Getting to Know PADT: Our Offices in Four Other States

Based in the ASU Research Park in Tempe Arizona, PADT has thrived and grown in the technologically oriented East Valley of the Phoenix Metro area. When people think about the company, they think about Phoenix and Arizona. Phoenix is even in the company name. What many people do not realize is that PADT has thriving sales and support offices in four other states. If we updated our name, it would be Southwest Simulation, Design, and Additive Technologies. However, SWSDAT is even worse than PADT! Worse yet, people might think we are from Switzerland.

As the company has grown so has our sales and support territory for the products we sell. And the best way to provide outstanding support to their high-technology customers is to be part of the local technology community. So starting with Colorado in 2010, the company has been investing in the communities that are allowing it to grow. Below is a brief overview of each office and what makes them unique.

PADT Colorado

Arizona and Colorado are like siblings, so alike in some ways, totally different in others. The Rocky Mountain state was the first state that saw significant growth for PADT outside of Arizona, so it was an obvious place to start growing. The bulk of our business there is around selling and supporting Stratasys Additive Manufacturing equipment. And to be blunt, it has been a great location for our engineering staff who literally could not take the heat of Arizona. Located in Littleton just south of Denver, we are close to our large Aerospace customers, and a quick drive to Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Golden where we also have clusters of customers.

The high-tech nature of the industry in the state fit perfectly with PADT’s strengths. From launch vehicles to mining, to cell phone cases, we have fit right in with our growing customer base. And part of our fitting there is the fantastic location on Littleton Blvd right next to the Arapahoe County courthouse. We rent a suite on the second floor a cool mid-century building that is walking distance from light rail and restaurants – a great location. If you ever visit, ask to see the bathroom and kitchen, both are a blast from the past.

PADT New Mexico

Our largest customer outside of the Phoenix area is the combined Sandia National Lab, and Los Alamos National Lab, and Kirtland’s Air Force Research Lab. All are located in New Mexico and are a major focus for us for Additive Manufacturing and ANSYS sales and support. That is why our New Mexico office is so important. It is located in the Sandia Research Park, right outside the Eubank entrance to Sandia National Lab.

The office provides a nice space for training as well as a location to hold office hours and meet with users who may be in locations we are not authorized to visit. Many of our non-lab customers are in that same park or nearby. This office has been a great base of operations for our continued growth in the state. This office may have the best views of any in the PADT family. Many of us also feel it also offers the best Mexican food options.


Utah has a small but very active technology community, and PADT’s presence in the state is growing quickly. Our office in Murray at the I-15 and 5300S is only 9 miles due south of downtown Salt Lake City. If you have not visited, the space is actually one of our more enjoyable offices to work in. One large room houses the sales and engineering team as well as a host of 3D Printers, supplies for maintenance, and a cool sitting area.

Working with so many customers in Utah leads to a lot of driving, tech companies seem to be evenly distributed along the I-15 corridor, so the local team does a lot of driving. However, the office is a great central location for meeting with customers and seminars and as a starting point for those drives to Provo, Park City, and Ogden as well as destinations in-between. As our business in Utah continues to grow, we may soon have to expand this office.

PADT California

Our newest location is in Southern California, Torrance in particular. If New Mexico has the best views, this one probably has the worst… unless you like refineries. However, it is a central location that has served us well for almost two years now. Just down the street from our largest customer, Honeywell Aerospace, it is the ultimate home base for such a freeway dominated territory. Our local staff can get there fairly easily from their homes, and when the rest of us visit, its location near LAX is very convenient.

Our focus in that office right now is Simulation. Particularly ANSYS sales and support. Our SoCal customers like to drop by when they are in the neighborhood, and the PADT team there is constantly on the road out visiting them. It works great for our customers nearby, but since that office covers from San Diego North to San Luis Obispo, a random collection of coffee shops serve as an office for SoCal almost as much as our Torrance base.

Our growth in the region is quick, and we look forward to opening more satellite offices across an area that is larger in population and real estate than some countries.

Serving our Customers Better

Sometimes technology allows people to connect fairly well. However, nothing beats being local. The best way for PADT to support our customers is to not just be there for them technically, but also to be part of the communities they reside in. And that community spreads across the Southwestern United States, and we are proud to be members of the Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Southern California technical communities. People innovate everywhere, so we are there, local, to make innovation work for them.

All Things ANSYS Episode 005 – Getting to know convergence better and hidden gems in the ANSYS product family

Published on: September 25, 2017
With: Tom Chadwick, Ted Harris, Eric Miller
Description: In this episode your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Senior CFD Engineer Tom Chadwick,  and Simulation Support Manager Ted Harris for a discussion on convergence with both FEA and CFD solutions, as well as a look at some of their favorite hidden gems in the ANSYS tools set. Learn about some beneficial ANSYS capabiliites you may not be aware of!


Phoenix Business Journal: ​While AI, IoT, and automation are taking over we forgot about genetic engineering

The big technologies right now are Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the automation of everything from manufacturing to our automobiles. These advanced technologies will transform how we live our lives.  But ” While AI, IoT, and automation are taking over we forgot about genetic engineering.”  This is something everyone, especially those in tech, need to stay on top of.

