VISI Flow Is Vital For Formaplex Mould Tool Integrity
“Within the first month of using VISI Flow to analyse the correct filling pattern and maximise our process parameters, we saved the cost of the software.”
Adrian Chapman, Technical Director
“Aluminium moulds, in particular, can be damaged if filled from the wrong position, in the wrong sequence, or by excessive pressure with inadequate clamp tonnage. It’s all too easy to blow the mould and damage the parting faces. But VISI Flow shows us all potential manufacturing issues such as welding lines, air traps and the best gate location, before the mould is trialled.
“We can quickly analyse where the pressure is going to be too high, whether the material will freeze too quickly, if we need to have more than one gate and whether they’re in the right place. Once we’ve analysed and understood exactly what we need to do we can advise the customer on any necessary changes such as part thickness modification, changing the material or re-engineering.”
Initial studies of moulded features and draft check analysis tell him all he needs to know to complete his initial Design for Manufacturability (DFM) work. He then carries out initial fill studies where VISI provides the same level of control over injecting molten polymer into the mould cavity as is available on the moulding machine. The simulation provides the ability to forecast and visualise how a component will be filled by the plastic melt front, making it possible to identify any potential aesthetic issues. VISI Flow provides a number of analytical tools that allow the investigation of moulding variables such as pressure, temperature, shear stress, frozen skin, fibre orientation, clamping force and many others.
“With VISI I can quickly analyse the customer CAD data to verify moulding feasibility by checking for draft conditions and undercut features; then VISI Flow shows the capability of successfully moulding the required plastic part.
“We use the part splitting tools to create parting faces, enabling us to quickly design the main core and cavity block. Once we have those finalised, we model the sliders, lifters and any other small components – whether they’re automatic or manual – and incorporate them into the mould tool.
“With VISI we can simulate the mould kinematics and correct any issues before we start cutting expensive metal. It gives a very clear indication of all areas where problems could arise. We can give our customers full and accurate information regarding the development of their mould tools. Without it, our dynamic approach and customer service would definitely be hindered.”
He says once the mould tool is complete it undergoes a maturation procedure – a series of process trials that monitor and review the continuous improvement of the product until the component is ultimately accepted
The company operates out of 150,000 square feet across three ‘state of the art’ sites in Hampshire, and is expanding with a further 120,000 square feet purpose built facility in 2016. Specialist Engineering is a crucial division of the business which supports the Metrology department, where moulded components are accurately inspected and measured with the latest CMM technology. Formaplex design and manufacture bespoke fixtures for the inspection process, under the guidance of Specialist Engineering Manager Grant Keates.
And VISI plays a key role in this process, too, ensuring absolute accuracy and repeatable tolerances. He says they design the fixture by importing the native CAD model into VISI and creating the fixture around the critical points of the component. “The CAD data can come from our customers in a range of formats, but VISI handles it all seamlessly, which is a great advantage for our speed and efficiency of design.”
“We don’t have any real challenges or issues with designing and manufacturing our jigs and fixtures, because VISI helps us achieve everything we need to.
About the Company
Name: Formaplex Limited
- Single software solution for DFM analysis, 3D tool design, plastic flow simulation and CNC manufacturing.
- Cost effective and reliable designs with optimum moulding conditions such as well-balanced runners with symmetrical filling patterns.
- Dedicated high speed milling techniques and built-in smoothing algorithms create intelligent 3 and 5-axis CNC toolpaths for their Doosan and Kondia milling machines.
“VISI provides us with key information at the design stage and it supports the complete mould process, which ultimately ensures total end product satisfaction. Within the first month of using VISI Flow to analyse the correct filling pattern and maximise our process parameters, we saved the cost of the software.”
Adrian Chapman, Technical Director