End-to-end solution for plastic injection molds
Competing in a challenging market
Contact us to learn more Plastic injection molds are essential for industry verticals including automotive, foods and beverage, medical and pharmaceutical equipment, consumer products, electronics, sports equipment and agricultural equipment. The key challenges faced by the plastic injection mold industry include:
- Designing plastic injection molds faster, considering manufacturing constraints and capabilities
- Keeping track of revisions in the product design made by the customer
- Optimizing the manufacturing cycle time
- Ensuring first time right manufacture every time and minimizing rejection and rework
- Ensuring smooth execution of manufacturing activities to meet the delivery date to the end customer
- Ensuring the quality of the finished product irrespective of operators’ skill levels
- Optimizing the overall product and project cost
Hexagon’s end-to-end solution for plastic injection molds addresses these challenges at each stage of the workflow from inquiry to dispatch using a smart design and manufacturing approach based on VISI products, WORKPLAN, NCSIMUL, Manufacturing Asset Management and metrology software and hardware.
Plastic injection mold workflow
A typical plastic injection mold project involves several stages:
- Project inquiry and data import
- Part analysis and insert definition
- Electrode design
- Mold design
- Plastic injection molding flow simulation
- Materials management and part-list
- Manufacturing planning and scheduling
- Programming for 2.5 - 5-axis machining
- Programming for electrode machining
- Toolpath verification and optimization
- Mold manufacturing and assembly try-outs
- Plastic part manufacturing, inspection, dispatch and invoicing
1. Project inquiry and data import
Hexagon’s WORKPLAN manufacturing project management platform provides users with the ability to manage the workflow, starting with the product inquiry.
Opportunities can be created in WORKPLAN and will maintain all details related to the customer – contact details, delivery, and invoicing addresses etc. Users can then keep track of the progress of each opportunity, including various communication details for the project.
Learn more about WORKPLAN.
For data import, Hexagon’s VISI solution can work directly with Parasolid, IGES, CATIA, Creo, UG-NX, STEP, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, ACIS, DXF, DWG, JT Open, STL and VDA files. The extensive range of translators ensures that users can work with data from almost any supplier. The ability to skip corrupt records during the import process provides a platform from where the most inconsistent data can be managed. Very large files can be handled with ease and companies working with complex designs will benefit from the ease with which their customer’s CAD data can be manipulated.
Learn more about VISI.
2. Part analysis and insert definition
VISI Modelling provides a robust and powerful solid and surface hybrid modelling system that combined with Hexagon’s surface technology, model analysis and 2D design, offers a complete solution to build, edit or repair complex 3D data.
Learn more about VISI Modelling.
Using VISI Analysis, users can validate and prepare the model geometry, finding potential problems at an early stage within the project that greatly simplify the task of the mold designer and generate huge time savings during the mold design process.
Learn more about VISI Analysis.
VISI Reverse is an advanced module that offers 3D scan data processing abilities to easily create fully compatible editable solid models starting from digitized scanned data.
Learn more about VISI Reverse.
3. Electrode design
Using this automated module, users can create and manage design and manufacturing of electrodes and their holders for the manufacture of detailed and hard to machine features on mold and press tools. Comprehensive holder design, simulation and collision checking ensures that the electrode will operate right first time.
EDM electrode creation can be one of the most complex and time-consuming projects for any mold or die maker. This module offers a complete solution for electrode right from design to manufacturing. Even the most experienced electrode designer will benefit from the knowledge-based automation provided by this technology.
Learn more about VISI Electrode.
4. Mold design
VISI Mould provides the complete mold tool design solution based on industry specific automation that guides the user through the mold development process. Dynamic operation previews provide the designer with a 'real-time' view of how component changes will affect the tool design.
Parametric component libraries from all leading suppliers of mold components are also available.
VISI Cooling & Kinematics capability offers full control over position and sizes with automatic proximity checks to ensure that cooling lines do not interfere with other. Moving parts can be checked using the kinematics commands suite.
Learn more about VISI Mold.
5. Plastic injection molding flow simulation
All areas of molded component creation can benefit from the optimization of mold tool design and molding process parameters. Part designers, mold makers and molders will all benefit from using Hexagon's innovative technology for injection simulation to achieve cost effective and reliable mold designs and the optimum molding conditions.
VISI Flow is a unique prediction tool, ideal for pre-production and post-production analysis and concurrent engineering of injection molded plastic components.
Learn more about VISI Flow.
6. Materials management and part-list
WORKPLAN provides all the necessary features for the management of the complete purchasing process. This includes the purchasing budget requirements, the RFQs and stock management, purchase order receipts and supplier billing check and control functions. Reports are available in real time for stock on hand for projects and trace stock items in the system.