What we Learned at the Geomagic Conference about Design X and Control X

On September 11th and 12th Mario Vargas (Hardware Manager for PADT Inc.) and I (James Barker, Application Engineer for PADT Inc.) attended Convergence 2017 in Los Angeles, CA.  This event is held by 3D Systems and is the America’s Software Partner Meeting.  Many strategic partners were in attendance from all across the USA, Canada, and Latin America.  We were able to learn about some new enhancements to Geomagic that will help you with Inspection or Reverse Engineering BIG time!  The first day of meetings we heard from Vyomesh Joshi (CEO of 3D Systems referred to as VJ).  He mentioned that 3D Systems has committed 17% to R&D and after going to this event it is apparent!  VJ briefly talked about each of their software options.  The 1st being Control X and how Polyworks currently has the edge for inspection software but after this next software release, he and other 3D Systems employees seemed confident that they could surpass Polyworks.  The 2nd software he talked about was Freeform which allows users to freely design parts by using a haptic device.  This software would be great for creating custom shapes on a whim.  If you haven’t tried a haptic device, you need to!  It will blow your mind as a designer with the freedom you get by using the haptic device and this Freeform Software.  The 3rd software he talked about was Cimatron which aids in the design of mold and die design.  Of the top 10 largest USA mold makers, 7 of them use Cimatron Software.  The 4th software is something new that will be released later this month.  I would love to tell you more about it but can’t….  sorry!

A little about why Mario and I attended this convention, PADT Inc. offers 3D Scanning as both a service and also as hardware or software you can buy.  We use both Geomagic Design X and Geomagic Control X and have experts that are scanning parts for customers for either inspection results or for reverse engineering purposes at our Tempe, AZ office.  The scanner that we use is a CMM quality scanner from Zeiss.  This scanner is capable of scanning 5 million points per scan!  We also offer 3D Systems Capture and Capture Mini scanners which are great tools for reverse engineering.  Each time they scan a part they are capturing about 1 million points per scan.  I am located in the Salt Lake City, Utah office and have a Capture Mini scanner that anyone wanting to see and demo, can come look at and evaluate at our office.  Same holds true for the Capture scanner and Zeiss scanner in our Tempe, AZ Headquarters.  Since we offer these services, we love knowing what new tools are available with these product releases.

Jumping back to the conference, on September 12th, there were breakout sessions.  We chose to go to the Geomagic Design X session to see what enhancements have been made.  This software is the preferred software in all of the industry for reverse engineering parts.  There were many different vendors/partners in the room we were at.  There was even a rep from Faro who prefers to sell Geomagic Design X software with each Faro Arm that he sells because this software is so powerful.  The neat thing about this software is all of the improvements that have been made to it.  If you are accustomed to designing parts with Solidworks, Solidedge, NX, Catia, Pro-E or any of the other CAD software, you will be able to use this software with ease.  Every command that you execute within Design X is editable just like the major CAD software.  You have the ability to create sketches on planes or to make life even easier, there are wizards that automatically create sketches and perform a command like an extrusion or revolve that is editable after completing the wizard.  After you have finished reverse engineering your parts within Design X, you can live transfer your new CAD data over to the above-mentioned CAD software.  Once you have imported this data into NX or Solidworks, you can again edit any of the sketches that were created within Design X but now in your software of choice!  I would love to show you how powerful this software is.  There is a reason why it is the preferred reverse engineering software in the industry.

Geomagic Control X session was next.  It also happened to be the last session of the day.  To be honest, I have only used Design X so I was looking forward to learning more about this software.  From all the demo’s that I have seen in the past from this software, it appeared really hard to use.  That is all changing with this new software release and is the reason why VJ is confident that it will compete and could exceed Polyworks as the preferred software for inspection.  The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the ability to set up a workflow for scanned data for inspection so that you can create your inspection reports.  The idea is that if you have a part that needs to be inspected for quality, you 3D scan the part and then import the CAD file.  By overlaying the scanned data over the CAD data you can show the deviation within the 2 parts and you are able to have different views in a 3D PDF to share with others the actual quality of the part.  As you are assigning your GD&T to this first inspection file, you are creating the first steps of the workflow.  There are many options for the workflow that you can create and 3D Systems has made it easy to create the workflow.  I feel that the power of this software is when you can open up the results of the first inspection report and do a split screen on your monitor to show the 100th or 1,000th part side by side and see how that part deviates from the first.

I had a great time in California at this event even though all of our time was spent at the hotel.  The streets looked nice from the window on the 11th floor.  Maybe next time we will venture out!  If anyone from 3D Systems is reading this, let’s go out to eat next time instead of eating at the hotel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Although the view from the dining room was nice!

If you have any questions about 3D scanning whether it is for Inspection or for Reverse Engineering, let us know at PADT Inc.  We look forward to helping you.

Announcing Nerdtoberfest 2017 – Save the Date!

We are excited to announce the return of our annual fall open house, Nerdtoberfest! PADT will be opening it’s doors to the public for a celebration of all things engineering and manufacturing in Arizona.

More information, along with a full event agenda will be made available soon, however in the meantime you can secure your spot now by clicking the link below.

Join us:
Where:  7755 S Research Dr, Tempe, AZ 85284

When: Thursday, October 26th 2017

What Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM MST

Standard Roof Rack Fairing Mount Getting In Your Way?! Engineer it better and 3D Print it!

It is no mystery that I love my Subaru. I bought it with the intention of using it and I have continually made modifications with a focus on functionality.

