If you’ve had plastic parts manufactured in the past using traditional methods, you probably remember the process. You wouldn’t exactly call it hit-and-miss. The shop you worked with was reputable, and their team had the experience to take your part, design a mold, and produce samples for you to measure and test.
But despite the best efforts of everyone involved, your part came out of the initial mold trial with flaws. It may have been a visual defect, a wall thickness problem, or a design issue. It’s not surprising. With all of the variables that can affect the molding process, it isn’t easy to produce a perfect part on the first try.
Mold Flow Analysis software to the rescue
Today, mold flow analysis (MFA) software can simulate the flow of plastic through your proposed mold, allowing for enhancements to the mold design and producing high-quality parts—all before any machining is done on the tool! The MFA allows designers a look into the future, showing them how the plastic will fill the mold’s cavities and pointing out potential problems.
Everyone agrees that quality parts come from a flawless mold, and digitally simulating the process is the key to starting out with flawless tooling. Moldflow, an MFA software company owned by Autodesk, is one of the leading companies providing software to improve injection molding designs.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect from their software:
- Optimized gate locations: In the past, gates (those areas that control plastic flow to the cavities) were made smaller initially and then re-machined after sampling the part—a costly and time-consuming step.
- Mold cavities that are filled uniformly and consistently
- Ability to find visual defects: Air traps and sink marks are discovered and eliminated up front.
- Wall thickness issues are resolved
- Weaknesses in design can be corrected
- Various materials can be evaluated before production
- Improvements to the manufacturability of the part can be made
- The time it takes to get your parts to market is reduced
Will your injection mold shop always use Moldflow?
Probably not. While a mold flow analysis can be helpful for most projects, it is especially beneficial where there is a part with complex geometry and intricacies that make it more difficult to predict flow. Similarly, in parts with tight tolerances, mold flow analysis will ensure that your parts meet the required specifications with the material and tooling design.
On the other hand, you need to be able to justify the cost of conducting the analysis. The size and scope of your project must be large enough to merit the cost and labor to run the MFA.
Choose your injection mold shop carefully
The shortest distance between an idea for a plastic part and the market is a quality injection molding company. Choose a manufacturing partner with the experience to handle the flow analysis and who can also follow through by building the tooling and producing your parts. Continuity through your entire project is one of the best ways to ensure its success.