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How many people use mold flow simulation?

C.A.D. This acronym can refer to Computer Aided Design (all flow & cooling simulations fall into this category), Computer Aided DUNCE or even Computer Aided DISASTER. As someone who has "grown up" with the development of Moldflow since 1980, with the much bigger assumptions that had to be made then when interpreting results then, I have either seen or had experience of all three definitions of CAD. I concur with Clive (with whom I share a great deal of the early experience of Moldflow) in his basic premise of what flow and cooling simulation are: tools for reducing uncertainty. In the mid-eighties I commissioned a detailed trouble-shooting exercise on a dashboard tool that had been designed by "experienced" toolmakers, but who had — bless them — managed to create a highly complex lump of steel that struggled to produce even 70% acceptable parts. First the problem was ACCURATELY ENOUGH replicated by simulation, then a more sensible feed system (mixture of hot & cold runners) was proposed and modelled by the Moldflow specialist (A HIGHLY PROFICIENT TOOL DESIGNER in his own right). The simulations of "before" & "after" created enough confidence in the automotive manufacturer (whose main production line was being hit by shortages from the tool that had been designed by experienced mold makers, remember) that they whipped it out of the press, made the changes and got near-zero defects thereafter that allowed the main production line to reach full speed again and the convoys of taxis that had been stuffed with the too-few acceptable dashboards to revert to carrying people.

I do not know how many people use mold flow simulation? I do know, however, that it is still "not enough." Even fewer link it to cooling simulation, arguably at least as important as the "heat-in" part of the molding cycle. Without this symbiotic pairing of simulation, the flow calculations have to be based on a grotesquely simplified assumption of a single mold temperature and that it remains at this temperature throughout the entire cycle (though even this will still give valuable indications on several aspects of the challenge to get good parts in a fast cycle). I have no doubt that a high proportion of inaccurate flow simulations are due to this "dumbing-down" of physical reality, especially when thin sections and long flow lengths are involved. The temperature distribution on the surfaces of an injection mold during a molding cycle should be thought of more like a choppy ocean surface than a glass-smooth mill pond. It only resembles the latter when it's either in storage or allowed to reach equilibrium (eventually) during non-production periods on the press.

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