Presented by Dassault
Lighter parts. Less scrap. More affordable materials. Greater design flexibility. These are some of the reasons why manufacturers have increasingly turned to plastic materials to develop new products. Plastic injection molding manufacturing has grown from a niche application for producing simple products like buttons and combs to a strategic, sophisticated process for making a variety of components and products of increasing complexity.
As more of today’s leading manufacturers look to plastic materials to produce better alternatives to conventionally machined metal parts, the efficiency and quality of injection molding processes becomes critically important because more than 80 percent of plastic parts have to be injection molded. With more manufacturers leveraging injection molding technology, companies that consistently produce high-quality injection-molded parts more quickly and at lower cost have a distinct competitive advantage.
Until recently, developing part and tooling designs for injection molding manufacturing required an iterative prototyping process to eliminate potential defects through trial and error. While this approach enables manufacturers to resolve manufacturability and tooling issues that can lead to defects—such as air traps, voids, poorly placed parting lines, shrinkage, warpage, surface blemishes, structural weaknesses and large part deformation—it also adds time and cost to the process. What’s really needed to streamline injection-molded component and tooling development is the ability to perform the trial-and-error-driven prototyping process in an accurate, virtual environment.
Creating tooling that produces quality injection-molded parts involves several variables: What is the optimal temperature of the melted plastic that is injected into the mold and the mold itself? Are cooling channels adequate to support these temperatures, and if not, how should they be configured? What’s the best thermoplastic material to use for a specific design? At what pressure and flow rate should the plastic material be injected into the mold to facilitate filling and packing? How long should the part be left in the mold to solidify before ejection? Will specialized tooling—inserts, side actions, additional injection gates, secondary operations or innovative cooling channel layouts—shorten cycle times or eliminate defects?
These are the questions that need to be answered in order to produce tooling that minimizes quality issues, and the reasons why prototype mold iterations are necessary. This is why accurate mold-filling simulations are so beneficial: because they support the same trial-and-error process for discovering the right combination of variables required to produce quality injection-molded parts in computer software, which is both faster and less costly.
With accurate mold-filling simulation capabilities, product designers can balance design aesthetics against manufacturability, moldmakers can optimize tooling without needing to create prototype molds, and manufacturing professionals can shorten run cycles—all of which saves time, reduces costs and boosts quality. The key factor for avoiding the conventional mold prototyping process rests with the accuracy of mold-filling simulations.
Plastic Injection Molding Simulation for Evaluating Manufacturability
Plastic injection molding simulation gives designers fast, accurate answers to important questions, including: Will my part fill, where will the parting/weld lines appear, will there be any voids or air traps and where will the best gate locations be? Having these analyses enables designers to simulate the mold-filling stage not so much for the purpose of developing actual tooling, but for understanding whether design modifications prior to mold development will speed tooling design, accelerate production and shorten time-to-market.
Plastic Injection Molding Simulation for Mold Design Optimization
Developing effective injection-molded tooling that consistently produces high-quality parts as quickly and inexpensively as possible is the ultimate goal for all moldmakers. Plastic injection molding simulation provides additional simulation tools for optimizing injection-molded tooling designs of all levels of complexity. This allows moldmakers to accurately simulate the filling and packing phases to determine maximum injection-pressure and machine-size requirements; balance runner systems to achieve uniform filling and avoid defects; and estimate cycle time, clamp tonnage and shot size to optimize feed systems.
Accurately simulating the performance of tooling variations—such as whether to use single-cavity, multi-cavity or family mold layouts; trying out different locations for sprues, runners and gates; or evaluating advanced approaches such as inserts, valve gates or two-shot or gas-assisted molding—allows moldmakers to create the best tooling for the job faster and more affordably.
Plastic Injection Molding Simulation for Improving Production Cycle Times
Reducing injection molding cycle times by opening molds and ejecting high-quality parts in as short a time as possible is critically important. With the most advanced set of capabilities, plastic injection molding simulation helps injection molding specialists achieve the optimal balance between fast cycle times and high-quality production. This supports the design and simulation of injection-mold cooling line layouts, the development of conformal cooling channel systems, the exploration of different types of materials and the optimization of processing parameters to reduce or eliminate molded-part warpage.
Boost Productivity with Accurate Mold-Filling Simulations
The growing use of injection-molded plastic parts instead of conventionally machined metal parts carries several advantages for today’s manufacturers, ranging from cost, weight and scrap reductions to greater design flexibility through the production of more complex shapes and design geometries. However, for these benefits to accrue to their greatest potential, boosting injection-molded design and tooling productivity and achieving consistently high production quality have become critically important for success. Manufacturers can increase the efficiency and performance of their injection molding operations by replacing or augmenting traditional, trial-and-error prototype mold iterations with mold-filling simulations.
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“Accurate Mold-Filling Simulations Resolve Injection Molding Design and Production Challenges” provides findings of physical experiments conducted by the world’s leading plastics engineering research centers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell that compare mold-filling simulation predictions with the results of actual physical tests.
Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Its world-leading solutions transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported. Dassault Systèmes’ collaborative solutions foster social innovation, expanding possibilities for the virtual world to improve the real world. The group brings value to over 210,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 140 countries. For more information, visit www.3ds.com.
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