing the flow patterns. Various patterns observed with different polyethylenes are shown, both below and above the critical shearing stress at which the extrudate becomes distorted. The technique is readily adaptable to observe directly the elastic energy stored in the melt above the capillary entrance and the rate at which this energy can be dissipated on the cessation of the steady flow into the capillary.