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Why the FEM simulation is an important element in Feintool tool making

Simulation in tool making

The Finite Element Method (FEM) simulation supports various phases of tool making at Feintool. By using the simulation, customers receive a tool which is optimized for future production. The results of the simulations offer additional benefits to the process.

The Engineering team at Feintool Technologie AG has already been using simulation software for some time to predict the forming process, cutting processes, strains and tool element loads prior to the manufacturing of fineblanking tools. In this way, important information is gathered for tool design, the manufacturing of the tool and tool tryout. Since fineblanked components and therefore fineblanking tools are becoming ever more complex, simulation is constantly gaining in importance during the entire development process of a fineblanking tool. We see simulation as an important supporting instrument in all steps of tool development, in particular in controlling the testing cycle of a modern fineblanking tool. The times of testing using a trial and error process are a thing of the past and are replaced by a systematic approach which goes beyond the boundaries of individual departments. In light of the importance of this, we have a small but great team at Feintool which is solely concerned with FEM simulation which works as a service provider for all other departments involved in the tool development process. Feintool uses state-of-the-art simulation software that replicates the tools and the resulting parts on a computer. We use Software Forge and Ansys for our FEM simulations. To give customers and internal departments a better idea of the part geometry and size of the subsequent fineblanked component, we generate 3D prints from the simulation. These plastic and/or metal parts help with the visual and tactile impression of the subsequent product.

Simulation provides support in the engineering phase

At Feintool, it all starts with a drawing of the future fineblanked/formed part. The task for the engineer is to develop an optimal tool solution for each fineblanked component. Since modern fineblanked components represent a combination of cutting and forming and are thus highly complex (3D), we make use of the simulation aid. The simulation helps us to carry out feasibility analyses for certain features of the fineblanked component, derive initial load analyses for the subsequent tool elements and thus obtain a risk assessment. The results of the simulation are the basis for a tool quotation to our customer. In this way, we can generate a tool offer in the engineering phase which contains feasibility analyses, a risk assessment and durability analyses supported by the simulation.

Illustration of a feasibility analysis of a tab on a planetary carrier component
Illustration of a feasibility analysis of a tab on a planetary carrier component

How simulation is used in the tool design phase

The findings gained from the FEM simulation in the engineering phase are carried over into the tool design phase. In this phase, we see a very close interplay between the 3D tool design (tool-designer) and the FEM simulation (employee simulation). The 3D models of individual tool components generated by the tool design are carried over into simulation software and checked for durability by means of an FEM simulation. This enables us, for example, to carry out more extensive simulations of an entire gradation before and during the tool design. The results of the simulation (layout of the active elements) then flow back into the tool design and therefore help to construct optimal tool elements. The aim is to guarantee the maximum durability of the active elements, which is later reflected in long run times of the fineblanking tool in production.
The collaboration between engineering, simulation and tool design also generates a strategy for tool testing operations (roadmap). This systematic approach to tool testing, beyond the boundaries of individual departments, also results in a qualitative advantage for the customer.

Illustration of a stress analysis (max. principal stress) on a bridge
Illustration of a stress analysis (max. principal stress) on a bridge

What simulation can achieve in the tool tryout phase

Tool tryout is a step in the development process of a tool in which the tool is mounted in the press and, for the first time, an attempt is made to produce a drawing-compliant fineblanked component. Every avoidable correction cycle means immediate time and cost savings. This is where simulation-based testing support comes in. This involves all theoretically possible corrective actions in real tool testing being replicated in the simulation. The results from the simulation then flow back as corrective actions into the tool testing. The aim is to go through the smallest number of correction cycles possible.

Return of the results from tool tryout into the simulation

At the end of tool tryout – ideally carried out with just one testing cycle – there should be a drawing-compliant fineblanked component. It is now essential that results achieved in reality are compared with those in the simulation (the return of real values into the simulation). In this way, we at Feintool ensure that the simulation of a similar case will deliver even more realistic results next time.

Fit for the future – upgrade of FEM simulation software and hardware

To meet the ever increasing requirements in terms of speed and accuracy, we enhanced our FEM simulation software and installed new hardware at Feintool last year.

This upgrade allows us to carry out more simulation calculations at once and in a shorter time. As a result, we achieve faster reaction times for tool offers from tool engineering and short design times in the context of the overall tool development process (processing time).

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