Press Release: NASA Awards PADT, Arizona State University and Kennesaw State University a $755,000 Phase II STTR Research Grant

The Grant Will Fund Research for Combining Cellular Patterns Inspired by Nature with Simulation and 3D Printing to Make Stronger and Lighter Structures for Space Exploration

What do we like more here at PADT than combining simulation, design, and 3D Printing? Combining those three things for spaceflight applications.

That is what our 16th STTR/SBIR win is all about. Based upon our success with the shorter, first phase of this project, NASA has awarded PADT, ASU, and KSU the second phase of this R&D Project.

The team will work to take bio-inspired lattice shapes and develop tools to incorporate those shapes into the design of structure used in spacecraft. We will also create tools to optimize the distribution of the lattice structure, produce material properties, and verify the simulation results with rigorous testing.

Read more details in the press release below or here.

Also, watch this space for reports on what we learn and information about the tools we will be creating.

If you have the need to do simulation, design, or additive manufacturing, or combine any of those disciplines to create better products or improve your processes, please contact PADT and let’s talk about how we can help.


NASA Awards PADT, Arizona State University and Kennesaw State University a $755,000 Phase II STTR Research Grant

The Grant Will Fund Research for Combining Cellular Patterns Inspired by Nature with Simulation and 3D Printing to Make Stronger and Lighter Structures for Space Exploration

TEMPE, Ariz., December 10, 2019 ─ In a move that acknowledges its excellence and expertise in 3D printing, simulation, design and software development, PADT today announced NASA has awarded a $755,000 2019 Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research grant for it to collaborate with Arizona State University (ASU) and Kennesaw State University (KSU) to enable the development of stronger and lighter structures for space exploration. The objective of the joint effort is to develop a software tool for designing, virtually testing and optimizing strong, lightweight lattice structures for aerospace vehicles. The result of the research project will be a commercial software product that PADT plans to market.

The Phase II STTR grant is a continuation of the original $127,000 Phase I grant awarded to PADT and ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in August 2018. This is PADT’s 16th STTR/SBIR grant since the company was founded in 1994.

“We’re proud to win this Phase II STTR because it furthers our coordination with the Fulton Schools and requires the use of our three main areas of expertise: 3D printing, simulation and product development,” said Alex Grishin, Ph.D., consulting engineer, PADT. “As an Elite ANSYS channel partner, we also have the skillset needed to embed our solution in the ANSYS simulation tool, saving a lot of time and effort. Improving aerospace innovation is always an exciting prospect, and our team is uniquely qualified to apply our expertise to develop disruptive technology for NASA.”

Shapes found in nature, like honeycombs in a beehive, are intriguing to the aerospace community because of their strength and light weight. Additionally, the shape and spacing of these lattice structures do not have to be uniform, and by varying them, the compositions can provide better performance. The challenge PADT, ASU and KSU is solving is how to develop a design tool that combines concepts from density, topology and parameter optimization to generate lattice materials that are aperiodic in nature and do not require a priori definition of cell size. Recent advancements in additive manufacturing will create the geometry specified by the tool and manufacture “bio-inspired” structures with detail to a degree previously not possible.

“ASU has become a leader in the advancement of additive manufacturing and we are continually discovering new ways to solve engineering challenges with this technology,” said Kyle Squires, Ph.D., dean, Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University. “The NASA Phase II STTR grant allows us to use simulation and 3D printing to explore bio-inspired structures to innovate how NASA designs and manufactures its spacecrafts.”

In addition to the software product, the group’s deliverables include cellular material data for inclusion in NASA’s open-source PeTaL platform, data analysis, experimental results, and 3D printed metal demonstration artifacts. The lattice structure design tool itself may allow NASA to design and manufacture high-performance materials, including:

  • Heat shields
  • Acoustic liners
  • Space debris resistant skins
  • Lightweight panels
  • Conformal, structural heat exchangers

“This research project is a great example of government, academic institutions and the private sector working together to provide practical solutions for the space industry,” said Ji Mi Choi, associate vice president, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Arizona State University. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with NASA, PADT and KSU as we discover new ways to apply 3D printing and simulation to real-world challenges.”

To learn more about PADT and its advanced capabilities, please visit www.padtinc.com.

About Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 80 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

About Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, with more than 24,000 enrolled students, is one of the largest engineering schools in the United States, offering 44 graduate and 25 undergraduate degree programs across six schools of academic focus. With students, faculty and researchers representing all 50 states and 135 countries, the Fulton Schools of Engineering is creating an inclusive environment for engineering excellence by advancing research and innovation at scale, revolutionizing engineering education and expanding global outreach and partner engagement. The Fulton Schools of Engineering’s research expenditures totaled $115 million for the 2017-2018 academic year. Learn more about the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at engineering.asu.edu

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Stratasys 3D Printing Filament: the Quality Behind OEM Sourcing

In 1925, when the automotive industry was rapidly growing in response to consumer and industrial needs, a group of independent auto parts resellers joined to form the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA). A founding member was the Genuine Parts Company; this group later acquired a number of other NAPA stores and gave rise to ad campaigns stressing the importance of buying genuine auto parts from a well-known, trusted source.

Stratasys 3D printing filament is crafted to stringent standards, ensuring dimensional consistency and repeatable material properties. Image courtesy PADT.
Stratasys 3D printing filament is crafted to stringent standards, ensuring dimensional consistency and repeatable material properties. Image courtesy PADT.

