AZ Commerce Authority and Tech Council Announce Innovation Award Finalists

Governor's Celebration of Innovation (GCOI)The  Arizona Commerce Authority and Arizona Technology Council  named the winners and finalists today for the 11th annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) awards.  You can read about it at the Phoenix Business Journal

As always, a great list of finalists and winners. We were once again pleased to see a tow PADT customers in the list:

  • SynCardia Systems in Tucson is a finalist for the Innovator of the Year Award – Small Company
  • Securaplane Technologies, in Oro Valley, is a finalist for the Innovator of the Year Award – Large Business


These two outstanding companies, along with the other finalists, show the breadth and depth of technology companies in Arizona. From industry leading small business software providers to a start-up built around a better shovel, tech companies across the state are growing and making people around the world stand up and take notice. 

The educational Award winners and finalists were also great to see, showing the future of technology is also strong.  The Future Innovators of the Year are always our favorite, their projects making me feel like I really slacked in High School. 

As usual, PADT will be at this years Celebration where the awards, 3D Printed by PADT, will be handed out.  We hope to see many of you there.

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Using Probes to Obtain Contact Forces in ANSYS Mechanical

Recently we have had a few questions on obtaining contact results in ANSYS Mechanical. A lot of contact results can be accessed using the Contact Tool, but to obtain contact forces we use Probes. Since not everyone is familiar with how it’s done, we’ll explain the basics here.

Below is a screen shot of a Mechanical model involving two parts. One part has a load that causes it to be deflected into the other part.

p1

We are interested in obtaining the total force that is being transmitted across the contact elements as the analysis progresses. Fortunately this is easy to do using Probes in Mechanical.

The first thing we do is click on the Solution branch in the tree so we can see the Probes button in the context toolbar. We then click on the Probe drop down button and select Force Reaction, as shown here:

p2

Next, we click on the resulting Force Reaction result item under the Solution branch to continue with the configuration. We first change the Location Method from Boundary Condition to Contact Region:

p3

We then specify the desired contact region for the force calculation from the Contact Region dropdown:

p4

Note that the coordinate system for force calculation can either be Cartesian or Cylindrical. You can setup a coordinate system wherever you need it, selectable via the Orientation dropdown.

There is also an Extraction dropdown with various options for using the contact elements themselves, the elements underlying the contact elements, or the elements underlying the target elements (target elements themselves have no reaction forces or other results calculated). Care must be taken when using underlying elements to make sure we’re not also calculating forces from other contact regions that are part of the same elements, or from applied loads or constraints. In most cases you will want to use either Contact (Underlying Element) or Target (Underlying Element). If contact is non-symmetric, only one of these will have non zero values.

In this case, the setting Contact (Contact Element) was a choice that gave us appropriate results, based on our contact behavior method of Asymmetric:

p5

Here are the details including the contact force results:

p6

This is a close up of the force vs. ‘time’ graphs and table (this was a static structural analysis with a varying pressure load):

p7
p8


***** SUMMATION OF TOTAL FORCES AND MOMENTS IN THE GLOBAL COORDINATE SYSTEM *****

FX = -0.4640219E-04
FY = -251.1265
FZ = -0.1995618E-06
MX = 62.78195
MY = -0.1096794E-04
MZ = -688.9742
SUMMATION POINT= 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000

We hope this information is useful to you in being able to quickly and easily obtain your contact forces.

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Video Tips: Using ACT to change Default Settings in ANSYS Mechanical

A short video showing how ACT (ANSYS Customization Toolkit) can be used to change Default Settings for analyses done in ANSYS Mechanical.  This is a very small subset of the capabilities that ACT can provide.  Stay tuned for other videos showing further customization examples.

The example .xml and python file is located below.  Please bear in mind that to use these “scripted” ACT extension files you will need to have an ACT license.  Compiled versions of extensions don’t require any licenses to use.  Please send me an email (manoj@padtinc.com) if you are wondering how to translate this example into your own needs.

