PETWORK
01/2014

FEM helps SIPA designs better bottles more efficiently

When SIPA’s engineers and designers want to identify the best candidate design for a new bottle, they call on FEM, the Finite Element Method, to help them do it as efficiently as possible.
SIPA’s design experts use FEM as a powerful assistant in obtaining the best properties with the least amount of material. In their skilled hands, FEM can verify if a proposed design will be able to meet or even exceed the client's specifications very early in development, and before going to the physical prototyping process.

Solving problems in structural mechanics

FEM was originally developed to solve complex problems in structural mechanics, and it remains the method of choice for complex systems. The structural system is modelled by a mesh, a set of finite elements interconnected at points, or nodes. These elements may have physical properties, such as thickness, coefficient of thermal expansion, density, flexural and shear modulus, which define how the structure will react to certain loading conditions.

Less need for physical prototypes

Structural analysis with FEM—or Finite Element Analysis, FEA—makes it possible to study the behaviour of a system as if it were already in an operating condition, showing up its points of strength and its points of weakness. With this information in hand, it is possible, even at the earliest design stages, to carry out optimization steps that otherwise would have to be done on physical prototypes—something that obviously would take up much more time, effort, and money.

Calculating resistance to loads in the virtual world

SIPA uses FEA at various points in the product development process. For example, to calculate top load strength on the bottle when it is full and when it is empty; to analyse the effect of hot-filling the bottle; to see if and how a partial vacuum inside the bottle affects its dimensions; to see how dimensions are affected by internal pressure from a carbonated drink; and to predict the results of drop tests.
FEM is not infallible of course, and so there is an ongoing process of validating its predictions with results from actual products that helps fine-tune the process.

Studying more solutions to a single problem

FEM simulation and analysis make it much easier to create innovative solutions, to analyse physical phenomena that may be difficult to observe in actual objects, and to study projects before they become real. With FEM, SIPA can cost-effectively study multiple solutions to a single problem, and have a very high confidence that what they create in the virtual world will work in the real one. The company can put the performance of the product at the centre of its sights, and be sure that form really does follow function.

The customer benefits

What does this mean for you, the customer? It means that the time-to-market of your project is can be minimized. It means that less physical prototyping iterations are needed, which means that your prototyping project costs you less at the end you pay less for prototyping. It means that product design is can be done more quickly. And it means that SIPA can deliver to you the product that best meets your needs.