Following that same philosophy is a good idea for users involved with industrial 3D printing (additive manufacturing/AM). How do you know your part will print consistently, and display measureable, repeatable material properties, if you can’t rely on the consistency of the AM material’s own production?

At PADT, we print the gamut of filament options on our Stratasys industrial 3D printers, from ABS and TPU to production-grade Nylons and certified Ultem ® . As both an authorized AM system reseller and service provider, we count on the quality of the materials we source for ourselves and our customers, so it’s enlightening to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Stratasys filament production-process.

Ingredients Matter

Great recipes start with the finest ingredients, right? It’s no different when you’re producing filament for demanding applications: start with qualified raw materials from reputable sources. Standard Stratasys filament (like ASA and ABS), Engineering Grade materials (including polycarbonate and Nylon 12) and most Support materials are made in Israel at one of the two Stratasys corporate offices, while the High Performance materials such as Nylon 12 Carbon-Fiber (CF), Antero and Ultem ® products are produced at the original Minnesota location.

The raw stock for 3D printing filament comes in pellet form. Image courtesy Shutterstock.
The raw stock for 3D printing filament comes in pellet form. Image courtesy Shutterstock.

Stratasys buys polymers in pellet form from chemical suppliers such as France-based Arkema, who blends the proprietary polyethyl ketone ketone (PEKK) base formula for Antero and Antero ESD materials, and SABIC who supplies the raw pellets for Ultem ® -based filaments.

Some pellets are fed directly into the filament production equipment while others are compounded like a custom pharmaceutical: mixed and blended with stabilizers and colorants, extruded as interim-stage filament, cooled and then granulated all over again into new pellet stock. (Given that FDM is an extrusion-based technology, one of the seven standard AM technologies defined by ISO/ASTM52900-15, it’s interesting that extrusion plays a key role in the material production-process itself.)

Polymer Pasta

Whether you’ve made your own fresh pasta or just watched a child crank out endless strings of PlayDoh, you can envision the next steps in filament production, starting with melting the pellets into a viscous liquid resin. Chaffee Tran, Stratasys’ Materials Product Director, explains, “Resin is (then) run through a screw extruder and forced through a die (metal perforated with precision holes), cooled as it comes out, and wound onto spools.” An optical monitor continuously checks for “ovality” of the filament as it moves past, and triggers a stop for anything out-of-round beyond tolerance. If you’ve ever struggled with a printer that jammed because of inconsistent filament diameters, you’ll understand the importance of this process requirement.

Loading bays for Stratasys F370 office-environment FDM 3D Printer. Image courtesy Stratasys.
Loading bays for Stratasys F370 office-environment FDM 3D Printer. Image courtesy Stratasys.

Filament for the Stratasys F123 plug-and-play series of printers is packaged on-site as bagged or boxed spools. Filament for the industrial printers such as the F380cf, F450 and F900 gets loaded into sealed canisters that hold larger volumes in both standard and extended capacity. For all filament types, Tran says, “We have full traceability of our finished products via serial number and manufacturing lots. This can be traced back to production documents, to link back to the production-line settings and batch lots of resin used.”

Canister of Stratasys Ultem® 9085 filament, with production documentation for traceability. Image courtesy Stratasys.

One Step Beyond: Certification

For truly demanding applications, the quality process gets kicked up another notch. Ultem ® 9085 Aerospace and Ultem ® 1010 Certified Grade (CG) are shipped with Certificates of Compliance that confirm the production parameters down to the exact machine type and location where the filament is manufactured. “Certified Ultem ® has a higher sampling rate of finished goods for various filament properties and tighter internal specification,” adds Tran.

This tightly regulated process allows Stratasys to be the only AM company offering material certified by the Aircraft Interior Solution (AIS), a process – developed in collaboration with the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) – that provides the necessary tools, documentation, and training needed to guide aerospace producers down the aircraft qualification process. In order to meet the requirements aerospace manufacturers face, their parts must not only be made from the AIS certified version of the Stratasys Ultem ® 9085 material, but must also be printed on a certified F900mc Gen II system, in accordance with a string of aerospace standards documents. (For more information see details provided by NCAMP.) That’s what you call Quality Control.

For historical details about the development of standards for qualifying non-metallic materials for aircraft applications, now including the first polymer AM material, download this nine-page document, A Path to Certification:

Today's aircraft increasingly rely on non-metallic component design to save on weight and therefore fuel consumption. Certified Ultem 9085® filament from Stratasys plays a key role in supporting the design and use of 3D printed flight-qualified parts. Image courtesy Stratasys.
Today’s aircraft increasingly rely on non-metallic component design to save on weight and therefore fuel consumption. Certified Ultem 9085® filament from Stratasys plays a key role in supporting the design and use of 3D printed flight-qualified parts. Image courtesy Stratasys.

Even if your part production process is not as stringent as that demanded for the AIS program, you’ll avoid jammed drive-gears and cross-wound spools and get consistent part performance when your Stratasys printers run “genuine Stratasys” filament. Classic ABS, chemically resistant Antero, flexible TPU and new, fine-finish Diran are just some of the materials that will offer you repeatable results. Ask us for more details, and stay tuned as Stratasys launches even more options for true industrial applications.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and filaments, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

All Things ANSYS 052: A Deep Dive into Design & Technology in the ANSYS World

 

Published on: December 2nd, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Prith Banerjee, & Mark Hindsbo
Description:  

In this episode, your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by ANSYS CTO Prith Banerjee and VP/General Manager of the Design Business Unit Mark Hindsbo, for a discussion of their roles at the company, what trends they see coming from various industries working with simulation, and how ANSYS continues to help their customers by providing valuable solutions in response to those trends.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to suggest a topic for the next episode, shoot us an email at podcast@padtinc.com we would love to hear from you!