When I bought my roof crossbars in order to mount ski and/or bike racks, I quickly realized I needed to get a fairing in order to reduce drag and wind noise. The fairing functions as designed, and looks great as well. However, when I went to install my bike rack, I noticed that the fairing mount was in the way of mounting at the tower. As a result, I had to mount the rack inboard of the tower by a few inches. This mounting position had a few negative results:

  • The bike was slightly harder to load/unload
  • The additional distance from the tower resulted in additional crossbar flex and bike movement
  • Additional interference between bikes when two racks are installed

These issues could all be solved if the fairing mount was simply inboard a few more inches. If only I had access to the resources to make such a concept a reality…. oh wait, PADT has all the capabilities needed to take this from concept to reality, what a happy coincidence!

First, we used our in-house ZEISS Comet L3D scanner to get a digital version of the standard left fairing mount bracket. The original bracket is coated with Talcum powder to aid in the scanning process.

The output from the scanning software is a faceted model in *.STL format. I imported this faceted CAD into ANSYS SpaceClaim in order to use it as a template to create editable CAD geometry to use as a basis to create my revised design. The standard mounting bracket is an injection molded part and is hollow with the exception of a couple of ribs. I made sure to capture all this geometry to carry forward into my redesigned parts, which would make the move to scaled manufacturing of this design easy.

Continuing in ANSYS SpaceClaim, as it is a direct modeling software instead of traditional feature-based modeling, I was able to split the bracket’s two function ends, the crossbar end and fairing end, and offset them by 4.5 inches, in order to allow the bike rack to mount right at the crossbar tower. I used the geometry from the center section CAD to create my offset structure. A mirrored version allows both the driver and passenger side fairing mount to be moved inboard to enable mounting of two bike racks in optimal positions. The next step is to turn my CAD geometry back into faceted *.STL format for printing, which can be done directly within ANSYS SpaceClaim.


After the design has been completed, I spoke with our 3D printing group to discuss what technology and material would be good for these brackets, as the parts will be installed on the car during the Colorado summer and winter. For this application, we decided on our in-house Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) SINTERSTATION 2500 PLUS and glass filled nylon material. As this process uses a powder bed when building the parts, no support is needed for overhanging geometry, so the part can be built fully featured. Find out more about the 3D printing technologies available at PADT here.

Finally, it was time to see the results. The new fairing mount offset brackets installed just like the factory pieces, but allowed the installation of the bike rack right at the tower, reducing the movement that was present when mounted inboard, as well as making it easier to load and unload bikes!!

I am very happy with the end result. The new parts assembled perfectly, just as the factory pieces did, and I have increased the functionality of my vehicle yet again. Stay tuned for some additional work featuring these brackets, and I’m sure the next thing I find that can be engineered better! You can find the files on GrabCAD here.


Phoenix Business Journal: On 9/11, we’re reminded that the unthinkable can happen

Lots of things come to mind on September 11th. The bravery of the first responders, the way the country came together after the attacks, the changes in how we live our lives every day now because of what happened. The most important lesson that we learned was that “On 9/11, we’re reminded that the unthinkable can happen.

Introducing the 2017 ANSYS Arizona Innovation Conference

As the world of manufacturing continues to grow and change, engineers are being challenged to design, test, and evaluate products in increasingly complex environments. In such a time it is necessary to rely on an all-encompassing simulation platform that can handle a variety of physics efficiently, operating as a one stop shop for complete virtual prototyping. ANSYS is that platform!

Join us for this informative seminar including presentations from customers and ANSYS technical experts, focusing on how to effectively implement the ANSYS platform and productivity enhancement tools into your work-flow.

Through this free event we hope to inform you on how a single consolidated platform for complete virtual prototyping can help to drive efficiency across your company!

Date: October 4, 2017

Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM MST AZ

Location: ASU SkySong – Building 3
1365 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Check out the full agenda, with presentations covering a plethora of topics including:

  • ANSYS Solutions for Additive Manufacturing
  • Wireless Connectivity with RF Engineering
  • Commercial Antenna Array Work Flow Using ANSYS Electromagnetic Tools

This event will include presentations from customers and ANSYS technical experts alike, focusing on how to effectively implement the ANSYS platform and productivity enhancement tools into your work-flow.

We look forward to seeing you there – Secure your spot today!


How to Simplify Aircraft Certification – Stratasys Webinar

The aerospace industry’s adoption of additive manufacturing is growing and predicted to revolutionize the manufacturing process. However, to meet stringent FAA and EASA requirements, AM-developed aerospace products must be certified that they can achieve the robust performance levels provided by traditional manufacturing methods. Current certification processes are complex and variable, and thus obstruct AM adoption in aerospace.

Thanks to a newly released aerospace package released by Stratasys for their Fortus 900mc printer and ULTEM 9085 resin, Aerospace Organizations are now able to simplify the aviation certification process for their manufactured parts.

Join PADT’s 3D Printing General Manager, Norman Stucker for a live webinar that will introduce you to the new Stratasys aerospace package that removes the complexity from FAA and EASA certification.

By attending this webinar, you will learn:

  • How Stratasys can help get more parts certified for flight quicker and easier.
  • The benefits of Aerospace Organizations using the Fortus 900mc and ULTEM 9085 resin
  • And much more!

Don’t miss your chance to attend this upcoming event,
click below to secure your spot today!


