Research projects at SIMCON
CoSiMa - simulation-based setup parameters on the injection molding machine
The research project on “Linking simulation and machine in order to optimize the production process for injection moldings”, or CoSiMa for short, is aimed at achieving continuous communication between process simulation and the injection molding machine. Together with the IKV, international and German companies and the Slovenian research cluster, Tecos – Slovenian Tool and Die Development Center, Celje, Slovenia, a transfer function is being developed for the purpose of transferring simulation-based setup data records directly to the injection molding machine. Using a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) as an intermediary between the simulation and the machine, the machine operator can receive support in the setup process too, by having the simulation results from a relevant process window made available.
HyTraM – laser-structured surfaces through micro/macro simulation
The aim of this project is the production of high-strength plastic/glass composites capable of withstanding thermal shock by means of an innovative laser-based bonding technique. Micro and nano-scale laser structuring is used to activate and modify the surface of the glass component before the composite is produced by means of laser transmission welding or back molding.
VMAP - virtual material modelling in production
The aim of the ITEA-VMAP project is to achieve a joint understanding and interoperable definition for virtual material models in CAE. On the basis of industrial application cases from key material areas and with representative production processes, new concepts are being developed for a universal interface for the exchange of material for virtual engineering workflows. Interoperable virtual material models and the seamless transfer of the material data history in a CAE workflow enable users in industry to develop and produce better products in a shorter time and in more efficient production processes. With the aid of interface standards, CAE software developers and suppliers can develop further virtual material models which can be readily integrated into holistic design, simulation and optimization workflows.
TSchaum – 2K sandwich injection molding
Together with the Lightweight Construction Network of the KUZ Institute, we are developing a software tool for two-component sandwich injection molding with the option of using a foamed core component.
VentOpt research project – optimization and simulation of venting systems
In the VentOpt research project, we worked with our project partners on the development of an innovative method for designing venting geometries in injection molds. This is intended to ensure that the entrapped air can be eliminated as rapidly as possible, on the one hand, while avoiding the development of damaging flash, on the other. Software was developed to this end which simulates the venting of the injection mold and thus permits the layout of the vent openings to be determined. On this basis, corresponding venting channels can be incorporated in the injection mold in the form of innovative, functional microstructures, employing contemporary production processes such as laser or micro-milling technology. The results of the simulation were evaluated on the basis of actual injection molds. The new method reduces the number of rejects and the finishing work, and additionally cuts back on the use of material and energy, while also shortening production times. Flash-free parts also permit considerably better surface finishes in the case of chrome plating, for example.
RubSim - simulation of shrinkage and warpage for rubber
Injection molding tests with elastomers are particularly time and cost-intensive. The major influence that the temperature profiles exert on the crosslinking of elastomers, together with the long crosslinking phases and the elaborate tests required to detect defects such as insufficient or excessive vulcanization, make for a great deal of work. This is why, in the RubSim 1&2 research project, Simcon has now integrated a model for the simulation of rubber materials in Cadmould® that accurately calculates quality-relevant criteria such as shrinkage and warpage. The part, the mold and the production process can now be optimally designed more rapidly and inexpensively while ensuring a constant high quality at the same time.
By integrating the research results in Cadmould, it is now possible to precisely determine temperature profiles and the filling and curing phase, and hence to determine the shrinkage and warpage behavior of elastomers as a function of the process and material parameters.
OPTISYS - optimal LED lenses with Cadmould
German companies are world leaders in technology for the optical industry. Their innovative systems have proved successful, especially in the automotive and mechanical engineering sectors. High-performance parts in transparent plastics are gaining ever-increasing importance. Rapid, flexible and energy-efficient industrial processes are decisive if parts are to be produced in a cost-efficient manner for increasingly complex applications in future.
This research project is aimed at sustainable process optimization for the production of optical parts in plastic. The central aspect of the work is the development of simulation models for the injection molding of multi-layer parts in transparent plastics. Our comprehensive know-how and more than 25 years’ experience permit the development of precise simulation models for high-end optical applications which will constitute a key component in the design and production of optical plastic parts over the long term. With this project, we are pursuing the aim of improving the current state of the art for the shrinkage and warpage prediction of optical plastic parts by one order of magnitude.