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All Things ANSYS 051: New 3D Design Capabilities in ANSYS 2019 R3 – Discovery Live, AIM, & SpaceClaim

 

Published on: November 18th, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Joe Woodward, Robert McCathren, Tom Chadwick, & Ted Harris
Description:  

In this episode, your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Specialist Mechanical Engineer/Lead Trainer Joe Woodward, Senior CFD Engineer Tom Chadwick, Application Engineer Robert McCathren and Simulation Support Manager Ted Harris, for a discussion on what’s new regarding 3D design capabilities in ANSYS 2019 R3. This discussion covers updates and our teams favorite components in the latest versions of Discovery Live, AIM, & SpaceClaim.

If you would like to learn more about what this release is capable of, check out our webinar on the topic here:

https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15747/377929

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to suggest a topic for the next episode, shoot us an email at podcast@padtinc.com we would love to hear from you!

Listen:
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@ANSYS #ANSYS

Press Release: Arizona Corporate Excellence Awards Lists PADT as one of the Top Private Companies in the State

Globally Recognized Company Selected as an ACE Recipient for its Impressive Growth and for Numerous Contributions to the Arizona Technology Sector

For the third time this year, PADT was officially recognized for our contribution to the local tech ecosystem: An Arizona Corporate Excellence award. Last night we joined companies of every type at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing arts to be listed with fifty other privately held companies headquartered here in Arizona. As with many of these awards, it is hard to grasp what an honor it is to be recognized until you hear the names of the other honorees.

You can find a list of all of those who were recognized for the 2019 ACE Award here. Our press release on this topic is below and here.

This was the first time we were nominated for an ACE award, and we ranked 46th amongst private companies in the state. Next year… let’s see how high up that list we can move.

Recognition of this type, and by the broader business community instead of our insular tech world, was a great way to wind down our celebrations for PADT’s 25th year in business.


Arizona Corporate Excellence Awards Lists PADT as one of the Top Private Companies in the State

Globally Recognized Company Selected as an ACE Recipient for its Impressive Growth and for Numerous Contributions to the Arizona Technology Sector

TEMPE, Ariz., November 19, 2019 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has been named to the Arizona Corporate Excellence (ACE) Awards list of the Top Private and Fastest Growing Companies.

PADT joined a prestigious group of companies at the awards ceremony hosted by the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts on November 14, 2019. Fellow winners included Arizona Coyotes, JDA Software, OnTrac, SiteLock, StandardAero, and WebPT. 

“Since we started PADT in the Valley in 1994, our goal has been to become the premier innovation partner to technology companies who create physical products,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We’re honored to be named an ACE recipient alongside this impressive list of winners, many of which have been, or are, our clients. It’s a testament to how far we have come since we were four engineers in a tiny executive suite.”

PADT has experienced tremendous growth over the past five years. Included below is a list of key accomplishments the company has achieved since 2015:

  • Opened offices in Torrance, California and Austin, Texas – with a new office location coming soon.
  • Further developed partnerships with universities throughout the Southwest and helped to launch significant additive manufacturing labs at Arizona State University and Metro State University in Denver, Colorado.
  • Tripled 3D printing capacity with new, large format stereolithography systems, and launched the first 3D printing factory in the Southwest using Carbon’s digital light synthesis system.
  • Awarded multiple SBIR/STTR grants, bringing the company’s total to 15.
  • The company and its leadership received two additional awards in 2019 – PADT received a special recognition for its contributions to the biotech community by AZBio and Eric Miller was honored as one of the state’s top tech executive by the Phoenix Business Journal.

The ACE awards are the premier business awards event in the Valley, and the only program highlighting the market’s biggest and best privately held companies. In its 24th year, the goal of the ACE Awards is to  develop an increasing sense of knowledge sharing and community among private companies.

For more information on PADT’s services, leadership and the company’s history, please visit www.padtinc.com/about.

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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Join PADT in Welcoming Jeff Wells, Business Development Manager, Engineering Services

Here at PADT, we pride ourselves on our ability to make our customers’ ideas for innovation practical and get them to market. No matter how complex the challenge is, we have the engineering expertise and technology tools to work with our customers and deliver tailored solutions to meet their needs. And for every solution we create, there’s a business development team leading the partnership with our customers. We’re excited to welcome the newest leader of this team, Business Development Manager for Engineering Services, Jeff Wells.

“PADT’s engineering services are thriving behind the work of our outstanding team,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal, PADT. “Jeff adds a tremendous amount of experience as both an engineer and a business development leader. His knowledge of the industry and the community will elevate our ability to attract new and innovative customers.”

To help PADT improve its market position in engineering services and product development, Wells will be responsible for building new customer relationships and seeking new opportunities to solve complex challenges. His focus will be on serving customers in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace and defense, medical, and industrial.

“Throughout my many years in engineering here in Arizona, I’ve been keenly aware of the outstanding services provided by PADT,” said Wells. “The company’s reputation and the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know over the years made it an easy decision to join the team. I look forward to contributing to the company’s strategy for growing its engineering services department.”