NLdefaults

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3D Printing Stained Glass: A Flower Grows One Layer at a Time

3D-Printed-Stained-Glass-Rose-squareI never thought I would be making my own decorative stained glass object d’art.- I’m not a craft person.  Fortunately I do have access to great software and some awesome 3D Printers. That is why I should challenge myself when our team let me know that our Stratasys Object500 Connex3 system had been loaded with a new color pallet that included transparent material. We are filling our new demo room with industrial examples as well as more artistic examples of what the technology can do. So I thought this would be a great chance to explore making a stained glass window.  It turned out to be fairly easy, and the result was better than I expected.

Making a Digital Model

Stained glass consists of pieces of colored glass cut to shape, held together by lead. The lead is called the came. So to make my 3D Printed part, I needed a solid model assembly where each pain of glass was a solid, and the lead, or cane, was one or more separate solids I could assign a dark color to.

Like most tasks these days, I started with a Google search for “simple stained glass window.” The search brought up of nice examples, but I wanted something simple for my first try.  This simple flower stood out:

Rose-stained-glass

It is from a tutorial that shows how to make your own real stained glass.

I took the image and imported it in to my CAD tool, SolidEdge, as a background in the drafting package. Then I used the sketcher to place splines on top of the image sort of representing the shape. If I had an artistic bone in my body, I probably could have started with a blank page and done something, but my lack of talent is well documented and I opted for tracing. It worked in 3rd grade, and it still works today.  The resulting sketch looked like this, shown next to the original image:

Rose-Stained-Glass-sketch-1

It is kind of hard to see in the image, but the “lead” in the image consists of boundaries, not a single line, forming a continuous area for all of the “lead” geometry. Each empty areas in the sketch was extruded up in the solid modeler to form the glass pieces.   Here is what the solid looked like when I was done:

Rose-Stained-Glass-1

I assigned transparent colors in the CAD system to visualize it, show my preferred colors to the person setting up the 3D print, and because I figured it would look cool when I rendered it. Which it did:

Rose-Stained-Glass-rendered-1

The next step was to simply save the assembly as an STL file.  Our prototyping department took that file, massaged it a bit, and assigned colors from the available pallet. 

If you remember earlier articles on the Connex3, it uses four print heads: one for support material, and two for color, and one for a base material. In this case we used Veroclear as the base, magenta, and blue.  Here is a 3D Print of the pallet we were working with (I used my computer monitor as a poor man’s light table, which looks bad on the picture but works well with your eyes):

3D-Printed-Color-Pallet

The team assigned the colors we chose to the solids I created and next time the machine was not printing parts that actually generate income, the ran it.

Here are some images of the results:

3D-Printed-Stained-Glass-Rose-1

3D-Printed-Stained-Glass-Rose-2

Here the final product is shown in front of the machine that it was made on:

3D-Printed-Stained-Glass-Rose-Connex3

When I find some fishing line, I’ll hang it in front of the window, but here you can see it near where it will end up in front of the window to our Demo room.

3D-Printed-Stained-Glass-Rose-Demo-room

Practical Applications

I have to say I’m pretty proud of my little side trip in to the artistic world, even if I did just trace someone’s design.  And I am a big backer of Art for Art’s sake.  However, that does not change the fact that we are an engineering company and I did do this to learn more about the technology so that we could apply it for customers.

Many parts that our customers make involve injection molding of different colored plastics, including transparent materials.  This project illustrated who easy it is to replicate those components for prototyping, as an assembly.  In addition to the clear material, we can run white, black, or even a soft rubber like material to replicate overmolding. 

The simple 3D printed stained glass window shows the power of Stratasys’ PolyJet technology for creating robust and accurate prototypes of a huge range of parts, reducing development time, and giving engineers and creatives both a better tool to produce a better final product. 

If you would like to learn more about this technology or to have PADT print parts for you, please feel free to contact us today.

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Scanning Helps Pediatric Heart Surgeon Make Implant Choices

heart-assist-deviceThe week we had the opportunity to help a surgeon make better decisions for their pediatric heart patient.  Dr Stephen Paphal from the Phoenix Children’s Heart Center had a young patient that needed a ventricular assist device. He could implant a device that they knew would fit in the patient, but they also had an alternative, larger device that performs better. The question they needed to answer was: will the larger device fit in the patient?

