Simulation for designers, moulders and toolmakers

A technical support service involving material selection and mould flow simulation has been launched aimed at designers and small moulders. Dean Palmer reports

A new technical support service has been launched by a polymer supplier that uses computer simulation techniques to help customers take new ideas from conceptual design through the stages of material selection, tool design, testing and sampling to optimised production.

Distrupol's 'Art-to-Part' service is aimed primarily at design engineers and small-to-medium sized moulders and toolmakers who are not able to afford the necessary hardware, software and trained personnel to take a product concept to full production.

According to Derek Bean, technical service engineer at Distrupol, the new offering is a result of feedback from customers calling for such a service. He told Eureka: "Making the simulation package available to the general moulding fraternity gives Distrupol a cutting edge compared with most other distributors. We can add value to their company by getting projects right-first-time and cutting the time-to-market for their customers."

There are no restrictions in terms of polymer type or end-use application, just as long as Distrupol believes the project has suitable long term potential for commercialisation.

The simulation software behind the new offering is Moldflow for predicting melt flow. The company has trained technicians that can use the software to predict stress analysis, taking into account factors such as mechanical loading and torsional twist. According to Bean, all the customer needs to do is supply a 3D CAD file of their conceptual component to Distrupol and, depending on the part's complexity, Distrupol will normally provide a full report and analysis within two to three days.

Material selection will help designers ensure components are fit-for-purpose in terms of physical and thermal properties and help will also be provided on approvals that may be required in markets such as medical, automotive and food packaging.

Once the polymer has been selected, Distrupol will ensure that the part can be moulded successfully. Analysis on gate positioning, runner type, location of weld lines and the possibility of sink marks are included. The analysis will also determine the optimum processing conditions and evaluate the sensitivity of the part's design to the moulding process. Using the size of the moulding window, the technicians at Distrupol will then compare material grades and make the optimum selection. At the same time, they will identify areas of the component that may pose manufacturing and quality problems, providing design-specific advice on how these can be addressed.

Tom Shelley

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