Most mold manufacturers do not use material flow analysis software as a part of the mold design process as a general rule. Yet, because the mold is such a critical part of the success or failure of the entire molding process, all available tools should be used. That’s the opinion of Rick Carobus, president of EPS Flotek, a mold and material flow simulation service company and reseller of MoldEx 3D analysis software.
“This has always been seen as a luxury item by many moldmakers,” Carobus told PlasticsToday at NPE2012. “While they understand that it will save money in the long run, they know it’s not necessary to build or run a mold. Some OEMs will spend money to do an engineering change on the back end, however they won’t spend money to make it right on the front end.”
Generally the process starts with the part designer and from there, in succession, goes to the tool designer, the tool builder, the molder, and finally the parts get to the OEM, Carobus explained. “When the part is delivered and is failing in the field someone wants a simulation analysis. We don’t want to get involved at that point. We want to work with the part designer or the tool designer at the front end of the project because as you move up the ladder, the mold gets more expensive to fix. But, we seem to get involved at the back end about equally with the front end involvement.”
OEMs requiring process flow in initial bid
That said, Carobus acknowledges that business has picked up considerably as some markets, such as the automotive industry, require process flow analysis and design validation prior to the mold build. “More advanced industries like the automotive will automatically include mold and material flow analysis in their design,” he noted. “Big companies tend to have this capability in-house, but some will depend on the mold maker to perform an analysis on the part design prior to cutting steel.”
Often material suppliers will run a quick analysis to support the use of their material. “Does it really help the OEM or solve any problems?,” asked Carobus. “They might miss things. It’s not just running an analysis but knowing what you’re looking for—looking for real molding conditions and doing it right is what counts. Many companies own the software but don’t optimize the part design or tool design. They spend money then complain they didn’t get the information they needed. But are they using the tool correctly? Even with the stuff that’s easy to use can give you bad results.”
Some OEMs depend upon the tool builder to run the analysis. Industrial Molds Group purchased the MoldEx 3D software from ESP Flotek several years ago, however due to a change in personnel, they lost some of the talent that knew how to use it. A few months ago, they re-evaluated the software and decided that it was a good tool, and that they weren’t using it the way it was meant to be used to provide benefits to both their