ANSYS Mechanical – Overcoming Convergence Difficulties with Automatic Remeshing (Nonlinear Adaptive Region)

One of the problems we can encounter in a nonlinear structural analysis in ANSYS Mechanical is that elements become so distorted that the solver cannot continue.  We get messages saying the solver was unable to complete, and the solver output will contain a message like this one:

 *** ERROR ***                           CP =      37.969   TIME= 14:40:06
 Element 2988 (type = 1, SOLID187) (and maybe other elements) has become
 highly distorted.  Excessive distortion of elements is usually a       
 symptom indicating the need for corrective action elsewhere.  Try      
 incrementing the load more slowly (increase the number of substeps or  
 decrease the time step size).  You may need to improve your mesh to    
 obtain elements with better aspect ratios.  Also consider the behavior 
 of materials, contact pairs, and/or constraint equations.  Please rule 
 out other root causes of this failure before attempting rezoning or    
 nonlinear adaptive solutions.  If this message appears in the first    
 iteration of first substep, be sure to perform element shape checking. 

The Solution branch will have the telltale red lightning bolts, indicating the solution was not able to complete due to nonconvergence.

If you are not aware, one technique we can use to get past this problem of excessive element distortion is to have ANSYS automatically remesh the model or a portion of the model while the solution is progressing.  The current state of the model is then mapped onto the new mesh, in the currently deflected state.  In this manner we can automatically continue with the solution after a slight pause for this remeshing to occur.  Minimally all we need to do as users is insert a Nonlinear Adaptive Region under the Static Structural branch, and review and specify a few settings (more on this later).

Let’s take a look at a simple example.  This is a wedge portion of a circular hyperelastic part, subject to a pressure load on the top surface.  Other boundary conditions include a fixed support on the bottom and frictionless supports on the two cut faces of the wedge.

For this case, the nonlinear adaptive region is the entire part. 

The initial mesh was setup as a default mesh, although note that for 3D models the nonlinear adaptive capability requires a tetrahedral mesh up through the current version, 2019 R2.

Prior to solving with the nonlinear adaptive region included, this model fails to converge at about 56% of the total load.  With the addition of the nonlinear adaptive region, the model is automatically remeshed at the point of excessive element distortion, and the solution is able to proceed until the full load is applied.  The force convergence graph has a solid vertical orange line at the point where remeshing occurred.  The method can result in multiple remeshing steps although in the sample model shown here, only one remeshing was needed.

The image on the left, below, shows the original mesh at the last converged substep before remeshing occurred.  The image on the right is the first result set after remeshing was completed.

The tabular view of a result item will show in the last column if remeshing has occurred during the solution.

Here is the final deformation, for the full amount of pressure load applied on the top surface.

Next, let’s take a look at the nonlinear adaptive region capability in more detail.

First, multiple substeps must be used for the solution.  If we are performing a nonlinear analysis, this will be the case anyway.  Second, Large Deflection needs to be turned on in the Analysis Settings branch.  Also, results must be stored at all time points (note that time is a tracking parameter in a static analysis, but all static as well as transient results in ANSYS Mechanical are associated with a value of ‘time’).

There are several restrictions on features that CAN’T be in the model, such as cyclic symmetry (hence the frictionless support BC’s on the simple model shown above), Auto Asymmetric Contact, Joints, Springs, Remote Forces and Displacements, etc.  Also certain material properties are excluded, such as Cast Iron plasticity and Shape Memory Alloy.  Also, as mentioned above, for 3D models, the mesh must be tetrahedral.  For a full listing of these restrictions, refer to the ANSYS Mechanical User’s Guide.  A search on ‘nonlinear adaptive’ will take you to the right location in the Help.

Nonlinear Adaptive Regions can be scoped to 3D solid and 2D bodies, or to elements via a Named Selection. 

In the Details view for the Nonlinear Adaptive Region, the main option to be defined is the Criterion by which remeshing will be initiated.  There are three options available in Mechanical:  Energy, Box, and Mesh.

The Energy criterion checks the strain energy of each element within the Nonlinear Adaptive Region.  If the strain energy is above a criterion, remeshing is triggered.  The input is an energy coefficient between zero and one, and is a multiplier on the ratio of total strain energy of the component divided by the number of elements of the component.  Recommended values are 0.85-0.9.  A lower coefficient will tend to cause remeshing to be more likely.

The Box criterion defines a geometry region based on a coordinate system and bounds relative to that coordinate system.  Elements in the Nonlinear Adaptive Region whose nodes have all moved within the box will be remeshed.  The idea is that if it’s known that elements will be highly distorted as they move into a certain region, we can ensure that remeshing will occur there.

