Sebastian Sutter, Head International Business, SIMCON

Indraneel Bhattacharya, Vice-President Sales and Marketing, LMW
Pascal Forrer, Global Sales & Marketing Director and Member of the Executive Board, REGO-FIX
Paul J. Gray, Vice President – R&D and Product Development, HURCO.

Recently, I had a chance to visit the 12th Die and Mould India International Exhibition, Mumbai Organized by TAGMA India. It was great meeting Sebastian Sutter, head of international business at SIMCON, and learning more about their latest offerings and trends in the die & mould industry, the SIMCON’s strategy and roadmap for India. Here is the interview

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and SIMCON?
I’m Sebastian Sutter, head of international business at SIMCON. This means I’m in charge of driving our international expansion. Traditionally, our focus has been on European markets, but now we’re expanding our operations to Asia as well.

SIMCON provides plastic injection molding simulation software and services. We have been serving the most quality-obsessed and cost-driven customers in the world – including all of the German luxury car OEMs – for decades.

Tell us more about the SIMCON’s CADMOULD and VARIMOS software and how does it help in the plastic injection process?
Our software helps customers design better plastic parts, molds and injection processes. You can solve things like shrinkage and warpage, sink marks, weld lines, mechanical properties, cycle time minimization etc.

Our simulation engine CADMOULD helps customers to predict part quality before the mold is built. It simulates the entire injection process from filling to packing, cooling, and shrinkage and warpage. So you know what will happen inside the mold, before you’ve actually built the mold. You know what issues you might run into and you can solve them virtually, before things get expensive.

VARIMOS is a rapid variant analysis tool. Once you’ve identified the main issues you want to solve (like warpage, or hotspots, or weld lines invisible areas, or an unbalanced filling, or cycle times that are too long, etc), you can use a specialized CADMOULD plugin called VARIMOS to find better solutions much faster than with trial-and-error simulation.

Could you tell us a bit more about VARIMOS and how it supports Die Mold, tooling professionals to overcome challenges?
VARIMOS is a rapid variant analysis tool. It helps you to very quickly set up a large number of alternative part, mold, and process designs very quickly. Just drag and drop variables that you can change (like local wall thicknesses, or locations of injection gates, or injection parameters, etc.) in and tell it the range within which those things can vary. VARIMOS will use this list of variables to automatically create simulation alternatives, to explore your options. It will run these simulations in parallel, orders of magnitude faster than with competing software. And it will learn from the results and summarize cause and effect for you in a really simple way.

The output is two things. First, you get a suggested optimal solution, as a starting point for your discussions. Second, you get a sensitivity analysis. So you can change settings away from the initial recommendation, and see how that would change your results. You can do what-if-analysis without running more simulations, in real time. That makes it great for discussions.

If you’ve ever wondered whether you need to touch part or mold geometry, or whether it’s enough just to modify your injection parameters to get better results, VARIMOS can help you answer that question, fast. Because the optimal result you get if you vary ONLY parameters is not enough, then that is proof you need more degrees of freedom, and so you need to touch geometry. It can save you a LOT of trial and error and a lot of painful discussions about tradeoffs, because you just see them instantly. It’s much simpler than the traditional way of looking at one simulation after another. No more hand-waving speculation. You get instant, snappy feedback about your what-ifs without waiting for days to get your next simulation results.

And then finally, we don’t just have the simulation version of VARIMOS, but also a real-world version called VARIMOS Real, that applies the same methods to mold tryouts. With VARIMOS Real, you can build on what you’ve learned in simulation to get a good starting point for your mold tryouts, and systematically do a final polish of the machine parameters to get that last little bit of cycle time improvement and quality enhancement.
There is a growing trend for plastics in the Automotive/EV industry, How SIMCON is providing the end-to-end solution for it?
The EV revolution is driving changes of a magnitude unseen in a generation in the automotive space. We’ve seen how this changes the kinds of parts that automotive OEMs need, and the technical requirements are evolving.

For example, to maximize range, lightweighting parts has become important. This has led to metal-to-plastic conversions for many parts, including parts that must meet heavy mechanical requirements.  With CADMOULD and VARIMOS, there’s a structural FEM module that’s integrated directly into the software, for quick analysis of how your rheology will impact mechanical behavior. We’re really proud of our fiber orientation simulation functionality as well. We’ve got OEMs in Europe who simulate fiber orientations using our software and feed it into advanced structural analysis software or crash-testing software. Our results are directly compatible with Ansys, Digimat, Pam-Crash and a couple of others. We’re also compatible with Converse by PART engineering – which permits you to transfer fiber orientations, mesh, weld lines, and a bunch of other results to most leading structural solvers.