Jeff and his Family in New Zealand

Wells brings nearly 30 years of engineering, business development, and sales experience to the position. He joins PADT after spending the past five years in the director of business development role at CollabraTech Solutions. Wells joined CollabraTech early in the company’s lifecycle and helped grow the gas and chemical delivery product company from a few million dollars in revenue to over $14 million, by diversifying their customer base, the markets they served and the projects they pursued.

Early in his career, Wells worked as an engineer designing a wide variety of products from parts for Airbus aircraft engines to laser part marking kiosks and semiconductor capital equipment. He quickly realized his propensity for combining his engineering expertise with his communication skills, and in the late ‘90s, he began his career in business development. Wells worked at Advanced Integration Technologies for 10 years as a business development engineer and business development manager. He later worked closely with senior leadership on business development operations at Ultra Clean Technology and led business development for Foresight Processing.

Wells holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University (ASU). He and his wife, Kate Wells, CEO of the Phoenix Children’s Museum, have been married for 27 years and have two daughters who attend school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. In their free time, Wells and his family enjoy traveling. A decade ago, Jeff and his wife took their two daughters out of school for 14 months backpacking around the globe, visiting 22 countries. Wells also enjoys being outdoors hiking, playing sports, snowboarding and water skiing.

You can find a writeup in the Phoenix Business Journal here and his LinkedIn profile is here.

To learn more about PADT’s engineering service capabilities and to connect with Jeff Wells, please visit www.padtinc.com/services  or call us at 1-800-293-7238.

New 3D Design Capabilities Available in ANSYS 2019 R3 – Webinar

The ANSYS 3D Design family of products enables CAD modeling and simulation for all design engineers. Since the demands on today’s design engineer to build optimized, lighter and smarter products are greater than ever, using the appropriate design tools is more important than ever.

Rapidly explore ideas, iterate and innovate with ANSYS Discovery 3D design software, evaluate more concepts and rapidly gauge design performance through virtual design testing as you delve deeper into your design’s details, with the same results accuracy as ANSYS flagship products – when and where you need it.

Join PADT’s Training & Support Application Engineer, Robert McCathren for a look at the new 3D design capabilities available in ANSYS 2019 R3 for ANSYS Discovery AIM, Live, and SpaceClaim. These new updates include:

Mass flow outlets

Transient studies with time varying inputs

Structural beam support

Linear buckling support

Physics-aware meshing improvements

Mesh failure localization and visualization improvements

And much more

Register Here

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!

All Thing ANSYS 050: Updates and Enhancements in ANSYS Mechanical 2019 R3

 

Published on: November 4th, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Joe Woodward, & Ted Harris
Description:  

In this episode, your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Specialist Mechanical Engineer/Lead Trainer Joe Woodward, and Simulation Support Manager Ted Harris, for a discussion on what’s new in the mechanical release for ANSYS 2019 R3, as well as a look at their favorite features. This includes a focus on updates and enhancements to improve ease of use, reduce set-up time, and provide more valuable solutions.

If you would like to learn more about what this release is capable of, check out our webinar on the topic here: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15747/376304

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to suggest a topic for the next episode, shoot us an email at podcast@padtinc.com we would love to hear from you!

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Property Controllers in ANSYS ACT

Customizations developed using ANSYS ACT adhere closely to the user experience that is native to Mechanical and other Workbench apps.  Obviously, this is to be expected, but sometimes it can be a little challenging to fit a particular workflow into the “tree object” plus “object properties” model.   One way to broaden the available set of user experiences from which to construct a customized behavior is to use what are known as property controllers.

Property controllers are classes, which can be implemented either in C# or Python that are associated with a given property in the details pane of a given ACT object.  These classes allow the programmer to specialize the functionality and behavior of the particular property to which they are associated.  The association between a given property and its property controller is made in the ACT XML definition file.  For this article, like most of the ones I write on ACT, I will be using C# as the implementation language.

The degree to which any given property can be specialized by a property controller is quite vast.  Therefore, I won’t be able to touch on all of the possible combinations.  However, I will demonstrate two that I have found particularly useful in various ACT apps I’ve written.

The first is a custom “select” controller that allows the user to pick one of a set of given Mechanical objects.  For most customizations, perhaps the canonical example, is a select controller that allows a user to pick a particular coordinate system out of all of the defined coordinate systems in the model.  Yes, there is a template for this that ships with Mechanical, but I will show a given implementation.  Understanding how the controller works will enable you to apply the same technique to other object types, even other ACT objects within the same app.

The second is a way to “fly out” a dialog box that can contain additional custom controls, and that is “anchored” to the side of the given property box within the details pane.  This is useful for scenarios when we can’t easily fit a particular data entry within a given property field.  Tabular data is a prime example.  Again, there are some templates for this in Mechanical, but understanding how to build it up from scratch will allow you to apply the same principles to more complex dialogs.  This second example will be covered in a subsequent blog post.

