New Technology Helps Users Accurately Design Molds

VISI-Flow software helps mold shop determine optimum mold specifications.
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DMC Mold & Tool Corporation (Cary, IL) designs and builds molds for the plastic injection and insert molding industry specializing in turn key project solutions requiring prototype through class 101 production tooling. The core competency of DMC Mold & Tool begins at the front end of a project during the part design phase for manufacturability where the customer and supplier communication is most important. The design and manufacturing team at DMC Mold & Tool implements their methodology based on experience, which typically has included complex tolerance schemes, insert interchangeability, over molding or decoration (IMD) considerations. The company’s customers are primarily custom plastic molders, such as Nypro, Inc., Seaquist Perfect and Ironwood Industries, Inc. Their customers include Research In Motion, Palm One, Kyocera, Whirlpool, Baxter and Cardinal Health.

Dustin Carlson is DMC Mold & Tool’s president and owner. He says highest among the challenges of designing and building molds is maintaining customer requirements, such as adhering to their quoted cycle time along with helping to reduce runner volume while continuing to produce quality products. “Typically, we work closely with the customer to achieve these goals,” says Carlson.


Passing the Test

In 1997, DMC Mold & Tool invested in VISI-Series solid molding software from Vero International. Jack Thompson from Solid Tooling Solutions was the sales/applications expert that made the initial visit to the facility. Prior to his visit they had solicited a number of solid modeling software packages. They had a similar challenge for each one of the applications experts when they arrived and Thompson’s VISI-Series modeling software was the only one to pass the test.

Recently, it supplemented the suite of software with VISI-Flow, new technology that helps users accurately design molds. They had investigated several other soft-ware programs, but again found that the VISI-Flow far out paced the competition.

Software Benefits
Using VISI-Series, DMC Mold & Tool users can create a full 3-D model to show how a mold will be represented. Customers can analyze the model and decide whether or not the mold will perform to their expectations. “Prior to implementing VISI-Flow,” adds Carlson, “we relied on the customer’s knowledge as to where to locate gates and runners, as well as gate and runner sizing. The customer established runner size and location based on what they hoped would be correct. Their expectations were to minimize scrap and maximize quality part potential.

“For many projects, we witnessed our customers struggling to establish mold specifications. Each customer had a go-to person who they relied on to decide the best outcome for the mold design. We watched as customers tried to maintain quality, cycle time and reduce production scrap. Projects suffered because of this traditional methodology. Relying on one person’s expertise is not the proper way to move forward during this economic period,” notes Carlson.

Real Results Prior to Tooling
To remain competitive and help its customers, DMC Mold & Tool wanted to change this scenario. Now, using VISI-Flow, DMC Mold & Tool can show them real results prior to tooling. “We can demonstrate if there are any benefits to their runner and gate locations or what the drawbacks are based on their input. The software provides a full recreation of what the end result will be. VISI-Flow is much more accurate and it also depicts cycle time. Fill accuracy includes a timing element that will help them judge if they are meeting their required cycle time,” Carlson says.

“Using traditional methodology,” explains Carlson, “it was a costly measure in time and money to make changes to a tool once it was built. VISI-Flow gives us the ability to make adjustments to the design in a minimal amount of time.”

In today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace, moldmakers can’t afford mistakes. With cost consciousness at an all-time high, DMC Mold & Tool must be able to show that it can provide more value. Using VISI-Flow, DMC Mold & Tool can offer quality and accurate pricing. “You have to marry everything together. We need the tools to achieve those end goals,” Carlson adds.


VISI-Flow Projects

Recently, DMC Mold & Tool received a mold for DANA Automotive Products Division that was insert-molded. (An insert-molded mold involves a stamped metal insert that is placed in the mold and plastic is over-molded into it.) The mold was divided into two small plastic sections that were not balanced. Carlson says, “VISI-Flow provided the information we needed to determine runner placement. As a result, we reduced runner size and weight, and saved on production scrap by 18 percent.”

For another VISI-Flow project, DMC Mold & Tool was contracted to build a replacement mold for an existing mold that was not meeting the customers capacity requirements. At first, it worked in the field, but it quickly lost its integrity. As expected, the customer was not satisfied with the tool and approached DMC Mold & Tool to build a replacement.

“We started the project knowing the mold did not fill correctly. Using VISI-Flow, we researched how to improve runners, gates and cooling. In doing so, we discovered a molded-in stress situation on the part causing a fracture. The custom molder had to adjust their cycle time longer than their quoted cost. We were able to show the customer where the molded-in stress point was located, and we revised the gate placements and sizes. There was tremendous relief on the part of the customer when we provided the VISI-Flow results. The DMC design team’s energy level soared because they knew they prevented a problem from happening,” Carlson reports.

He says that establishing gate locations, gate size, runner locations and runner sizes are VISI-Flow’s biggest and best performance offerings. “The software is very powerful and fast. It provides customers with an in-depth depiction of the mold design. If we make a change, the customer can see the results of that change.”

VISI-Flow also is a good sales tool for Carlson. “Besides a good engineering tool, VISI-Flow is an excellent instrument for quoting jobs,” says Carlson. “In this constantly evolving competitive market, we need to have the right tools to satisfy our customers’ needs. We also want to pass along the benefits we are realizing to our customers.”


Learning Curve

Carlson’s philosophy on software learning is that it is a continuous process. “Currently, we are only using about 50 percent of the software,” says Carlson. “VISI-Flow is so strong and powerful that it will be a constant learning experience. One of the best outcomes of installing VISI-Flow was that we were profitable right from the start as a result of using it. Due to our prior and ongoing use of VISI-Series software, the learning curve for VISI-Flow was approximately four weeks.

End results are only as good as the data you enter. If you are very thorough in data input, you will receive a more accurate result.” Thompson implemented the software and provided training.


Software Support and Product Speed

Carlson says VISI-Series and VISI-Flow support is very strong. Vero International provides thorough online documentation and tutorials for all its products. Carlson notes that it is helpful if users have an engineering background to use the software packages. Vero and Solid Tooling Solutions provide 24/7 telephone support. Carlson says the hotline support is very responsive. The speed of analysis is dependent upon part file size. Analyzing the data can range from two to 10 hours.

“I think VISI-Series and VISI-Flow are underrated software products, and new and existing customers constantly ask me ‘What design software do you use?’ After we installed VISI-Series and realized the breadth of capabilities, power and ease of use, we stopped using our other package and let the license lapse. We chose to maintain and grow our VISI-Series system and develop a strong relationship with Thompson at Solid Tooling Solutions and Vero International.”

Note: DMC Mold & Tool also offers mold repair, engineering revisions, troubleshooting, and contract EDM and CNC projects.