If this is your first time registering for one of our Bright Talk webinars, simply click the link and fill out the attached form. We promise that the information you provide will only be shared with those promoting the event (PADT).

You will only have to do this once! For all future webinars, you can simply click the link, add the reminder to your calendar and you’re good to go!

Working Wonders with ADPL Math Illustrated: Thermal Modal Analysis

Guest Blogger

We are pleased to publish this very useful post from Nicolas Jobert from Synchrotron SOLEIL in France. Nicolas is a Mechanical Engineer with more than 20 years of experience using ANSYS for engineering design and analysis in academia and industry. He currently is Senior Mechanical Engineer at Synchrotron SOLEIL, the French synchrotron radiation facility. He also teaches various courses on Design and Validation in the field of structural and optomechanics. He graduated from the Ecole Centrale Marseille, France, and is a EUSPEN member.

As Time Goes By

Do you remember the moment you first heard about ANSYS introducing APDL Math?

I, for one, do, and I have a vivid memory of thinking “Wow, that can be a powerful tool, I’m dead sure it won’t be long before an opportunity arises and I’ll start developing pretty useful procedures and tools”. Well, that was half a decade ago, and to my great shame, nothing quite like that has happened so far. Reasons for this are obvious and probably the same for most of us: lack of time and energy to learn yet another set of commands, fear of the ever present risk of developing procedures that are eventually rejected as nonstandard use of the software and therefore error-prone (those of you working under quality assurance, raise your hand!), anxiety of working directly under the hood on real projects with little means to double check your results, to name a few.

That said, finally an opportunity presented itself, and before I knew it, I was up and running with APDL Math. The objective of this article is to showcase some simple yet insightful applications and hopefully remove the prevention one can have regarding using these additional capabilities.

For the sake of demonstration, I will begin with a somewhat uncommon analysis tool that should nevertheless ring a bell for most of you, that is: modal analysis (and yes, the pun is intended). You may wonder what is the purpose of using APDL Math to perform a task that is a standard ANSYS capability since say revision 2.0, 40 years ago? But wait, did I mention that by modal analysis, I mean thermal modal Analysis?

Thermal Modal Analysis at a Glance

Although scarcely used, thermal modal analysis is both an analysis and a design validation tool, mostly used in the field of precision engineering and or optomechanics. Specifically, it can serve a number of purposes such as:

Q: Will my system settle fast enough to fulfill design requirements?
A: Compute the system Thermal Time Constants

Q: Where should I place sensors to get information rich / robust measurements?
A: Compute Thermal modes and place your sensors away for large thermal gradients

Q: Can I develop a reduced model to solve large transient thermal mechanical problems?
A: Modal basis allows for the construction of such reduced problem effectively converting a high-order coupled system to a low order, uncoupled set of equations.

Q: How to develop a reduced order state-space matrices representation of my thermal system (equivalent to SPMWRITE command)?
A: Modal analysis provides every result needed to build those matrices directly within ANSYS.

Although you might only be vaguely familiar with many or all of those topics, the idea behind this article is really to show that APDL Math does exactly what you need it to do: allow the user to efficiently address specific needs, with a minimal amount of additional work. Minimal? Let’s see what it looks like in reality, and you will soon enough be in a position to make your own opinion on the matter.

Thermal Modal Analysis using APDL Math

To begin with, it is worth underlining the similarities and differences between structural (vibration) modes and thermal modes.

Mathematically, both look very much the same, i.e. modes are solutions of the dynamics equation in the absence of forcing (external) term:


Equation solved

Terms Explained


[K] is the stiffness matrix
[M] is the mass matrix


[K] is the conductivity matrix
[C] is the capacitance matrix

Now, the fundamental difference is that the eigenvalues have completely different physical interpretations (This is a direct consequence of the fact that dynamical systems are 2nd order systems, whereas thermal systems a 1st order systems. While after being disturbed the former will oscillate around equilibrium position, the latter will return to its initial state via exponential decay. Mind you, there is no such thing as thermal resonances!) :

  • Structural : λ=ω², i.e. the square of a circular frequency
  • Thermal: λ=1/τ, i.e. the inverse of time constant

No big deal, right? Hence, the APDL Math code for Thermal Modal Analysis should be a straightforward adaption of the original. As it turns out, the modifications are quite small. Below is a table comparing input codes to perform both type of analyses, using APDL Math.




! Setup Model

! Make ONE dummy transient solve 
! to write stiffness and mass
! matrices to .FULL file 

! Get Stiffness and Mass 

! Eigenvalue Extraction

! No need to convert eigenvalues
! to frequencies, ANSYS does 
! it automatically

! Done !
! Setup Model

! Make TWO dummy transient solve 
! to separately write conductivity
! and capacitances matrices to .FULL file

! Zero out capacitance terms
 ! Get Conductivity Matrice
 ! Restore capacitance and zero out 
 ! conductivity terms
 ! Get Capacitance Matrice

! Eigenvalue Extraction

! Convert Eigenvalues for Frequency 
! to Thermal time Constants

! Done !

