In this economic climate, it is critical to create higher quality processes and parts while keeping costs as low as possible. This typically means getting analysts involved in the beginning phases of a project. Because a mold typically costs in the range of $12,000 to above $200,000, spending less money up front with analytical work will save you from costly tool re-work at the end of a project.
More businesses are turning to mold flow analysts to provide in-depth, technical knowledge before, during, and after the course of their project. Whether the analyst is internal or is a hired consultant, it is extremely important to know what type of experience and knowledge they have in order to take full advantage of their expertise.
What basic requirements should an Injection mold flow analyst (example: Autodesk Moldflow) have when analyzing the injection molding process.
- Injection molding knowledge: What type of focus does your analyst have in the injection molding sector? For instance, are they knowledgeable about mold design, polymers, and flow, etc?
Having an analyst that fully understands the scope of their position is an absolute necessity. In order to have a comprehensive understanding of their job, analysts must be knowledgeable in all aspects of the injection molding process. This includes injection molding processing, mold design, part design, and polymer chemistry and properties(e.g. a plastics engineer).
Plastics Knowledge: Is the analyst a Plastics Engineer or will a Plastics Engineer be involved?
Without a full understanding of polymers, it is extremely difficult to understand polymer behavior during processing. This understanding begins at a molecular level and extends far beyond standard processing knowledge. A Plastics Engineer is able to identify the differences between polymers and each polymer’s flow characteristics. This information can be used in conjunction with the simulation software to optimize the analyzation process. Therefore, it is crucial to have a Plastics Engineer involved with plastics processing.
Injection Molding Experience: Has the analyst ever run an injection molding machine or been formally trained on one? Does he/she understand ancillary equipment such as thermolators/chillers?
Without injection molding experience, it is difficult to properly analyze such a process.
A mold flow analyst is typically required to identify and understand polymer flow behaviors within the injection mold. Frequently, this can involve analyzing the 1st stage, 2nd stage, and cooling stages of the injection molding process. If your analyst must survey these phases of the injection molding process, it is extremely important that they have a FULL understanding of what is occurring during the injection molding process. e.g. Is the process de-coupled? Does the injection molding machine use accumulators? does the injection molding analyst understand what screw bounce is? Platen deflection? Cantilevering the tool? etc.
A flow analyst is sometimes required to make design recommendations or changes to a mold to further optimize a process. In order to understand how to suggest making such changes, it is vital that they are educated in mold manufacturing and design.
Sometimes a change cannot be made due to cooling line or ejector pin interference. Perhaps there is ‘action’ (e.g. slides, etc.) within the tool that would prohibit such changes. There are many other examples that could be cited, but the point has been made. This understanding of mold and tool design is critical in order to properly optimize a mold.
Analysts are becoming more integral in the injection molding process. It is imperative to be informed about the knowledge and experience your analyst is bringing to the table. Furthermore, it is essential to know if they have a formal understanding of injection molding processing, mold design, part design, and knowledge of polymers/plastics. Formal training and floor experience are critical. The more skills and knowledge your analyst brings to the project the more successful your project will be.
About the author
Chris Czeczuga is a Plastics Engineer, Injection molding expert, Military Veteran and the President of Bozilla Corporation. He has proven success with many OEM’s Tier 1’s, Tier 2’s, Tool Shops, Molding shops, Part Designers, Processors and Fortune 500 companies throughout the injection molding industry. A graduate from UMass Lowell, he is Expert Certified with Autodesk, has 20+ years of field experience, intimate knowledge of injection molding part, tool and feed system design. Bozilla Corporation’s success is built on providing the highest level of injection molding simulation and consulting advice to businesses who have short lead times, require an efficient, cost-effective molding process, and desire to produce a correct part before mold steel is cut.