DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — The consolidation continues among manufacturers of software that simulates how a mold fills, even as the major competitors unveiled the latest innovations in new software at the K'98 show.
C-Mold, the smaller of the two dominant players in the industry, announced at the trade fair in Dusseldorf that it struck an alliance with one of the smaller players, Rapra Technology Ltd. of Shawbury, England. Terms were not disclosed, but Rapra is exiting the simulation software business, becoming a reseller of C-Mold products and transferring its customers to C-Mold.
That deal comes after C-Mold, a division of AC Technology North America Inc. of Louisville, Ky., reached a similar accord with Matra Datavision in June to transfer Matra's customers to C-Mold.
``You are really seeing a shakeout in the CAE (computer aided engineering) market,'' said Ralph Ramaekers, technical account manager with C-Mold.
The marketplace requires new versions of software every six months to keep up with rapid changes in processing, he said.
``Only those companies whose simulation is their complete focus will survive,'' he said.
In spite of those acquisitions, C-Mold remains smaller than its chief rival, Moldflow Corp., although the companies differ on exactly how much.
Moldflow, based in Lexington, Mass., claims 65 percent of the $100 million worldwide market for simulation software, and says its rival has about 22 percent.
C-Mold, while declining to provide worldwide figures, said the gap is closer than that, and said it is splitting the U.S. market with Moldflow. But the companies are fighting over a market that is growing 20 percent a year, Moldflow said.
Rapra had been the leading seller in the United Kingdom, but not the most profitable because its software was aimed at the low end of the marketplace, said Colin Darkings, business manager of automotive for Rapra. He had been product manager for Rapra's Fillcalc software.
``We've taken a decision after a number of years to withdraw our flow simulation software, not because we weren't selling any but because we weren't selling enough,'' Darkings said.
The partnership should generate business for each company, Ramaekers said. Rapra maintains a database of polymer information and does consulting to the plastics and rubber industry.
C-Mold released the latest version of its 3D Quickfill software, with a module that will calculate the cost of a part. C-Mold also unveiled its Mesh Express software that can go from a solid computer assisted design model to a CAE flow simulation in an hour.
``It is necessary for doing advanced simulation,'' Ramaekers said. ``Everybody wants to get quicker from a CAD to a simulation.''
But he said that C-Mold is continuing to develop software for helping to control injection molding machines, while Moldflow recently unveiled its Moldflow Plastics Xpert software that helps tweak existing controllers to work better.
It replaces a more ambitious would-be innovation that Moldflow introduced at the K'95 show, Intelligent Process Control, that would have replaced the machine controller.
``It was not easy to commercialize,'' said Ken Welch, vice president of marketing at Moldflow. ``It required detailed integration with the injection molding machine.''
Moldflow wants to have software available at every step from design through manufacturing, said Marc Dulude, president and chief executive officer of Moldflow.
Moldflow also recently introduced a software package called Dynamic Series Fusion that allows secondary analysis of CAD models. And it unveiled software to do thick wall simulation, a package called MF/Flow 3D.
C-Mold also wants to develop thick wall simulation software, and wants to start recruiting companies to be part of a consortium that will help develop the program, Ramaekers said.
The companies would pay to join the consortium, but would get a 50 percent price break on the software and would get training and courses, he said.