By: Bill Bregar
April 2, 2012
ORLANDO, FLA. (April 2, 9:25 a.m. ET) — Mold designers are plenty familiar with simulation software, but Schaumburg, Ill.-based Sigma Plastic Services Inc. (Booth 65027) wants to bring process simulation to the plant floor, through its Sigmasoft.
“In the plastics industry, simulation is well-known, but interestingly enough, it has never been implemented in the processor world, like, at the molding machine,” Sigma President Christof Heisser said.
Heisser and John Berg, marketing director of MGS Mfg. Group Inc. (Booth 63030), discussed process simulation at the Plastics News Executive Forum, held earlier this year in Tampa, Fla. MGS a Germantown, Wis.-based custom injection molder, mold maker and manufacturer of injection units for multishot molding, has used Sigmasoft for three years.
They said process simulation can help eliminate wasted steps, especially trial-and-error of excess mold sampling.
Commercial mold-filling simulation software has been around for more than 25 years. But Heisser said it’s aimed at designers. “Probably in 90 percent of the cases, process is an afterthought and it really is not their problem,” he said.
Sigmasoft is designed for people who have processing know-how. “It is virtually a molding machine,” modeling the entire molding process including things like hot runners, heater bands, mold cooling, venting, fiber orientation, crystallization, shrinkage and warpage.
The three-dimensional meshing is done automatically and quickly.
When MGS officials decided to get into process simulation, MGS hired a full-time simulation engineer. Sigmasoft can cut down on the amount of time spent to modify molds, especially on challenging parts, Berg said.
He described one situation in which MGS and the customer wanted to make an automotive part with thinner walls, to reduce the material required. Low molded-in stress was also a priority. Using simulation, they learned the best solution was a mold with conformal cooling, so the cooling channels are contoured to hug the shape of the part. The mold design also reduced cycle time, Berg said.
MGS said simulation can increase the accuracy of quoting jobs. “We want to make our critical decisions on the tool before we start cutting steel,” he said.