The only data requested from the users is the number of requested modes (NRM) as well as the upper frequency (or for that matter, the shortest time constant of interest). Also, note that in the thermal case, one needs to perform two separate dummy analyses to store the conductivity and capacitance matrices, since internally those are merged into an equivalent stiffness (conductivity) matrix:

If you are familiar with APDL, some important differences are apparent here:

  • Results from the eigenvalues are stored in a vector (EiV) and a matrix (MatPhi), which need not be declared but are created when executing the *EIGEN command (no *DIM required).
  • For each APDL Math entity, ANSYS automatically maintains variables named Param_rowDim and Param_colDim, hence removing the burden to keep track of dimensions.

But where on Earth is my eye candy?

Now that we have some procedure and results, we would like to be able to show this to the outside world (and to be honest, some graphical results would also help getting confidence in results).

The additional task to do so is really minimal. What we need to do is simply to put back those numerical results into the ANSYS database so that we can use all the conventional post-processing capabilities. This can be made using the appropriate POST1 commands, essentially: DNSOL. And, while we are at it, why not do a hardcopy to an image file? Here is the corresponding input.

 … User should place all nodes with non-prescribed temperatures in a component named MyNodeComponent

… First, convert Eigenvectors from solver to BCS ordering
 ! Conversion needed

! Then, read in mapping vector to convert to user ordering

! Put the results in ANSYS database

To=NINT(Tau*10)/10 ! compress to 1 digit after comma
 /title,Mode #%ind_mode% - Tau=%To%s
 ! Hardcopy to BMP file

This way, modes can be displayed, or even written to a conventional .RTH file (using RAPPND), and used as any regular ANSYS solver result.

Nice, but an actual example wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Now you may wonder what the results look like in reality. To remain within the field of precision engineering, let’s use a support structure typically designed for high-stability positioning. From a structural point of view, it must have a high dynamic stiffness and a low total mass so that a Delta shaped bracket is appropriate. Since we want the system to rapidly evacuate any heat load, we choose aluminum as candidate material. We do know from first principles that any applied disturbance will exponentially vanish and the system will go back to equilibrium state. Now, what will be the time constants of this decay?

For the sake of simplicity we restrict the analysis to a highly simplified, 2D model of such a support. PLANE55 elements are used to model the structural part while the heat sink is accounted for using SURF151. Boundary conditions are enforced using an extra node.

After applying boundary conditions, we execute the modal solution to obtain say – the first 8 modes.

Index Time Constant [s] Comment
1 535.9 Quasi-uniform temperature field (i.e. “rigid body” mode)
2 32.1 1st order (one wavelength along perimeter)
3 23.8 1st order (one wavelength along perimeter)
4 8.1 2nd order (two wavelengths  along perimeter)
5 6.8 2nd order (two wavelengths  along perimeter)
6 3.5 3rd order (three wavelengths  along perimeter)
7 3.1 3rd order (three wavelengths  along perimeter)
8 2.2 4th order (four wavelengths along perimeter)

The output is strictly the same as the one a standard modal analysis, except for the two additional lines at the end of the solving sequence.

Allocate a [8] Vector : EIV

Allocate a [227][8] Dense Matrix : MatPhi

Please note that the solution has 227 DOFs whereas the entire problem has 228 DOFs. This is the consequence of having introduced the boundary conditions as an enforced temperature on a node, which DOF is therefore removed from the DOF set to be obtained by the solver.

Also, we might want to use the modal shapes information to decide which locations are best suited to capture the entire temperature field on the structure. Without knowledge of the excitation source, one straightforward way to do so is to retain for each mode the node that has the largest amplitude. This is made even easier in this situation, since we have normalized each mode to have unit maximum amplitude we just need to select nodes having modal amplitude equal to 1 (or -1). On the figure below, each temperature sensor location is marked with a ‘TSm’ label where m is the mode index.

Doing so, we reach a pretty satisfactory distribution for the sensors locations, completely consistent with intuition. In numerical terms, we can also check that the modal matrix [Φ]_sensors, i.e. the original full matrix restricted to the selected DOF, has an excellent condition number. But there are many other things we could do starting from this. For example, with additional information, such as the location and the frequency content of the temperature fluctuations, one could further restrict the set of needed temperature sensors by running a dummy transient analysis and choosing locations where the correlation between sensors readings is as low as possible (using *MOPER,,,CORR). Even better, one can estimate the thermally induced displacements and select locations best suited to build an empirical model (typically using AR or ARMA), allowing one to predict structural displacements induced by temperature fluctuations using just a couple of sensors. This in turn can be used to select control strategies, check modal controllability… all within ANSYS.


APDL Math was presented as an alternate route for users who need to include specialized steps in an otherwise standard FE process, and in my opinion it does just that. The benefits can be immense and the learning curve is steep but short. As long as the user knows what he/she is doing, there is little possibility to get lost: after all, APDL Math only comprises 18 additional commands.

What hindered me so far was the necessity to account for internal, BCS and user ordering, but it really is not a big deal, as seen from the above example.

What is more, the possibility to store the created results in the Mechanical APDL database (DNSOL and RAPPND are your friends!) provides every means to control your results and finally to build confidence in your developments.

And for those of us who prefer to stay within Workbench environment, there is nothing preventing from including APDL Math procedures into Workbench command snippets.

This was just an introductory example, since many other applications could be found, to name a few just in the fields of precision engineering and/or opto-mechanics:

  • Speed up transient thermal mechanical analyses
  • Perform harmonic analysis of thermal models
  • Virtual testing of physical setup, including real-time control systems (model based)
  • Modal testing, error localization, automated model updating

Let us know your opinion on the matter, and if further introductory articles on APDL Math could be of use to the ANSYS users community.