This surgeon’s team has previously done work using mechanical engineering technology to help them make better decisions, you may have read about their use of 3D Printing to evaluate different treatment options.  They often work with computer models of patients and devices, so they had almost all the tools they needed to help this patient.

For this case, they had a computer model of the smaller assist device, and a computer model of the patient’s heart area that they extracted from a CAT scan. Using those two models and visualization software they were able to insert the device model into the body model to verify that the smaller device would fit.  

The issue they faced was that they had no computer model for the larger device.  Creating a model the traditional way would take to long. So they called PADT and asked if we could scan the actual object and give them a computer model that they could use.  

Just in Time Scanning

One of PADT’s engineer, Johnathon Wright, took the device to our Geomagic Capture blue light scanner to extract a surface model from the real part.  In this image you can see the device being scanned:

heart-assist-scan-on-tableBecause the device is reflective, we covered it with a white powder to get a better scan. That is all the preparation needed.  The part was placed on a very sophisticated rotational displacement device (a $10 Lazy Susan from WalMart) and the scanner is turned on.  The  little reflective dots you can see on the Lazy Susan are used by the scanning software to determine the position of the objects relative to the scanner.

In this image you can see what the part looks like to the scanner:heart-assist-blue-light-scan-1A rectangular pattern of blue light is projected on to the part being scanned, and the included software measures the distortion in the grid to calculate the shape of the object. As you rotate the object (or the scanner) more data is gathered and an accurate point cloud of the external surface is created. 

Here is what the point cloud looks like when the scan is completed:

heart-assist-scan-data

In about an hour, Johnathon was able to go from “can you do this” to a water-tight solid that the Doctor could use with his computer model of the patient to see if this larger, better part fit in the patient’s chest.

Here is what the whole setup looks like:

heart-assist-scan-2

Johnathon used Geomagic’s scanning tools running on a PADT CUBE computer that is specifically optimized for scanning to make the process faster and more accurate. In the past, a task like this would have required an expensive and temperamental laser scanner, a dedicated lab, and probably four to eight hours of engineering time to clean up the resulting scan data. As you can see, the device sits on a desktop and requires very little infrastructure or special equipment.

Disruptive Technology

Any day we can help a physician strive for a better surgical outcome is a good day. Beyond that this is also a great example of how three important aspects of the technology enabled us to deliver useful information quickly, making desktop scanning a disruptive technology.

The first key technology is the blue-light scanning itself.  A form of structure-light 3D scanning, this approach uses a blue light because it contrasts the object better. The breakthrough with this technology is that it does not require expensive lasers or complex optics.  Faster computing allows for the complex algorithms used to be quickly and accurately applied.  The approach does not require any special equipment beyond the scanner itself. This results in an affordable device that is easily deployed and operated.  How easy, the 3D motion capture device on the Microsoft Xbox Kinect is a structure-light 3D scanner – using infrared light instead of blue.

Modern software used to convert the scan data into useful information is the second technology deployed for this solution.  In the past the process of calculating the points on a scanned surface, cleaning up spurious data, and converting it to a form that could be easily used was tedious and difficult.  The Geomagic software suite has a modern, intuitive user interface that sits on top of very sophisticated tools that automate many of the steps that used to take us hours to carry out.  

The final key technology that makes desktop scanning so disruptive is one that we take for grated today: standards. We were able to produce an STL file from the scan data and the Doctor’s team was able to read that directly in to their visualization software. It is a simple thing, but without standard file formats, transferring so much data would also involve translators which introduce errors and time.

Engineering Better Outcomes

Here at PADT we truly enjoy applying technology developed in the Aerospace or electronics space to other industries, especially medical applications.  This is another great example of how useful engineering tools can be, improving someones life directly.