NFC – simulation model for Natural Fiber Compounds
The trend toward renewable materials in industrial production has prompted a great deal of interest in plastics with natural fiber reinforcement. The use of sisal, hemp or flax, however, constitutes a challenge for the designers of injection molded parts. When injection molded, these Natural Fiber Compounds (NFC) display fundamentally different behavior from compounds containing conventionally used fibers. The changed flow behavior is due to the completely different properties of the natural fibers. They are considerably longer and more flexible, and their lower density for the same proportion by weight means that they account for a volume component that is many times greater in the compound. The simulation models employed for glass fibers to date cannot therefore be used. As a partner to the research project on “Material and flow models for natural fiber reinforced injection molding materials for practical use in the automotive industry”, we have further developed material models for the simulation of injection molding processes using NFC. The result is a simulation that meets industrial requirements on all counts. Cadmould® now also describes the orientation of natural fibers – with an accuracy comparable to that of the scientific, micromechanical calculations of the University of Wisconsin. The simulation requires only a fraction of the computing time, thus ensuring it can be used in the design of complex parts and also for longer flow paths, such as those in multi-cavity molds.
Pro4Plast – simulation instead of trial and error
Simulation constitutes a key aid in the development of complex plastic parts. The option of realistically simulating process parameters, such as pressures and properties and also shrinkage and warpage, makes up for the lack of skilled workers and reduces the amount of work and the costs for the processor. In the course of the research project, a systematic approach and the PDGS software (Product Development Guidance System) was developed for product planning from the idea through to the serial process ready for production. This makes it possible to structure, systematize and optimize the product development process. One decisive point in the project was the compilation of software to simulate the injection molding process of parts with inserts and overmolded parts. On the basis of projects with industry, it was proven that considerable time and cost savings are possible through the use of a structured product development process based on the stage gate method which is supported by the Cadmould simulation software.
Medimold - simplified production of metal/plastic parts
In the “Medimold” research project, we worked with research partners to develop a single-stage production process for metal/plastic hybrids. Metal/plastic hybrids are used for printed circuits, for example. The new process reduces setup and assembly times during production as well as cutting back on the amount of material required and the number of work steps. The intelligent combination of plastic and metal in a hybrid part minimizes weight. Producers then save costs, since finishing work is no longer required, and processes can be completed in a single step. To date, metal parts manufactured in a separate process have been overmolded to produce hybrid parts.
The “Medimold” research project went one step further: Together with our partners, we developed a more rapid and cost-efficient single-stage process for the production of hybrid parts. The metal conductor is injected onto the plastic part in one and the same mold. As of October 2019, Cadmould 3D-F will be available in Version 12, offering extended functionality for molten metals for the first time.
AdvancedPartSim - New simulation methods for the structured development of highly complex plastic parts
Together with national and international project partners, we developed innovative simulation methods that could be integrated as a connecting element between the system manufacturer and mold maker. Four new simulation methods for component development were developed:
• Structured feasibility study
• Lifetime estimation of dynamically stressed parts
• Robust injection molding process
VIM – automatic, targeted plastic system optimization
The original version of the Varimos program was developed in the international VIM project (Virtual Injection Molding) sponsored by the EU. A total of 22 research partners from 10 European countries participated in the project. The EU project resulted in “Varimos”, a new strategy for the virtual and real optimization of plastic systems. Both our experience in the field of simulation and the experience acquired by Dr. Gierth Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH in the field of process optimization were channeled into the process optimization. In 2008, together with Dr. Gierth Ingenieurgesellschaft, we set up the “Varimos” injection molding development plant at our company headquarters in Würselen, and the two companies have been engaged in intensive cooperation since that time.
Working with the IKV Institute of Plastics Processing in Aachen, in the MatOpt research project we optimized a process for calibrating the material data contained in the database for the plastic being processed. This enables us to output practically relevant results for parameters such as shrinkage.
Project partner: IKV