CAN IT BE MADE?

Engineering analysis software would be a lot more accessible if you could just ask computers questions like: can a part be made, which material is most suitable, or what happens if I change part thickness? The greatest barrier to this approach has been the limitations imposed on designers by traditional FEA packages that are difficult to set up and harder still to interpret the results.

C-Mold, based in The Netherlands, claims to have come up with a solution: 3D Quickfill is a plastics FEA software module which accepts solid geometry models from any CAD package. The engineer does not have to worry about a meshing procedure and the injection moulding simulation results are displayed directly on the solid model in an average of 15min, often less.

One of the most important features of the software is the materials data system. The company found out which materials are most important to the designer and then built a system that allowed the user to develop a custom database that could include thousands of candidate materials.

3D Quickfill reads in the three dimensional part information using the well established rapid prototyping format, the STL file. Because it is `meshless’, the part engineer, the mould engineer and the injection moulder can read in part information at any time during the design process and get answers.

The engineer designing a part can quickly evaluate many ideas, adjusting either the geometry or trying another material or process. He then knows his part volume, and with the predicted cooling time and the specified material, he can judge what the cost will be.

Because the mould engineer is working with the same solid model as other members of the design team, discussions about various mould layouts and geometries and gate locations become more useful. The software shows the filling of the material, the pressure, as well as clamp force.

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