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Case Study

watttron Develops Innovative Ceramic Heating System via Simulation-based Product Design in Polymer Processing

"Ansys simulation allows us to efficiently determine process parameters in order to exploit the full potential of our innovative technology. It supports us in predicting the benefits our customers will have with our innovative products and in demonstrating the product and process optimizations compared to conventional heating systems."

--Andreas Kunze, Computational Mathematician, watttron

Thermoforming is an important polymer production process; the heating of the initial polymer sheet is essential for the quality, quantity and efficiency of the process. At watttron, we developed an innovative heating technology that allows inhomogeneous, precisely defined heating of surfaces on a very small scale. Using simulations, the necessary parameters for the design of the process can be determined without the need of expensive real-world tests.

Business Challenges

Modular-designed matrix heaters are the core of our technology. They consist of many small resistance heating circuits in the form of square pixels printed on thin, isolated ceramic substrates. These matrix heaters enable us to generate temperature profiles specifically adapted to given products or molds. Simulation allows us to efficiently determine the optimal temperature for each pixel, which would be a time- and resource-consuming task if done by hand.

Engineering Solutions

We developed a powerful algorithm that iteratively updates the temperature profile depending on the results of the thermoforming simulation. In a fully automated workflow, we start the optimization process with the simulation of the thermoforming process and an initial (standard) temperature profile. The result of this simulation is the initial wall thickness distribution.

Then, our algorithm uses this data to update the temperature profile and starts the thermoforming simulation for the second run. This procedure is repeated until the wall thickness distribution is nearly constant at every position of the forming product.

Benefits of Ansys SpaceClaim, Ansys Mechanical, and Ansys Polyflow

  • Decreases time and costs for process parameter determination.
  • Provides faster feedback to our customers.
  • Allows fast return on investment.

Homogenous temperature profile (left) and resulting wall thickness distribution (right) for a simple test cup.

Optimized temperature profile (left) and resulting wall thickness distribution (right) for a simple test cup.

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