The Mesh criterion allows us to specify that remeshing will occur if mesh quality measures drop below certain levels as the mesh distorts.  For 3D models, the available measures are Jacobian Ratio and Skewness.  These are described in the Mechanical User’s Guide in the section on Nonlinear Adaptive Region.

In the example shown above, the Energy criterion was used with an energy coefficient of 0.85.

There are some things to be aware of when you are trying to implement a Nonlinear Adaptive Region to help overcome convergence difficulties.  First, if any of the restricted features mentioned above are included in the model, such as remote displacements, it’s not going to work.  Therefore, it’s important to review the list of restrictions in the Help and make sure none of those are applied in your model.  Second, ‘buckling’ or element distortion due to an unstable structure is not a behavior that Nonlinear Adaptive Regions can help with.  The Nonlinear Adaptive Region capability is more suited to problems like hyperelastic seals being compressed or objects that are undergoing a high degree of bending (but not snapping through). 

Also, a coarse mesh that distorts may not produce a usable remesh.  The remeshing step may occur, but the simulation may not be able to proceed beyond that and stops with an error in element formulation error.  More mesh refinement may be needed in this case.

As a further word of caution, self contact problems may not work very well within the context of Nonlinear Adaptive Regions.  If self contact is needed, consider splitting the bodies into multiple parts to avoid self contact. 

There are some other considerations for the method as discussed in the Help, but hopefully the guidelines and recommendations presented here will allow you to filter potential applications appropriately and setup models that can take advantage of the Nonlinear Adaptive Region capability.  We have a short animation which shows the remeshing step in the sample model. 

If you have nonlinear static structural models with convergence difficulties due to excessive element distortion, please consider using this method to help you get a fully converged solution.

Here is a video to help everyone visualize:

High Frequency Electromagnetic Updates in ANSYS 2019 R2 – Webinar

HFSS (High Frequency Structure Simulator) employs versatile solvers and an intuitive GUI to provide unparalleled performance, as well as deep insight, into a wide variety of 3D electromagnetic (EM) problems. ANSYS HFSS is the premier EM tool for R&D and virtual design prototyping. It reduces design cycle time and boosts your product’s reliability and performance. 

The ANSYS HFSS simulation suite consists of a comprehensive set of solvers to address diverse electromagnetic problems, ranging in detail and scale from passive IC components to extremely large-scale EM analyses. Its reliable automatic adaptive mesh refinement allows users to focus on the design instead of spending time determining and creating the best mesh.

Join PADT’s Lead Electromagnetics Engineer Michael Griesi for a look at what new capabilities are available for HFSS users in ANSYS 2019 R2.

This presentation will include updates for the following topics:

  • Solve speed
  • Electronics Desktop
  • ANSYS Cloud
  • Post processing
  • And much more

Register Here

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Press Release: PADT Awarded U.S. Army Phase I SBIR Grant for Combustor Geometry Research Using 3D Printing, Simulation, and Product Development

We are pleased to announce that the US Army has awarded PADT a Phase I SBIR Grant to explore novel geometries for combustor cooling holes. This is our 15th SBIR/STTR win.

We are excited about this win because it is a project that combines Additive Manufacturing, CFD and Thermal Simulation, and Design in one project. And to make it even better, the work is being done in conjunction with our largest customer, Honeywell Aerospace.

We look forward to getting started on this first phase where we will explore options and then applying for a larger Phase II grant to conduct more thorough simulation then build and test the options we uncover in this phase.

Read more below. The official press release is here for HTML and here for PDF.

If you have any needs to explore new solutions or new geometries using Additive Manufacturing or applying advanced simulation to drive new and unique designs, please contact us at 480.813.4884 or info@padtinc.com.


PADT Awarded U.S. Army Phase I SBIR Grant for Combustor Geometry Research Using 3D Printing, Simulation, and Product Development

The Project Involves the Development of Sand-Plugging Resistant Metallic Combustor Liners

TEMPE, Ariz., August 15, 2019 ─ In recognition of its continued excellence and expertise in 3D printing, simulation, and product development, PADT announced today it has been awarded a $107,750 U.S. Army Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. With the support of Honeywell Aerospace, PADT’s research will focus on the development of gas turbine engine combustor liners that are resistant to being clogged with sand.  The purpose of this research is to reduce downtime and improve the readiness of the U.S. Army’s critical helicopters operating in remote locations where dirt and sand can enter their engines.  

“PADT has supported advanced research in a wide variety of fields which have centered around various applications of our services,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We’re especially proud of this award because it requires the use of our three main areas of expertise, 3D printing, simulation and product development. Our team is uniquely capable of combining these three disciplines to develop a novel solution to a problem that impacts the readiness of our armed forces.”

