Gerresheimer–a provider of products for pharma and cosmetics packaging and drug delivery services–has set itself the goal of applying sustainability criteria to 100% of new product developments by 2023. Eco-design means that sustainability aspects are included in the development of a product right from the start, says the company. For example, glass simulation helps to achieve uniform glass distribution. It can improve strength and contribute to weight reduction and the avoidance of rejects. The innovative simulation software used by Gerresheimer for this purpose tunes the production parameters based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is numerical flow mechanics. In this way, potential for improvement can be identified at an early stage and the development time can be shortened.
"The production of the glass container starts with the design of the mold. The more precisely the mold is designed and manufactured, the better its quality in terms of glass distribution, visual appearance, strength, and weight," says Philipp Amrhein, manager, new product development & mold design at Gerresheimer in Lohr, Germany. The weight of bottles, flacons, and jars in particular plays an important role in energy consumption and therefore in both production and transport logistics. Considering all chemical and physical glass parameters, the molding production process and the design of the molds are optimized with the aid of digital simulation on the computer, according to the company. The mold cooling is also optimally designed for the respective process by means of CFD simulation. This should lead to stress reductions in the glass container and thus to an effectively improved quality of the entire production process, for example by avoiding high scrap rates.
Reduction of development time by up to 70%
What used to take lengthy, empirical trials to achieve a stable production process is now done in a matter of minutes, at the push of a button so to speak, using computer-based simulation software. Subsequently, the results are transferred via interfaces directly to the three-dimensional CAD software of the mold design department, and the mold processing machines use them directly to create the mold tools. It is also gratifying that the simulation software reduces development time by up to 70%.
Rapid detection of vulnerabilities
Based on the well-known finite element analysis, also known as the FEA method, the stresses resulting from the product requirements are calculated on the glass containers. Based on these results, weak points can be avoided even before the finished article drawings of the product. In the meantime, computer-aided simulation of the molding process and product requirements has become an indispensable part of daily mold design.
The global volume of packaging is constantly increasing and with it the negative impact on the environment. The transition to a circular economy is an important concern for Gerresheimer. The company wants to improve the environmental impact of its products throughout their entire life cycle–including production, transport, use, and disposal.
Gerresheimer’s products play a crucial role in the safe transport, storage, and administration of its customers' products. In many cases, the packaging solution is an integral part of the system, without which some medications would not be as user-friendly and safe. In this way, the company lays the foundation for a user-friendly, safe, and high-quality product right from the development process and aims to ensure that the environmental impact is considered from the outset.