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Virtual prototyping of PET bottles cuts costs and time to market

Virtual prototyping of PET bottles cuts costs and time to market
Simulated view (right) using Opti-Sim bottle protyping software matches real-world test results (left).

R&D/Leverage’s new Opti-Sim virtual prototyping tool lets PET packagers model a bottle concept’s impact on engineering, operations and marketing by performing a complete range of diagnostic, real-world simulations in addressing myriad variables for both new and existing packaging designs.

Opti-Sim allows users to:

Optimize sustainability so that less plastic is used in a bottle through optimization;

Optimize efficiency by improving "speed to market" to bridge between ideas and reality;

Reduce costs—less money is spent on hard tooling or prototyping;

Simulate top load and vacuum requirements;

Simulate lightweight options in a new or existing design; and

Simulate various wall thickness distribution profiles.

“Opti-Sim lets our customers test before they invest,” says Dave Brunson, vp of engineering. “It harnesses our decades of historical data on injection stretch blow packaging, represents years of development and delivers uncanny industry-specific knowledge for accuracy and efficiency superior to other virtual prototyping schemes. Our predictive analysis simulates variables such as top load and vacuum, light weight options to enhance sustainability, wall thicknesses, geometries and more.  This capability represents tremendous value to our customers.”

“The result is an accurate, predictive tool unlike any other service offered in the field,” adds Jeff Chen, senior research engineer. “Opti-Sim represents yet another way that customers in the PET packaging space can benefit from our expertise—in this case, to predetermine how their bottle concepts will impact all their existing systems, quickly and accurately.”

Brunson and Chen responded to Packaging Digest’s questions:

What is the target user and is there a cost?

Brunson and Chen: The target application is PET packaging via injection stretch blow molding (ISBM) or a reheat blow (RHB) process. There is a cost that is determined based upon the customer request.

What is the commercial status with customers?

Brunson and Chen: We sold our first job to a customer after 5 years of development and have multiple users at this time. We have repeat customers that use this service to aid their product design and to help them make better decisions on choosing the “one best design” among several designs. We cannot identify any customers by name due to confidentiality agreements.

Can you quantify the benefits in any way?

Brunson and Chen: In some cases could eliminate developmental tooling, but at the very least can minimize the number of developmental tools and hard trials.

In answering other questions, R&D/Leverage says the tool’s development was done strictly internally and that the hardware requirements to run the simulation are proprietary as well.

“Other suppliers may have virtual prototyping software, but not our tool-making experience and certainly not our decades of industry-specific historical knowledge, which is ‘baked into the cake’ with Opti-Sim,” summarizes Chen.

For more information, see R&D/Leverage.

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