Plastics News

When an injection molding engineer needs data not provided by materials suppliers, Beaumont Technologies Inc. says it can better fill that gap as a result of a deal it made with Autodesk Inc.

Beaumont Technologies Inc. has acquired certain assets and technologies from Autodesk Moldflow that boosts the Erie, Pa., company’s ability to provide material characterization. The deal fits into Beaumont Technologies’ American Injection Molding Institute and its training programs.

Armed with a stronger set of material characterizations, an engineer can better design a molding operation and Moldflow’s tools save costs and ensure finished part properties such as tensile strength.

Beaumont Technologies is moving some laboratory equipment and proprietary software to Erie from Autodesk’s site in Ithaca, N.Y. The relocated business will be housed in a temporary facility this spring until Beaumont Technologies opens a new, larger facility in Erie to house all its operations.

“We’re busting at the seams,” John Beaumont said in a Feb. 16 phone interview. The founder of the company that carries his name said Beaumont Technologies will soon announce details about a new, larger facility in Erie.

Beaumont Technologies bought Autodesk Moldflow’s material characterization business in North America and Europe. Autodesk will continue to maintain its own materials testing and development laboratory in Kilsyth, Australia, to serve customers in Asia and certain specific global accounts. Autodesk’s in-house material characterization capabilities will be maintained to support its own research and development in plastics modeling and simulation activities.

Jeremy Carroll/File photo John Beaumont at his Erie, Pa., company.

“Material characterization is the lifeblood of injection molding technology,” John Beaumont stressed. “People often don’t appreciate the importance of material characterization.”

It’s easy to look for quick answers to molding problems, but an engineer should strive to understand properties not provided by a materials supplier, he explained. This extra level of data can provide a true picture of the injection moldability of a material in a specific application. Although there are several standard tests for material properties, Autodesk Moldflow introduces some unique characterizations to improve predictability. He cited injection molded shrink plaques as an example. The plaques are varied in thickness and other conditions to provide more precise data on shrinkage in the mold. Orientation of the part in the mold is another variable in fine tuning of properties. Published properties often are derived from a longitudinal orientation in the mold but rotating the part to a right angle, for example, can provide a new level of information.

“There is a problem of consistency,” John Beaumont said. Standard test methodology may describe how a tensile test is done, for example, but it doesn’t take into account how the test plaque was molded in terms of temperature, filling, packing and other variables that can make a big difference.

“There is a lot of room for variation,” he said in commenting on tests such as widely used ASTM standards. The expanded laboratory operation in Erie will provide highly controlled characterization going beyond the basics normally available to an engineer looking to specify a material for an application.

“Everyone is hungry to get material characterizations into their database,” he noted. Beaumont Technologies will conduct and sell such services to clients in North America and Europe.

His company also will continue to work with Autodesk Moldflow on other injection molding technology. Autodesk Moldflow is expert at setting up code for computer programs that model and simulate molding, while Beaumont Technologies can provide feedback on material properties for Autodesk to fine tune its coding.

“Autodesk’s partnership with Beaumont Technologies will enable us to jointly increase testing capacity and enhance the services that we provide to our customers,” said Greg Fallon, vice president of simulation for Autodesk, in a news release.

“Beaumont’s American Injection Molding Institute is the preferred training partner in North America for our injection molding simulation customers,” Fallon added. “With Beaumont handling our training and material characterization activities, Autodesk can focus its resources on the development and validation of new process solvers, as well as characterization methodologies.

“The result will be a net increase in global characterization capacity, improved throughput and responsiveness as well as subject matter experts into our community,” Fallon predicted.

Beaumont Technologies and Autodesk started discussing the handoff of material characterization to the Erie-based company about six months ago. The deal was formalized in early February. Terms were not disclosed.

“Nobody offers the depth of [injection molding] services that we do,” John Beaumont said. He established the AIM Institute in early 2015. It offers training for a wide range of skill levels, from engineering to technicians to management.

John Beaumont has paid his dues in injection molding technology. He has 25 years of experience that included a position as professor and program chair of the Plastics Engineering Technology program at Penn State Erie. He was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in March 2015. He founded Beaumont Technologies in 1998 and invented MeltFlipper, Therma-flo and other injection molding technologies. His corporate experience includes stints at Ciba Vision Corp. and the U.S. operations of Moldflow in its early years.

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