All Things ANSYS Episode 004 – Fun fluid additions in ANSYS 18.2 and the disruptive nature of Discovery Live

Published on: September 11, 2017
With: Jim Peters, Tom Chadwick, Ted Harris, Eric Miller
Description: In this episode your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Senior CFD Engineer Tom Chadwick, Senior Staff Technologist Jim Peters, and Simulation Support Manager Ted Harris for a look at the CFD updates available within ANSYS 18.2, along with a discussion on why they love the new disruptive simulation tool from ANSYS; Discovery Live.


Six Very Useful Enhancements in ANSYS Mechanical 18

By now you’ve probably heard that ANSYS versions 18.0, 18.1, and 18.2 have all been released in 2017. While 18.0 was the ‘point’ release in January, it should be noted that 18.1 and 18.2 are not ‘patches’ or service packs, but are full releases each with significant enhancements to the code. We’ll present some significant and useful enhancements for each.


Number 1: First and foremost – info on the new features is more readily accessible with the Mechanical Highlights list. The first time you launch Mechanical, you’ll see a hyperlinked list of new release highlights.

One you actually do something in Mechanical, though, that list goes away. There is a simple way to get it back: Click on the Project branch in the Mechanical tree, then click on the Worksheet button in the menu near the top of the window.
Clicking on the hyperlinks in the list or simply scrolling down gives us more information on each of the listed enhancements. Keep in mind the list is only highlights and by no means has all of the new features listed. A more detailed list can be found in the ANSYS Help, in the Release Notes.

Number 2: A major new feature that became available in 18.0 is Topology Optimization. We’ve written more about Topology Optimization here

Number 3: Another really useful enhancement in 18.0 is the ability to define a beam connection as a pretensioned bolt. This means we no longer need to have a geometry representation of a bolt if we want a simpler model. We can simply insert a beam connection between the two sides of the bolted geometry, and define the pretension on that resulting beam.
Beam connections are inserted in the Connections branch in Mechanical. Once the beam is fully defined, it can have a bolt pretension load applied to it, just like as if the beam geometry was defined as a solid or beam in your geometry tool. Here you can see a beam connection used for bolt pretension on the left, with a traditional geometric representation of a pretensioned bolt on the right:


Number 4: A very nice capability added in version 18.1 is drag and drop contact regions for contact sizing in the Mesh branch. Contact elements work best when the element sizes on both sizes of the interface are similar, especially for nonlinear contact. ANSYS Mechanical has had Contact Sizing available as a mesh control for a long time. Contact Sizing allows us to specify an element size or relevance level once, for both sides of one or more contact regions.

What’s new in 18.1 is the ability to drag and drop selected contacts from the Connections branch into the Mesh branch. Just select the desired contact regions with the mouse, then drag that selection into the Mesh branch. Then specify the desired mesh sizing controls for contact.
This is what the dragging and dropping looks like:

After dropping into the Mesh branch, we can specify the element size for the contact regions:

This shows the effect of the contact sizing specification on the mesh:


Number 5: An awesome new feature in 18.2 is element face selection, and what you can do with it. There is a new selection filter just for element face selection, shown here in the red box:

Once the element face select button is clicked, element faces can be individually selected, box selected, or paint selected simply by holding down the left mouse button and dragging. The green element faces on the near side have been selected this way:

The selected faces can then be converted to a Named Selection, or items such as results plots can be scoped to the face selection:

Number 6: Finally, to finish up, some new hotkeys were added in 18.2. Two really handy ones are:

  • Z = zoom fit or zoom to the current selection of entities
  • <Ctrl> K = activate element face selection
  • F11 = make the graphics window full screen!
  • Click F11 again to toggle back to normal size

Please realize that this list is just a tiny subset of the new features in ANSYS 18. We encourage you to try them out on your own, and investigate others that may be of benefit to you. Keep the Mechanical Highlights list from Number 1 in mind as a good source for info on new capabilities.

ANSYS Discovery Live: Observations on What it Is and Suggestions for Trying it Out

Yesterday ANSYS, Inc. did a webinar about a technology that was going to “Change the way simulation is done.”  If you have been around the world of FEA and CFD for the 30+ years I have you have heard that statement before.  And rarely does the actual product change match the hype.  Not true for ANSYS Discovery Live.  If anything, I think they are holding back.  This is disruptive, this is a tool that will change how people do simulation.  In this post I’ll share my thoughts on what it is and why I think it is so transformative, and then in the second half (go ahead, if you don’t want to listen to me go on and on about how much I like this tool, skip ahead) there are some tips on how to get your hands on it to see for yourself.

What is ANSYS Discovery Live?

ANSYS Discovery Live is a new multiple physics simulation platform that combines several key ingredients to produce a software tool that engineers can use to do almost instantaneous virtual prototypes of the behavior of their designs directly from their solid models. The developers at ANSYS, Inc. have combined their knowledge of advanced solver technology, making solvers parallel for Graphical Processor Units (GPUs, high-end graphics cards), direct solid modeling (SpaceClaim), and some advanced stuff on the discretization side I don’t think I can talk about. All of those things embedded inside SpaceClaim make ANSYS Discovery Live.