The challenge PADT will be solving is when helicopters are exposed to environments with high concentrations of dust, they can accumulate micro-particles in the engine that clog the metal liner of the engine’s combustor. Combustors are where fuel is burned to produce heat that powers the gas turbine engine. To cool the combustor, thousands of small holes are drilled in the wall, or liner, and cooling air is forced through them. If these holes become blocked, the combustor overheats and can be damaged.  Blockage can only be remedied by taking the engine apart to replace the combustor. These repairs cause long-term downtime and significantly reduce readiness of the Army’s fleets.

PADT will design various cooling hole geometries and simulate how susceptible they are to clogging using advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation tools. Once the most-promising designs have been identified through simulation, sample coupons will be metal 3D printed and sent to a test facility to verify their effectiveness.  Additionally, PADT will experiment with ceramic coating processes on the test coupons to determine the best way to thermally protect the 3D printed geometries.

“When we developed new shapes for holes in the past, we had no way to make them using traditional manufacturing,” said Sina Ghods, principal investigator, PADT. “The application of metal additive manufacturing gives PADT an opportunity to create shapes we could never consider to solve a complex challenge for the U.S. Army. It also gives us a chance to demonstrate the innovation and growth of the 3D printing industry and its applications for harsh, real-world environments.”

Honeywell joined PADT to support this research because it is well aligned with the company’s Gas Turbine Engine products. The outcome of this research has the potential to significantly improve the performance of the company’s engines operating in regions with high dust concentrations.

This will be PADT’s 15th SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award since the company was founded in 1994. In August 2018, the company, in partnership with Arizona State University, was awarded a $127,000 STTR Phase I Grant from NASA to accelerate biomimicry research, the study of 3D printing objects that resemble strong and light structures found in nature such as honeycombs or bamboo.

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.

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All Things ANSYS 044: Optimize Materials Knowledge & Applications with ANSYS Granta pt. 2

 

Published on: August 14th, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Anthony Dawson, & David Cebon
Description:  

In this episode, the continuation of our discussion on ANSYS Granta, your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by Anthony Dawson, Senior Director of Materials Business Unit Product Operations at ANSYS, and David Cebon, Chief Technologist at ANSYS Granta, as they dive deeper and discuss the history of the company, and the specific tools that make up the Granta family of products.

If you would like to learn more about what’s available in this latest release check out PADT’s webinar on ANSYS Granta here: https://bit.ly/3001IFA

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 043: Optimize Materials Knowledge & Applications with ANSYS Granta pt. 1

 

Published on: August 12th, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Ward Rand, & John Perek
Description:  

In this episode your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by Ward Rand, one of PADT’s other Co-Founders, and John Perek, Principal Materials Engineer at Honeywell Aerospace to discuss the introduction of Granta to the ANSYS product line, its benefits for materials selection & analysis, and thoughts the Honeywell team has had since implementing it into their workflow.

If you would like to learn more about what’s available in this latest release check out PADT’s webinar on ANSYS Granta here: https://bit.ly/3001IFA

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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Adding Inserts to 3D Printed Parts: Hardware Tips plus One-Click Design in GrabCAD Print Advanced FDM

Heat-set, ultrasonic, helicoil: metal inserts are exceedingly useful when you want to add threads to a plastic part, preparing it for a strong screwed-in connection. Whether you heat up the insert and push it down into the pre-made hole (purposely melting the plastic as you do so) or tap a hole to allow a helicoil to dig into its side, you create a better grip for whatever hardware you eventually install. Inserts are especially useful for parts that will be assembled and disassembled multiple times.

Here at PADT, Inc., we thought we’d research the different installation approaches and demonstrate several ways to use inserts in FDM 3D-printed parts (be sure to check out the short video further on). Our awesome intern-turned-employee Austin Suder had already designed and printed some LED light boxes for off-roading with his truck, so we used his parts for our tests and demos. (Stay tuned – we’ll soon be featuring a whole variety of Austin’s automotive upgrades in an upcoming PADT post.)

For a classically milled plastic part, you plan ahead by drilling a slightly undersized hole that is enlarged as the heated insert is pushed into place. For a 3D printed part (let’s say ABS), you plan ahead in a similar way, using the hole dimensions given on any insert data-sheet. However, to get the best anchor against torque-out and pull-out, holes in 3D printed FDM parts need multiple material contours around them. You don’t want to melt through a thin wall into the infill region, and you don’t want weird bulges on the exterior if the hole is close to an edge.

An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting.
An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting, showing sections ready for M3 heat-set inserts. Sample side part printed in white for clarity. (Images courtesy PADT)
An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting, showing sections ready for M3 heat-set inserts. Sample side part printed in white for clarity. (Images courtesy PADT)

Heat-Set versus Ultrasonic Inserts

We’ll talk about defining those beefed-up contours in a moment. First, let’s describe the difference in installing heat-set (also called heat-staked) versus ultrasonic inserts, and talk about the pros and cons of their use. Inserts can also be dropped into slightly oversized holes if you pause the printer, add the part, and continue to print over them with enough material to just trap them in place. (Note: Helical inserts require tapping and then an installation tool, and do not give quite the strength of the former two types.)

