An enlightened approach to mold flow analysis
All the high-tech tools in the world are useless – unless you take an enlightened approach to apply them to improve your products, processes and how you anticipate and solve problems. A case in point is mold flow analysis (MFA). Here’s how New Berlin Plastics approaches it differently, and how its customers benefit.
“Our school of thought is that MFA is a critical part of our mold design and production processes,” explains engineering manager Dan Manning. “Surprisingly, some customers and competing molders don’t believe in it, or use it selectively, depending upon the part they’re working on. We use it with every part.”
The data from these simulations help New Berlin Plastics to provide its customers with meaningful, actionable insights about proposed changes to their mold design.
“We rely on it to drive smarter decisions. That saves our customers a significant amount of time and money compared to making modifications to existing tooling,” he adds. But he emphasizes that it’s highly dependent upon material data. “Because this is a predictive analysis tool, a well-characterized material helps us do a more accurate simulation.”
MFA is a key part of LaunchLogic, New Berlin Plastics’ system that combines a streamlined and optimized launch process and rigorous data collection and analysis with proprietary software that enhances communication and collaboration during the project launch.
This agile, responsive, closed-loop communication framework ensures that questions are promptly answered. It also enables quick course corrections to keep projects on track. The result is a 98% on-time launch track record, achieved over 100 simultaneous open customer projects.
Mold flow analysis provides the New Berlin Plastics engineering team with a wealth of data about the thermoplastic material the customer has selected and how it will behave in their proposed mold design. It can help to identify problems with:
- Back pressure in the mold cavity
- Uniformity of flow throughout the mold
- Air traps
- Deficiencies in runner and gate design
- And much more
The engineering team’s interpretation of this data enables customers to make subtle changes to their tool designs – ideally, before they have them produced. It may even lead to a material change if needed. “If the simulation shows problems with warpage or other inconsistencies, we may recommend a material that provides more consistent results,” Manning says.
How does New Berlin Plastics’ approach to MFA compare to other molders?
“For starters, not all molders have this capability in-house,” Manning points out. “That’s critical because the data and insights it provides aren’t just used to optimize tool design. It also helps us to optimize its manufacturability.” Having this expertise in-house ensures that these two complementary processes flow smoothly, accurately and quickly.
The New Berlin Plastics engineering team also goes the extra mile to extract insights from every simulation.
“When each project is complete, we do a cross-functional analysis of what the MFA data predicted versus what actually happened. We store that data and refer to it when we encounter new projects with similar part designs,” Manning emphasizes. That rigorous approach enables his engineering team to anticipate and mitigate potential challenges in mold and part designs sooner.
“We believe we use MFA data better than any other molder,” Manning concludes. “In this day and age, there’s no excuse for gutfeel, seat-of-the-pants decision-making when it comes to mold design and optimizing casting processes. MFA – and the expertise to interpret its results – is a must.”