Simulation technology accelerates design of reinforced-plastic parts and molds

December 04, 2015

Designing parts and molds using reinforced materials just got easier and faster with e-Xstream engineering's new technology. A MSC Software company, eXstream engineering (Luxembourg) has introduced Digimat-RP/Moldex3D (an OEM version of Moldex3D embedded in Digimat-RP) that provides structural engineers using computer aided engineering (CAE) software with easy fiber-orientation estimation.

Philippe Hebert, Product Manager for e-Xtream engineering, told PlasticsToday that designing for reinforced plastics can have challenges because in the injection molding process the fibers can go in any direction, depending on the geometry of the part and the process setup. "Because there are locally different fiber orientations everywhere in the plastic part, we end up with a complex behavior," he said. "With material modeling using Digimat, we can tell the engineers how the material behaves locally, depending on the fiber orientation, both from non-linear stiffness and failure."

The new solution provides structural CAE engineers with an accurate estimate of fiber orientation for their finite element analysis (FEA). "Usually the engineers who simulate the reinforced plastic parts have to make assumptions about the way the material will behave. So they are not able to predict part behavior," said Hebert. "E-Xstream engineering was born because we decided to connect the information from the manufacturing process simulation with the structural analysis process. By doing so, we allow engineers to get rid of assumptions and fully predict what the material will do through simulation. They can actually see what will happen to the part and, therefore, make the right design decision."

An additional benefit, Hebert noted, is optimized use of the material in the part. "Because all assumptions on material behavior can be removed, the design of plastic parts can be efficient and lead to weight reductions from 10% up to 40%," he explained.

Digimat-RP/Moldex3D benefits from the integrative technology of Digimat-RP, allowing easy and accurate non-linear analysis of reinforced plastic parts through advanced non-linear micro-mechanical material models and an intuitive user interface. Digimat-RP/Moldex3D brings efficiency of predictive plastic part analysis to a whole new level, according to the company. Multiple process/design iterations for part optimization (i.e., confident lightweight design) can now be achieved within a single day. Hebert added that, in the past, cycle time for getting the simulation done used to take up to two weeks. Now with the Digimat-RP/Moldex3D product, e-Xtream engineering says that four to five iterations a day are possible.

Using the new Digimat-RP also simplifies the need for multiple software programs, such as one program for injection simulation used by process engineers and a second one for structural engineers. This is not efficient because often a project depends on contributions from several departments, a "blocking point" for customers, explained Hebert. "Digimat-RP/Moldex3D changes this paradigm and provides structural engineers with direct and easy access to injection simulation and fiber-orientation estimation, thereby significantly improving the efficiency and accuracy of plastic part analysis."

E-Xstream engineering is headquartered in Belgium and Luxembourg, with team members located globally. As a part of the MSC family, e-Xstream engineering has additional team members in China, India and the United States.

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