Both types of inserts may come as small as #0-80 and M2.5×0.45 up to 3/8-16 and M8x1.25 (inches and metric, respectively), depending on whether you choose tapered or straight-sided versions. Material choice typically is aluminum, brass or stainless steel, in order to provide high thermal conductivity with strength.

Close-up of M3 size metric heat-set inserts to show relative size, ready for installation. (Image courtesy PADT)
Close-up of M3 size metric heat-set inserts to show relative size, ready for installation. (Image courtesy PADT)

A heat-stake machine looks like a small drill-press with a soldering-iron tip, and does ensure a perfectly vertical motion. However, the easiest insertion tool is a handheld soldering iron fitted with a flat-end heat-set tip that matches the inner diameter of the insert. Heat-set tips cost less than $20, and their benefit (compared to using just the default soldering iron tip) is that the flat head is easier to retract after the insert is completely in position.

(Left) Using a standard chisel-tip on a soldering iron to install a heat-set insert can make it difficult to get the insert in straight. (Right) Using a specialized heat-set tip gives a good vertical installation. Tips are sold to match each insert type and size (Image courtesy PADT)
(Upper) Using a standard chisel-tip on a soldering iron to install a heat-set insert can make it difficult to get the insert in straight. (Lower) Using a specialized heat-set tip gives a good vertical installation. Tips are sold to match each insert type and size. (Image courtesy PADT)                                                

A useful guide from Stratasys, “Inserting Hardware Post-Build,” suggests pre-heating the soldering iron or heat-staking press to a temperature that is approximately 170% of the glass transition temperature (Tg) of the FDM material, or work with a variable-power iron set for about 40 watts. Stratasys material data sheets list Tg values for each material.

Step-by-step Installation

To install a heat-set insert, set the metal insert on the 3D-printed part surface, centered on the hole. Tapered inserts are self-seating and make it easier to ensure the insert goes in straight, but even the straight-wall designs have a slightly smaller lead-in section to assist with alignment.

Fit the soldering-iron tip into the center of the insert, then push the insert down gently into place – you’ll feel the plastic around it starting to melt. Stop pushing when you see the insert has almost completely gone in, then pull back on the tip. Immediately place a flat aluminum plate on the insert/part area and push down until the insert is completely flush with the part surface. Alternatively, you can turn the part upside down and push the face against a table or flat plate – whatever is easiest given the part geometry.

Once you remove the soldering iron (heat source), the cooling, melted plastic reflows into the grooves, knurls and slots cut into the insert’s outer walls and solidifies. This connection is what forms the excellent grip between metal and plastic.

Finished part with insert flush to the part’s surface. (Image courtesy PADT)
Finished part with insert flush to the part’s surface. (Image courtesy PADT)

Ultrasonic installation also melts the plastic and ends up with the same result, but the process and equipment are quite different. The user (or an automated system) sets the insert in place then lowers an ultrasonic horn directly onto the metal’s surface. Ultrasonic vibrations create frictional heat, again melting the plastic, and the equipment pushes the insert down to a preset depth.

Both methods work, but unless you need the speed of automated assembly, heat-insertion is a simpler and less expensive approach. The equipment for ultrasonic insertion can be expensive, is very loud when operating, and can be harder to control. There’s also the chance that metal chips get generated and stuck in the part.

For more information comparing the two methods, see the in-depth Machine Design article, “Putting inserts in plastic parts: ultrasonic or heat?

Designing CAD Models for Inserts

The key to sizing holes to be insert-ready is to slightly undersize them. Insert datasheets provide diameter and depth information for all the standard sizes, with virtually identical values regardless of brand (one company might list a diameter as 5.2mm and another as 5.23mm but these are negligible differences for this purpose).

Two online resources are SI Inserts for Plastic and the McMaster-Carr insert webpages.

These online charts or diagrams give the minimum hole depth and diameter that must be designed into the CAD model. For tapered inserts, the mounting hole officially has its own taper, but the difference is so minimal that for most cases, a straight hole will grip the insert just fine, as shown in the figure below.

CAD part with straight-walled holes set up for adding M3 inserts (Image courtesy PADT)
Sample CAD part with straight-walled holes set up for adding M3 inserts (Image courtesy PADT)

In print set-up software such as Stratasys Insight, the recommendation is to create four to six contours around each hole that is designated for an insert. This is done by creating a Custom Group under the Toolpath heading, defining the number of contours, and selecting all the relevant holes. When you review the toolpath layer by layer you’ll see those contours show up.

