Simulation and Optimisation

Transforming plastics part design, mould design and injection moulding.


Ian H Smith

After training as a mould and product designer, I moved from the plastics industry to the information technology world, initially marketing of pick-and-place robots and getting into the first generation of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems for mould design in the early-1980s.

Fast forward and I am now working with a technology partner called SIMCON: simulating and optimising plastics part design, mould design and injection moulding tryouts.

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Originating as a spin-off from the esteemed RWTH Aachen University’s Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV), SIMCON is a paradigm of German engineering excellence.

SIMCON are dedicated to advancing the efficiency, speed, and cost-effectiveness of injection molding processes for innovators worldwide. With exceptional customer retention rates, supported by a diverse portfolio of over 6,000 organisations across industries like automotive, medical technology, and electronics.

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Simulation and Optimisation

As illustrated above, SIMCON is all about prevention, not cure. This applies to each stage of the product, mould and process design for injection moulders and mould makers. As you can see, the ability to change decreases and the cost of change increases, both exponentially, as you move through the design and manufacturing stages.

SIMCON simulation software (CADMOULD and VARIMOS) provides a solid foundation for measurably increasing the bottomline performance of a product manufacturer and their injection moulding and mould making partners.

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As illustrated above, this is a process of: Predict; Improve; and Try.

  1. Predict. CADMOULD helps you identify and fix design issues early, saving time and resources.
  2. Improve. VARIMOS uses AI to streamline and improve design evaluation in CADMOULD.
  3. Try. VARIMOS Real optimises your Design of Experiments (DoE) for moulding setup.
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Simulations Made Simple

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of simulation tools or venturing into CADMOULD for the first time, its user-friendly interface guarantees a seamless and efficient initiation. The process of importing design data and executing necessary modifications is remarkably straightforward, necessitating just a few clicks.

The CADMOULD Warp module accurately simulates shrinkage and warpage, two critical issues in plastic injection molding. This module augments CADMOULD’s filling simulation by providing realistic predictions of shrinkage, warpage, deformation, stress states (including residual stresses), and temperatures after ejection. Users leveraging the Warp module can pinpoint significant causes of warpage and take specific corrective actions, such as tweaking process parameters, modifying wall thicknesses, or redesigning gate locations. Virtual measurement tools are also available for scrutinising component geometry to ensure it meets set dimensional requirements and tolerances.

The CADMOULD Pack module is frequently utilised alongside CADMOULD core capabilities to simulate the packing pressure and cooling phase, building on the initial fill phase insights. This module offers a deeper dive into parameters like pressure distribution, clamping forces, or the melt core’s cross-section, enabling precise interventions to mitigate issues like thickness shrinkage and the resulting sink marks.

As illustrated in the image above, this shows comparison between simulated and real-world measured outcomes highlight the precision of CADMOULD Pack in forecasting sink marks in PC-ABS components, crucial for chrome-plated parts.

Companies running crash test simulations can directly transfer fibre orientation analysis results from CADMOULD Fiber to leading structural solvers and crash simulation software like Ansys, Abaqus, OptiStruct, Digimat or Pam-Crash. They can also indirectly transfer these results via modelers such as Digimat or Converse for additional structural analysis.

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Model Advantages

CADMOULD and VARIMOS are powered by an advanced algorithm (3D-F Model), which autonomously performs simulations and learns about cause and effect, capable of designing test series and identifying optimal conditions for superior results. This unique feature allows engineers to focus on interpreting results, exploring alternatives, and making decisions, rather than repetitive tasks.

CADMOULD primarily utilises the 3D-F Model, which smartly zeros-in on critical points, enhancing speed and precision. Its logic supports simultaneous simulations and streamlines the process of making design changes, increasing efficiency. Additionally, the software boasts Dynamic Mesh Optimisation, which seamlessly refines imported meshes and corrects inconsistencies in the mesh.

The 3D-F Model means '3 Dimensions of Freedom'.

1. Flow Analysis:
Simulate the flow of molten plastic into the mould.
Adjust gate locations, injection speed, and material properties to ensure uniform filling.
Validate the simulation results with actual mould trials to ensure accuracy.

2. Fibre Orientation:
Simulate fibre orientation during the injection process.
Analyse how fibre orientation affects the mechanical properties of the moulded part.
Adjust processing conditions to achieve desired fibre orientation and performance.

3. Filling Pressure:
Simulate the pressure distribution throughout the mould cavity during filling.
Adjust pressure and speed to minimise defects: sink marks, warpage and flash.
Ensure that optimised pressure settings result in high-quality and efficient cycle times.

In addition to the innovative 3D-F method, CADMOULD offers two other models tailored for specific applications. The Midplane method is particularly adept at analysing thin-walled parts by concentrating on the component’s central plane, which simplifies the flow analysis process.

