Founded in 2013, iMFLUX was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of Procter & Gamble (P&G) as the Ohio-based consumer products giant wanted to improve the technology of plastics processing. Procter & Gamble saw the need to reduce the cost and lead time to launch new plastic part designs.
The company eventually developed a breakthrough new technology that utilised low constant injection pressure, leading to the formation of iMFLUX. Injection molding requires precision tolerances as plastic is going into tools at up to industrial machinery
20,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) and the gaps between the steel has to resist the plastic from going in between them. The process iMFLUX uses is controlled by pressure rather than velocity or speed. From the moment the press goes to move the screw forward, it is controlling only a set target pressure point. Once it hits that pressure point, it will maintain that pressure until the part’s full and packed out.
The iMFLUX injection moulding process involves a specialised controller that enables filling a mould at a lower, defined melt-pressure profile, allowing a variable filling rate that automatically adapts to the part geometry. Advantages include improved part quality, new part and mold design possibilities, sustainability improvements and reduced costs.
The process begins when a customer sends a mould design or part design concept to iMFLUX. The company then takes the customer’s concept from paper sketch through the final qualification of the mould and the part itself. There is pressure to finish the process as soon as possible to meet the customer’s expectations and also start on the next project, avoiding any bottlenecks. As a result, the time from conception to build is condensed.
Despite rapidly approaching deadlines, ensuring complete accuracy throughout the process is paramount. For iMFLUX, it is extremely costly to find dimensional or mould action errors on the back end because something was missed during the mold design and/or mould build process and was not extensively reviewed. This is where NX Mold Wizard software comes into play.
“NX Mold Wizard helps us accelerate the process by doing an analysis on the part for draft checks and wall thickness,” says Mark Reagan, mould design engineer, iMFLUX. “It establishes a core cavity split upfront and you can determine whether or not it’s really manufacturable.”
iMFLUX takes designs from concept to creation as fast as possible to unlock the speed benefits required by P&G while still delivering the level of quality its external partners expect.
Embracing Siemens technology
During the company’s infancy, iMFLUX used the milling functionality of NX CAM. But the company quickly realised that it needed to bring every discipline within one computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) system to have its equipment and technology move quickly and adapt in the industrial machinery and consumer products space. The company quickly transitioned to having turning, wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) and sinker EDM all housed within the NX CAM umbrella.
The integration of NX CAM with NX CAD transformed the end-to-end process from computer-aided design (CAD) part model through mold design all the way to machining moulds with extremely high accuracy. NX is a part of the Xcelerator portfolio, a comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software.
“NX CAM has allowed us to be more competitive by stabilizing our processes,” says Jonathan Edwards, CAM programmer, iMFLUX.
Indeed, as a result of introducing NX CAM to its processes, iMFLUX can now house all of its tool paths and one-part file types and then export them using different postprocessors that are infinitely customisable.
“Our customers require moulds that run millions and millions of parts and to make them as serviceable as possible. They want interchangeable parts,” says Brent Huxel, director of design and project management, iMFLUX. “To do that, we’ve got to hit tolerances on the magnitude of microns or tens of a thousandths of an inch.”
The advanced finishing methods iMFLUX uses allows for first-time yields in the 90th percentile range with virtually no scrap and improved tool life, enabling superior parts and satisfying customers.
NX CAM provides iMFLUX’s designers theability to add all of the tool holders andthe vises that they use, giving an accurate simulation of where the tool is going to be and where the parts are going to be compared to the holders. NX also enables iMFLUX to pull in predesign mold bases and hardware from the NX Mold Wizard library. As a result, iMFLUX has accelerated its design process as well as its mold building process.
Since adopting NX and Teamcenter software, iMFLUX is experiencing high levels of productivity using automated mold processes and is able to capture, optimise and reuse company knowledge. The company is now enjoying a seamless production process, connecting people, systems and resources. NX and Teamcenter allows iMFLUX to run a flexible operation, enabling the company to meet tomorrow’s needs, today.
“We’ve structured a company and built it off technology that is world-class in part design and in mould design,” says Dan Lumpkin, Vice President, Manufacturing, iMFLUX. “What Siemens has done for us, through the suite of technologies they offer, is really help us identify what’s going to help us grow. That’s the kind of partnership we need because we are trying to do things differently. And having a technology partner that understands that, tailoring their solutions to that, has been a huge asset.
“People bet against companies like us a lot. This is an industry that is built on 75 years of doing things one way. We’re challenging all of that and we’re asking people to think differently. When a customer gets that, that’s a pretty rewarding thing.”
- Meet shrinking timelines while maintaining pinpoint accuracy
- Maximise manufacturability
- Reduce the time it takes to
- bring a product to market
- Minimise and optimise capital investment
- Offer versatility to serve various industries
- Compete with low-cost global labour markets
Keys to success
- Use integrated NX CAD and NX CAM to stabilise processes and remain competitive
- Upfront mould design validation to eliminate dimensional errors and ensure accuracy
- Generate a complete and accurate bill of materials to streamline mold development
- Accelerated mould design and building processes
- Recorded first-time yields in the 90th percentile range
- Reduced parts cost due to 20 to 30 percent throughput increase, lower part weight and reduced scrap
- Improved cash efficiency due to lower press investment and instant capacity
- Enabled more sustainable process due to lower energy costs and use of post-consumer recyclable and renewable material
NX Mold Design
Customer’s primary business
iMFLUX is claimed to be the only moulding company that integrates game-changing processing software and machine learning with state-of-the-art mold shop. The company provides the way to autonomous molding with a new capability to design and mold that impossible part. iMFLUX’s low-constant- pressure injection molding platform works on virtually any machine, material and mould.