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Molders and tool makers looking for new capabilities in CAD, CAM, and CAE software will find a number of products worth investigating at this show. There is a new release of CAD design software that includes new mold-design tools. There is much more that’s new in reverse-engineering and inspection software, and a substantial crop of new software for simulating injection and blow molding, thermoforming, and profile extrusion. Recent developments in rapid prototyping systems will also get exposure in Chicago.
CAD for moldmaking
VX Corp. is the one exhibitor bringing out a new release of a full-featured CAD/CAM system. Release 8.0 includes new tools to simplify mold design—for example, a new one-step utility for creating inserts, cooling channels, and ejector pins. New flexibility has been added to parting-line creation, such as the ability to use a variety of intersecting faces. Also new is VX Design Optimizer, which allows packaging designers to easily modify a product to achieve a particular result. For example, the user could specify a bottle’s target volume and its height—the software will then calculate its width.
If you’re looking for reverse engineering or dimensional inspection software, at least three exhibitors should attract your attention. Raindrop Geomagic is showing the latest release of Geomagic Studio software that takes point-cloud data from 3D laser scanners and turns it into a polygon model. The firm’s Geomagic Qualify software compares parts or molds with the original CAD model. Similar capabilities are afforded by PolyWorks software from InnovMetric. And Kreon Technology supplies a laser scanner to fit on a CMM or CNC machine, as well as 3D digitizing software to turn the data into a CAD model.
New options for simulation
There’s a lot for injection molders at NPE in the way of new simulation software. Moldflow is on the verge of releasing version 4.1 of Moldflow Plastic Insight (MPI), which adds capabilities for simulating Trexel’s MuCell microcellular foam process and Synventive’s Direct Feed process for using hot-runner valve gates to balance mold filling. Also new is faster cooling analysis and ability to model fiber orientation and its associated effects on warpage and mechanical properties in thick, solid parts.
At the show, molders and designers can also get acquainted with two overseas simulation products that are seeking to compete with Moldflow in North America. One is Moldex 3D from CoreTech System in Taiwan. The other is Sigmasoft from Sigma Engineering GmbH in Germany. Both have new features to demonstrate. Moldex 3D, for example, has a new Extruder Module (developed in conjunction with Compuplast International) that is unusual for modeling the plastication process based on screw design, material rheology, and operating conditions.
Injection molders aren’t the only processors who can benefit from process-simulation software. Moldex 3D includes a polyurethane RIM module. Accuform SRO of the Czech Republic has developed blow molding and thermoforming simulations (B-Sim and T-Sim). The latest news is the ability to predict how printed images will distort in thermoforming or when full-body film labels are applied to blown bottles.
Meanwhile, Compuplast has new extrusion modeling enhancements, including an automatic flow-balancing feature for its Flow 2000 profile die module.
Two makers of rapid-prototyping systems are exhibiting at NPE. Stratasys is highlighting its year-old Prodigy Plus low-cost fused-deposition modeling (FDM) system designed for an office environment. Also, 3D Systems, maker of stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and other prototyping systems, will highlight its new line of SLA materials.