Moldflow and FEA

Moldflow Algor Interop

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing like having a prototype to evaluate (The Value of Physical Prototypes & Moldflow and Part Visualization). This is mostly due to the fact that simulations that represent real-world performance are timely and costly to develop. I can’t remember an instance when I relied on FEA alone without empirical testing to establish actual performance of the simulation.

Autodesk is getting closer to bridging this gap between simulation and the real world by integrating key features of its large software portfolio. The first thing they did that impressed me was their integration of Moldflow and Showcase to aid in the visualization of cosmetic defects on plastic parts (re-link: Moldflow and Part Visualization).

Even more interesting and, in my opinion, useful, is their interoperability between Moldflow and Algor (FEA/mechanical simulation) which addresses the issue of simulated material properties vs. real-world material properties. Typically material properties are applied to FEA models with the assumption they are isotropic. But most injection molded plastics are anisotropic. The real material properties of injection molded plastic parts are dependent on many factors. Flow of material through the mold is an important one since it is the material flow that determines fiber and molecular orientation. This is especially important in the case of glass-filled resins; the strength in the direction of the glass fibers is greater than in the transverse direction. The magic bit of the Autodesk offering is that Moldflow results can be imported into Algor where they are used to calculate material properties at each point in the FEA mesh, better representing the plastic part coming out of the mold. Different gate locations and process parameters can be simulated through both Moldflow and Algor to determine how to maximize the performance of the part in critical areas.

Moldflow Algor Interop

It’s not going to eliminate the need for empirical testing of final parts but it definitely helps in optimizing designs early in the process.

{Update February 22, 2011: Thanks to Bob Williams (@ADSKsimulation) for the link to the video}

Have your say in the forums

Creo – PTC’s New Take on Product Development Tools

Looks like PTC is serious about integrating their somewhat disparate technology holdings with their new “Creo” suite which includes renamed versions of Pro/ENGINEER, CoCreate, and Product View. Using direct modeling tools on a history-based parametric model would be incredibly enabling for Pro/E users. I’m also digging their role-based approach to the offering and I’m looking forward to learning more about how they break out the apps and licensing for different user types.

The intro video:

Click here to watch the intro event.

Develop3D has a good summary of features.

Click here to tell us what you think in the discussion forum.

Moldflow and Part Visualization

For a while now Autodesk has been talking about digital prototyping as a means to save on costs of real, physical prototypes. True that their portfolio is quite comprehensive but there is nothing like a real, physical model for testing and evaluation. More often than not I have been able to build, test, and tweak a prototype more quickly than setting up a simulation and waiting for it to run. That said, simulations have their place in the design process and Autodesk worked out an interesting integration between 2 seemingly disparate products.

Moldflow is a great tool for evaluating plastic parts and the associated tooling and processing during the execution stage of the design cycle. Showcase is a rendering/visualization tool used primarily by upstream industrial designers. Autodesk has put together a great workflow allowing users to extract geometry from the Moldflow package and visualize it within the Showcase environment. It’s not quite as good as cutting steel and shooting parts, but definitely more cost effective.

Moldflow Insight

Comments are happening on the new Form Loves Function Discussion Forum.

HD3D – New Technology from Siemens

PLM applications are great for collecting product design data but more often than not, getting useful information out is a painful, non-intuitive process. When I see PLM data easily displayed in the 3D modeling environment I get excited.

Here are some screenshots from the promo video:

From the Siemens PLM website: HD3D – Your Dashboard for Product Development

There’s nothing like a real life demo. As expected, it’s not quite as flashy as the promotional video.

{Hat tip: @dorasmith via Siemens PLM Connection}

I Love Sketch

ILoveSketch from Seok-Hyung Bae on Vimeo.

Described as an “As-natural-as-possible sketching system for creating 3D curve models,” three students at the University of Toronto have developed the most interesting 3D design interface I have seen in a long time. They call it “I Love Sketch.” One of the things that makes this application so compelling is the way the software behaves just as a designer would expect it to; anticipating things such as intended sketch planes, gesture recognition, auto-generating symmetric curves.
They are presenting their paper (pdf) on day 2 of the 2008 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology.

A 3D curve sketching system that captures some of the affordances of pen and paper for professional designers, allowing them to iterate directly on concept 3D curve models. The system coherently integrates existing techniques of sketch-based interaction with a number of novel and enhanced features. Novel contributions of the system include automatic view rotation to improve curve sketchability, an axis widget for sketch surface selection, and implicitly inferred changes between sketching techniques. We also improve on a number of existing ideas such as a virtual sketchbook, simplified 2D and 3D view navigation, multi-stroke NURBS curve creation, and a cohesive gesture vocabulary.