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.
Dow Chemical and several other companies have launched a program in Omaha, Neb. to divert about 36 tons of plastics from landfills in its first phase, and convert it into energy used for cement production.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
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