This method provides quick insights, though it demands manual fine-tuning for more intricate shapes. Despite its limitations, particularly in crash test simulations, the Midplane method’s practical benefits are undeniable. On the other hand, the 3D Volumetric (3D-V) model is the ‘go-to’ choice for dealing with thick-walled components and processes involving gas or water injection.

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Overall, you can think of CADMOULD and VARIMOS as integrated solutions that work through Fundamental Design, Part Geometry, Mould Geometry and onto Injection Process Parameters, as illustrated above.

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Continuous Improvement

VARIMOS revolutionises the user experience by streamlining complex simulations. With just a few clicks, users can set variables and quality features, allowing the AI to efficiently carry out Design of Experiments (DoE) and simulate the interactions between numerous factors, predicting outcomes for the entire solution space. This capability to see the consequences of parameter changes in real-time provides an immediate understanding of the impacts of your decisions, unlocking more informed choices than ever before.

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VARIMOS automates the generation and analysis of design variants, transforming your workflow into a seamless, intelligent process. This works in three steps:

1. Easily Create Multiple Variants
Launch your simulation in CADMOULD and effortlessly create multiple variants with VARIMOS. Choose your variables, adjust their ranges and let VARIMOS handle the rest. It automatically generates simulation variants, making it simpler to explore different design options.

2. Run Multiple Simulations in Parallel
Simulations run concurrently with VARIMOS and leverage CADMOULD’s CPU optimisation for quick, thorough experimentation. Get results in hours, not days.

3. Easily Analyse Simulation Results
The AI analyses simulations, demonstrating how process and geometric parameters impact quality goals via an user-friendly interface. Users can adjust settings with sliders or let VARIMOS optimise configurations. If results fall short of tolerances, it aids in identifying parameter adjustments or design modifications.

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From Instinct to Insight

VARIMOS Real is an AI assistant tailored for machine setters and operators, designed to maximise tool potential. It efficiently identifies optimal machine settings in just one trial, clearly indicating when adjustments are needed.

This flexible, autonomous software operates with or without existing simulation data, leveraging advanced AI to analyse injection moulding machine parameters. It enables operators to effectively plan and execute mould trials, using machine learning to predict the impact of different settings on part quality based on a detailed trial plan for decision-making.

Once trial parameters are set, VARIMOS Real quickly determines the best settings combination, even for new combinations. Think of this as three steps:

1. Plan Optimal Mould Trials
Begin by identifying crucial machine settings and quality metrics. Use VARIMOS Real to craft trial sets, minimising extraneous experiments and precisely predicting the number of trials needed. This approach ensures that every trial is aimed at enhancing your manufacturing process.

2. Execute the Plan and Collect Data
Action the plan precisely, accurately measure test batches, and record data in VARIMOS Real. These measurements help the AI understand how parameters affect part quality, enabling solid decisions.

3. Great Conclusive Results
VARIMOS Real predicts how machine adjustments affect production outcomes using linear regression graphics. The optimiser finds the best settings and suggests tool adjustments through an easy-to-use interface. It also generates straightforward reports, focusing on parameters that significantly impact quality.

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Integration Advantages

Top injection moulding machine manufacturers, like Arburg with its GESTICA control system, integrate CADMOULD simulation technology. The FillAssist feature enables a seamless exchange of simulation and machine parameters and allows for the simulation of fill patterns directly on the machine. Similarly, CADMOULD injection molding parameters can be transmitted to ENGEL machines, utilising ENGEL’s ‘sim link’ technology.

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At Being Guided we work with SIMCON to enable product designers, injection moulding and mould making firms to simulate and optimise every stage of their processes. This starts with online Discovery Workshops and moves onto participation in Bootcamps, to prepare for an in-depth evaluation and validation of CADMOULD and VARIMOS, set against real world design and manufacturing challenges.

The Validation process includes the development of a Business Case, as described below. The offer is any combination of software and services, determined through the earlier steps on a SIMCON Customer Journey, underpineed by a rigorous Return On Investment (ROI) Model underpinning the Business Case.

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Value Engineering

This is where SIMCON software and services are applied and the key question we answer is this:

What is the cost of NOT buying CADMOULD and VARIMOS?

Through a process of Mutual Value Discovery - and supported by our expert partner, SIMCON, to quantify Current State ('As-Is'), without implementing SIMCON and compare this with the financial and other quantifiable gains in a Future State ('To-Be') with this investment made.

This results in the creation of a comprehensive Business Case Calculator and detailed Return On Investment (ROI) Model, as illstrated below. An initial calculation provides savings for:Fewer Mould Corrections
Fewer Tryouts
Reduced Cycle Time

The detailed ROI Model provides calculations for:

Reduction in New Mould Corrections
Optimisation of New Mould Cycle Time
Reduction in Number of New Mould Tryouts
Improvement of Existing Moulds

This gives insights into the Cost of Delay related to investing in SIMCON CADMOULD and VARIMOS. It also provides scenarios for different Package, Services and Training options too.

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