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Competitive advantage - Solid Edge helps French research firm develop high-quality injection molds
La Balme-de-Sillingy/France. Mold’Alp is a research firm specializing in the 3D design of tools for plastic injection molding. To maintain competitiveness in France and beyond, to meet customer demands for quality and lead time, and to address the complexity of mold tools Mold’Alp uses Solid Edge for design flexibility, ease of use and reliability. With the software from Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software the company reduced modification times by two-thirds, virtually eliminated errors and improved quality, and sustained international competitive advantage.
Mold’Alp is a research firm specializing in the 3D design of tools for plastic injection molding. Located in Haute-Savoie, France, the company designs injection molds used in diverse industries such as automotive, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and medical, for products including caps, tips, handles, pressure sensors, flow control systems and others. To measure up to the competition both in France and internationally, Mold’Alp draws on its expertise, its versatility and the quality of its services. Its customers are particularly demanding in terms of quality and production time. To fulfill these demands, the company knows that it can depend on Solid Edge software from Siemens PLM Software to meet its customers’ quality and lead time requirements.
The synchronous technology capability of Solid Edge offers enormous 3D design flexibility. It enables users to work intuitively in the structure of the product without having to concern themselves with the modeling environment. Synchronous modeling techniques can be used to create new parts, or to modify existing native Solid Edge parts and data produced by other CAD (computer-aided design) solutions without leaving the assembly environment. Consequently, users can easily and freely navigate and work inside the model. “It’s a bit like being on a boat that starts to pitch: you have to be able to steady it quickly,” explains company founder Thierry Blain.
Blain also underscores Solid Edge’s ergonomic attributes. He notes that the software is extremely intuitive compared to other CAD solutions that he has observed in use by his customers. “Just a few hours after getting started, I was operational,” Blain says. “I went on to explore the features on my own and basically taught myself. The Solid Edge radial menu and the use of a 3D mouse help me gain huge amounts of time. I only use the keyboard to type in text; everything else is done using the two mice.”
Reliability and stability
“I have always been very pleasantly surprised by the stability of Solid Edge, even after installing new versions,” Blain adds. “For a mid-sized company like ours, putting business on hold for a few hours or even days is simply inconceivable. A business leader has to be able to count on reliable working tools. With Solid Edge, I have never had to worry about reviewing models subsequent to a change of version. As far as I’m concerned, this is much more important than fancy functionality.”
Modification times reduced by two-thirds
The process for designing a mold comprises a number of steps. The first step is to analyze the part’s 3D digital shape model provided by the customer to determine whether it is compatible with the plastic injection manufacturing process. If not, exchanges between the customer and Mold’Alp’s research department establish a dialog before making the necessary changes to the part. This is followed by the actual design of the tool’s 3D model, which includes defining the parting surface and positioning the injection point. “At this stage, if more advanced studies are needed, we can use specialized rheology tools such as those of Cadflow, which interfaces directly with Solid Edge,” Blain explains. “These tools serve to optimize the position and number of injection points, detect weld lines and air entrapment locations, and design the filling so that all the requirements of the part are met.” The mold tooling design process is seldom trouble-free: the part’s geometry is liable to change at any time, in which case the modifications to its geometry must be applied to the tool, often as a matter of urgency. “With the multibody feature available in Solid Edge, all of the associated elements can be moved automatically. This reduces modification times by at least two-thirds, and removes any risk of forgetting an element, which means gaining time, quality and peace of mind. That, for me, is what it’s all about.”
Parts design and analysis
Mold’Alp also works on parts analysis projects, and seeks to expand this activity in the future. Blain cites the example of an innovative project in the medical sector: “We worked alongside a startup on a 6-axis robot handle intended to assist surgeons during operations on the spinal column,” he says. “Based on a pre-study sketch, we designed the handle from A to Z using Solid Edge.” Here too, Mold’Alp intends to build on its toolmaker expertise. “When you design a part, obviously you have to not only comply with the specifications, but also keep in mind all of the constraints inherent in its manufacture, including technical feasibility and costs,” Blain says.
To measure up to the competition both in France and internationally, Mold’Alp uses Solid Edge from Siemens PLM Software.
With Solid Edge, Mold’Alp is able to fulfill its customers’ demands regarding quality and production time.
The synchronous technology capability of Solid Edge enables users to work intuitively in the structure of the product without having to concern themselves with the modeling environment.
The mold tooling design process is seldom trouble-free: the part’s geometry is liable to change at any time, in which case the modifications to its geometry must be applied to the tool shortly.