Primera Plastics, Inc.: Injection-Molded Products
Manufacturing firm uses Autodesk Moldflow plastic injection molding simulation software to produce more accurate quotes and optimize production cycle times.
"With Autodesk Moldflow, we rise above competitors who are not able to conduct the same level of validation before production. We’re able to tell our customers if we find a specific area of concern—and help them optimize their products and reduce their costs."
—Scott Leatherman, Project Engineer, Primera Plastics
An old barn outfitted with two injection molding machines gave Primera Plastics its start in 1994. From these humble beginnings, the company has grown into a top manufacturer of precision-molded plastic products, operating 30 injection molding presses in its award-winning facilities in Zeeland, Michigan. Primera Plastics produces custom plastic parts for a range of international customers, including premier furniture manufacturers and automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
To deliver competitively priced, high-quality plastic parts quickly, Primera Plastics relies on Autodesk® Moldflow® software. Using Autodesk Moldflow, the company produces more accurate quotes for prospective customers and optimizes injection mold designs prior to manufacturing. With the help of Autodesk Moldflow software, Primera Plastics has been able to:
"Before Autodesk Moldflow, we approximated cycle time based on part volume and our previous experience," explains Scott Leatherman, a project engineer at Primera Plastics. "And once we bid, we were locked into a quote, so we always estimated conservatively to reduce our risk."
In addition, because many of the parts Primera Plastics manufactures are used in automotive interiors and office furniture, high quality and overall aesthetics are critical. "A vast majority of the plastic parts we produce must look good," says Leatherman. "If a part is manufactured to specifications and dimensionally correct, but has an unintended visual defect, we’re in trouble."
Using Autodesk Moldflow software, Primera Plastics can perform simulations to develop more accurate quotes when it receives requests for plastic parts. Engineers run a range of simulations to study the flow of melted plastic, evaluate various runner systems and gate configurations, determine the most efficient cooling systems, and predict volumetric shrinkage. "With Autodesk Moldflow, we can virtually explore a range of issues before we deliver a quote and start manufacturing a part," notes Leatherman.
One of the biggest problems that can arise with quoting is under- or overestimating cycle times. "If you underestimate cycle times, you’ll cut into your profit, but if you overestimate, you might not get the business," says Leatherman. Using Autodesk Moldflow, Primera Plastics can more accurately predict how long it will take for a plastic part to reach ejection temperature and identify when the part will start to warp. "Autodesk Moldflow software tells us how long we have to keep the part in the injection mold," adds Leatherman. "With more accurate predictions of cycle times, we have much more confidence in our quotes."
The cost of creating injection molds often plays a major role in the total cost of manufacturing a plastic part—in some cases, up to 75 percent. "If the mold isn’t designed correctly, it can wreak havoc on the entire production process," says Leatherman. "And if the estimated cost for the mold is wrong, we can end up sacrificing our already thin profit margins."
As a result, Primera Plastics must effectively communicate the exact tooling specifications necessary to mold a particular part to the third-party vendors it uses to create its molds. "A great deal of time and money is wasted if we have to go back to our tooling vendors after the mold is produced," says Leatherman. "But with the results of our Autodesk Moldflow simulations in hand, our vendors can accurately design the molds we need. Before a mold is built, we have confidence it will be optimized for our injection molding requirements."
More Predictable Results
Using the insight gained from Autodesk Moldflow simulations, Primera Plastics can communicate more effectively with customers about optimizing plastic part designs and the injection molding process. "With Autodesk Moldflow, we rise above competitors who are not able to conduct the same level of validation before production," says Leatherman. "We’re able to tell our customers if we find a specific area of concern—and help them optimize their products and reduce their costs."
With help from Autodesk Moldflow software, Primera Plastics can create more accurate and competitive quotes, protecting the company’s thin profit margins. Autodesk Moldflow also helps Primera Plastics optimize parts for the injection molding process, so it can more efficiently manufacture plastic parts and avoid costly production delays and part defects.
"Thanks to Autodesk Moldflow, we can save months of production time—and easily, thousands of dollars," says Leatherman. "We’re more confident in our quoting because we can study every aspect of the injection modeling process before we begin manufacturing. Autodesk Moldflow is definitely helping us maximize profit. It’s a valuable tool."
|Primera Plastics Customer Story (pdf - 583Kb)|