Tooling Article



Simulation Software Streamlines Die Build

By: Brad Kuvin

Saturday, May 1, 2010
Aggressive Tool and
Heat Shield & reinforcement bracket
Aggressive Tool & Die uses Altair’s HyperForm software early in the stages of die development and stamping-process design to develop contour plots such as these to measure percent thinning and identify possible concerns with and tearing well before die steels are cut. Above: a heat shield of double-metal aluminized steel. Right: a 2.5-mm HSLA reinforcement bracket.
Die is living up to its name, with quote rates increasing year to year, increased sales, and new customers calling to take advantage of its recent move to a new 20,000-sq.-ft. plant. Once primarily a supplier of progressive dies to the automotive industry, its expanded capabilities—larger tryout presses—have allowed the Coopersville, MI company to grow its presence in the transfer-die and larger prog-die market.

“We’ve enjoyed a very consistent customer base for the last several years,” says company co-owner Greg Wiersma, who started the shop in 1993 with friend and fellow journeyman diemaker Tom Zuidema. “Now we’re attracting a lot of new customers thanks to the doubling of our plant size when we moved to this new facility a year ago, and the acquisition of a larger 600-ton tryout press with an 84- by 144-in. bed. Our mix is now 25 percent transfer, 65 percent progressive, with a bit of line-die work thrown in.”

“We’ve recently been bringing in a lot of stainless-steel work for exhaust-system components,” adds Zuidema, “including dual-layer stampings. A critical success factor for this work, and for other programs as well, has been our ongoing development of expertise using forming-simulation and die-development software (HyperForm, from Altair Engineering, Troy, MI). The software’s ability to allow our engineers to quickly examine formability of these materials and part designs—some of them very challenging alloys and part designs—is reducing our time on the floor by 25 to 30 percent,” Zuidema stresses.

Bringing Simulation Inhouse

Aggressive has been using HyperForm for nearly 4 years, after having outsourced sheetmetal-simulation and virtual tryout beginning in 2003. “Our customers were requiring virtual tryout and simulation more and more often,” says project manager Ron Becklin, “and now we find that to earn any business with most customers, being simulation-capable inhouse is a critical core competency. The Radioss one-step module allows us to provide feasibility results almost immediately when quoting new work. We can show a customer the FLD (forming-limit diagram) curves and identify potential problem areas, such as excess thinning in a corner or where extra relief may be required, before we get into die design and run into expensive surprises.”

Among the features offered by HyperForm are blank fitting and nesting, a die module that allows basic die-face design, an automated tool-builder module, virtual tryout, and die-structure stress analysis and optimization. Radioss is an incremental forming solver that accurately predicts wrinkles and splits before die steels are cut and installed in the die, thus avoiding wasteful and extra machining and tryout.

Asked to share one recent example of how the software helps, simulation technician Dan Linderman describes a heat shield Aggressive recently tooled up.

“The part comprises a dual layer of aluminized steel,” says Linderman, “and its design is complex. It has a couple of complex features with a lot of shape to it. When we won the job, we initially designed it as a progressive strip. However, during simulation it became evident that we would have

FLD Plot
This FLD plot shows areas of a part—a 0.7-mm steel roof reinforcement—that are deemed safe, in compression or where loose sheetmetal resides, as well as identifies possible areas of failure during stamping.
a problem carrying the part in the die, due to the in which it would have to be formed. Using the HyperForm simulation module, I tried several iterations to get the part to form properly, without folding over while also avoiding rips and tears. It quickly became clear to me and to the entire project team that we were going to have to scrap the idea of a progressive die and redesign the process with a transfer die.

“Recognizing the need to make the heat shield in a transfer die well before any die steels were cut saved us and our customer a tremendous amount of man-hours,” Linderman continues. “We would have had a major design change during the development process in the press.”

A Dramatic Improvement in Die-Build Efficiency

In addition to smarter upfront process planning and the benefits realized from early engineering, Aggressive also is able to leverage HyperForm’s simulation capabilities—via the Radioss/ Incremental virtual tryout module—to streamline the back end of its processes—die build and tryout.

“We’re going to the press with completed dies, rather than having to develop them in the press,” says Zuidema. “Better upfront engineering allows us to save a lot of time and money at the back end in machining, assembly and tryout. And, from a sales perspective, Greg and I realize a huge benefit from that, as we can move projects more efficiently and predictably through the shop and better schedule new work as it comes in.”

“Tryout is done on the computer screen while the tool steels are being cut,” adds Linderman. “And, as we’re machining form steels we’re wire-cutting trim steels, and bringing the whole project together for the diemaker. Time from conception to completion has been reduced by as much as 30 percent, and we’re routinely meeting customer requirements for early parts with short lead times.” MF


Related Enterprise Zones: Other Processes, Software

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