Foundations

Before we dive into the individual examples above, let’s understand some of the basics of property controllers in general.  First, how do we associate a given property controller class with a particular property.  This is accomplished by using the “class” attribute in the property tag within the XML definition.  So, here is an example from an extension XML file:

<property name="EngineAxis" 
  caption="Coordinate System" 
  control="select"                         
  class="PADT.PropertyControllers.CoordinateSystemSelectController">
  <attributes type_filter="cylindrical"/>  
</property> 

You can see that we’ve added a “class” attribute inside the property tag and set it equal to a fully qualified class name.  All other property attributes are the same as with a typical property.  In order for this to work, however, we will need to implement a class called “CoordinateSystemSelectController” in the PADT.PropertyControllers namespace.

You will also notice that there is a nested <attributes> tag inside the <property> tag.  This can be used to pass additional configuration data to the controller as we will see.  Clearly, in this case, the additional data is designed to constrain the types of coordinate systems that will be populated within the control.

Example 1: Coordinate System Select Property Controller

The method by which behavior is customized for a given property is by implementing overrides for a series of virtual functions defined on the property itself.  These virtual functions allow us to hook into various points within the properties lifetime and operation.  The names for these virtual functions correspond to the callbacks listed in the ANSYS help for the <property> tag in the ACT XML reference manual.  The names are always lowercase.  Common ones that I use are functions such as “onactivate”, “onshow”, “isvalid”,”value2string” and “getvalue”.  Except for the “value2string” function, most of these are probably self-explanatory as to when they would fire.   For this controller, I’ll demonstrate a few of these functions including when and how to use the “value2string”.

Let’s begin with the “onactivate” function.  This function is called when the user “selects” or activates the property.  So, within this function is a good place to populate the list of currently available coordinate systems.  It is tempting to cache this list so that it doesn’t have to be recomputed.  However, if the user deletes, or adds a coordinate system after we have cached the list, we would not display it as an option the next time they activated this control.  Therefore, on each activation, we build up a list of available coordinate systems.  Here is the code:

You can see the parameters to this function are parameter representing the “tree object” to which this property is a member of that object’s details pane, and a parameter representing this “property”.  The second parameter might seem counterintuitive.  You might think that we are subclassing the property itself and thus this parameter would be redundant. (i.e, it would be equivalent to the “this” object).  However, we are not subclassing the property per say, but rather implementing a controller object that property itself makes calls against to modify its own behavior.  Sounds convoluted, I understand, but my guess is that this is what allows us to specify all of this within the extension XML file.  So, it’s a good thing.

Once we get into the function proper, on line 55 we clear out all of the items within this properties associated drop down control.  Then, in lines 56-58 we figure out what are the enum constants that represent the types of coordinate systems (cylindrical, Cartesian, etc…) that we would like to present to the user.  Note, our attribute “type_filter” could contain multiple types. Then, in lines 59-67, we iterate over all of the coordinate systems current defined in the Mechanical session and pick out the ones that are of the right type.  We then add them to the “options” property of this SimProperty object.  Note, however, that we don’t add the coordinate system objects themselves, but rather string representations of the object Ids.  This is important.  The reason we don’t add the name of the coordinate system is because names (or labels) in Mechanical are not required to be unique.  You can create five coordinate systems and name all of them “Bob”, Mechanical doesn’t care and will treat them as unique.  So, we need a unique attribute of the coordinate system to store in our list of options.  The object Id is guaranteed to be unique.  So, we store this instead.

The final bit of code in this function just makes sure to default select one coordinate system if the user hasn’t already selected one.  That functionality is on lines 69-83.  If the Value property is null, then the user (or this code) has not populated the select with a given coordinate system. So, if there are any coordinate systems that are appropriate we just find the first one and select it automatically.  Note, if the user later changes this to a different CSYS and this function fires a second time, it will not overwrite their choice because the null check will fail on line 69.  The reason for this behavior is because the extension for which this code was written made extensive use of a single cylindrical coordinate system in a number of different objects.  Typically the user would add just this one coordinate system in addition to the default global Cartesian system.  So, by adding this code, the user would not be required to select this coordinate system each time they added a new object, but rather, the tool would do it for them.

The next bit of code to examine is the “value2string” function, which is shown below:

You may recall from above that the data we store in the options property was a list of string representations of the various coordinate system Ids.  Now, if we didn’t implement this function, when the user interacted with the drop down control what they would see would be a list of numbers.  They might see a list like “42” “87” and “94”.  Clearly, it’s not very intuitive as to which coordinate system these numbers may refer. 

So, what the “value2string” function allows us to do is to transform the data that the property actually stores into a visual representation that is meaningful to the user.  However, this is purely a stateless transformation.  The actual data store in the property always remains the string representation of the object’s id.  So, you can think of this function as sitting between the internal code that pulls a value out of the property, and the internal code that renders that value to the screen.  In between these two calls, we have the opportunity to transform what gets rendered.

So, essentially what we do inside this function is parse the Id string back into an integer.  If that’s cool, we then lookup the particular mechanical tree object that has this given Id.  Finally, if everything is kosher with this object, we return the name of the object we looked up.  If at any point something goes wrong, we just return an empty string.

Now, when the user interacts with the property controller, the will see a list of names corresponding to the coordinate systems of the appropriate type.  If they sadistically named all of these coordinate systems the same name, then they will see a list with multiple entries of the same name.  However, each one in the list is a unique coordinate system.  How they figure out which one is the one they actually want is now their problem…

Finally, the last function we will look at is the “getvalue” function.  As the “value2string” function made the experience of the end user more palatable, so too the “getvalue” function makes the experience of the developer more palatable.  Essentially what it does is analogous to the “value2string” function, but rather than returning a string, it returns an actual coordinate system object that can be used in other places in the system.  It looks like the following:

As you can see, it is very similar to the “value2string” object, but instead of returning a string, it returns the actual tree object itself.  Note, you have to cast the return value at the caller site to the appropriate type, but meh… it’s still nice to have.

