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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

PROCAT: Engaging Students With SOLIDWORKS

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PROCAT

Prospects College of Advanced Technology (PROCAT), was the UK's first college of advanced technology which was opened by the UK government in July 2014. Based in Essex, it aims to offer students the best quality education possible with state-of-the-art technology so that they can become the next generation of engineers and skilled construction workers.

The Challenge

PROCAT needed to upgrade its existing 3D CAD system from AUTOCAD 2010 to a parametric-based software. The engineering team needed a CAD system that would meet the requirements of their Level 1, 2 and 3 courses but also a software that would let them expand their curriculum to offer the higher HNC Foundation and degree courses.
They needed a parametric CAD package that was common to employers worldwide, that would link CNC to CAM, was intuitive to 3D printing and that would meet their curriculum requirements not only for the HNC courses but also to accommodate their longer term strategy to facilitate the higher foundation degrees. They wanted a CAD package with FEA capabilities to demonstrate mechanical principles and 3D stresses. The No. 1 priority for 87 per cent of the businesses they work with is to have apprentices who can use 3D CAD and who are industry ready. It was crucial they got it right.

The Solution

PROCAT engineering department evaluated a number of CAD providers but found SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD held not only the biggest market share but also offered a comprehensive suite of tools for all their 2D and 3D teaching requirements.
One of PROCAT's industry partnerships is with Olympus Keymed, a leading manufacturer of innovative optical and digital equipment for the healthcare and electronics industries, who recommended they talked to SOLIDWORKS reseller New Technology CADCAM.
As a consequence PROCAT not only invested in a 500 Campus Education Pack, but also in full commercial seats of SOLIDWORKS Standard, SOLIDWORKS Professional, SOLIDWORKS Premium, SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium, SOLIDWORKS Plastics, SOLIDWORKS Electrical 2D and SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D, SOLIDWORKS Inspection, SOLIDWORKS Composer, CAMWorks for 5 axis manufacturing with G-code and TransMagic for data translation.

The Results

The SOLIDWORKS Campus Licence, which provides 500 PROCAT students with a SOLIDWORKS home activation kit, is an invaluable resource that gives them the chance to develop their skills outside the classroom.
The lecturers at PROCAT are now adopting a new approach to teaching CAD. Before they started students with 2D and then asked them to draw a 2D item into a third angle graphic projection - something they found difficult to express, but using SOLIDWORKS has enabled them to turn their teaching on its head and to start engaging students straight away with a prepared 3D model which they then take back to the 2D state and draw it. All of which is handled completely within SOLIDWORKS.

Getting the right equipment and package to suit not only their student requirements to complete course modules but also to offer their employer partners 'job-ready apprentices' with the confidence and skills set for when they arrive at work has been exactly what PROCAT were looking for.

"Using SOLIDWORKS has turned our CAD teaching on its head. Rather than start in 2D, I can engage students straight away with 3D models and then we can pick it apart, taking the models back to their 2D state and drawing it. I can do it all in SOLIDWORKS."

Alan Claughan
Lecturer in Engineering, PROCAT