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PADT Presents 3DPAZ Contest and FIRST Robotics Grant

3DPAZ
PADT has always been a proud supporter of STEM education in our community.  This summer we have been busy planning some new activities to help support local schools.  Today we are busy attending the Innovation Arizona Summit which is a joint collaborative of the Arizona SciTech Festival, the MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

 As part of our attendance, we will be promoting our first ever 3D printing contest, 3DPAZ  which will challenge high school students in Arizona with the task of creating or improving an existing engineering product.  We are very excited to be launching this contest and cannot wait to see what students come up with. Please visit our website for more information on how to take part in this contest by clicking here.

We are also very excited to be extending our support to the FIRST Robotics Competition by way of a new grant program for Arizona schools or organizations that are competing in the in the 2014/2015 FRC season.  If you are interested in either the 3DPAZ contest or the FRC Grant program, please email Kathryn Pesta at kathryn.pesta@padtinc.com.

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Signs of Building Momentum Underscore 2014 AZ Tech Council CEO Retreat

ceo-retreatWhen you get an invite for a “CEO Retreat” the word boondoggle tends to come to mind.  But this is Arizona and we like to have fun here, but we are also a very practical and hard working people, so even a retreat in Sedona is a value added experience.  Hosted by the great staff of the Arizona Technology Council, the 2014 CEO Retreat was a useful and enjoyable event. 

This year the full event was held at L’Auberge de Sedona, truly one of the nicest spots in Sedona, what may be one of the coolest places in the state.  The reception Monday night was a great chance to catch up with everyone, meet some new people, and touch base on what happened in the previous year.  It was also the first time I noticed what would become a common theme – there is a growing momentum  in the Arizona technology community.  During the seminar the following day, that same theme grew louder and stronger.

For a long time the technology business community in Arizona has been fragmented and focused outside of the state.  Housing and real estate are huge business here and it is sometime forgotten there is a diverse and significant number of high technology businesses here.  

Sedona has so many incredible views, you find yourself staring out the window with your jaw dropped a lot.

Sedona has so many incredible views, you find yourself staring out the window with your jaw dropped a lot.

After talking with other business owners or C-level people, it became obvious that business large and small are seeing good steady growth. Larger companies are doing more and more of their work here in state, and moving more of their operations to the state.  I learned how one of Arizona’s most successfully tech companies has quietly added significant services offerings to their long term business model that is allowing them to grow beyond their traditional business.  I also chatted with several small software companies that are making that transition from start-up to growth company, adding jobs and talent.  And the impact of data centers and providing services and infrastructure for “the cloud” was obvious and significant on the overall community. One of our favorite segments, Aerospace was a bit underrepresented. So I used every opportunity to point out how well Orbital Sciences is doing with its rocket programs, Honeywell is creating an Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Center of Excellence here in the valley, and a handful of smaller companies are making significant strides in UAV technology.  I didn’t really have time to talk about all the great Cleantech companies we know about.

This growing momentum was best expressed when a Silicon Valley insider and a guest from San Diego both commented on how something important and significant is going on with the Arizona technology community. 

In between such discussions we had a great sessions  learning about funding opportunities and strategies for capital, suggestions for finding great employees, resources for start-ups, tips for digital marketing, and much more. We finished with a great workshop on creating meaningful content to establish your company as domain experts.  

There was golf the first day, but I decided to not drag the PADT name down in shame.  Instead I enjoyed sitting on the hotel patio and watch the rain come down.  It has been a hot summer here in Phoenix and enjoying nature air conditioner was much better than loosing little white balls in the cactus.

Rain falling on Oak Creek from the Hotel Patio.  The Temp dropped to around 65F and then the sun came out.

Rain falling on Oak Creek from the Hotel Patio. The Temp dropped to around 65F and then the sun came out.


All-in-all a great event, at a great location, with great people.

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3D Printed Quill Pen for GISHWHES 2014 Scavenger Hunt

quill-pen-2Sometimes you get strange messages on Facebook.  This weekend I heard a beep and checked my phone “Can you 3D Print a Quill Pen?”  Most messages involve asking me why I posted something stupid or annoying, so this one caught my attention.  Turns out my friend Chelsea is taking part in the 2014 “GREATEST INTERNATIONAL SCAVENGER HUNT THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN” or GISHWHES.  One of the items in the scavenger hunt is to print out an ink quill pen on a 3D Printer and write “We need to buy more Toner” on a sheet of paper with the pen.  

