ORLANDO, FLA. (April 4, 7:30 a.m. ET) — Autodesk Inc. (Booth 49009) is continuing to roll out simulation software to a wider range of users, introducing its new Autodesk Simulation DFM during NPE2012 to further link product designers to manufacturing.
The newest version of the simulation software gives designers the flexibility to create parts in almost any shape, but they can also get immediate feedback which will let them know if that shape can actually be molded, and the cost of building it.
“They can check the design, they can check the manufacturing, they can check the cost and do it all at once,” said Jeff Higgins, solutions engineer for the manufacturing industry group. “It gives them directional insight.”
Designers can then adjust their part to meet those molding or cost issues, but still retain control of the overall look of the product.
The file also works seamlessly with Autodesk Moldflow simulation software within the molding companies' operations, allowing designers to then export their work to the engineers who will oversee it through tooling and molding once they are satisfied with the design.
Simulation DFM is part of a growing suite of software the company is developing to help companies visualize production early in the process and cut overall development costs and time. The design for manufacturing information is part of a growing need to tear down the walls that traditionally separated designers from molders, or even tooling designers from tool makers, said Bob Williams, solution marketing managed, simulation marketing-manufacturing industry.
The company is also bringing in more details on a wider variety of material. It has offered Moldflow simulation for thermoset materials for 20 years, but increased interest in thermoset for lightweight auto parts and other components is bringing increased attention to the materials.
“There has been a reformed interest in thermosets,” Higgins said. “That lets us know what molders want and respond to the need for more information.”
Likewise, the increased use of long-glass fiber fillers in thermoplastics has led Autodesk to bring in new data in simulation to determine how the glass is affected by the molding process — whether through nozzles or in the mold itself – as well as how molding affects the structural impact of the part itself.
For instance, Higgins said, a long glass fiber may break apart during the injection process, so it does not have the same mechanical characteristics in the final part as is expected. Moving a gate can easily influence how that long glass is affected, and how the part itself meets required specifications once there is a finished part.
Molders need to know before the steel is cut for the tool exactly how the glass will react, which means they are relying on increased data on long glass fiber within Moldflow simulations.
“It's not just about increasing the accuracy of the injection molding process itself, but making sure the final pieces are a more accurate representation of what the mechanical properties are,” Williams said.
In updates to existing software, Autodesk is making it easier for its simulation products to work with the simulation packages from other companies – so firms who must use a variety of software products because of demands from customers or because of a carryover of production from an old part – can reduce the complexity of using multiple systems.
Autodesk is also introducing software that can take advantage of the multiple cores within new computers, so simulations can run faster by using all the available capacity.