One-Step Insert Set-Up in GrabCAD Advanced FDM Software

For parts printed on many Stratasys FDM printers – from the F170/270/370 Series up through the larger Fortus 380, 450 and 900 models – users can even more quickly prepare their parts for inserts using GrabCAD Print’s Advanced FDM features. Since GrabCAD Print’s set-up software works directly with CAD files, all the feature intelligence is retained, meaning the software recognizes bodies and faces, including the cylindrical sides of a hole.

As long as your part has a hole whose center is in the desired location, GrabCAD does something very cool. It lets you choose an insert from a drop-down menu then automatically resizes that hole to the correct dimensions and reinforces its perimeter with an optimized number of contours. No need to create custom groups, isolate model slices, rebuild tool paths or wonder if you added enough material.

Automated contour-creation around holes for heat-set inserts, created using Stratasys GrabCAD Print software. (Image courtesy PADT)
Automated contour-creation around holes for heat-set inserts, created using Stratasys GrabCAD Print software. (Image courtesy PADT)

Try GrabCAD Print for yourself – it greatly simplifies optimizing the contours and hole-sizing, and makes it easy to evaluate different insert sizes on-the-fly without having to edit the original CAD file.

To learn more about working with inserts in general, GrabCAD Print software and FDM printers and materials, contact the PADT Manufacturing group; get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed, and share your success tips.

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

Optimize Materials Knowledge and Applications with ANSYS Granta – Webinar

Every product is made from materials, and in order to correctly select and apply said materials, decisions need to be based on analysis on the right information. ANSYS Granta software ensures accurate, consistent, traceable materials information every time and provides the tools you need to support design, research and teaching.

This toolkit is divided into three main products, each designed to accomplish a variety of different tasks when it comes to enabling smart material choices:

ANSYS GRANTA MI is the leading system for materials information management in engineering enterprises. A single “gold source” for your organization’s materials IP saves time, cuts costs and eliminates risk.

ANSYS CES Selector is the standard tool for materials selection and graphical analysis of materials properties. A comprehensive materials data library, plus unique software tools enable you to use materials to innovate and evolve your products.

ANSYS Materials Data allows users to gain easy access to the material property data you need for structural analysis, from within ANSYS Mechanical. Find coverage of many important materials classes, save time wasted searching for and converting data and gain greater confidence in your data inputs.

Join PADT’s Application Engineer and ANSYS Granta expert, Robert McCathren for a deep dive into the capabilities of this new release and how you can benefit from applying it in your organization.

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 Things ANSYS 042: Mechanical Updates in ANSYS 2019 R2

 

Published on: July 30th, 2019
With: Eric Miller, Ted Harris, & Joe Woodward
Description:  

In this episode your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Simulation Support Manager & Specialist Mechanical Engineer Joe Woodward to discuss the latest additions and improvements made for structural analysis in ANSYS Mechanical 2019 R2.

If you would like to learn more about what’s available in this latest release check out PADT’s webinar on Mechanical Updates Updates in ANSYS 2019 R2 here: https://bit.ly/2OuGmyP

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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Mechanical Updates in ANSYS 2019 R2 – 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. 

Once again, ANSYS is able to cement their role as industry leaders when it comes to usability, productivity, and reliability; adding innovative functionality to an already groundbreaking product offering. ANSYS structural analysis software continues to be used throughout the industry, and for good reason as it enables engineers to optimize their product design and reduce the costs of physical testing. 

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
  • Topology Optimization
  • Rigid Body Dynamics
  • Post Processing
  • And much more
Natural frequency study of engine block in ANSYS Mechanical

Register Here

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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 Things ANSYS 041: Simulating Additive Manufacturing in ANSYS 2019 R2

 

Published on: July 15th, 2019
With: Eric Miller & Doug Oatis
Description:  

In this episode your host and Co-Founder of PADT, Eric Miller is joined by PADT’s Lead Mechanical Engineer Doug Oatis, to discuss the tools that make up the ANSYS Additive family of products (Additive Suite, Additive Print, & Additive Prep), and how those tools help to make 3D printing more effective and easier to navigate.

If you would like to learn more about what’s available in this latest release check out PADT’s webinar on Additive Manufacturing Updates Updates in ANSYS 2019 R2 here: https://bit.ly/2JHWYxn

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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Five Takeaways from the New User Interface in ANSYS Mechanical 2019 R2

Ten years is a long time in the life of a software product.  While ANSYS itself has been around since the early 1970’s and what is now known as ANSYS Mechanical is approaching 20 years old, the user interface for ANSYS Mechanical maintained the same look and feel from version 12.0 in 2009 through version 2019 R1 in 2019.  That’s 10 years.  Certainly, there were many, many enhancements over that 10 year period, but the look and feel of the Mechanical window remained the same.

