Don’t Forget Your Glass

Ever wondered what glass-filled nylon or other engineering plastics are? Did you even know that engineering plastics even had a glass-filled grade? The most common engineering plastics, such as Nylon 6 & Nylon 66, Acetal, and PEEK, all have  glass-filled options. What I discovered though is that the percentage of glass varies, sometimes it is as low as 20 percent glass added than 25 percent and finally 30 percent glass, depending on the actual material but obviously the higher the percentage, the greater the influence from the glass filler.

The SOLIDWORKS Plastics database gives you several options to control the percentage of glass added. Having both standard databases with glass already added to several materials, you can also change that amount if needed or suggested by the manufacturer. SOLIDWORKS will solve the problem of changing the percentage on the fly or using the standards per applications.

What does this “glass” stuff do?  Well, it will increase the stiffness substantially and by up to a whopping 80 percent more than the standard grade. It will also increase its tensile strength by an amazing 70percent, so now you can start to see why this GF stuff is starting to look a bit interesting. Here’s another little trick up its sleeve: its thermal expansion rate is about half that of its unfilled relative. What this means is that as the temperature goes up or down and your components would normally move all over the place, GF grades tend to stay where they are, or at least move around a whole lot less. The 30percentGF grade is also 50percent harder than its unfilled relative who is a big bonus for PTFE, which is a bit tricky to the machine at the best of times. What doesn’t seem to change much though is the operating or working temperatures, which remain pretty much the same.

Being a mold maker troubleshooting, right at the press, I was able to see firsthand how finding the correct material for the application is a benefit early in the design process. SOLIDWORKS Plastics will give you information to make educated decisions before even cutting metal.

Configurations in SOLIDWORKS are great for setting up different materials with the same part and setups throughout the project. Geometry changes altered in SOLIDWORKS sends notice to Plastics that something has changed, giving you the ability to mesh and rerun the study. You have the ability set up your configurations with the material name or grade having that propagate to drawings and bills of materials. With configurations, you can also use a table or spreadsheets to drive the activity and behavior. Configurations are easy and intuitive to set up, providing the ability to test new materials on the fly. That is the starting point in designing a great plastic part. SOLIDWORKS Plastics is working directly on the model geometry, so there is no translation!

Looking at the material database, we can start off by looking at the search tool for the quickest way to find materials with fiber. Once the search dialog comes up selecting the option button will open the door to finding the material with the correct properties. At the bottom, you can see the fiber percentage selecting the minimum and the maximum you will see all materials that fall under that criteria.

Now knowing how to search for materials with specific criteria, in this case, the fiber content. Running the study is quick and easy. Once we have run a single study with the selected material, we can start looking at combining the configurations and the material. Setting up several studies using the tool built in SOLIDWORKS Plastics that will automatically add the configuration making the project even easier.




Jeff Osman

Jeff Osman

Jeff Osman has more than 23 years of experience in the mechanical CAD industry. As Senior Technical Sales Specialist Plastics NA, he is responsible for all technical Sales of SolidWorks products, focusing on SolidWorks Plastics, for North America and has been with SolidWorks for 19 years. Prior to joining SolidWorks, Jeff was a senior technical manager with Microcadam, a division of IBM. In addition, he has held several manufacturing positions with companies Processed Plastics, Plano Molding and Furnas/Siemens Electric.
Jeff Osman

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