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What to See at NPE 2006: CAD/CAM and CAE


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The newest generation of 3D simulation software takes aim at screw designs as well as hot-runner, mold, and part design. Two new releases improve the tools for simulating the mold-filling phase. A brand-new software program marries prototyping and finite-element analysis software in a new way to make “virtual prototypes” of PET preforms and bottles. There’s also a stronger material for rapid prototyping—PC/ABS.


New simulation software

Screw designs can be put under virtual scrutiny with a new Injection Molding Plastification simulation module from Compuplast. It helps optimize screw designs for injection molding.

Quick and accurate part and mold design checks are possible with new version 8.0 of Moldex 3D software from Coretech of Taiwan (sold here by EPS Flotek and Compuplast International). The software incorporates a new “voxel” or brick-mesh module used for new “boundary-layer” meshing that reportedly simplifies creation of a high-quality mesh for a complex 3D geometry. The meshing approach delivers fast 3D “quick-fill” analysis.

Moldflow’s new version 6.0 of Moldflow Plastics Insight (MPI) features a new 3D Warp solver that calculates part warpage faster than before, and a coupled 3D flow solver that is 34% faster. New version 7.3 of Moldflow Plastics Advisors (MPA) 3D-solids-based software for molding feasibility analysis has upgraded the prediction of filling, part thickness, and warpage. Moldflow is also unveiling its new Communicator 1.0, a full-featured simulation viewer that is available for free. Also new is Simalink software that allows data sharing between simulation and control products.

Virtual prototyping software from Plastic Technologies comes together with Abaqus FEA software in a new service that eliminates prototyping and testing of PET preform and bottle concepts. One software package can create a virtual part that is “tested” in a virtual laboratory. Product is run through a virtual oven, where a 3D temperature profile of the part is established. It is then virtually blow molded and wall-thickness distribution is predicted. From that, FEA software can define the properties of the virtual bottle with higher accuracy than before.

And in the field of structural FEA, Abaqus will introduce more than 115 improvements its version 6.6 of its ABAQUS software suite.


Smarter CAM

DP Technology’s new Esprit Mold CAM software for high-speed three- and five-axis machining utilizes knowledge of in-process stock, remaining material, and integrated simulation and verification for fast programming of a wide variety of 3D machining applications.

New Mastercam X CAD/CAM software for two- to five-axis milling, turning, wire EDM, and surface and solid modeling allows users to tailor preferences by working through a customizable interface. It helps create sophisticated 3D sculpted images from simple 2D artwork.


Rapid prototyping progresses

New Dimension BST and SST 1200 large-format 3D printers for rapid prototyping from Stratasys’ Dimension Printing unit are priced under $30,000 and have 57% larger working envelope than previous models. Stratasys is also introducing PC/ABS material for stronger rapid prototypes that improve prediction of the performance of the end product. And a new online rapid-prototyping and rapid-manufacturing service called Redeye RPM was started just last fall by Stratasys. It has its own booth at the show.