I can’t resist a challenge like that, so I told her no problem.  And it worked like a charm. 

The process we used was very straightforward:

First I went into a CAD program, SolidEdge in this case, and build a solid model of a quill pen.  Not being quill pen designer I found some web sites on how to cut a pen tip from a real feather, and tried to mimic the resulting geometry:

Quill-Cad-Model Pen-Tip-Quill-Pen
We then wrote an STL file out and sent that to our RP team.  They read that into our preparation software and separated the feathers from the stem, designating a rubber like material for the feather area for artistic purposes, and a hard white plastic for the stem and the tip.

That file was then sent to our Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 and printed in about 30 minutes.  

This video shows the printing process:

Once it was done, we just needed to wash out the support material and it was ready to go.

The moment of truth was then here.  Our intreped Scavenger Hunter took out her handy-dandy pot of India Ink and dipped the quill in, the she wrote out the requested message:
quill-pen-2

I worked like a charm, our handwriting was the biggest issue.

Wanting to see if it enhanced my artistic skills, I used it to sketch the following masterpiece:
quill-pen-face

This is why I use CAD systems.

Here is an image of the final part. The tip is stained black from the ink.
quill-pen-4

All and all a fun project, and I guess the team gets 80 points for doing this task, so we were glad to help.

You can learn more about 3D Printing by visiting here. Our contact us for more information on 3D Printing, Simulation, or Rapid Prototyping.

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Talking About 3D Printing on Talk Radio

radio-microphone-on-the-airWith the increase of interest in 3D Printing from the general public, PADT has been asked to speak about the technology over several different forms of media. The local Phoenix TV stations were kind enough to come in and learn about the technology, including a great interview on the local PBS station.  We have been asked to give presentations to schools, inventor groups, and even a conference on traditional digital printing. Last week we crossed over into a new area for us, talk radio.

Don’t worry, this was not political talk radio… we are still waiting for Rush Limbaugh’s call.  A local financial station, Money Radio, wanted to talk about 3D Printing. Renee Palacios and your truly were interviewed by John Barnabas, host  for “Happiness, Opportunity and Technology.”

You can listen to the full broadcast here:

You can always learn more about 3D Printing on our Rapid Prototyping Page  or contact us.

If you need someone to talk about 3D Printing to your organization or if you are in the media and need recognized experts who can explain the technology, contact us and we would be happy to work with you.

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Build the “Right” Product

Successful product commercialization is achieved when the product development process is integrated with customer development and is executed by an experienced team and organized by an effective process. At PADT we have spent the last 20 years building our team, establishing our infrastructure, and honing our processes. One of the key processes that strongly affect the outcome of a product development effort is the process of establishing product/market requirements. The idealized product development process that we use is shown below and the establishment of requirements is shown as the first development activity box.

product-development-process

Establishing requirements insures that we develop the “Right” product. Building the “Right” product means working closely with clients to understand what the end customers want and are willing to pay for. It also means testing the market by building prototypes early and validating design choices with end customers.

At PADT we have found it very effective to get with customers from the very first meeting to establish these market and product requirements. Even if you are part of a large organization and do not work directly with external customers, we recommend that you adopt a methodology that captures and documents market and product requirements as early as possible, and that you evaluate your design against these requirements through the development process. 

 One way we do this is by asking questions about the product from many perspectives as illustrated by the wheel below. By looking at the product from each of these perspectives, we capture important requirements, avoid late stage product revision, and end up with the “Right” product.

product-development-questions

A question based approach is effective because it opens up everyone involved to looking beyond their initial assumption. The more traditional method of making a list of requirements, often results in requirements from the point of view of the person making the list. By questioning the customer, or proxy customer, from these different points of view, the team looks at things in new and different way and this captures more realistic and comprehensive requirements.

product-development-examples-PADTVisit our case studies page to see examples of how our approach has been used across a wide variety of industries.

The best way to understand the benefits of properly building the right process by establishing product/market requirements is to partner with PADT on your next product development project.

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