DSM Engineering Plastics

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Virtual testing with CAE provides efficient design verification for metal to plastic conversion

  • Masaya Murayoshi · Computer Aided Engineering Manager

  • 8 November 2018

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) is a technology used to verify new designs virtually, using a computer. CAE is used across various fields, including “fluid analysis”, which is used to forecast the path of a typhoon or other weather patterns.

DSM provides technical support to use CAE to virtually verify the strength of a customer’s engineering plastic components. It allows us to gain insights into how the material flows into the mold, which areas on the molded part have strength and stiffness, and how strong and rigid the finished part will be. We can confirm the part’s performance in these areas using computer models.

Let’s look at the Air Intake Manifold (AIM) as an example. The AIM is a component in the car engine that uniformly brings air into each cylinder of the engine. Traditionally, this part was made from metal, such as die-cast aluminum. Plastics are now becoming the mainstream material for this part to achieve vehicle weight reduction targets, reduce manufacturing costs, and increase the degree of design freedom.

Making physical prototypes for strength and stiffness testing is a heavy burden – both financially and time-wise – for manufacturers, since they would need to make and test a variety of designs. Using CAE eliminates the need to prepare physical prototypes, and enables you to easily change the part shape to evaluate the relative merits of different designs under various conditions. This helps manufacturers to reduce the time and cost spent on design testing.

DSM’s CAE capabilities enable us to perform strength evaluation in a short time period, taking into account the fibre orientation of molded parts. If a manufacturer selects a glass-reinforced material grade as a substitute for metal, the flow direction of the glass fibres has a direct influence on the final part’s strength. Calculating this effect with general CAE software takes substantial time. Our latest CAE software, combined with our material expertise as an engineering plastics producer, has enabled us to focus on establishing technology that can compute these types of calculations in a short time.

As the automobile industry moves toward mass adoption of environmentally friendly electric vehicles, we are seeing a move to replace a wide variety of metal parts with engineering plastic materials. We expect this trend to accelerate as we move closer and closer to fully electric and self-driving vehicles. As our customers consider metal to plastic conversion for their components, we remain at the ready to support them through the process with low-cost, efficient design verification service using CAE.

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