By Aaron Magnin
Since we got our hands on the SolidWorks Plastics tool back in April, we have been overwhelmed with mold makers and plastic part designers excited to learn about its capabilities. After numerous conversations with experts in these fields, I wanted to get this blog out there to cover some of the most common questions we’ve been hearing.
First off, I think it’s important that we establish the origins of the software. The analysis engine behind SolidWorks Plastics is based on over 10 years of plastics injection simulation expertise from SIMPOE. SIMPOE’s development began in 1998, which may not seem all that long ago until you remember that SolidWorks was founded only three years before. Does anyone remember what SolidWorks looked like in 98!?
After years of research and development, SIMPOE SAS was formed in 2004 and since that time, they have established their software as one of the premier Plastic Injection Mold Analysis tools. When you team SIMPOE’s successful history up with the best design tool around, it’s a tough combination to beat!
In the SolidWorks Plastics line, there are two versions available: Professional and Premium. With the Professional version, a part designer will be able to root out some of the most common manufacturing related defects associated with injection molding. I have chosen to make that word bold to emphasize that this tool will only work with that manufacturing method. It will not simulate rotomolding, blow molding, thermoforming, or whatever other processes have been developed since this blog article was written.
In the past, plastic part designers may have been oblivious to the mold design and qualification process, but had to bear the brunt of added tool design cycles and cost; no longer is this the case. By integrating this tool into SolidWorks, you can quickly and easily check for many common molding issues and make changes to your model to avoid short shots, weld/knit lines, and air traps faster than ever before.
With the Premium version, the user will gain added functionality such as being able to analyze the packing phase of the cycle, overmolding, inserts, fiber orientation analysis, sink marks, and much more. What may be one of the biggest time savers, however, has to do with multi-cavity or family molds. If you already make injection molding tooling, you probably know that balancing runners can be a time consuming process. One way to approach this is to start with intentionally undersized gates and runners, and enlarge them in an iterative process. Depending on the complexity, it can tie up your injection presses for the better portion of the day, and the final results may be less than spectacular. Another way to approach this is to use our plastics tool before you get the tooling made. What used to be an arduous, time consuming, and manual process can now be done automatically with the runner balancing optimization tool.
SolidWorks Plastics features around 5000 different polymers in its database, broken down by family and developer; you can even search by material properties. You can be certain that the database is continually evolving as new materials are developed with high frequency.
One of our greatest assets, though, is not the tool itself; it’s the support we can offer. Our support team is second-to-none, and has the can-do attitude it takes to get to the bottom of any question. Hawk Ridge Systems employs a number of engineers with injection molding experience, and because of that we will be able to relate and relay this information to ensure that our software continues to be the best. If you’d like to find out more information about SolidWorks Plastics or request a demonstration, please give us a call at 877.266.4469 in the US or 866-587-6803 in Canada, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.