Analyze to optimize

Structural analysis for thermoplastics part design & production

There are aspects of structural design that are unique or particularly relevant to thermoplastics. For that reason, structural analysis is an essential step in the part engineering and production processes. This step involves using CAE software tools to determine the effects of loads on physical structures and their components.

Phantom drop test onto Makrolon® panoramic roof
Phantom drop test onto Makrolon® panoramic roof

When designing thermoplastic parts, its important to consider not only the magnitude of mechanical loads but also their type and duration. More so than for most materials, thermoplastics can exhibit dramatically different behavior depending on whether the loading is instantaneous, long term, or vibratory in nature. Temperature and other environmental conditions can also affect mechanical performance. Many aspects of thermoplastic behavior, including viscoelasticity and sensitivity to processing-related factors, make predicting a given parts performance in a specific environment difficult.

In addition to structural requirements anticipated in the end-use application, thermoplastic part design must also take into account the less obvious mechanical loads and stresses that can occur during manufacturingassembly  and shipping.

In summary, evaluate all the structural loads the part must endure throughout its life cycle to optimize part performance. Following is a list of analyses that may be beneficial to conduct, depending on the application:

  • Static analysis
  • Heat transfer & thermal expansion
  • Dynamic loads
  • Linear/non-linear
  • Crash simulation
  • Noise & vibration harshness (NVH)
  • Creep
  • Optimization of a parts structure and shape, and the molding process (cycle time and cooling)


Covestro offers material cards and published datasheets for our polycarbonate materials that provide valuable information relevant to our materials properties.

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