Mold Design

Hello again good folks,
I'm continuing my exploration of Solidworks. As a product design package I'm pretty impressed so far. Have completed my first design,
and it went well. Nothing too complicated -a case with various electronics in it and some rubber end caps. Built the front and rear case from one part -using different configurations for the different features (when editing a part as part of an assembly can you automatically edit only one configuration? -I seemed to need to go into the part and supress the feature I'd added in the other configuration all the time). It is with the SLA people now, and I should have some parts in my hand later this week. Once it is approved it will get tooled up for injection moulding -which brings me on to the title of this rather rambling post. Do people use Solidworks for mold design? I have had a quick run through the tutorials, and was not at all impressed. To put this in context I'm a tool designer by profession, and the move into solids is to cope with an increasing amount of product design (to make tools for later on). I have always designed tools with a surface modeler, and find this many times faster than Solidworks looks like it could ever be. From getting an IGES file to the drawings hitting the shop floor is, on average, half a day at the moment for an average part (with a complex 3D split line and not too many undercut features). This seems so much easier with surfaces. Even the simple example supplied by Solidworks (the telephone handpiece) slowed my PC down to a crawl -I went to get a cup of tea while it did some functions!! Compared to most of the stuff we see that was an incredibly simple part -it all fell into line of draw, had draft on most of it, and there were no undercuts -I'd kill to see parts like that all the time <G>
I'm not bothered by this, as I only intend to use Solidworks for product design, not tool design. I just wondered how people who did use Solidworks for tool design got on with it (perhaps, having been so negative, I should duck now).
Regards
Kevin
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Generally, I don't like to mix in-context and configurations. There are too many limitations and too many ways to get yourself in trouble. I would do one of two things:
1) Design the assembly as a single part and then split it into two to do the detail design.
2) Design the second part as a separate part in context.
Anyway, after your experience, I think if you see a new way of doing it, you won't try the other way again.
As far as molds in SW, yes, several people do them. Probably one or two will answer your post here. I'm a product guy that gets involved on the tooling side sometimes, but I agree that the SW mold tools are not incredibly useful. There are many types of parts where they just won't do it. Any SW mold demo I've seen has always done most if not all of the work manually, not even using the "mold tools" functions. The one exception is the "core" tool, which is actually very useful, and not just for molds.
When I have to do cavity/core work, I use a partner software called SplitWorks, which does a much better job than the SW tools, plus it doesn't create all the cavity/core geometry in the same file as the plastic part, which (I think) is a really bad idea.
As far as using solids vs surfaces, SW has a lot of surfacing tools in it, enough to do most types of mold work. Some of the functions are a bit iffy, though, like the radiate and ruled surfaces, but most work acceptably.
Anyway, good luck.
Matt
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Yes, I think that in retrospect I should have designed the front/rear case without the individual features, then copied it and had seperate front and rear case parts. I was trying to be too clever for my own good (I'd done the "hinge" tutorial and got carried away). Most of the work on the parts was done as individual parts, but there were some final details that needed to be done as part of the assembly -where they interacted with other parts. The time it saved me having two configurations of one part was probably lost in switching to the other configuration to supress features I had added.
But it was a good experience, and taught me a lot about the strengths (and weaknesses) of the package. Overall I'm still impressed, but probably not for mould tool design. It is all about the right tool for the job though -the reaon for looking at Solidworks was that the surface modelling package I use is designed for mould tool work, and has serious weaknesses as a product design tool. If one CAD package was great at everything there wouldn't be any others!
The surfacing in Solidworks is average for a solid modeler, but realy doesn't cut it compared to a surface modeler -but that is a rather unfair comparison. And I believe it has been improved in SW2006.
Regards
Kevin

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Do people use

Hi, I am one of the people that Matt may have had in mind that would reply on this subject.
I am doing complete 3-d mold design with SolidWorks. I have a number of different approaches I use depending on the type of tool. One size does definitely NOT fit all-which is one of the problems with anybody trying to program automatic mold design methods.
That being said, I revisited the SW mold tools a couple of months ago. I hadn't been initially impressed with them, and ignored them for many months. I was having a problem with a highly surfaced part and decided to give them another whirl. I'll be darned if they didn't help out quite a bit.
Like Matt mentioned, I also don't like having all of the core cavity geometry residing in the original part file. However, I have figured out how to use the knit surfaces generated by the SW routine within my own procedure for doing the core/cavity split. I have seen a marked productivity increase on many of my mold designs since starting to use the mold tools again.
Just dive in and give it a try.
Happy Modelling........
jk
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Kevin
Been designing molds in SW for about 7 years. I have my own ways of doing things that have nothing to do with the mold tools.
Just the ablility to change a hundred different things with one command makes it overwhemingly superior to surfaces all by itself.
I'd never go back to using a surfacing system.
Regards
Mark

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Kevin,
I too have been designing mold with SW for about 8-9 years. It has come a long, long way over the years.
I had developed my own methods and techniques over the years, none of which include the SW mold tools (they are fairly useless). They basically included base parts and tons of in-context relations. They worked pretty good for the most part unless I got into a fairly complex part. Then it would bring SW to its knees.
Recently, we hired a new designer here that has shown me some new techniques that are, how should I say,,,, the bomb. I still use base parts similar to the way I had always done it. However, instead of tons of in-context relations, I now use derived sketches. We create assembly sketches of the entire assembly (as few as possible), and derive these sketches into our parts. The derived sketches is the only in-context feature in the entire part. You then open each of the parts in their own window and use the derived sketches to create your features. Everything is parametric, and there is little overhead on your system, even with complex designs.
I thought I had figured out the best way to design molds in SW over the years. But the new guy proved me wrong. His methods ROCK!
--
Seth Renigar
Emerald Tool and Mold Inc.
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Seth,
Sounds very interesting.
can you send me a simple example ???
Mark
snipped-for-privacy@omnica.no.spam.com
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I don't do molds, but I would also be interested in looking at a simple example. Please?? :-)
WT

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The problem is that I don't readily have a "simple" example that would be relatively small in size. I have been meaning to create a simple example to use as a reference, but just have not had the time, until now perhaps. I am kind-of slow at the moment (won't last long probably), so tomorrow I will try to create an example and get it to you.
--
Seth Renigar
Emerald Tool and Mold Inc.
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Seth,
Thanks a bunch, I appreciate it
Regards
Mark
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That would be great. It would be even better if Wayne could host it on the Kansas City SWUG site!
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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Sure - no problem.
WT

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Wayne Tiffany wrote:

Let us know when it's up, I'd like to see it too. It's good to learn from others with a practical use behind them.
Regards
John Layne
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Kevin, you noted " (when editing a part as part of an assembly can you automatically edit only one configuration? -I seemed to need to go into the part and supress the feature I'd added in the other configuration all the time)."
Indeed you do have to go into the "Properties" of a part in an assembly or of a feature in a part and click on the appropriate options to suppress added features in other configurations, if you haven't seen that yet.
I sometimes think there is a bug in the saving of configuration states, however, as when I go back to an earlier config. after changes to several others I often find some other features turned back "ON" mysteriously, and they were ones I hadn't even modified in the mean time.
Anyone else see these buggy configuration issues?
Thanks - Bo
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I believe I've seen these problems as well, but they have never been repeatable and I'm not absolutely positive that there isn't some kind of pilot error involved.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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I agree on not being repeatable, but that speaks to a bug, as we are pretty good creatures of habit.
What makes me think it is a bug, is features get flipped which I was NOT working on, and which were in other untouched configs.
Bo
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