By now you've probably heard, read, and/or seen something about SolidWorks Plastics. But you may still be asking yourself whether it is right for you or, more simply, who needs it?
Let's begin with what SolidWorks Plastics is. Leveraging a partnership with Simpoe (who's mission statement is "Plastic Injection Simulation available to anyone"), DS SolidWorks has given their users an easy-to-use tool for simulating plastic flow within a mold. The tool itself is not entirely new. You may have known it as SimpoeWorks. And it is a computational fluid dynamic code for non-newtonian, rheological flow. Embedded entirely within SolidWorks means that as one makes changes to geometry, Plastics will be there with you every step of the way. I'll get to some more details about capabilities and who could use what a little later. But first...
What it is not. SolidWorks Plastics is for plastic injection molding. While there are many similarities between injection molding and other plastics processes this distinction must be made. SolidWorks Plastics is not for roto-molding, compression molding, thermoforming, or blow molding. Nor is it for the castings industries (such as aluminum, brass, etc). There are facets of MIM (metal injection molding) that could be accomplished but, at its heart, SolidWorks Plastics is for injection molding.
Now we must address the question: Who is SolidWorks Plastics for? To answer this we will break it down in to two distinct software products.
SolidWorks Plastics Professional is an up-front design analysis tool for single cavity parts. The designer or engineer can quickly run checks on their design for short-shots, fill time, fill pressures, and cosmetic and structural defects like knit lines and sink marks. Right from within the design one can quickly change materials, wall thicknesses, gate locations and sizes, and press settings. The hope is that a designer or engineer will catch defects early on and avoid making expensive mistakes.
SolidWorks Plastics Premium build atop Professional adding the ability for multiple cavity molds, family tools, co-injection, over-molding, runner design and balancing, and hot and cold runner systems. In short, Premium is a great tool for those making and/or approving the actual tooling.
Anyone designing injection molded parts needs SolidWorks Plastics Professional. And anyone who wishes to get their minds wrapped around the performance of the tooling-side of things needs SolidWorks Plastics Premium. Even if you're not the one responsible for cutting steel or shooting parts, designers to mold makers can benefit from the up-front analyses of SolidWorks Plastics.