With the release of version 2019 R2, the Mechanical user interface has changed to a more modern ‘ribbon’ window, as shown in the red region here:

After having used the new interface for a while, here are 5 takeaways that are hopefully useful:

  1. It’s easy to use.  Sure, it’s different but the overall process is the same with a simulation tree on the left, details to enter and adjust at lower left, graphics in the middle, message, and graphs at the bottom, and the main menus across the top.
  2. ANSYS, Inc. has helped by providing a 12-slide (some animated) usage tips guide which pops up automatically when you launch ANSYS Mechanical 2019 R2.
  • As in the old menu, the ‘Context’ menu changes based on what you have clicked on in the tree.  For example, if you have clicked on the Mesh branch, the Context menu will display meshing controls across the top of the window.
  • As intuitive as the new ribbon interface is, there are some functionalities that you may have trouble finding.  Not to worry, though, as there is a new Search field at upper right that will likely take you to the right place.  Here I am interested in making a section plane for plotting purposes.  My first thought was that it would appear in the Display menu.  When I didn’t find it there, I simply typed in ‘section’ in the search field and the first hit was the right one.

After clicking “Take me there”:

And the resulting section plot:

  • Some capabilities show up in the File menu other than the expected Save and Save As functionality.  For example, Solve Process Settings is now in the File menu.  However, the main functionality is in the Solution context menu, such as using Distributed solutions and specifying the number of cores.

In short, the 2019 R2 improvements to ANSYS Mechanical allow for easier and faster setup of our simulations.  If you haven’t given it a try, we encourage you to do so.

Talking Hydrogen Fuel Cell Blowers for Trucking at the Governor’s House

As we shared in our recent press release, PADT was invited to be one of nine companies presenting at the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Cleantech Challenge. We happily spent the day at the Colorado Governor’s mansion talking and learning about how to make the road transportation of goods with large and small vehicles cleaner and more efficient. As one of nine companies presenting, PADT talked about our custom blower technology for hydrogen fuel cells.

We want to thank both the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA) and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) for hosting such an informative event. We were able to meet people from across the energy and learn about their needs, and give them an opportunity to learn more about PADT.

You can find their blog post here.

Here are some pictures describing how our day went.

The building and grounds at the Colorado Governor’s Mansion are truly beautiful. We spent most of the day in the carriage house in the garden… which I failed to get a picture of.

It was a packed day as can be seen from the agenda. And the list of sponsors was fantastic. We were able to talk with key industry visionaries for more efficient and cleaner commercial vehicle fleets.

One of my favorite things about the site were these very cool napkins they gave us. Nice seal. And, “Executive Residence” sounds so much classier than “the Gov’s House”

We spent most of our day in the green room where they gave us wifi, coffee, power, and a flat surface. So Rob and I set up a portable office. The three blowers we brought with us helped decorate the place.

We can’s share the full presentation, but we can discuss some key slides. They gave us 10 minutes to talk about our solution, then 10 for questions.

The problem is fairly simple. People designing stacks need custom blower solutions because of the hydrogen and the pressure/flow requirements on the air side of a hydrogen fuel cell.

PADT’s proven solution is to design custom blowers to meet very specific needs.

In the end, we just wanted to know that we are excited to see that Hydrogen fuel cells are seeing a resurgence, our blowers are perfect for most applications, and that we would love connections to people who need our solution.

When we were done we went inside the house. Room after room was stunning.

We gave a 2-minute short presentation with this great view behind us.

A great day where we met a lot of great people from around the country. Sadly, PADT didn’t win the competition. The truth is that the challenge was for new and disruptive technology and we talked about proven and enabling solutions. Useful to the sponsors, but not what they were looking for when handing out prizes.

Visiting Colorado in the summer is always a nice break for those of us from Phoenix. We hope to participate in this and related events in the future.

If you have any needs for air our hydrogen blowers for your fuel cell, or any complex engineering for your product, please contact us and we would love to learn how we can help.

History for the future: PADT seals time capsule as part of 25th-anniversary celebration

The past is a tricky thing to remember. When we started preparing for PADT’s 25th anniversary celebration we spent a lot of time thinking about the past, about our journey from an idea to the thriving business we are today. And one though kept coming back to us, “we really should have captured and stored more.”

We can’t change that past but we can preserve our history for the future with a Time Capsule. On July 1st of 2019, we took 49 items and crammed them into a sealed box that we embedded into the wall of PADT’s Tempe headquarters.

