SOFTWARE CALCULATES VARIABLES, SAVING PRODUCT DESIGNERS' TIME: PROGRAM PINPOINTS DEFECTS ON SCREEN

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CHICAGO — New software from Moldflow Corp. (Booth N6503) will help part designers — even people who know little about plastics or injection molding — answer the age-old question: Will the mold fill?

Moldflow's Part Adviser is a W indows-based tool that works, very quickly, with separate computer-aided-design systems. It is designed for use early in the part-design process.

While Moldflow's existing computer-aided engineering, such as MF/Shrink and MF/Warp, a re geared toward plastics specialists, Part Adviser is designed to help the generalist.

Based in Lexington, Mass., Moldflow claims to control 65 percent of the CAE market for plastics injection molding. The company pegs the traditional injection molding CAE market at $25 million a year. Part Adviser gives Moldflow a product offering in the much-larger $150 million design simulation market for injection molding.

Ken Welch, Moldflow vice president of marketing, said Part Adviser advances Moldflow's strategy to supply ``processwide plastics simulation,'' all the way from CAE to CAD to controllers that run the molding machine.

``We're moving [simulation] upstream into design and downstream i nto manufacturing,'' Welch said.

Moldflow said Part Adviser is widely compatible with well-known CAD systems from SDRC, Parametric Technology Corp., Autodesk, Delcam and SolidWorks.

Because Part Adviser uses three-dimensional solid m odel geometry from a CAD drawing, Moldflow said there is no need for creating midplanes, meshing or model translation — dramatically cutting the time required. In the past, there was no way to analyze a solid model directly, so de signers had to approximate the information.

``This is not some crude approximation of flow. We've actually simulated how plastic flows through the mold,'' Welch said. ``Never before has solids-based plastic simulation been accessibl e or practical for this market.''

Within minutes, a designer can tell if a part will fill, using any one of the 4,000-plus materials in Moldflow's resin database.

Once injection points are selected, the plastic fills the mold shown on the computer screen, showing defects such as weld lines and air pockets. If the designer clicks on a defect, a help window pops up defining the problem, giving solutions and giving an animated demonstration.

Part Adviser works ver y quickly, in part because the operator does not have to input temperature, mold temperature and other variables. Instead, an algorithm in the software calculates those settings in minutes.

Part Adviser initially will be available in English and Japanese. Moldflow plans to add other languages.

In other news, Moldflow has announced that SmartMold is the new product name of its Intelligent Process Control technology. Introduced in 1995, IPC is Moldflow's entry i nto machine controllers.