How Do You Validate Your Molds?

“Part simulation is fast. It’s something that can be done up front without impacting the overall development time."


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Using Moldflow when quoting a mold design can be very beneficial, according to Brian Pelley, plastics engineer and Moldflow technical specialist at Autodesk.


Last week MMT hosted a webinar put on by Autodesk. It was the fourth webinar they have offered to MMT readers during 2016, and this topic addressed validating molds using data collected from Moldflow analysis. Presenter Brian Pelley, plastics engineer and technical specialist on simulation and Moldflow at Autodesk, told his audience that “validating a mold is a very broad, vast subject that could be discussed for weeks or even months,” and he proceeded to encapsulate the finer aspects into the hour-long webinar.

Pelley outlined some challenges faced by mold designers, stating that there are so many factors and decisions to be considered not to mention the many variables such as part geometries, process types, materials and mold designs in general that continually change and yet one depends on each of the others. Throw in application criteria including part function, cosmetics, volume needed, economics, product life cycle and a customer’s timeline; then consider such variations as material lots, machine wear, machine cloning and mold wear. The key is to consider the impact of your choices, Pelley said, and then validate them. “Part simulation is fast. It’s something that can be done up front without impacting the overall development time,” he said. “It’s important to start there and add details as they develop, including runner systems, venting, cooling and heating simulation, as well as design of experiments.”

The webinar outlined the best opportunities for using Moldflow simulation to validate a mold design, and Pelley points out the value of beginning with part design. Simulation can help influence part design when discussing concept, material selection (flow quality, shear stress, etc.), prototyping and cost estimates with the customer (think DFM). Surface finish and texture also can play a critical role, Pelley said. In mold design, simulation can be helpful in quoting and mold layout and concepts and perhaps also during fabrication, though Pelley said at that point it may be less advantageous. In process development, simulation can also give the moldmaker and molder a “big bang for the buck”, not to mention in troubleshooting. Pelley also discussed simulation methods and provided many video clips showing Moldflow in action.

Click here to view this Autodesk webinar and learn more about how to use Moldflow to validate your molds.

Be sure to view the earlier webinars from Autodesk, too, if Moldflow and simulation are of deeper interest. Simply click on the topics below…

Are You Over or Under Engineering Your Plastic Component? (Presented on September 7)

Using the Power of DOE to Design Process and Part Improvement (Presented on June 22)

Practical Considerations for Conformal Cooling Designs (Presented on April 27)