You can see a list of all the items at the bottom of this post. Some of the highlights are a copy of our different business card designs over the past 25 years, a collection of PADT logo’d shirts, bits and pieces from our SCA product, parts from various fuel cell blowers, samples of 3D Printed parts, and some old manuals. We also included a collection of tech from the past 25 years including four cell phones of various types.

The most interesting object we stored from our perspective was a binder with documents and images from the past 25 years. Here are some of the items in that binder that are interesting today:

A timeline of PADT Business Cards over the past 25 years. We did think they looked cool back then.
We didn’t take any early photos, but we do have pictures of most of our employee for almost every year since 2000.
Our first report to a customer was a stress analysis for a sprinkler valve housing.
Our staff took a look at the way things were in 1994 and in 2019. Technology, politics, entertainment, and news. A great look back at then and now.

It was a lot of fun gathering the items and thinking about the impact they all had on PADT over the years.

All of that stuff we wanted to save is piled on the cart. A lot of memories.

On Monday we crammed it all in and sealed it up. In 25 years, July 1, 2044, PADT employees, customers, and partners of the future will open it up to see what is inside. That is not too far into the future and with luck, many of us will be around to witness it.

PADT’s founders… 25 years older… Eric Miller, Ward Rand, and Rey Chu
Jeff expertly filled the box full
Co-Founder, Rey Chu puts in the first screw.
Ward Rand adds the second fastener.
Eric Miller tightens everything up.

We wonder what they will make of our past, some of which will be fifty years old by then. Will they laugh? Or scratch their head wondering what the heck a cell phone was? We can’t wait to find out.

Sealed and ready for the future

List of Items in PADT’s Time Capsule

1First official printed PADT Brochure
2Business Card designs - 1994 to present
3Service Partnership Guide - 2000 ver. 1
4Employee Handbook 2019
5Business Journal - Issue: March 1, 2019
6Eric's Honeywell Contractor Badge (2000) - Transition period from Allied Signal to Honeywell
7One of the early company polo shirts - Late 1990's
8PADT Baseball Jersey - 2011 Company Photo
92014 PADT 20th Anniversary t-shirt
1025th Anniversary paper "Swag Bag" - Pen (bamboo), Mousepad (retreaded tire), Sticky Pad, Anniversary t-shirt
11PADT Cap - our most popular swag item. Given to customers and employees started placing in photos of their world travels.
12Ruler giveaways - Clear acrylic from Gilbert office days (1990's) / White magnetic 6" from the mid-2010's
13YoYo - PADT's first swag item - distributed at the Ansys Worldwide User Conference
14Brass PADT logo used for Service Awards (mid-2000's)
1515th PADT Anniversary Cup
16PADT flash drive - 8 GB. Given to customers pre-loaded with files and also blank ones included in our New Hire Kit
17SCA 1200 Users Manual - 2012 rev 3
18SCA Pump Assembly
19SCA Impeller
20APDL Guide - written by the Tech Support Team (2nd Edition) 1st Edition was 2010
21Ansys 5.2 Complete Software Package - 1996
22Cathode air blower housing for fuel cell in municipal buses
23Mixed flow impeller for fuel cell in municipal buses
24Radial Impeller - cathode air blower for fuel cell powered aircraft application
25Roots Blower Rotor - cathode air delivery for a fuel cell
26Regenerative flow impeller - Hydrogen Recycle Blower for fuel cell car
27Fuel Cell Test Block circa 2003 while Rob Rowan was at ASM. History Unknown.
28OrthoSensor - knee replacement alignment sensor designed and developed by PADT
29The Spot - personal location and communication device designed by PADT, which talks directly to a satellite. Case Study Included.
30SLS model of Ward Rand's heel. Broken from ladder fall. (2001)
313D Printed Business Card
32FDM part - Roots Blower Housing - designed by Eric Miller. (1999)
33SLA part - Ryobi Weed Wacker spool (1997)
34Protoype Diffuser in a compressor - designed for the Air Force Research Lab
35PolyJet demo part - the introduction of water PolyJet using various materials printed simultaneously
36PolyJet employee name tag printed for 25th Anniversary event
37First 3D Metal printed part. We were the beta test. (2001)
38Pro-Engineer Manual (1997) - PADT's first CAD package
39Event photo posters made to commemorate PADT25 - originals are 24"x36", gallery framed and hung in office
403" Floppy Disk with Honeywell Ansys Thermal Model files (1996)
41CD Rom - Honeywell Impeller Stress & Vibration Analysis (2002)
42Materialise - Early version of software used to send parts to SLA Machine (1999'ish)
43Motorola i530 Nextel Flip Phone - iDEN's original Push-To-Talk walkie, speakerphone, voice dialing (2004)
44PADT's first Smart Phone - Blackberry 71001 / International with internet access (2005)
45Rey's Blackberry Curve 8310 (2007)
46An employee's old iPhone 6 (2014)
47Macintosh IIVX (Photo) - PADT’s original computer. It was used to create early brochures, design the PADT logo, write letters and reports, and ran our first accounting system for many years.
48Binder of documents
49Team Building Event t-shirts - 2014 & 2015

