A leading player in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) contacted Plastic-IT Ltd regarding an existing moulding issue with a prototype tool that they had commissioned. Our Moldflow analysis service had been recommended to the client to provide a solution to their problem.
When parts and CAD data was received we were quickly able to determine the root cause of the problem based on many years of experience in this industry. The part had not been designed for injection moulding, the contracted prototyping company had not performed any DFM and the result was a part that could not be injection moulded without severe warpage.
Following our initial recommendation, the client agreed to modify the geometry to provide a more uniform wall thickness suitable for injection moulding. Moldflow analysis of the original and modified designs was performed and used to verify that the post-mould warpage that had been eliminated.
A new prototype mould with the revised design was commissioned with Plastic-IT Ltd and parts were delivered to the client within 10 days from receipt of order. These prototype parts were used for extensive testing in the field of application and led to a longer term relationship with the client as the concept developed into the final commercial product.
The success of this project led to a change in strategy by the client and a concurrent engineering approach to all future projects has been adopted. The benefit to the client is faster time to market and products that work the first time. The end-user has seen the project completed within budget and cost-savings have been realised more quickly.
A long-term customer of Plastic-IT Ltd that provides solutions to the Anatomical Pathology market requested our project consultancy services. The client needed us to provide assistance with the product and tooling development, manufacturing sourcing and process development for overseas production of their new products. As part of this 2-year programme, we were asked to drive the design qualification for tooling, product design, tooling concepts, Moldflow analysis, mould trial support and process optimisation/documentation.
Sourcing and manufacturing overseas can always present a challenge. There are many differences in culture, engineering standards and ethics, however, Plastic-IT Ltd has experienced and participated in many projects in the Far East in recent years. This particular project was a multi-million-pound investment for the client which was to yield in excess of 100M components per annum.
One of the product lines was a new concept and included a number of unique features which required prototyping and validation testing prior to approval. Our focus was directed towards designing and manufacturing single cavity tooling of each variant to be used for design, tooling and process verification. When all testing was successfully completed, the production tools were manufactured as an exact copy of the single cavity tooling concept (with multiple impressions) to ensure that all verification studies were replicated and relevant.
Working with overseas suppliers for these projects required regular communication and onsite visits, particularly in the development stages. Plastic-IT Ltd undertook multiple overseas trips to ensure that the tooling and injection moulding facilities delivered to the specifications requested.
A defence technology company approached Plastic-IT Ltd with a design concept for a multi-component assembly using innovative polymer solutions. The client had approached a number of other consultants and moulding companies for assistance with the development of their concept, however they had not been able to find a supplier who was willing to commit to such a leftfield project. The materials chosen by the client were also unusual and the material suppliers were not confident of the outcome either – this was really pushing all boundaries.
Overmoulding of metals or other polymers is a common application in injection moulding, but this design required a totally encapsulated component. This has some unique challenges and requires a novel approach to deliver the result, an additional challenge came in the form of the materials to be moulded which included a foaming agent.
Prototype tools were initially manufactured to provide a multiple thickness part, this enabled studies on the material foaming and its characteristics as these influenced the part performance. The next stage considered the overmoulding of other components with the foamed material to provide a fully encapsulated part without visibility of the internal structure.
This R&D project has developed over a 12 month period, at each stage of the process we have exceeded the expectations of the client in achieving what was thought to be unachievable. We have successfully developed the process and tooling configuration and is able to produce prototype parts with all the features of the final product to facilitate testing and verification of the design.
A leading UK manufacturer of returnable transit packaging requested CAE support from Plastic-IT Ltd for their new range of containers. Their in-house moulding operation has used our service many times previously and recognise the benefit of Moldflow analysis in the development of new tooling. They have benefitted from the technology that is available and coupled with our expertise they are able to optimise their product design and tooling construction in order to maximise productivity.
The new container featured some deep pockets which could not be cooled sufficiently using traditional methods and the general shape of the part required unconventional material feed positions to provide a uniform filling.
A series of mould filling simulations were performed to deliver an optimised filling pattern. The mould cooling circuit performance was then analysed and the results interpreted by our skilled engineers. Mould cooling can account for up to 80% of an injection moulding cycle and is often overlooked. For this project, we recommended that the cooling circuit was modified to incorporate high thermal conductivity metal inserts in key areas. This provided the best possible heat extraction from the tool and delivered a significant cycle time reduction too.
Using our expertise in Moldflow analysis during the early design stages of this product enabled the client to determine the optimum material feed configuration and mould cooling circuit prior to any mould steel being cut. Getting the design right first time provided the customer with the shortest time to market and delivered cycle time savings compared to the existing product line resulting in a 50% increase in productivity.
A local Product Design Agency had developed a new medical device for their customer. They contacted us to supply a range of precision plastic prototype parts which would be used for field trials.
The assembled device consisted of 5 injection moulded parts, one of which featured an overmoulded seal and printed surface. Some electronic components needed to be installed by the client prior to shipping to the end-user.
CAD of the assembly was supplied and subsequently reviewed with the client at our office. As part of the DFM process, a series of changes were proposed to improve manufacturability and assembly – these were accepted by the client.
T1 parts were moulded and then delivered by hand to the client 2 weeks later, this allowed us to participate in the initial assessment of the components and gain a greater understanding of the customers’ requirements and part performance.
Initial testing was completed by the end user a few days later and approval to manufacture 1500pcs of each part was received. The first stage of this project was delivered to the client within 3 weeks of contacting us, the prototype parts were used for design and product verification purposes.
Additional parts were requested a few months later for longer-term testing requirements, this time 5000pcs of each part were ordered. Using steel for our prototype moulds means that we are able to guarantee up to 50,000 shots, this provides clients with the security that these tools can even be used for pre-production runs or bridge tooling if necessary without the need for re-tooling which would be required if aluminium was chosen.