Consulting Services – An Air Bag Cover part was initially analyzed for mold filling analysis by a third party company for the toolmaker. This part had hot drops and tool was made as per suggestions from this third party company. The tool builder and molder went through some initial tryouts only to find out that tool will not fill without exceeding the clamp tonnage and weld lines were not acceptable at all. After spending over $25000 in 7-8 tryouts and many meetings, Ideal Tech was consulted for problem solving by both parties. Since design modifications were frozen due to delay in the program, Ideal Tech expertise had the options of tooling and process modifications to get acceptable parts. Ideal Tech expertise recognized key gating and some processing issues in the first tryout. IT noticed that the previous simulation was not accurate match and gating suggestions although indicated some flow issues, these warnings were unnoticed by the previous source. Upon confirmation, Ideal put together new modified feasible gating options, improved processing, and a creative flow leader option without affecting original design intent. These changes were verified and validated through newer corrected simulation runs. These suggestions were immediately implemented in the tooling and processing within few days. The tool was re-run and acceptable parts were made within first few shots. This resolved a long pending dispute between toolmaker and molder about tooling issues and tool was shipped to the manufacturing plant.
Lesson – expertise, capabilities, and experience are worth more than cheaper costs. Many other companies offer analysis services that are performed poorly and many details/possible problems are ignored or un-noticed. Due to such mistakes, many times the end user ends up paying for initial cost of CAE as well as high costs of tool changes, engineering changes, and molding. Use only expert professionals that have the experience and capabilities. Avoid low cost service providers that provide cheap promises and cost you a bundle.
Design, FEA, and Mold Flow Analysis – A load bearing support frame part had a subgate at the end of the part. Middle of the part had several thick sections and varying thickness sections. Parts were filling and passing the field structural test. Parts had heavy sink issues and were not acceptable to OEM. Molder was reluctant to make any changes in the gating and wanted to reduce thickness. Ideal Tech was contacted for the review and analysis. FEA tests indicated that reduced thickness can improve sink and processing but may jeopardize structural failure due to reduced load capacity. Ideal Tech was able to show the molder that gate location change is imperative to satisfy all of them and furthermore it can save on overall molding cycle. After several discussions about product design issues and gating locations, customer reluctantly agreed to try the new solution. The tool was modified to change the gating to the middle of the part near the thick section. A very first tryout produced acceptable sink marks and cycle time was reduced from 38 sec to 29 sec and all parts passed the field test requirements. Total savings were in thousands of dollars in overall production costs.
Lesson – Non-Uniform thickness or thick sections are sometimes design requirements. A proper balance of design, tooling, and processing is at stake. Functional and aesthetic issues take the priority over tooling and processing in such cases. It is a good idea to optimize product design, tooling, and processing through FEA and moldflow analysis combination before any tool build and save on design, tooling, and production costs. It can also help avoid costly engineering changes and program delays.
An innovative consumer product maker needed help to bring new products to the market. Initial artistic sketches and renderings were approved by the customer and chose Ideal Tech to take care of design, tooling, and molding for them. Ideal Tech accepted the challenging task of making art into a realistic buyer sample model in about two months. Ideal Tech initiated the project work with “LEADER” (Listen, Evaluate, Aspire, Design, Engineer, Render) approach. Several reviews and web meetings were used to collaborate on several design issues and finally a complete product design with several components was finalized. Using few different rapid prototype options, Ideal put together a realistic working sample model for the customer who then presented it to buyers from national chain retailers. The customer came back with a big order not just for one product line but for two of them. The customer was requested to submit another size product in the same category. Design team was once again given a task designing a second new product over next two months. Engineering evaluated all CAD models for tooling, processing, and tight tolerance requirements through mold fill, pack, cool, and warpage analysis. Design and Engineering finalized all CAD models that were ready for tooling and molding. Engineering team also lead in supplier selection, tool build, tool designs, and initial production. The customer and Ideal Tech worked together to review Chinese supplier capabilities, costing, and quality for tooling and molding. Customer made the final supplier selection. Ideal Engineering’s experience of thousands of parts was helpful to properly direct and guide tool suppliers to optimize tool designs for many different issues. Our engineer visited Chinese suppliers for final build process and mold tryout. After few corrections and some tryout adjustments, 20 different components were molded to make two product assemblies. The whole project was geared to get products in the consumer market shelves in nine months. Today, these products are seen in many retail stores.
Lesson – Using outside source to manage your art to part requirements can bring lot of success. The consumer company’s main business and focus is to market products successfully and should be willing to use expert source like Ideal Tech to take care of project management, design, tooling and molding. Customer never lost any control of design, tooling, or molding and did not need to invest in personnel and management to handle this. The same capital was used to focus on marketing and sales effort. This ensured that the product was sold before it came to the market.