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“I’m surprised every day by what I find out running simulations. I don’t know that I could do my job anymore without it.” – Todd Turner, Senior Product Development Engineer at Macro Plastics, Inc.
Macro Plastics, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of large agricultural bins in the citrus and apple industry. They rely heavily on SOLIDWORKS Simulation analysis software to optimize their designs, which cut material costs and maintain product strength. With over 70 different models, they craft highly-dense polyethylene and polypropylene plastic bins that perfectly store and transport apples, oranges, cherries and grapes to market. Working with plastic offers superior protection for the delicate fruit and allows them to deliver higher quality products to their customers.
Instead of sticking with the status quo, Macro Plastics wanted to achieve more with their business and with their products. Similar to most companies, they wanted to expand product development while increasing efficiency, improving quality and controlling unwieldy costs.
As the cost of plastic continues to rise, it’s important for their bottom line to optimize designs for material usage while still making them strong enough to withstand significant loads. “It’s natural for someone to think that we’re designing a primitive product — a plastic box if you will,” notes Senior Product Development Engineer Todd Turner. “However, when you consider the lengths to which we go to reduce material while maintaining strength and how elaborate our ribbing patterns need to be, our product development effort is really quite sophisticated.”
Reaching New Boundaries With SOLIDWORKS
“We want to use the minimum amount of plastic to support the loading conditions required. With SOLIDWORKS Simulation, we can explore different approaches until we come up with the optimal design that uses the least amount of material. We’ve cut material usage by 10 to 25 percent across our new product lines.”
Getting Your Designs Right the First Time
Early detection of product failures can save significant time and money further down the development cycle. Many companies will do one of these three things to avoid design errors.
- Overdesign products
- Use physical prototypes
- Work with third party analysis tools
The cost of overdesigning a product to ensure its success adds up significantly. By investing in a 3D CAD analysis tool, like SOLIDWORKS Simulation, you can be confident the amount of material you’re using is adequate to the need and function of the product. Waiting on physical prototypes can push back your project deadlines due to long lead times and re-work if the design isn’t perfect the first time. Using third party tools typically require a specialist in analysis and repetitive importing and exporting of documents to and from your 3D CAD program, which can get messy and time consuming when you have other work to get done!
“We wouldn’t be able to do the type of product development we do without finite element analysis (FEA),” Turner contends. “I have used SOLIDWORKS design software since its very first release, so the selection of an FEA package was easy. SOLIDWORKS is easy to use. SOLIDWORKS Simulation is fully integrated. It was a natural fit.”
With SOLIDWORKS Simulation, your study is happening right on top of your design, fully integrated with your 3D CAD model. “For me, SOLIDWORKS Simulation is a development tool. I know how the design is going to perform before I need to validate it because simulation is an integral part of the design process. Simulation helps me improve what I refer to as the right-the-first-time factor,” Turner explains. “In the past, most engineers allowed time at the end of a design project to work out all of the unforeseen problems. With SOLIDWORKS Simulation, I can identify and resolve potential issues during design, so that when we mold those initial pieces, they are right the first time. It’s an incredible tool that has let us save 30 to 60 percent in capital costs in the development of new products.”
SOLIDWORKS design and simulation solutions have also enabled Macro Plastics to triple its new product offerings, cut its development time from months to weeks, and reduce product weight. “It used to take three to six months to develop a new product,” Turner explains. “Now, we’re doing them in a matter of weeks. SOLIDWORKS tools like interference detection, FEA and PhotoView 360 all play a part.”
Macro Plastics also relies on SOLIDWORKS Simulation to resolve product issues in the field. For example, the company received photos from a high-load onion producer that showed a particular product failure with a distinct snakelike pattern. “I ran a buckling study that revealed the same snakelike shape,” Turner recalls. “I tried a bunch of different approaches: running ribs this way or that way, using four ribs or partial ribs. Ultimately, I was able to use SOLIDWORKS Simulation to determine the exact rib size, pattern, and minimum weight to resolve the problem. I’m surprised every day by what I find out running simulations. I don’t know that I could do my job anymore without it.”
Learn how intelligent analysis tools like SOLIDWORKS Simulation can impact your business — contact us today!