Autodesk acquired Moldlow last year and clearly is injecting digital firepower into the simulation software company founded by Colin Austin in Australia in 1978. Simulations are now delivered more than two times faster with a parallel architecture using NVIDIA Quatro FX 4800 and Quatro FX 5800 GPUs, says Hilde Sevens, senior product line manager for the Manufacturing Solutions Division of Autodesk, San Francisco. One of Autodesk’s goals is to improve accuracy of cavity simulations by providing better 3D mesh analysis. Moldflow will also be better integrated with Autodesk Inventor and other CAD models. The improvements are contained in the Autodesk Moldflow 2010 release demonstrated at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. One of the company’s big goals is to make Moldflow part of the design process at the very beginning. Many designers now use Modlflow to verify a design prior to cutting a mold. The idea is to save time and money, says Sevens. One strategy is to encourage more use of Autodesk Moldflow Adviser, a simplified and less expensive tool than Insight. Release 2.0, scheduled for next month will beef up digital prototyping options.
Meanwhile, Moldflow continues to expand its capability to test compounds, both commercial and proprietary. Simulations are developed in part from actual materials testing. Moldflow has a database of more than 8,000 commercial grades and a separate highly guarded database of more than 4,000 formulations developed for specific customer applications. A current focal point is developing improved simulation capability for long glass-fiber reinforced systems due to increased effort to cut weight in cars. As of now, there has been little customer demand for simulation of biobased materials. That may change, however, as big resin producers, such as DuPont and BASF roll out bio grades.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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