Once you have a solid model in the tool, you simply define what physics you want to solve and some boundary conditions, then it solves.  In almost real time. Right there in front of you. The equivalent steps of meshing, building the model, solving it, extracting results, and displaying the results are done automatically. It may iterate a few times to converge on a solution, but in a few seconds, you will have a good enough answer to give you insight into your design.

And that is the key point. This is not a replacement for ANSYS Mechanical, FLUENT, or HFSS. It is a tool for exploring your designs and gaining insight into their behavior. It allows the design engineer, with very little training or expertise, to exercise their design and see what happens.

The product lives inside ANSYS Spaceclaim and can be installed on its own.  It runs on Windows and requires a NVidia graphics card with a newer GPU (see below for more on that).  Right now the product is in pre-release mode and anyone, yes anyone, can go to and download it and try it out. And please, share your feedback.  Expect the product to be released in the first quarter of 2018. Pricing and bundling have not been firmed up yet, but from what we have seen the plans are reasonable and make sense.

Why is it Unique in the Industry?

Some of the first comments I saw on social media about ANSYS Discovery Live after the webinar were that it is not a unique tool.  There are other GPU based solvers out there. That is true. But even though those tools are super fast at solving, they have not been widely adopted.  The ANSYS product is unique because it: 1) combines GPU based solvers for multiple physics and 2) is built into a fully functioning solid modeling tools.  A third might be that it is also an ANSYS product, which means it will be backed technically and supported well.

Why I think that the Simple Fact that it Exists is Important?

During an interview for a magazine article about innovation in product development this week I was asked what is keeping innovation from happening more often.  My answer was that most companies with the resources, both money and people, to innovate are choosing to acquire rather than innovate internally.  They let others raise money, take all the risk, work out all the problems, deal with all the issues of trying to make something new. And then when they succeed, they buy them. There is nothing morally wrong with that approach, it is just inefficient and inaccurate.  Every innovation has to not only survive its technical challenges, it has to survive being a startup.

What ANSYS, Inc. has done is the opposite. They could have purchased a GPU based solver startup and checked the box. But instead, they took people from different business units, several that were acquired, and put them together and said: “innovate… but make it something very useful.”  And they did.  The fact that they executed on the logistics of a new product that used new and old technology across physics and across software development realms, is fantastic.  It makes me feel good about ANSYS, Inc’s true dedication to improving their products.

How will it Change Simulation?

In my career, I have had the same conversation dozens of times “Let me go out to the lab and tinker with it, I’ll figure out what is going on.” That is the way you had to explore your product to get a “feel” for what is going on. Simulation took too long and you became so wrapped up in the process of building and running a model that you could not really explore the behavior of your product. Now we can.

ANSYS Discovery Live is called Discovery Live not because anyone at ANSYS is a marketing genius (sorry guys…) but because that is what it lets you do. Discover the behavior of your product live. You simply play with it and see what happens. And this will change simulation because we know can move from verification or optimization to simply experimenting and gaining a deeper understanding, early in the design process. We will still do what is now I guess called traditional simulation.  We will need more accuracy, more complex physics, loads, and behavior.  But early on we can learn so much by virtually experimenting.

Is it the Perfect Tool Right out of the Box?

This is not a perfect-does-everything tool.  First off, it is a pre-release.  The basic functionality to make it useful is there.  More than I thought would be available in a first release. But there are limitations because it is new, or because of the approach.  It is not as accurate as more traditional approaches. The way it works takes some shortcuts on geometry and can’t include some behaviors. This should improve over time but it will never be accurate as more time-consuming approaches that simply have more functionality.

Over the next two to three years we will see it mature and add functionality and accuracy. The GPU’s the tool depends on will offer more performance for less money as well. This is a journey, but right now everyone I have talked to who has actually played with the pre-release is very happy with the functionality and accuracy that is there now. Because it is sufficient to do the experimentation and exploration it was designed to allow.

How do you Try it Out?

ANSYS, Inc. realized that this type of tool demos so well, and is so different, that a skeptical group of engineers will not accept what they see in a webinar as accurate.  So they have made the pre-release available for use. You can download it and install it, or explore with it in the cloud through your browser.

  • To get started, go to and look around. The videos are awesome!  When you are ready to try it out, click on Download Now. Fill out the form. Don’t complain.  Yes you will get a few emails and a salesperson (gasp!) may call you. It’s worth some emails and maybe a phone call.
  • Set yourself up there.  There is a verification code step and once you put that in and create your login, you have to click on some legal agreements, including export controls.  Save your login info, you will need it to get back in.
  • After that either start the download or the Cloud Trial Option.  The cloud trial didn’t work for me, read below how I got to that function.
  • If you chose download it will download a big Zip File, over 1 GB. It is a full solid modeler and CFD/Structural/Thermal solver…  so it is big.
  • Once it is there, unzip, and  run Setup.exe. follow the steps and you will be there.
  • If you don’t have a graphics card that will run this, then use the cloud demo.  Like I said above, the button didn’t work for me.  If you have that problem or you want to use it after your first login, go to:
  • and click on “Getting Started.”
  • Scroll down a bit and find the “Cloud Trial” post. That one takes you to the page where you can find a server near you to try things out on. It’s pretty slick.
  • If you need to get back here, use and log in with the email and password you gave at registration,
 Here is a PDF Guide with even more details and a quick start.