WORKPLAN automates the budget request and approval for raw materials, standard components, composed components, all the stock reservation and availability are checked in progress. Automatic import of detailed Bill of Materials (BOM) information from popular CAD systems is a time saver and helps minimize mistakes.
Using this module of WORKPLAN, manufacturers can ensure that all the required raw material and bought-out items are made available on time to meet the delivery date to the end customer. This also helps optimize the inventory carrying cost.
Learn more about WORKPLAN Stock Management.
Using VISI CAD, user can create complete set of 2D detailed drawings generated directly from the 3D model. Any standard catalogue component will have the correct detail representation within a section view. Changes to the 3D model will result in modifications to the 2D view along with any fully associative dimensions. Part-list table items and their respective balloon references can be added to the drawing using dedicated assembly management tools.
7. Manufacturing planning and scheduling
WORKPLAN schedules projects and jobs based on set priorities and availability of resources. It supports forward looking simulations. Manufacturers can use WORKPLAN’s GANTT charting to optimize workload, reduce bottlenecks, control milestones, and meet due dates.
WORKPLAN includes an easy to use drag and drop graphical tool to set routing order and create workflows. These workflows can be simulated for a set period, based on project due dates. Users can also set various internal due dates, to ensure tighter management and provide a buffer in the workflow. WORKPLAN automatically generates a resource load planning schedule, which considers existing available capacities.
Using these modules of WORKPLAN, various manufacturing activities can be planned, resources optimized, and progress tracked against the plan to ensure that the project is delivered on time as per the customer requirement.
Learn more about WORKPLAN Planning & Scheduling.
8. Programming for 2.5 - 5-axis machining
VISI Machining 2D provides a practical, intuitive, and simple solution for CNC programming including 4 and 5-axis indexing. Knowledge based feature recognition will automatically select features directly on the solid geometry and create reliable milling and drill cycle toolpaths.
Learn more about VISI Machining 2D.
VISI Machining 3D creates intelligent toolpaths on the most complex 3D parts. Dedicated high speed milling techniques and built-in smoothing algorithms create highly efficient NC code. Intelligent toolpaths will reduce cycle times on the machine, improve productivity and continuously produce high quality components.
Learn more about VISI Machining 3D.
VISI Auto Tilting capability converts traditional 3-axis toolpath to 5-axis operations which dramatically increases the number of strategies available to cover any scenario. This approach applies high speed machining technology to 5-axis toolpaths providing intelligent collision detection. Benefits include faster cutting speed, increased rigidity (less vibrations) and better finishing quality.
5-axis machining has traditionally been regarded as advanced technology best suited to the aerospace and automotive industry. 5-axis machining offers many advantages, all of which are now being applied to the mold and die sector. VISI Machining provides the operator with a productive solution for creating highly efficient toolpaths with advanced collision control for the most complex 3D data.
Learn more about VISI Machining-5-axis.
9. Programming for electrode machining
Once the electrode has been designed, it can be machined directly (without data transfer, or data losses) using VISI Electrode Machining module.
A datum for machining and positioning the electrode in the EDM machine is automatically created to ensure continuity throughout the entire manufacturing process. Machining templates containing tooling, tool path operations, feeds, speeds, depth of cut, can be stored for reuse on similar electrode families. Applying them to a new electrode will automatically create a new set of toolpaths using the same settings, greatly reducing programming time and using company standards which have already been proven on a previous job.
Learn more about VISI Electrode.
10. Toolpath verification and optimization
NCSIMUL manages the complete machining process from the NC program to the machined part. Its capabilities allow users to fully master the shop floor and include automatic G-code reprogramming and G-code simulation. NCSIMUL virtually builds the real-life machining environment to eliminate errors, decrease set-up times, reduce manufacturing costs, and increase shop floor productivity.
Learn more about NCSIMUL.
NCSIMUL Machine is a high-end CNC simulation software for G-code verification, machine simulation and tool optimization. It detects programming errors and any potential collision from the same NC code that drives the CNC machine.
Learn more about NCSIMUL Machine.
NCSIMUL Optitool analyses cutting conditions, dramatically reduces “air cutting”, optimizes feed rates and allows users to create better cutting strategies. The overall benefits are a reduction in the production cycle times, enhancement of cutting operations and fast development of new G-code optimized files for future applications. This module allows users to optimize the tool lengths, air cutting and cutting conditions of NC programs (from 3- to 5-axis simulation software) and globally increase the quality of machining operations.
Learn more about NCSIMUL Optitool.
11. Assembly try-outs
After manufacturing of the mold, the first sample plastic part produced by plastic injection molding process can be scanned using Hexagon’s Absolute Scanner AS1, and 3D point cloud data corresponding to the actual geometry of the part produced is collected. This set of data can be compared with a 3D model of the part to ensure that the actual part produced is within the acceptable tolerance limits using Inspire metrology software. If there are any major dimensional deviations observed for the first plastic part produced, then the necessary corrections can be made in the mold design.
