Canadian Plastics

Sending Your Part to An Analyst

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The tendency of OEMs to offload design responsibility onto part suppliers is spreading from the automotive sector to other markets. No longer is suggesting design changes to improve moldability an opt...

The tendency of OEMs to offload design responsibility onto part suppliers is spreading from the automotive sector to other markets. No longer is suggesting design changes to improve moldability an option; it’s imperative.

Ed Panziera, president of Axiomatic Product Development Ltd. (APD), has observed that manufacturers of consumer products, point-of-purchase displays and medical devices are using the concept of supplier responsibility for design as a way to reduce their costs.

As a result, says Panziera, “there’s a tendency to outsource design, especially the specialized processes such as finite element analysis, plastic flow simulation and validation.”

Based in Concord, ON, APD is a complete product development services company, providing high-end engineering consulting services for the automotive, aerospace and consumer products industries.

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“Customers expect APD to help them reduce manufacturing costs via weight reduction and design for automation,” explains Panziera. “We are also expected to reduce development time-to-market of new products, and validate design parameters through the use of CAD and CAE tools prior to the start of hard tooling.”

The CAE tools, including finite element analysis software and Moldflow simulation software provide the means to safely reduce weight and integrate features with confidence that the parts can be molded and pass validation testing.

“Moldflow products provide extremely valuable CAE design and process validation tools, especially for our high-volume automotive customers,” Panziera adds. “Material reductions of even a few grams can provide significant cost savings. Cosmetic issues such as sink, warp and blemishes can be addressed before tooling is produced.”

In one instance, a Tier 1 automotive supplier approached APD for help with a troublesome chrome-plated plastic inside door handle. “The supplier had numerous problems with the gate blush and sink marks that only appeared after the parts had been plated. The high scrap rate and numerous tooling changes to attempt to remedy the problem were very costly,” recalls Panziera. “We used Moldflow’s MPI Fusion to determine the optimum location, profile and shape of the gate to reduce gate blush and pack the part.” The result was a dramatic reduction in scrap rate, from 100% to nearly 0% (with only start-up scrap).

“Moldflow has provided us with a competitive edge over our competitors who fail to validate their products,” Panziera concludes. “We can propose design concepts with the assurance that the part can be manufactured and meet customer requirements.”

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