Hardware Requirements

The only sticky bit about this whole thing is that it run a subset of Nvidia graphics cards. So you have to have one of those cards. According to the information in the forum:

ANSYS Discovery Live relies on the latest GPU technology to provide its computation and visual experience.  To run the software, you will require:

– A dedicated NVIDIA GPU card based on the Kepler, Maxwell or Pascal architecture. Most dedicated NVIDIA GPU cards produced in 2013 or later will be based on one of these architectures.
– At least 4GB of video RAM (8GB preferred) on the GPU.

Also, please ensure you have the latest driver for your graphics card, available from NVIDIA Driver Downloads.  You can also refer to the post on Graphics Performance Benchmarks. Performance of Discovery Live is less dependent on machine CPU and RAM.  A recent generation 64-bit CPU running Windows, and at least 4GB of RAM will be sufficient. If you do not have a graphics card that meets these specifications, the software will not run. However, you can try ANSYS Discovery Live through an online cloud-based trial, which requires only an internet browser and a reasonably fast internet connection.

I didn’t know if my GPU on my laptop would work, so I went to and put in my card model (nvidia m500m) and it told me it was Maxwell technology.

Go Forth and Discover, and Share

Don’t hesitate, download this and try it out.  Even if you are a high-end combustion simulation expert that will never need it, if you are interested in Simulation you should still try it out.   Use the forum to share your thoughts and questions.  The gallery is already filling up with some fantastic real world examples.

Quick Tips for Stratasys’ new Nylon 12CF Material

One of the newest materials available for the Stratasys Fortus 450 users (other machines could have this capability at a later date) is the Nylon 12CF. Nylon 12CF is a Carbon Fiber filled Nylon 12 filament thermoplastic. The carbon fiber is chopped fibers that are 150 microns long. This is Stratasys’ highest strength and stiffness to weight ratio for any of their materials to date as shown below. 
Often times, when Stratasys is getting close to releasing a new material, they will allow certain users to be a beta test site. One beta user was Ashley Guy who is the owner of Utah Trikes, which is located in Payson, Utah. He is having so much success with this material that he is making production parts with it. Watch this video to hear more from Ashley and to see some of his 3D printed parts.

Talking with Ashley, he has helped us with understanding some of the tips and tricks to get better results from printing with this material. One change that he highly recommends is to adjust the air gap between raster’s to -.004”. This will force more material between the raster’s so there won’t be as many noticeable air gaps. Here is a visual representation of the air gap difference using Stratasys software Insight:

The end goal at Utah Trikes is to produce production parts with this material, so by adjusting the air gap, the appearance of the parts look close to injection mold quality after the parts have been run through a tumbler. Some key things that I really like about this material is that the support material is soluble and easily removed using PADT’s own support cleaning apparatus (SCA Tank) that aid with the support removal. After the support has been removed, they are placed in a tumbling machine to smooth the surfaces of the part with different media within the tumbling machine. Any post process drilling or installing of helicoil inserts or adding bushings to the part is done manually.

Jerry Feldmiller of Orbital ATK, who also did a beta test of this material at his site in Chandler, Arizona, mentions these 3 tips:

  1. Nylon12 CF defaults to “Use model material for Support”. 90% of the time I uncheck this option.
  2. I use stabilizing walls and large thin parts to anchor the part to the build sheet and prevent peal up.
  3. Use seam control set to Align to Nearest.

Jerry also supplied his Nylon 12CF Tensile Test that he performed for this new material as shown below. He mentions that the Tensile Strength is 8-15 ksi depending on X-Y orientation.
~5 ksi in Z-axis, slightly lower than expected.

This part is used to clamp a rubber tube which replace the old ball valve design at ATK. Ball valves are easily contaminated and have to be replaced. After two design iterations, the tool is functioning.

Jerry also follows a guide that Stratasys offers for running this material. If you would like a copy of this guide, please email me your info and I will send it to you. My email is

Now onto Stratasys and the pointers that they have for this material. First, make sure the orientation of the part is built in its strongest orientation. Nylon materials have the best layer-to-layer bond when comparing them against the other thermoplastics that Stratasys offers.

Whenever you print with the Nylon materials (Nylon 6, 12, and 12CF), it is advised to print the sacrificial tower so that any loose strands of material are collected in the sacrificial tower instead of being seen on the 3D printed part. You also want to make sure that these materials are all stored in a cool and dry area. Moisture is the filaments worst enemy, so by storing the material properly, this will help tremendously with quality builds.

It is also recommended for parts larger than 3 inches in height to swap the support material for model material when possible. Since the support material has a different shrink factor than the model material, it is advised to print with model material where permitted. This will also speed your build time up as the machine will not have to switch back and forth between model and support material. We have seen some customers shave 5+ hours off 20 hour builds by doing this.

This best practice paper is the quick tips and tricks for this Nylon 12CF material from our users of this material. The Stratasys guide goes into a little more detail on other recommendations when printing with this material that I would like to email to you. Please email me with your info.

Let us know if this material is of interest to you and if you would like us to print a sample part for testing purposes.

Silicon Desert Insider: How close are we to 3-D Printing human organs?

Being able to grow your own replacement organ is one of those things, like flying cars, that we have been waiting a long time for.  The combination of stem cells and 3D Printing may be what we need to get that new liver on order.  In “How close are we to 3-D Printing human organs?” I go over where we are with this technology and what is needed to take those final steps.