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The most cost-effective time to optimise plastic parts for manufacturablity is during the initial stages of product design. Skipping this step can often lead to an inefficient mould design with an extremely narrow "good parts" processing window, resulting in high reject rates and time-to-market delays.

The cost of making changes early on in the design process is relatively low, but the impact is at the highest level. The sooner you optimise your plastic parts and injection moulds for manufacturability the better. The later you leave it the more the cost of change increases further downstream, and could lead to significant time-to-market delays.

The challenge in plastics part production is determining how your part or mould design impacts upon manufacturing, and how manufacturing impacts upon your design, as early as possible, and communicating this as early and frequently as necessary through the whole design-to-manufacture process. SOLIDWORKS Plastics provides all the tools you need to quickly identify any potential problems so you can make changes early in the design process.

For designers of plastic parts or injection moulds, SOLIDWORKS Plastics simulates how melted plastic flows during the injection moulding process, to predict manufacturing-related defects on your parts. Once identified, defects can be easily minimised or eliminated altogether by making changes to the part design, mould design, plastics material or processing parameters, saving energy, natural resources, time and money.

Fully integrated in the SOLIDWORKS environment, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional will analyse and modify designs for manufacturability whilst at the same time optimising for form, fit and function.

Variants

SOLIDWORKS Plastics is available in three versions, with SOLIDWORKS Plastics Standard for optimising parts for manufacturability in the early stages of design, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional being ideal for plastics part designers, and SOLIDWORKS Plastics Premium being perfect for mould designers and mould makers.

SOLIDWORKS Plastics ​Standard - for plastics part optimisation

Easy to learn and use, full embedded within the SOLIDWORKS CAD environment.

  • Analyse and modify designs at the early stages
  • Optimise for form fit and function

SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional - for plastics part designers

Answers the basic questions around whether your part will fill, where are the weld lines and will there be air traps?

  • Simulates the mould filling stage
  • Optimises part designs for manufacturing
  • Determines the best gate location(s)

SOLIDWORKS Plastics Premium - for mould designers and mould makers

SOLIDWORKS Plastics Premium gives anyone designing or building injection moulds an accurate, easy-to-use way to optimise them. Quickly create and analyse single, multi-cavity and family mould layouts, including sprues, runners and gates. You can even balance runner systems and estimate cycle time, clamp tonnage and shot size.

  • Simulates the filling and packing stages
  • Optimises single and multi-cavity mould layouts
  • Automatically balance family mould runner systems
  • Determine maximum injection pressure requirements and machine size
  • Simulate advanced analysis of insert overmoulding, 2-shot moulding, gas-assist and valve gates

Key Benefits

  • Predict and avoid injection moulding manufacturing defects.
  • Eliminate costly mould rework
  • Easy-to-earn SOLIDWORKS Plastics does not require extensive analysis or plastics expertise
  • Web-based HTML reports make it fast and easy to communicate simulation results and design advice to all members of the design-to-manufacturing team.
  • No translation issues as SOLIDWORKS Plastics works directly on your 3D model - see changes to your model and their impact immediately.
  • Powerful, fast state-of-the-art meshing system covers a range of geometries, from thin-walled parts to very thick and solidparts.
  • Intuitive user interface leads you step by step
  • Guided analysis setup with intelligent defaults and automated processes ensure simulations are set up correctly even if simulation tools are rarely used.
  • Database containing approximately 5,000 grades of commercial plastics, fully customisable for proprietary or custom materials.
  • Part designers get rapid feedback on the effect of modifications to wall thickness, gate locations, materials or geometry.
  • Mould designers can quickly optimise multi-cavity and family mould layouts and feed systems - including sprues, runners and gates.

Resources

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric London Taxis Lead the Way Towards Cleaner Air for London - Now, That's Intelligent!

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Intelligent Energy Ltd

The Company

Intelligent Energy is a leading power technology company with a globally scalable business, commercialising its proprietary fuel cell technologies with business partners across the motive, stationary power and consumer electronics sectors.

Their achievements include the world’s first manned fuel cell aircraft, in collaboration with Boeing; the world's first purpose built fuel cell motorbike, the first fuel cell vehicle to achieve whole vehicle type approval and most recently the formation of a joint venture company in Japan with the Suzuki Motor Corporation, to develop and manufacture fuel cell systems for a variety of industry sectors.

Intelligent Energy Ltd has been judged, by The Guardian's  “CleanTech 100”, to be one of Europe’s leading private companies, which is actually making a beneficial environmental impact. It is no surprise therefore, that as part of the European Union's Hytec programme, they are part of the consortium introducing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Taxis onto London's roads in the summer of 2012. This will help significantly in making the capital a leader in the deployment of fuel cell vehicles and in the implementation of hydrogen transport refuelling infrastructure, leading ultimately to reduced carbon emissions and cleaner air for London!
 
The design work for these projects has been carried out using SOLIDWORKS software. Simon Nicholas, Design Manager for Intelligent Energy, says, “The business has grown using SOLIDWORKS and the 3D capability enhances the work through better visualisation for our designers and customers.” Simon adds, “What increasingly benefits us is the demonstrated flexibility of SOLIDWORKS.”

Intelligent Energy Ltd now operates 26 SOLIDWORKS  Office Professional seats, with maintenance for these coming from NT CADCAM Ltd, due to their competitive and proven support package. 
Simon comments, “We are most likely to require assistance when installing new programmes, or a revision update. So, we simply log a call, and within 30 minutes we have a member of NT CADCAM’s support team competently guiding us through the solution we require. The service is excellent!”

SOLIDWORKS add-ins are utilised by Intelligent Energy’s engineers, such as COSMOS for structural design of the fuel cells and PhotoWorks for illustration of the fuel cell system with the drive mechanism of the vehicle or plane to be powered, for example.
Simon states, “Intelligent Energy have been able to shorten design concept & detail modelling lead times because we can check interfaces of components within the digital model. 3D technology makes so many tasks simpler, faster and more precise.”

Another example of improved working methods can be found in the ease and speed of communication with contracted machine shops. Extensive drafting of manufacturing drawings has become almost obsolete, now that eDrawings Professional and 3D models can be adopted straight into the machine shop CAM systems.

As the demand for Intelligent Energy expertise continues to grow rapidly, Simon adds, “We are looking at enrolling new employees on NT CADCAM’S training courses and utilising more of the SOLIDWORKS capabilities for greater design and system control.”

Intelligent Energy Ltd

Results

  • Enhanced work through better visualisation for both designers and customers
  • Increased benefit from demonstrated flexibility of SOLIDWORKS
  • Shortened design concept and detail modelling lead times
  • 3D technology makes many tasks simpler, faster and more precise
  • Improved working methods in the ease and speed of communication with contracted machine shops.
  • Extensive drafting of manufacturing drawings has become almost obsolete.
“We are most likely to require assistance when installing new programmes, or a revision update. So, we simply log a call, and within 30 minutes we have a member of NT CADCAM’s support team competently guiding us through the solution we require. The service is excellent!”
Simon Nicholas
Design Manager