Automating Subsea Design (or How I Learned to Love Parameters)

In a previous life, I worked in the maritime and offshore energy industries and used ANSYS as part of my daily routine in structural design. I eventually discovered myself in a position where I was designing subsea equipment for use in offshore oil and gas fields. One thing I quickly discovered was that although subsea structures tend to be fairly simplistic looking (think playground equipment…but 10000 feet underwater) there are multiple design factors that can easily cause a domino effect that would require redesign(s). Whether it was a change brought upon by the client, tool manufacturer, or to satisfy the whims of marine warranty companies, there was always a need to evaluate multiple variants of any subsea structure.

Sounds like a very reactive process, right? So how can we bring this process into a more streamlined analysis workflow within ANSYS? Just use parameters with SpaceClaim and ANSYS Mechanical!

So what can parameters do to aid in this process?

  • Remove repetitive tasks
  • Account for geometric changes to CAD models
  • Use a range of values for material properties
  • Create associative connections between CAD models and ANSYS results
  • Allow for automatic goal driven design exploration

Now let’s look at some common use cases for parameters that I’ve run into in the past:

Accelerations for Onboard Equipment and Cargo

Cargo transported on the ocean is subject to the same accelerations that affect the vessel transporting it (surge, sway, heave, pitch, roll, and yaw). These accelerations are then combined into three representative accelerations and applied in multiple loadcases.

Typically, these loadcases are resolved in independent analysis systems but we can remove all that fluff with a simple parameter driven analysis. All one has to do is tag inputs and result items as parameters and then input values for each load case (or Design Point). In this case I have selected the XYZ components of an acceleration input applied to a mass point as well as the total deformation and maximum equivalent stress. With the push of a button ANSYS will then solve all of these design points and will amend the table to show the selected results corresponding with each design point. Results from the Design Points can be uploaded individually but this parametric analysis has made it very easy for us to determine which Design Points / load cases have the greatest influence on the design.

Geometry Influence Study

So one of the questions often asked during the design process is “Will the design work after we change this dimension to compensate for X?” which is often followed by a discussion on robustness (which is then followed by a change order). So let’s skip the discussion middle-man and move to be proactive by using parameters to quantify just how much we can change our geometry before a problem arises.

Here we have an example subsea Pipeline End Termination (PLET) structure and let’s say a client has asked us to verify if this design can work for various pipeline sizes. The PLET has some major parts that can be influenced by this change: The pipeline clamp, cradle, flanges, ball valve, and bulkhead.

Because we can use parameters there’s no need to make a new model. Merely tag items you wish to create parameters for in SpaceClaim:

Then ANSYS Workbench will start to populate its parameter tables accordingly:

We can then make certain parameters dependent on others, or define them via simple expressions. In this way we can enforce clearances and relations between the various bodies in our model.

From here all we have to do is define our variables for our future analyses:

Then tell ANSYS to solve all the design points with a single click. Note that users can create charts and tables before the solve and ANSYS will populate these live during the solution process. Individual design point results and geometries can also be reviewed at any time.

For this particular analysis we provided the same load to each Design Point but a good next step would be to set a goal driven analysis and have a range of loadings on the pipeline end of the PLET to represent various installation conditions.

Parameters are a very powerful tool within the ANSYS toolbox. They can remove repetitive tasks within FEA, easily create loadcases, and address concerns about design robustness by letting ANSYS and SpaceClaim handle CAD model rework.

That’s it for this blog post! I’ll be creating a few offshore industry-specific posts in the future as well so stay tuned!

Simulation for Additive Manufacturing In ANSYS 2019 R2 – Webinar

Additive manufacturing (3D Printing) has been rapidly gaining popularity as a true manufacturing process in recent years. ANSYS’ best-in-class solution for additive manufacturing enables simulation at every step in your AM process, and helps to optimize material configurations, and machine & parts setup before printing begins. 

Through the use of ANSYS tools such as Additive Suite & Additive Print, paired with topology optimization capabilities in ANSYS Mechanical Workbench, the need for physical process of trial-and-error testing has been greatly reduced. 

Join PADT’s Simulation Support and Application Engineer Doug Oatis for an exploration of the ANSYS tools that help to optimize additive manufacturing, and what new capabilities are available within them when upgrading to ANSYS 2019 R2. This presentation includes updates regarding:

  • Archiving materials no longer in use
  • Visualization of AM process
  • AM overhang angles
  • Preview part & support
  • 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!