Another change we’ve seen is increased use of foaming materials to reduce material use and part weight. CADMOULD is capable of simulating these materials as well. You can see the distribution and density of bubbles inside the material, before the mold is built. And that can help you avoid some expensive surprises downstream.

The challenge is compounded by supply chain troubles that have arisen due to the pandemic and geopolitical tensions. This leads to a challenging environment for materials availability, and has caused many of our customers to have to work with previously unfamiliar materials, because their favorites are not always reliably available. Our large materials database helps customers find suitable alternatives efficiently and quickly, and test them in simulation before committing to purchase.

Finally, our solution VARIMOS Real is getting rave reviews from automotive suppliers who use it for machine setting and tryouts – particularly, when they’re working with new and unfamiliar geometries, requirements and materials. Simulating with CADMOULD and VARIMOS will get you an optimized part and mold design, and a good starting point for the machine settings in your tryouts. But you do still need to do tryouts. And VARIMOS Real is a great way to do that. You set up a super-efficient DOE, using the information you’ve got from simulation. No more shots than absolutely necessary! And you get the same kind of what-if analysis and proposed optimum that you get from the simulation-based VARIMOS. Only that here you’re running real-world sample shots on your machine, instead of simulating, to get the data. The advantage is, you’ll know for sure, with zero remaining uncertainty, what your best machine settings are, and whether you need a mold correction. You’re building on top of your simulation insights and enriching them with real-world data.

What are industries/Sectors that are benefitting most from your Simulation software?
Any sector in which new plastic parts and molds are frequently needed, and where they must meet stringent quality and cost targets, will benefit from our software. We’ve traditionally seen a lot of demand in the automotive sector, because they frequently design new parts due to model upgrades, their tolerances and technical requirements are tough, and they are working on tight cost targets. This means they really need to co-optimize quality and cost, which our software is ideally positioned to do. Other sectors with a significant customer base include consumer electronics, medical devices, toys, aerospace (traditional passenger aircraft, but also flying taxis), furniture, and several others.

What’s your take on cloud technology?
We think that in our domain there are some excellent use cases for cloud technology, both in shared storage and mining of simulation and project data, as well as in cloud computing for massively parallel simulation. We also see that customers are getting more and more open to using these technologies. Traditionally, we observed that many customers were wary of hosting the kinds of new product and part development data that our software deals anywhere else than tightly controlled on-premise, due to perceived cyber risk. But more and more customers have come to realize that on-premise storage is not necessarily safer – in fact a well-managed cloud platform actually can have some significant infosec advantages. Since most cloud technology is offered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, wider adoption will also require a willingness to shift away from the purchase-and-maintenance preference we presently see with many companies. In summary, we are expecting more and more adoption of this technology by our customers, and have a couple of offers up our sleeve to meet the growing demand. Stay tuned!

Going forward, what will be the company’s strategy and roadmap for India?
We want to rapidly expand in India, because we think that there are a lot of companies who can really derive meaningful benefit from our software and services here. India is already an ascending giant in plastics manufacturing and is rapidly becoming one of the most important manufacturing bases for plastic components in the world. As a result, we have seen a rapid expansion of demand for our software solutions and services here, and have significantly invested into expanding our sales and support capacity in market. We’ve added five high-powered resellers in India in the past year alone, and are rapidly expanding our market share. We are dedicating a lot of resources to the Indian market because we believe a lot of good things are happening and the future is bright.

What’s your take on the 12th DIE & MOULD INDIA International Exhibition?We’re delighted that in-person events are feasible again and that we can meet our customers face-to-face. I think all of us have learned two things in this pandemic: yes, you can in fact do more kinds of meetings online than anyone had ever thought possible. And yes, in person is still different and better. Drop by at our booth with ZWIndia and meet us in person! We’d be delighted to show you how CADMOULD and VARIMOS are a truly groundbreaking combination that unlocks a way of working that’s just not feasible with other software. If you’d like to get weeks’ worth of work done in days, talk to us. We’ve done literally thousands of projects and we’d love to deploy our experience to help you succeed.

Any Final Thoughts?
Let’s shape the future, together! We’re confident that Indian part and mold designers, and machine setters have a bright future, and we’d love to help accelerate the pace of innovation. Talk to us, you’ll be surprised what we can achieve together!