October 13, 2015



What if you could reduce material costs by 12%, increase throughput by 8%, and reduce scrap by 5%? Or save three weeks and over ten thousand dollars in prototyping a new part? Simulation software makes savings such as those described above not just a goal, but a reality.
Using computer models to run predictive performance analysis, facilitates better research, makes it possible for users to reduce the time, labor, and cost needed to bring products to market, and can identify process problems.
As Mike Kidder, Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing for Altair was quoted as saying, “Exploring and evaluating design concepts, material choices, what–if scenarios, and methods of manufacture through simulation is far more efficient and cost effective than a ‘make and break’ development process.”
This paper is intended to help educate manufacturers on the whats, whys and hows of simulation software. It will also explain the drawbacks and benefits of accessing it through different methods chiefly the differences between traditional software license purchases and pay–per–use options.

What is simulation software?

In the most basic sense, the term simulation software describes computer models that make it possible for a user to “observe” a process to analyze the system under different conditions. There are numerous simulation software programs designed to help users reach their end goal more quickly and cost effectively.
Ludovic® Extrusion Software The Virtual Extrusion Laboratory™ Moldex3D
simulates co–rotating, twin–screw extruder performance. simulates single–screw extruder performance and helps optimize
performance and both die and screw designs.
performs in–depth simulations of complex designs for injection–
molded products.

How can simulation software benefit you?

Potential benefits include increased productivity and decreased time to
market, less waste, and improved product quality. Those who use simulation
software are also able to provide clients and prospects with more accurate
quotes for new business and gain a competitive advantage over those who
aren’t using this innovative technology.
  1. DECREASED TIME TO MARKET  Whether you’re developing a new material, a new process or a complex part, experimentation costs time and money. Using simulation software to define best operating conditions for new materials and best process designs before production begins can significantly reduce the labor, materials and machine time needed to start production. The new product gets to market sooner by increasing the likelihood that goods meet operating standards when produced the first time.
  2. INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY  By optimizing process parameters before production, simulation software empowers users to identify and address potential problems in the product design phase. This greatly enhances manufacturers’ ability to proactively make improvements rather than relying on the cost and time-consuming trial-and-error method traditionally employed.
  3. LESS WASTE AND INVENTORY  For obvious reasons, minimizing the amount of waste in all processes is an important part of your business’s success. Mike Peterman of the Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership succinctly explains how simulation aids this goal, saying “the latest improvements in simulation software have made it an excellent tool for enhancing lean manufacturing.”3 For example, using simulation software can reduce the number of extrusion die modifications necessary by building it right the first time. Furthermore, if the product you’re producing does not meet standards, simulation software can help you quickly determine the root cause of product or process problems. This promotes time and resource conservation throughout all phases of the manufacturing process.
  4. IMPROVED PRODUCT QUALITY  When you use simulation software to thoroughly analyze processes and operator actions, a higher degree of process control becomes attainable. This can maximize efficiency and minimize the possibility of incidents that reduce output quality and/or quantity.
  5. ACCURATE QUOTING  Simulation software offers an unparalleled degree of repeatability and accuracy in manufacturing processes. Using proven models gives simulation software users the chance to generate confident, accurate quotes–faster. This gives the company an edge in competitive quotes and also assures that the company is not locked into a quote that is inaccurate, lowers margins and increases delivery times.
  6. ENHANCED ABILITY TO INNOVATE  As Dale Berry, Senior Director of Product Experience Technical for Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA, was quoted in a recent NASA Tech Briefs article, “The key to faster and cheaper innovation is understanding which design alternative to go with, which ones to avoid, how to improve that choice, and how to ensure it will work the first time. All of these questions can be answered through simulation.”

How do you access simulation software?

Even though simulation software offers many benefits to manufacturers, small to mid–sized manufacturers can be slow to adopt the technology because of cost.
Traditionally, users had to pay software license fees in full, upfront to gain access to simulation software programs. In many circumstances this is the right approach, but with licensing fees regularly costing $20,000 to $100,000, the idea of purchasing a license before being totally sure it is a good fit causes many business owners to pass.
PolymerOhio’s Manufacturing and Polymer Portal offers an alternative by making it possible for manufacturers to access simulation software on a payper-use basis, rather than having to pay the full purchase price.
Through the Portal, it is now possible to find the program that’s right for you with the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of simulation in your own business situation.