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This NPE brought about a variety of news for molders interested in CIM and CAD/CAM. One notable trend is toward cooperative agreements between suppliers. Whether it's supporting a particular suppliers hardware, or providing a port to another supplier's software, it's evident that in today's market, it's easier to cooperate with suppliers of complementary products than to go it alone. Suppliers are also introducing "entry-level" systems in a bid to bring their technology to a wider audience.


Buhl Automatic, Inc., Guelph, Ont., and GE Fanuc, Charlottesville, Va., have formed an alliance aimed at bringing open architecture and the latest industrial control technology to the plastics industry. The alliance was announced by Buhl, which demonstrated its new IQ Series machine controllers for injection, extrusion and blow molding (see PT, April '91, p. 15). The IQ Series uses GE Fanuc's VME-based Series 90-70 PLCs as a control system platform.

Buhl officials say the Series 90-70 was selected because of the open architecture provided by the VME bus standard and because of GE Fanuc's global presence. The Series 90-70 VME bus standard will reportedly permit Buhl to concentrate its hardware and software development efforts on specific application modules, while leveraging the full range of GE Fanuc modules for I/O control and communications.

The new PlantWide SPC system introduced at the show by Syscon-ControlStar, South Bend, Ind., can accommodate as few as eight or as many as 2304 control loops/acquisition channels. The system collects both process and dimensional data simultaneously. One central computer, up to eight satellite computers, plus one remote executive computer make up the system, which runs under MS-DOS or PC-DOS. Each satellite computer in turn supports up to 12 Syscon Model 530 or Model 525 units, each of which may have 8, 16, or 24 closed-loop PID control channels or data-acquisition channels. The system provides X-bar and R capability, c and p charts, and linear regression tables for the entire system at the central computer. X-bar and R charts for each channel can be displayed at each satellite.

Syscon's PlantStar Div. announced at the show the addition of the Focus-2000 to its Focus System line of process and production management products. PlantStar says the Focus-2000 can be effective with as few as four machines, but can be expanded to accommodate over 500. It's compatible with UNIX, MS-DOS, Xenix, Novel NetWare 386, and many other operating systems, allowing users to choose among hardware platforms.

Focus-2000 incorporates the Oracle relational database management system, allowing full user control over system displays and report formats via SQL. A graphical user interface allows the use of icons and multiple windows. Focus-2000 comes with the same standard screens as the Focus-100, but as users gain familiarity, PlantStar says they can customize to their own requirements.


Hoping to bring mold-analysis software to a wider audience, Moldflow, Inc., Shelton, Conn., introduced MF/FLOW-E, a lower-cost version of its flow-analysis software. Aimed at smaller shops, the MF/FLOW-E is a "streamlined version" of MF/FLOW--it costs $13,000, including training and six months maintenance and support. This "entry-level" 3-D program analyzes the flow as a single layer, rather than dividing up the thickness into "laminates." It provides the ability to locate gates, determine processing windows to reduce overpacking, and design optimum runner systems. It comes with a database of a few generic materials. (Moldflow's extensive materials database is separate.) MF/FLOW-E can also be integrated with MF/COOL and can be upgraded with software additions to full

MF/Flow capability--including packing, intermediate results reporting (prior to fill), and tracking of results at a single node.

Moldflow also introduced MF/FLOW Release 8, which includes a new mouse-driven graphical interface that is reportedly much easier to use and avoids the necessity of remembering and typing in the older commands (though these can still be used). Among the new capabilities is rotation of the image, moving the flow front back and forth with the mouse, explicit weld-line and gas-trap visualization, transforming a wireframe into a shaded solid image, and ability to jump back and forth quickly and easily between different analysis modes. The new software also performs automatic runner balancing--calculating the thickness needed to balance flows--and does this without leaving the 3-D portion of the program.

Advanced CAE Technology, Ithaca, N.Y., and Parametric Technology Corp., Waltham, Mass., announced a marketing and product development agreement at the show. The two companies will integrate their mechanical design and analysis products so that users have the capability to analyze injection mold designs created with Parametric's Pro/ENGINEER.

Advanced CAE Technology also announced new software that makes it possible to rotate the view of an image interactively. The company also is working with Hoechst Celanese Corp. to improve flow analysis of liquid-crystal polymers.

Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala., and Advanced CAE Technology announced an agreement to port Advanced CAE Technology's C-FLOW software to Intergraph's RISC-based UNIX workstations from Sun Microsystems. Under the agreement, the companies will jointly develop interface software that will not only enable C-FLOW to run on Intergraph workstations, but will fully integrate the software with Intergraph's mechanical CAD system. The interface to C-FLOW is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 1991.

Intergraph also introduced an interface to I/WARP from Moldflow Pty., Ltd. I/WARP simulates warping behavior by predicting whether warping will occur, displaying the warped shape, and calculating individual contributions to warpage from area, orientation and thermal shrinkage. The software then logically derives solutions, ranging from raising melt temperatures and adjusting filling times to wall profiling and adjusting the number and position of gates.

Plastic & Computer Inc., Montclair, N.J., has added three new software modules to its TMConcept system. One is gas-injection analysis (faGAIM), which displays a color-coded graph of percent solids in each region of flow, as well as other standard flow-analysis data. Second, the company's 2-D flow analysis now has "fuzzy logic" to advise the molder on how to achieve a desired level of part quality. And third, new CAMMS-B software is a standalone package that tells the molder how to set up the machine to achieve a desired level of quality results--without performing an actual flow analysis.

Graftek, Inc., Boulder, Colo., introduced a new "basic" low-cost, 3-D design software called GMS/D 2.5, which costs only $14,900 together with a Sun workstation. Some recent enhancements to Simuflow3D 5.1 include automatic interpretation of gas entrapment and weld lines, showing time and temperature at the weld line. Also hot runners can now be simulated, as can variable time and pressure steps during packing. Optimold 5.0 has been enhanced with new cost-estimating, mold-base size estimating, automatic 2-D dimensioning, and automatic bill of materials.

CAE Services Corp., Bloomingdale, Ill., has updated its Moldfill software by increasing the number of elements from 1000 to 7500, which reportedly allows modeling of even the most complex parts. The software has also been enhanced with the ability to simulate profile filling and valve gate sequencing (time or pressure). Calculation time is said to be reduced by 50%.

CAE Service's Moldcool software has been improved to provide 3-D shaded outputs of temperature distribution for core, cavity and core-cavity differential. Automatic sizing of baffles and bubblers and improved circuiting analysis with respect to heat load/cooling circuit are two other new features.

GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., has introduced a flow-simulation software module called Disk Flow, which is intended to provide relatively quick and simple guidelines on designing or running a new mold. At present, Disk Flow is available only as a free service at GE technical centers. The software was developed at GE's corporate R&D laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., as a specialized modification of GE's proprietary FEMAP (Finite Element Mold Analysis Program). GE has been experimenting with Disk Flow for 6-12 months.

Disk Flow performs a 2-D flow analysis on a center-gated disk, whose thickness, radius, and sprue diameter can be specified to provide a simplified model of a customer's part. Says David Kazmer, the GE engineer who developed the program, the radial flow pattern used in this simulation is a good model for what happens in most gating situations, and a lot closer to "real life" than the channel flow observed in spiral flow test molds. Using Disk Flow and selecting from any of the 700 grades of GE materials in the company's Engineering Design Databank, GE can estimate tonnage and fill time required to achieve any given flow length at a specified melt temperature--or else the temperature, section thickness (and perhaps material grade) required to achieve a given flow length within the tonnage limits of a particular machine.


3D Systems, Valencia, Calif., introduced a new impact-resistant photocurable prototyping resin for use with its CAD-driven stereolithography devices. Parts made from XB 5143 resin can be machined, opening up a large new area of prototyping applications. These parts are also more accurate and more elastic than parts made from other stereolithography resins.

PHOTO : Plastics & Computer introduced gas-injection simulation as an addition to its flow-analysis software. Color-coded display shows percent solids throughout the mold--red where it's all plastic, and blue or green where it's mostly gas (hollow).
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:National Plastic Exposition wrap-up: shopping guide to the latest technology; computer integrated manufacturing, computer-aided design
Author:Fallon, Michael R.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Previous Article:Chemicals & additives.
Next Article:Materials handling.

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