A day without using plastic parts is unimaginable. From consumer electronics to children’s toys, kitchen gadgets and medical devices, the use of components made from plastic materials has steadily increased. The majority of these plastics parts are produced through injection molding, the process of injecting liquefied plastic materials into a mold, cooling or solidification of the material and ejection of the molded part.
The Injection Molding Process
Although the injection molding process seems straightforward, anyone involved in the production of plastic components knows that it is a fairly complex process. The successful production of high-quality injection-molded parts requires a complex mix of temperature, pressure, material, time setting as well as variations in tooling or part design. This means that the part designers, mold-makers and manufacturing professionals must balance all these variables to make quality parts. Some of the common questions related to injection molding that plastic part designers and mold-makers need the answer to are:
- Does the part geometry meet the wall thickness or draft requirements?
- What should be the duration of the injection/cooling/ejection cycles? What’s the optimal temperature for the material, cooling channels and mold?
- What’s the right filling/packing pressure and best plastic material to use for a specific part?
- Will the use of additional injection gates, inserts or unique cooling channel designs improve part quality or shorten cycle times?
The traditional approach for answering these questions and producing quality parts is inefficient and expensive, resulting in costly design iterations and test cycles. In today’s global economy, injection molding operations might be spread across different countries. This requires a common yet accurate mold injection simulation platform that allows designers, mold-makers and manufacturing professionals to collaborate efficiently and effectively in a virtual simulation environment without resorting to costly prototyping of mold cycles.
Modeling With SOLIDWORKS Plastics
SOLIDWORKS Plastics can help you detect manufacturing defects such as part warpage, sink or flow marks, air traps early on in the design phase so that you can resolve your injection molding challenges before proceeding to prototype. This mold-filling simulation software will also enable you to optimize parts for manufacturability, refine tooling to improve quality and shorten cycle times to reduce operating costs.
SOLIDWORKS Plastics uses a finite volume method to simulate fluid flow and heat transfer in the fill, pack and cooling stages of analysis. Thereafter using finite element analysis (FEA), it analyzes warping.
Figure 1 - Identify SinkMarks and Short-shots using SOLIDWORKS Plastics
The three levels of SOLIDWORKS Plastics –SOLIDWORKS Plastics Standard, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional and SOLIDWORKS Plastics Premium are geared towards plastics part designers, mold designers and plastics analysts.
- SOLIDWORKS Plastics Standard lets users determine proper gate locations, view fill patterns, detect short shots besides any other fill related issues.
- SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional helps mold designers simulate fill, pack and cool stage and runner balancing for a family mold layout, as well as reduce packing and cooling times.
- SOLIDWORKS Plastics Premium can simulate all stages of injection molding including warping when the part has cooled to room temperature.
The image below summarizes the capabilities included within each of the three levels of SOLIDWORKS Plastics.
SOLIDWORKS Plastics has an intuitive interface that leads users step by step to set up plastics analysis directly on the 3D model. For novices who rarely use simulation tools, the guided analysis strategy coupled with intelligent defaults ensures the correct analysis setup. The Getting Started Wizard helps new users set up the plastics analysis.
In the plastics simulation process, cavity is first modeled in SOLIDWORKS. Since models are far too complex to be directly used to determine flow patterns, they are first represented by simple triangular to cube shaped elements. These simple shapes are idealized so that flow can be calculated through them. This collection of elements is called mesh. SOLIDWORKS plastics offers Shell and Solid mesh with triangular, tetrahedron, triangular prism (wedge) or hexahedron (brick) elements.
Figure 2 – Mesh Elements in SOLIDWORKS Plastics
The Plastics Manager Tree in SOLIDWORKS Plastics contains settings for pre-processing, processing and post-processing. Pre-processing includes mesh, material database, process parameters, boundary conditions and nominal wall thickness advisor. The run option will process the solution for either flow, flow and pack or flow and pack and warp. The post-processing includes analysis results and plot display setup.
Figure 3 – Plastics Manager Tree
The ability to predict how the plastic will flow allows for the identification of manufacturing defects. By being able to predict these defects, users can change mold geometry, processing conditions or the plastics material used, thus saving energy, resources, time and money.
Watch our quick video "What's New with SOLIDWORKS Plastics 2019" to learn more about top new features including geometry based improvements!
Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in almost every industry. The ability to detect defects before production leads to less time and money wasted on imperfect prototypes. SOLIDWORKS Plastics is the perfect way to ensure you are staying ahead of the competition with faster and higher-quality results.
Ready to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Plastics? Watch our Practical Part Design Using SOLIDWORKS Plastics Webinar for more information.