The stages at above illustrate how China Array takes a product from design to the customer. Using Pro Engineering CAD software the part drawing is rendered in red line and 3D. From this part database the mold database is created incorporating the polymer's shrinkage rate, mold flow analysis and other factors. CAM software converts the mold database into the machine language necessary for CNC and EDM machines to cut the mold. After mold testing and adjustments, the tool is ready for production.
The ultimate test is the customer's satisfaction. And a tough customer it is: Jack O'Donnell, Director of Food Services for 17 United Methodist nursing homes for over 35 years. “We use these processors constantly,” says Jack. “The lids are washed in the dishwasher three times a day, yet they’re still clear. That’s a sign of good quality. They’ve become a part of our standard maintenance replacement routine.”
China Array's US and Chinese offices are outfitted with identical CAD systems. Collaborative web conferencing, digital video and photography are used to communicate product development and production status.
High Performance Polymers (HPP) require extensive up front engineering: the nature of the materials places a premium on good design and processing.
CAD/CAM matches the mold's cavities and mechanics to the material's characteristics.
The programs recommend the type of tool steel depending on temperature and estimated volumes; make dimension adjustments to cavities according to the shrinkage factor of that specific resin; and integrate tool mechanization such as hot runner systems, cooling channels, ejection methods and gating.
CAD/CAM saves a customer money ( by reducing cycle times, minimizing material wastage, eliminating false starts to production, improving finished goods quality etc.) before a finished part ever drops out of the machine.
The systems can accelerate future product development, as they store a wealth of information regarding the product, mold and processing of a particular part, which can serve as a starting point for future product iterations.
Pro E and SolidWorks each have mold flow modules that simulate how a specific material will flow and pack out in a prospective mold design: invaluable for placement of gates and other mold features, or evaluating undercuts and other geometries.