In the ongoing competition for new orders, good solutions and their optimal realization are essential for economic success. For this, companies not only need creative, hard-working and motivated employees, but, above all, qualified ones. New colleagues have a basic set of specialist know-how from existing professional experience or previous trainings. But they become qualified experts only after digesting the company's know-how as part of their introductory training and ultimately build up a wealth of experience through continuous application.
The field of plastics technology is enormously broad and hardly any specialist has the necessary knowledge for the technical implementation of new product ideas for all of the multiple materials and processing methods. Also, it is often impossible to suitably reconcile theory and practice. In injection molding of plastics and elastomers, shaping takes place hidden in machine and mold. We know material properties, processing parameters and can check out the end product – but the crucial question for the expert is what happens in-between. Scotty already inquired about transparent aluminum in Star Trek IV in 1986 (to build the water tank for the humpback whales to be transported in the Enterprise) – likewise every process engineer wishes to just see through the mold steel to understand how filling defects and sink marks actually occur.
In reality, such product defects require more extensive test series, which, depending on experience and problem, can range from systematic test series to trial-and-error. Even if the costs for material, equipment and working time are left out, it needs a lot of time. After a few trials, the process can run better, but still leaves room for more improvement. Here, simulation, for example with Virtual Molding, can be of great help: It enables the process engineer to gain deep insights into the shaping of the part. Here, the injection mold is virtually assembled with all details (including material data of all individual parts). Materials can be tested alternatively. The settings of the machine, movements, temperatures, etc. can be easily adjusted and changed. Test series, taking weeks in reality, can be automatically calculated and evaluated on the computer within hours or a few days.
The result is not only an optimal, reliable and sustainable process, but also a gain in detailed processing knowledge and added experience of the employee. This benefits the business by providing a good basis for future projects. Planning and implementations will be carried out more circumspectly and, thus, more efficiently. Since simulation allows trial-and-error without risk, there are few limits to the process expert's creative, inquiring mind. The simulation results are easy to capture and can also be communicated to colleagues or customers platform-independent (using SIGMAinteract®, for example). This way, the simulation ensures the focused further training of employees and contributes to the core competency of the company's staff.