Charles: In the SolidWorks press releases and documentation they do continually mention optimization. I agree with Beth that this is most likely in a reducing weight, cost, etc. type of way for the mold and molding process rather than actual FEA functionality? Especially since this package is completely seperate from the SolidWorks Simulation package which incorporates all FEA functionality. Since I don't believe Simulation is a requirement before buying Plastics, any FEA functionality would have to be completely inherent to the Plastics package - I.E. Plastics can't piggyback the functionality of FEA if you don't have FEA installed.
That being said, of course if you have Simulation and Plastics, you have a very strong package for developing plastics and molds. FEA could come from your Simulation package and refinement and modeling from Plastics.
So it appears that SolidWorks Plastics will be a package on its own; an addition to the Premium/Professional SolidWorks packages that already exist. Much like the Simulation package for FEA and heat transfer analysis. Is this correct?
It's great to see SolidWorks expanding the options here. I'm sure we will be seeing a CSWP - Plastics exam coming out soon.
@Tim: I think you hit on the primary benefits of this kind of integrated CAE/CAD technology. It's really about streamlining the workflow and making the high-end analysis functionality accessible in an environment and within an interface that makes sense and is familiar that is so compelling.
I'm liking the enhanced long fiber analysis option. Many times when we use blended plastic compounds with these fibers, they can be a little bit unpredictable. It would be interesting to see how well this analysis matches the actual results.
These simulation tools are great additions to the CAD products. Moldflow used to be relatively cumbersome due to the limited modeling capability of the software. Now using the same CAD software that you use for the part design to run the analyisis is a true timesaver. It also allows the part designer to look at multiple gating locations on the part and see how the plastic flows in the part before steel is cut.
Wish there was more detail about SolidWorks' plastic CAD features. Autodesk seems to get the lion's share of this article. Our company is interested in transitioning to plastic parts instead of machined parts and I use SolidWorks, so I'm looking forward to any features that might natively support injection molded part design.
@Chuck: You're right in that the goal of taking weight out of a plastic part is much like FEA, but this particularly type of simulation is really designed as a complement to FEA. It's focus isn't just on structural integrity, but rather about being able to design a plastic part and mold that is manufacturable and manufacturable in an optimized way. I suppose some FEA principles are supported by the tool, but it's really designed to highlight possible problems with a design prior to the finished design in the hopes of eliminating the need to rework expensive injection molds at the last minute.
@Naperlou and @Tekochip: Sounds like you both are on the same page as to where this kind of CAD/CAE integration can pay off in terms of optimized plastic parts design. The whole value proposition is having this insight earlier on in the process so there is less rework and less wasted time going back and redesigning. I'm sure we'll see a lot more capabilities in this space as injected molded parts are on the rise.
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