Finally, to see this property controller in action, I’ve taken a quick screen grab of the properties pane of an ACT object I’ve implemented.  This is a little symmetry object that implements a homebrewed CPCYC, but you can see the coordinate system object.

That’s all for this post.  Next time we’ll look at how to implement the flyout feature.  Good luck with your ACT programming needs.  Oh, and if you need some help, or ever want to have some ANSYS customization done for you, let us know.  We do all sorts of customization work from more run of the mill type

New Awards and Fantastic Winners: 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation does not Disappoint

Way back in 2011, PADT participated in our first Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, or GCOI. We actually won the award for being a Pioneer that year, and we also started making custom awards with our 3D Printing systems. And every year we get to see friends, customers, and partners take a PADT original home. 2019 was no different.

You can read about the event in the Phoenix Business Journal here.

This year FreeFall Aerospace was won the Innovation Award for startups. They are part of the ANSYS Startup program and someone we really enjoy working with. In addition, Qwick won the Judges award. They are a local software startup that we have interacted with through our mentoring and angel investing activities.

This year’s awards came out nice, combining PolyJet and Stereolithography to make a kinetic sculpture:

We were pleased to watch these being handed out to eight winners. The Tucson winners, half of those recognized, were happy to show their’s off:

Updates & Additions in ANSYS Mechanical 2019 R3 – Webinar

With ANSYS structural analysis software, users are able to solve more complex engineering problems, faster and more efficiently than ever before. Customization and automation of structural solutions is much easier to optimize thanks to new and innovative finite element analysis (FEA) tools available in this product suite. 

From designers and occasional users looking for quick, easy and accurate results, to experts looking to model complex materials, large assemblies and nonlinear behavior, ANSYS has you covered. The intuitive interface of ANSYS Mechanical enables engineers of all levels to get answers fast and with confidence.

Join PADT’s Specialist Mechanical Engineer Joe Woodward, for an in-depth look at what’s new in the latest version of ANSYS Mechanical, including updates regarding:

  • Software User Interface
  • Design Elements
  • Composites
  • Acoustics
  • External Modeling
  • And much more

Register Here

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!

New Options for 3D Printing with Nylon Filament, Including Diran

NOTE 10/28/2019: See updated information regarding Diran extruder heads, below.

Does the idea of 3D printing parts in semi-aromatic polyamides (PA) sound intriguing? Too bad it has nothing to do with making nicely scented models – but it has everything to do with reaping the benefits of the Nylon family’s molecular ring structure. Nylon 6, Nylon 12, carbon-filled Nylon 12 and now a new, smoother Nylon material called Diran each offer material properties well-suited for additive manufacturing on industrial 3D printers.

Stratasys Nylon 12 Battery Box
3D printed Nylon 12 Battery Box. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Quick chemistry lesson: in polyamides, amine sub-groups containing nitrogen link up with carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in a ring structure; most end up with a strongly connected, semi-crystalline layout that is key to their desirable behaviors. The number of carbon atoms per molecule is one way in which various Nylons (poly-amines) differentiate themselves, and gives rise to the naming process.

Now on to the good stuff. PA thermoplastics are known for strength, abrasion-resistance and chemical stability – useful material properties that have been exploited since Nylon’s discovery at Du Pont in 1935. The first commercial Nylon application came in 1938, when Dr. West’s Miracle Tuft Toothbrush closed the book on boar’s-hair bristle use and let humans gently brush their teeth with Nylon 6 (then called “Exton”) fibers.

Today’s Nylon characteristics translate well to filament-form for printing with Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) production-grade systems. Here’s a look at properties and typical applications for Nylon 6, Nylon 12, Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) and Diran (the newest in the Stratasys Nylon material family), as we see their use here at PADT.

When Flexibility Counts

Nylon 12 became the first Stratasys PA offering, filling a need for customized parts with high fatigue resistance, strong chemical resistance, and just enough “give” to support press (friction-fit) inserts and repetitive snap-fit closures. Users in aerospace, automotive and consumer-goods industries print Nylon 12 parts for everything from tooling, jigs and fixtures to container covers, side-panels and high vibration-load components.

3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Nylon 12 is the workhorse of the manufacturing world, supporting distortion without breaking and demonstrating a high elongation at break. Its ultimate tensile strength in XZ part orientation (the strongest orientation) is 6,650 psi (46 MPa), while elongation at break is 30 percent. Users can load Nylon 12 filament onto a Stratasys Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc system.

As evidenced by the toothbrush renaissance, Nylon 6 has been a popular thermoplastic for more than 80 years. Combining very high strength with toughness, Nylon 6 is great for snap-fit parts (middle range of flexing/stiffness) and for impact resistance; it is commonly used for things that need to be assembled, offering a clean surface finish for part mating.

Nylon 6 displays an XZ ultimate tensile strength of 9,800 psi (67.6 MPa) and elongation at break of 38%; it is available on the F900 printer. PADT customer MTD Southwest has recently used Nylon 6 to prototype durable containers with highly curved geometries, for testing with gasoline/ethanol blends that would destroy most other plastics.

Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)
Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)

Both Nylon 12 and Nylon 6 come as black filament that prints in tandem with a soluble brown support material called SR-110. Soluble supports make a huge difference in allowing parts with internal structures and complicated overhangs to be easily 3D printed and post-processed.

Getting Stronger and Smoother

As with these first two PA versions, Nylon 12CF prints as a black filament and uses SR-110 soluble material for support; unlike those PAs, Nylon 12CF is loaded at 35 percent by weight with chopped carbon fibers averaging 150 microns in length. This fiber/resin combination produces a material with the highest flexural strength of all the FDM Nylons, as well as the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Nylon 12 CF (carbon-filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

That strength shows up in Nylon 12 CF as a high ultimate XZ tensile strength of 10,960 psi (75.6 MPa), however, similar to other fiber-reinforced materials, the elongation at break is lower than for its unfilled counterpart (1.9 percent). Since the material doesn’t yield, just snaps, the compressive strength is given as the ultimate value, at 9,670 psi (67 MPa).

Nylon 12 CF’s strength and stiffness make it a great choice for lightweight fixtures. It also offers electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection properties better than that of Stratasys’ ABS ESD7, yet is still not quite conductive, if that is important for the part’s end-use. (For more details on printing with Nylon 12 CF, see Seven Tips for 3D Printing with Nylon 12 CF.) The material runs on the Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc systems.

Just announced this month, Stratasys’ Diran filament (officially Diran 410MF07) is another black Nylon-based material; it, too, features an infill but not of fibers – instead there is a mineral component listed at seven percent by weight. This filler produces a material whose smooth, lubricious surface offers low sliding resistance (new vocabulary word: lubricious, meaning slippery, with reduced friction; think “lube job” or lubricant).

Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

This smooth surface makes Diran parts perfect for applications needing a non-marring interface between a tool and a workpiece; for example, a jig or fixture that requires a part to be slid into place rather than just set down. It resists hydrocarbon-based chemicals, displays an ultimate tensile strength of 5,860 psi (40 MPa), and has a 12 percent elongation at break.

Close-up of Diran's smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Close-up of Diran’s smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

(Revised) For the first time, Diran also brings the benefits of Nylon to users of the Stratasys office-environment, plug-and-play F370 printer. The system works with the new material using the same extruder heads as for ABS, ASA and PC-ABS, with just a few material-specific requirements. 

To keep thermal expansion consistent across a model and any necessary supports, parts set up for Diran automatically use model material as support. A new, breakaway SUP4000B material comes into play as an interface layer, simplifying support removal. The higher operating temperature also requires a different build tray, but the material’s lubricious properties (just had to use that word again) make for easy part removal and allow that tray to be reused dozens of times.

Read more about this intriguing material on the Diran datasheet:

and contact PADT to request a sample part of Diran or any of these useful Nylon materials.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

All Things ANSYS 049: Predicting & Controlling Environmental Pollution with ANSYS Simulation

 

Published on: October 21st, 2019
With: Eric Miller & Clinton Smith
Description:  

In this episode, your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s CFD Team Lead Engineer Clinton Smith for a discussion on how ANSYS fluids tools are being used to help predict and control environmental pollution. This information is helping engineers in a variety of ways, such as understanding the formation and dispersion of pollutants such as NOx, SOx, CO and soot.

If you would like to learn more about what this application is capable of, check out our webinar on the topic here: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15747/374571

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to suggest a topic for the next episode, shoot us an email at podcast@padtinc.com we would love to hear from you!

Listen:
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@ANSYS #ANSYS

Predicting & Controlling Environmental Pollution with ANSYS Simulation – Webinar

Environmental pollution has been a fact of life for many centuries, though it became a real issue after the start of the industrial revolution. An estimated 6.5 million premature deaths have been linked to air pollution every year.

In order to properly combat this growing issue, the world’s leading minds have turned to a more effective tool for environmental analysis; numerical simulation. Computational fluid dynamics has proven to be a powerful tool when it comes to predicting and controlling air, water, and noise pollution.

Join PADT’s CFD Team Lead Engineer Clinton Smith to learn how ANSYS fluid mechanics solutions provide insight and detailed understanding of the formation and dispersion of pollutants such as NOx, SOx, CO & Soot as well as effective ways for modelling pollution control equipment such as ESP’s, bag filters, and wastewater treatment plants.

Register Here

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!

ANSYS Mechanical – Overcoming Convergence Difficulties with the Semi-Implicit Method

In our last blog, we discussed using Nonlinear Adaptive Region to overcome convergence difficulties by having the solver automatically trigger a remesh when elements have become excessively distorted.  You can read it here:  http://www.padtinc.com/blog/ansys-mechanical-overcoming-convergence-difficulties-with-automatic-remeshing-nonlinear-adaptive-region/

This time we look at another tool for overcoming convergence difficulties, the Semi-Implicit method.  ANSYS, Inc. describes the semi-implicit method as a hybrid, combining features of both implicit and explicit finite element methods.

In highly nonlinear problems involving significant deformations we may get a solver error like this one: 

*** ERROR ***                           CP =   18110.688   TIME= 11:58:42
Solution not converged at time 0.921 (load step 1 substep 185).           Run terminated. 

Like it does with other problems that lead to convergence failures, the Solution branch will have telltale red lightning bolts, indicating the solution was not able to complete due to nonconvergence.

