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Mold Flow Analysis Can Save Your Plastic Injection Mold Design

ABIS Mold Technology Co.,Ltd Updated: May 05, 2017

The secret to a quality plastic injection molded part is a flawless mold – one that produces consistent pieces time and time again. So, what's the key to a flawless mold? In addition to a strong initial design, mold flow analysis is your secret weapon. It's an indispensable component of any plastic injection molding design project. MFA software comes at a cost, but its impact on mold quality, product performance and appearance, and production ROI is undeniable. Read on to learn how this one tool can literally save your mold design.

mold-flow-analysis-plastic-injection-mold-designPhoto Source: Jason Bailey of Moldflow Plastics Advisers

What is Mold Flow Analysis?

Mold flow analysis (MFA) software simulates plastic flow, allowing you to enhance mold design and create the highest quality products possible. This analysis provides a virtual sneak peek into how the chosen material will fill a mold's cavities and highlights potential areas of concern. Digitally simulating this process before cutting the tool allows changes to be made early on, ultimately saving money and optimizing results.

When Should Mold Flow Analysis be Used?

MFA should be conducted before tooling production launches. Software can be used to evaluate the mold design to make sure it will produce the most consistent and highest quality parts from each cavity of the tool. A virtual model of the mold is created and, using the known data and characteristics of the chosen material, the software is able to predict how the material will flow into and throughout the mold and its cavities. Different data points can be assessed, including pressure, fill time and melt temperature. Doing so allows for optimization of the process before tool production ever begins.

Is Analysis Necessary for Every Application?

The short answer: not necessarily. Just because MFA is an available resource doesn't mean it should be utilized for every project. The following factors will help determine whether MFA should be used for a specific application:

Product Geometry
Complex geometries are most likely to benefit from analysis since they are more intricate, and flow is less predictable than with a simpler geometric design. 

Tolerance Requirements
Similar to complex geometry, tight tolerances benefit from pre-tooling analysis to ensure a product will meet spec with the selected materials and tooling design.

Project Scope
This is where cost justification enters the picture. The size and scope of the project should be great enough to warrant the cost and manpower to run proper analyses.

Benefits of Mold Flow Analysis

MFA offers several benefits, including:

  • Resolve wall thickness issues

  • Optimize gate location

  • Fill mold cavities consistently and uniformly

  • Uncover weaknesses in design geometry 

  • Avoid costly tooling errors and rework

  • Improve manufacturability

  • Reduce time to market

  • Improve efficiency and quality

  • Discover potential visual defects, including air traps, sink marks and weld lines

  • Evaluate different material options pre-production to choose the best material

  • Show customer and supplier data to support your design or need for changes

MFA Software Options

Our recommendation is to work with a seasoned contract manufacturer who guides you through the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) process from start to finish. Find a manufacturing partner who has the know-how and experience to handle the flow analysis for you. Should you choose to proceed on your own, here are some existing software options:

Autodesk Simulation Moldflow

A leader in this category, Autodesk developed its Moldflow software back in 1987. The Autodesk website is bursting with useful simulation tutorial videos. Software updates are released consistently, and new versions come out each year.

Moldex3D Flow

Per their websiteMoldex3D is the world leading CAE product for the plastic injection molding industry. With the best-in-class analysis technology, Moldex3D can help you carry out in-depth simulation of the widest range of injection molding processes  and to optimize product designs and manufacturability. In addition, its high compatibility and adaptability have provided users with instant connection to mainstream CAD systems, generating a flexible simulation-driven design platform.


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