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Jada Plastics : Moldflow
Rochester, NY-based Jada Plastics is a custom injection mold operation running 28 machines ranging in size from 60-390 tons. Its 70 employees work around the clock five days per week. The company typically molds small to medium sized, tightly toleranced, mechanical components for the automotive and office equipment industries. Dr. David Crispino, president and mechanical engineer, performs all the plastic flow analysis using Moldflow software from Moldflow Corporation (Wayland, MA). The company also uses SolidWorks MCAD software for designing its own tools in-house.
Whenever Jada accepts a new job, the first thing Crispino and his team do is evaluate the work from a molder's perspective. "We try to understand the features and/or components of the design that either inhibit us from molding it successfully or options we can change to make it more moldable," says Crispino. He says they study issues such as tool design, gating, and cooling - considerations that are inherent to fundamental molding. "In addition, we also look closely at elements that are involved in adhering to tight tolerances," notes Crispino. "We ask, 'How are we going to measure the part after we mold it?' When working with plastic parts, there are usually some challenges in this area. We are not measuring screw machine parts that have nice, true surfaces. Because of these issues, we believe in spending a lot of upfront time into these types of activities."
Jada Plastics is using Moldflow's Fusion and Flow modules. Crispino uses the software to evaluate and determine gate locations, for instance to make sure weld lines will not appear in critical areas, to eliminate the possibilities of air traps, and to establish accurate pressures to fill with regard to the gate locations. Crispino adds, "The software has proven to be very effective. Since installing the software in 1991, we have found that our intuitive choices have not always been correct and Moldflow software is instrumental in making us aware of that. We also use the products when we encounter problems. For example, we use Moldflow to iterate on a design and rerun an analysis. Based on our findings, we can propose an alternate design to a part that will help in the molding of it. Moldflow definitely enhances our credibility when we present flow analyses and redesigns to a customer. We can show them an analysis in a current design and then as a modified design with a flow analysis that confirms why a change is necessary. I usually don't have much of a problem selling our recommendations, thanks in large part to Moldflow."
Over the years, Crispino has learned that issues as simple as selecting the wrong gate location can cause a chronic quality problem through the life of the product. The only way to solve such a problem is to build new cavities. "If you can predict problems prior to building any cavities, the money saved is immeasurable. The importance of doing the upfront work is worth it," Crispino explains.
Jada Plastics customers are quality driven and expect the company to conduct extensive advanced quality planning in order to reduce overall costs while ensuring top quality products. "Increasingly," Crispino adds, "they want product on time with no defects. These requirements are becoming quite challenging, especially for smaller operations like Jada Plastics. The bottom line is that our customers are asking suppliers like us to do a lot more at more economical prices. Using Moldflow products helps us meet those requirements. The software is a valuable tool for prove out our designs prior to building them and to try to avoid any costly mistakes that might occur."
Crispino says that Moldflow software helps save time and money because they use it to prevent costly mistakes. "So far, we have not made a mistake with a wrong gate location using the software."
Many times, Jada customers try to save money and material by decreasing part wall thickness. Moldflow is used to determine if the part will properly based on the specified material, geometry, and wall thickness. Crispino notes, "Using Moldflow, we can make strategic recommendations."
Recent Jada project
An automotive supplier approached Jada Plastics with an existing part - a decorative component of a wiper system. The part had an inherent air trap that was causing a scrap rate as high as 35% and a secondary sort by the current supplier before the parts could be shipped. "Using Moldflow, we analyzed the existing part and existing gate locations," says Crispino. "We wanted to understand the current quality issues they were experiencing. Using Moldflow, we created the air trap within the existing model. Then, we made modifications to the wall thicknesses and the gate locations. Lastly, we performed a flow analysis. In the end, we created a design that eliminates the air trap. We presented this new design to our customer showing them the animation of the two models - before and after. The result was a very powerful and convincing tool to persuade the customer that the latter design change was meaningful and should be adopted. They agreed and today the parts are being generated at a near zero scrap rate."
As an early Moldflow user while doing post-graduate work at Cornell University, and his use of the software at Jada since 1991, Crispino believes his experience helps give Jada a competitive edge. "Not many molders our size have this capability in house," says Crispino. "We recognize that Moldflow is a good tool and it adds to our ability to address work with more precision than our competition. The technology helps us avoid mistakes, even small ones, that others who don't have the technology might experience. We are taking a proactive approach to our work."
Typically, the Jada engineer who handles the CAD system creates an STL file of the CAD model. He sends it to Crispino. Using Moldflow, Crispino meshes it very quickly. "Usually," Crispino adds, "within 30 minutes or less we have a flow analysis. So we can quickly react to our customers. I think some of the features such as mesh generation and mesh editing have come a long way. In addition, we have no problem justifying the cost of maintaining an active Moldflow license. The return on investment has paid for itself many times over."
Trends in the industry
Crispino says that increasingly, suppliers are being asked to become more design responsible. "Tier one and tier two suppliers are expected to take on more design responsibility and are looking for more help from their suppliers. I think in light of that challenge, having tools such as Moldflow makes you more proficient in being able to service your customers. Having the ability to react quickly and maintain flexibility in a fast-paced environment is important in order to remain successful. The more service and built-in quality we can provide for our customers pays off in the long run. Moldflow is helping us address these bottom line issues. The pay-off is that everyone benefits."
For more information about Moldflow and its products, visit www.moldflow.com.
Author: Laura Carrabine