In this case, it can be difficult to determine from the error message in the solution output exactly what the problem is.  Plotting the Newton-Raphson residuals can be a good starting point.  In order to plot the Newton-Raphson residuals, though, we need to turn them on prior to solving.  See this older Focus blog for instructions on how to do that:

http://www.padtinc.com/blog/overcoming-convergence-difficulties-in-ansys-workbench-mechanical-part-i-using-newton-raphson-residual-information/

A plot of the Newton-Raphson residuals shows us where the highest force imbalance is in the model:

That’s a nice looking plot, but doesn’t tell us much without knowing more about the simulation.  The model is of a plastic bottle, subject to a force load tending to ‘crush’ the bottle from top to bottom.  There is a slight off center load as well, so that the force is not purely in the downward direction. 

The bottle is constrained with a fixed support on the bottom flat surface, and contact elements between the outer surface of the bottle and a fixed surface representing a table or floor.  This is to prevent the bottle from deflecting below the plane of that surface.

The material used is a polyethylene plastic, from the ANSYS Granta Materials Data for Simulation add-on, which is a great tool to get access to hundreds of materials for ANSYS simulations.  The geometry of the bottle was created in SpaceClaim as a surface body and meshed with shell elements in ANSYS Mechanical. 

The solution was run as nonlinear static, with large deflection effects turned on.  Automatic Time Stepping was manually activated with a starting and minimum number of substeps set to 200 and a maximum number of substeps set to 1000.

With these settings, the solution ran to about 92% of the full load, where it failed to solve after bisecting to the maximum number of substeps (minimum ‘time’ step).  The force convergence plots showed the bisections and failed convergence attempts started at about iteration 230 and ‘time’ 0.92.  (If you are not familiar with the convergence plots from a Newton-Raphson method solution, please see our Focus archives for an article on the topic – look for the link to the GST Plot:  http://www.padtinc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/oldblog/PADT_TheFocus_08.pdf).

Even though our solution has not converged, it is probably helpful to view the deformation results for substeps which did converge (at partial load) as well as the unconverged results which will be written as the last set of results.

This plot shows the total deformation at the last converged substep (time value 0.92):

This plot shows the unconverged solution, ‘extrapolated’ to time 1.0:

From the unconverged deformation plot we can see that the top of the bottle is tending to experience very large deformations.  It’s not surprizing that convergence difficulties are being encountered.

One of the techniques we can utilize to get past this problem is the Semi-Implicit method in ANSYS Mechanical.  As of 2019 R2, this needs to be activated using a Mechanical APDL command object, but it can be as simple as adding a single word within the Static Structural branch:

SEMIIMPLICIT

There are some optional fields on that command, but minimally just the one word command is needed.

Once the semi-implicit method is activated, if the solver detects the default implicit solver is having trouble, it automatically switches to the semi-implicit solving scheme.  Like a traditional explicit solver, the semi-implicit method can better handle very large deformation, transitory-like effects.  The method can switch back to implicit if conditions warrant for a more efficient solution and in fact can switch back and forth between the two schemes.

The solver output will tell us if the semi-implicit scheme has been activated:

EQUIL ITER  26 COMPLETED.  NEW TRIANG MATRIX.  MAX DOF INC=  0.9526   

     NONLINEAR DIAGNOSTIC DATA HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO  FILE: file.nd004

     DISP CONVERGENCE VALUE   =  0.3918      CRITERION=   1.448     <<< CONVERGED

     LINE SEARCH PARAMETER =  0.4113     SCALED MAX DOF INC =  0.3918   

     FORCE CONVERGENCE VALUE  =   44.44      CRITERION=  0.9960   

     MOMENT CONVERGENCE VALUE =   3.263      CRITERION=  0.1423   

    Writing NEWTON-RAPHSON residual forces to file: file.nr001

    >>> TRANSITIONING TO SEMI-IMPLICIT METHOD

     NONLINEAR DIAGNOSTIC DATA HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO  FILE: file.nd001


    EQUIL ITER   1 COMPLETED.  NEW TRIANG MATRIX.  MAX DOF INC=  0.8788E-04

     NONLINEAR DIAGNOSTIC DATA HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO  FILE: file.nd002

 *** LOAD STEP     1   SUBSTEP   185  COMPLETED.    CUM ITER =    284

 *** TIME =  0.920010         TIME INC =  0.100000E-04

    Kinetic Energy = 0.2157        Potential Energy =  60.59   

 *** AUTO STEP TIME:  NEXT TIME INC = 0.10000E-04  UNCHANGED

     NONLINEAR DIAGNOSTIC DATA HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO  FILE: file.nd003

There are some ‘symptoms’ of the switch from implicit to explicit.  The most obvious is probably that the force convergence plot will stop updating. 

Changing the Solution Output to the Solver Output will show the explicit scheme being used in that case.  The telltale is the information on Response Frequency and Period (the example shown is a static structural solution).

Deformation plot trackers and contact trackers continue to work as expected during the solution, however.

Using the semi-implicit method, the solution was able to successfully converge to the full load, and converged results are available at the last time point:

We also used the new keyframe animation technique to animate the results time history.

The semi-implicit method is well documented within the Mechanical APDL 2019 R2 Help, in the Advanced Analysis Guide, chapter 3 on Semi-Implicit Method.  We suggest reviewing that information to get a much better handle on the technique.

We hope this is helpful in getting your nonlinear solutions to converge the full value of applied loads.