CHICAGO — A few months after buying its largest competitor, Moldflow Corp. is gunning for two new targets: injection molding machines and e-commerce. The Lexington, Mass.-based maker of mold-simulation software plans to branch beyond its core products into new corners of the plastics industry, said Ken Welch, Moldflow vice president of marketing.
One way to reach new customers is through the Internet. The company has created www.plasticzone.com, a Web version of its software packages.
Another is by signing a technology agreement to link its products with injection presses from Batavia, Ohio-based Milacron Inc. The agreement, inked last week, allows Moldflow to load its Parts Adviser software onto Milacron's machine control systems.
Moldflow's software allows users to conduct plastics flow analyses for injection molds.
"It's of great advantage to customers," said Ron Sparer, Milacron manager of control and automation development. "It allows us to add value to machines. Our customers are under tremendous pricing pressure, and it's a way to give them increased capabilities relatively painlessly."
Through Windows NT, users of Milacron's process controls will be able to access the mold software at the touch of a bar on a screen, Sparer said. Traditionally, the software packages are isolated from the presses, taking more time for a user in a manufacturing cell to access them, he said.
Users at plants worldwide will be able to integrate their operations with the software, Welch said. "They can network parts of this and share steps," he said.
Moldflow (Booth S731) also wants users to access its software over its new Web portal. Its Plasticszone site features an Internet version of Parts Adviser under its "simulation zone" section. The section can run an analysis of a computer-aided mold design in less than 30 minutes, Welch said.
"It's one of the slickest models out there in the CAD market," said Welch.
It also features an Internet version of Moldflow's Plastics Xpert software, allowing users to monitor injection press operations from distant sites and perform diagnostic tests, Welch said.
The site broadens access to a broader class of users, he said. Instead of paying about $7,000 to buy Moldflow's Parts Adviser software, users pay a license fee of $349.95 to analyze a mold model on the Web site, Welch said.
"We can reach people who haven't done analysis before," Welch said. "It's project-based and easier to pay for."
The site also includes a materials section featuring a calculator to determine the best resin fit for a part.
This section of the site, due to launch this month, has data on 6,500 materials that also are used with Moldflow's analysis tools, Welch said.
The firm provides consulting services on its Web site for troubleshooting, and an events section lists upcoming seminars and courses for injection molding.
Welch said the site can compete effectively against larger models, including GE Plastics' Polymerland, that offer materials analyses.
Moldflow integrates information from its internal files and from C-Mold, the mold-simulation competitor the company purchased in February.
Moldflow launched an initial public offering in April, raising $34.8 million.
The company had sales of $18.6 million for the first nine months of its 2000 fiscal year on profit of $2.6 million.