Learn more about Absolute Scanner.
Intuitive and easy to use, Inspire is a comprehensive solution that makes measurement simple, saves time, and ultimately improves productivity. With one simple interface, Inspire works with any portable measuring arm or laser tracker for probing and scanning applications.
Learn more about Inspire.
12A. Manufacturing operations
Using time management functionalities within WORKPLAN, users can manage, and track time spent on all the projects. Data can be entered through touchscreens, workstations, barcode readers or timecards. This functionality can also help track and report on unproductive tasks, employee hours, time spent correcting problems or other quality issues, overtime, leaves, holidays and more.
WORKPLAN’s Time Management module is an easy to use, all-in-one tool to manage employees' attendance, hours and track their progress on tasks. WORKPLAN helps check the times spent at each scheduled work center on the project. Data can be entered from a computer terminal, touch screen, barcode readers or via manual input and timecards.
Using WORKPLAN, users can track the progress of various manufacturing activities and take corrective measures, if required, to complete the manufacturing activities as planned. The actual manufacturing cost of the project can also be monitored.
Learn more about WORKPLAN Time Management.
Hexagon’s solution for industrial IoT device monitoring enables you to monitor the performance, availability and health of your manufacturing assets through the SFx platform.
Asset Management is designed to maximize overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and operational excellence indicators, either for a single device or for a set of systems, whether in real time or reporting over a period of time.
The solution offers data and metrics including:
- Real-time asset dashboard showing machine status
- Real-time notifications of critical events
- Real-time and historic event logging
- Availability = Operating time / Scheduled time
- Performance = (Programs executed x Ideal execution time) / Operating time
- Quality = Programs successfully executed / Total programs executed
- Quality = Acceptable jobs / Total jobs done
Learn more about Manufacturing Asset Management.
12B. Inspection and dispatch
The quality module within WORKPLAN enables separate tracking of time and costs associated with non-conformities – the cost of poor quality.
This module is not only a great help to get the ISO certifications and meet ISO standard requirements mentioned in the quality management system (QMS), but it will manage supplier evaluation and give access to cross-functional features to improve quality and meet internal policies.
Additionally, the maintenance of measuring devices used in quality assurance, quality indicators and KPI analysis are key to achieving ISO Certificates.
Delivery notes can also be created once the project is ready to dispatch.
Learn more about WORKPLAN Quality Management.
WORKPLAN issues invoice and manages the invoicing process.
Additional modules offer a view on cash inflow and outflow based on scheduled payments, as well as creating invoices for accounts receivable and ordered materials from accounts payable.
WORKPLAN performs detailed analysis specific to quotes, jobs, times, costs, and other metrics with a few simple mouse clicks to improve the estimating and planning processes. It also enables comparison of the planned versus actual project cost and its components.
Learn more about WORKPLAN Additional Modules.
Seamless integrated workflow
Using Hexagon solutions – VISI products, WORKPLAN, NCSIMUL, and metrology hardware and software, plastic injection mold customers will have a seamless integrated workflow from the inquiry stage through to dispatch due to seamless exchange of data in terms of CAD CAM files and project related information, without any losses.
Integration between VISI and WORKPLAN
Integration between VISI and WORKPLAN allows bills of materials from VISI Mold to be imported directly into WORKPLAN solutions, ensuring that WORKPLAN can produce accurate, competitive quotations. WORKPLAN configures an import model in correlation with the file exported from VISI Mold, automatically importing the bill of materials.
The BOM import of VISI is done intuitively as the design progresses, making it possible to update the WORKPLAN project with a single click from the Assembly Manager. A synchronization log makes it possible to follow the evolution of imports and to limit re-entries, which are always a significant risk of error.
Headline features include:
- Customized settings based on VISI configuration
- Import and automatic construction of technical breakdown from VISI native files as the project progresses
- Dynamic synchronization with a single button click
- Synchronization of standard components in common with the databases
- Synchronization log
- Automatic production process creation based on keywords
The integration means users save time and can give a quicker response to customers, especially regarding raw materials, standard elements and stock supply management. Projects and their costs can be fully controlled, thanks to the import of the complete bill of materials tree structure.
The integration between above mentioned Hexagon products limits the risk of data input errors, guaranteeing reliability and accuracy when information is passed between them with just a few clicks.
Key benefits of Hexagon’s end-to-end solution for plastic injection molds include:
- Seamless integrated workflow for ease of use and faster training
- Optimization of design cycle time
- Optimization of manufacturing cycle times
- Better resource utilization for equipment and operators
- Optimization of overall product and project cost
- Better control over the quality of the product
- Faster time to market, ensuring on-time deliveries to the end customer