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Advanced Elastomer Systems : Moldflow
In 1990, Monsanto Chemical Company combined its expertise in engineered thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) with that of Exxon Chemical Company. The result was the birth of Advanced Elastomer Systems (AES), a company whose mission was to bring this breakthrough technology to the marketplace and develop applications for Santoprene rubber. Today, AES is the worldwide leader in engineered TPEs, with annual sales exceeding $250 million and consistent annual double-digit growth. TPEs are used in a variety of innovative applications in the automotive, appliance, construction, consumer goods, electrical, medical, food and beverage, and packaging industries.
Goran T. Pesevski, is a Senior Marketing Technical Service Representative at AES's Akron, OH headquarters. He supports the company's customers with part and tool design and processing issues using Moldflow software and finite element analysis techniques. He says, "Customers send electronic part files that we import to our CAD systems. Simple put, we modify the files and then perform the plastic injection mold analysis using Moldflow software. We typically design for the best location to fill the part and deliver the most even fill pattern. We perform analyses on wide range of products - from screwdriver grips to automotive cup holders, cowl vent grills, hammer handles, CD cases, and even industrial floor mats. As a material supplier, we address nearly every market."
Pesevski says the biggest challenge lies in arriving at the best part and mold design. "Optimizing each to produce a quality part with excellent aesthetics, proper function and a well designed tool are key attributes. Many of our materials are used in complex over-molding applications or appearance critical applications.
"Our customers demand quality and accurate part and tool designs as well as processing recommendations. We are able to meet those demands by applying our experience and knowledge of our materials and using design tools to assist customer needs," adds Pesevski.
Software products in use at AES include several commercial CAD packages, a 2D drafting product, FEA, and Moldflow for simulating plastic injection molding analysis. Moldflow provides the upfront part and tool design requirements to help eliminate future processing issues, quality problems, and mold design change iterations. Generally the software is used as a proactive design tool, accurate technical solution provider, and a cost-effective method to design for processing. Also, there have been projects that required the use of Moldflow after the tool has been built and mold design changes are needed.
Recently, Pesevski worked on a project that consisted of an interior automotive mat that was comprised of complex geometry with many ribs. Gas traps were appearing in places that were impossible to vent the part. Moldflow was used to determine the filling pattern and the best location to gate the part without producing gas traps.
Another customer approach AES to perform a flow analysis to optimize a mold design after the mold had already been built. The customer was experiencing multiple problems with the mold. Pesevski says, "We performed the mold analysis on it, recommended runner sizing changes, and the customer realized that they could have saved at least $50,000 in molding and tooling if they used Moldflow as a proactive tool prior to building the mold." A lot of manual balancing of the mold was tried prior to using Moldflow.
"Many of our customers do not want to build prototype tools in order to save time-to-market," notes Pesevski. "Moldflow helps users to optimize part and mold design without the guesswork and can eliminate the cost and time to produce a prototype tool. In fact, the automotive industry is using Moldflow more as a routine in the design process and is requiring an analysis more regularly than any other market."
Author: Laura Carrabine