We have great customers. The kind of cusomers that call up and ask “Hey, what do you think about having a Tesla test drive event for PADt employees” Duh. Yes. Please provide contact information.
Then we thought this was an event better shared with other techno-speed-nerds. The Tempe Tesla show room people liked the idea so we put together an event for our ANSYS and Stratasys customers. (Just another reason to buy from us)
The basic idea was simple, stop on by the PADT parking lot in Tempe and drive a Tesla Model S or Model X, or both. The Tesla people brought along their technical person and the test drive people were also very knowledgable about all the features in the three vehicles they let us drive. The course left the PADT parking lot, drove up to Elliot, then entred to 101, and then get off at Warner or Rey and head back, while the brave Tesla employee tried to keep cool. Especially when Oren was driving.
For many of us, this was the first time we had driven one. Let me just say that the common factor across employees and cusotmers is that everyone had an ear-to-ear grin on their face when they got back from their test drive. These cars are not just fast (large numbers of electrons pushed through big motors equals lots of torque right away) but they are brilliantly engineered. From the user interface, to the seats to, to the suspension. Everything is done right. As a group of engineers that was almost as exciting as the raw power and impecable styling of the cars.
It was a true nerdfest. We spent 10 minutes discussing regenerative breaking schemes and the idea of using regeneration all the time when you lift off the accerator instead of putting your foot on the break to slow down slightly. This is the type of paradigm shift that disrupts around one hundred years of automotive legacy. Why does the accelrator pedal have to be an accelerator pedal. Why can’t it be an input for acceleration and deceleration based on position? We also spent even more time (I’m embarassed to say how long) talking about charging. And then the topic turned to autonomous driving and the sensors used. Good times. Good times.
PADT’s relationships with Tesla actually goes way back. When they were first starting out and were just a handfull of engineers, we provided some ANSYS training and did a consulting job for them on thermal management for an early battery system. So we proudly count them as a happy PADT customer. And of course PADT worked on the large Blink chargers and has supported many companies that are suppliers to tesla.
Did you know that PADT does scanning of parts? No? You are not alone. We recently ran into several customers who were sending their scanning out of state and didn’t know that they could have it done by PADT, someone who is already a trusted partner. So we thought it would be a good time to do an update on our Scanning services and provide some additional background on what it is.
Part Scanning 101
The idea behind part scanning is that you want to take a part in the real world, and get an accurate model in a computer. To do this you somehow measure the part with a computer, getting a three dimensional representation of the parts surface. Today, there are six basic ways to do this:
Physical Measurement (CMM)
Measure points on the part relative to some reference. This is great for measure simple geometry where you can reconstruct it by knowing key dimensions.
This process shines a laser on an object and measures the distance to the object. It does this thousands of times to build up a point array of the surface
Structured Light Scanning
This process puts down a series of parallel lines, or a grid of lines, and measures how far they distort from a flat pattern. With this information it can create a massive amount of points on the objects surface.
Cross Sectional Scanning
If you need to see inside, light based scanning does not work. In cross sectional scanning you machine away thin slices of an object and take an accurate picture of each layer as you go. This can then be turned in to an accurate representation of both the inside and outside of the object.
Another way around the fact that light can not penetrate an object is to use various types of radiation, like X-Rays, that go inside an object. Although new for industrial applications this method is growing for complex parts with internal geometry.
If accuracy is not critical, then software can take pictures taken from dozens of views and reconstruct a 3D shape. This is used most often for art and entertainment, but is not precise enough for engineering yet.
PADT offers Structured Light and Cross Sectional Scanning
All of these methods create points in space. The more sophisticated the software, the more automatic the process of assembling the points to define the surfaces of the full object. These points are sometimes called a “point cloud.”
The Point cloud can them be turned in to a faceted representation of the object. For many people, this is all they need. This faceted representation can be rendered on a computer screen or 3D Printed. It can also be used with inspection software to determine the accuracy of the part relative to its original specification as well as variations across multiple copies of the same geometry.
If users need more, like a full CAD model, that can be created from the point cloud using specialized software. PADT uses Geomagic DesignX. This tool not only creates usable geometry, but it can export in the customer’s native CAD format.
To do accurate part scanning you need:
- A precision scanning device
- Software to take the measured data and create an accurate point cloud. This includes repair and cleanup tools.
- Software to convert the point cloud into a usable 3D CAD model
- or, Software to conduct accurate inspection on the measured geometry.
All of these tools require some training and practice to use efficiently. It is fairly easy to get ball park computer models using consumer level tools. But to get accurate, engineering quality results the right tools and processes must be applied.
Why does Part Scanning Take so Long and Cost So Much?
When people ask for their first part scanning quote, they can often be surprised by the cost. The scanning process doesn’t look that hard. And to be honest, the amount of time you actually spend scanning most parts is pretty short. The time is spent on the preparation, scanning hard-to-reach areas, the clean up, and then converting the data in to usable formats.
If we are working with a light based scanner, we have to prepare the parts so that they reflect the light properly. Sometimes we have to cover the part with a find powder, sometimes we may even have to paint it. What we need is for the reflection and color of the part to not interfere with the scanning.
If we are using cross sectional scanning, the part needs to be cast inside a rigid material, so the part we are scanning does not distort as we remove layers. In addition, if the part is not a solid light or dark color, it may need to be died to provide contrast for the camera.
Both processes also require some study to determine the orientation of the part relative to the scanner and how the scanning process will take place. Once all this is worked out, the scanning often goes very fast. If there are nasty little parts that are hard to get to or that confuse the device, the engineer may have to modify things, do some special localized scanning, or even make castings that are then scanned. As is usual with technical processes, a very small portion of the surface being scanned may take up the vast majority of the scanning time.
Once the scanning is done, the real hard work begins. Although software is much better than it was in the past, the resulting point cloud needs to be massaged and cleaned. Stray data is removed, and points from different scans need to be positioned and combined. Then everything must be checked. If a CAD solid model is needed, then the engineer must spend considerable time dealing with complex features and transition areas. As with the scanning, the bulk of the time spent creating a CAD model is spent on a relatively small percentage of the geometry.
All of this adds up. Plus, to be honest, things rarely go as planned and unexpected issues arise that need to be dealt with.
Part Scanning Services at PADT
Now we get to the important part of this post: hiring PADT to do your scanning. We added this capability to support our 3D Printing customers that wanted copies of physical parts. But as we looked at it, we found that we also had customers who needed inspection and reverse engineering of legacy parts. We studied the problem for some time and found the right tools and people to make it happen.
Our primary scanner is a Zeiss Comet L3D 5M STructured light scanner. It used to be called a Steinbichler, till Zeiss bought them in 2015. Although it is portable and easy to manipulate, the Comet L3D 5M is highly accurate. It allows us to scan everything from small medical devices to the front end of acar, and to know that the resulting geometry will be accurate and usable. This is the best option for inspection and reverse engineering of high-precision parts.
We also have a Geomagic Capture scanner. Although less accurate it is more portable and simpler to operate. It is ideal or taking to a customer and getting geometry for reverse engineering or part copying.
If parts have internal features, and are made of plastic, we use our Cross Sectional Scanners. These high precision devices do a fantastic job and are really the best way to capture inside surfaces. Our customers love it to see how injection molded parts are coming out on well used molds.
If anything else is needed, our experts can outsource to a niche supplier.
Want to do it Yourself?
If you need to do your own scanning, no worries. PADT also sells all the tools we use inhouse to customers that need the capability internally.
Hopefully this posting has answered most of your questions and you are eager to try 3D Part Scanning. The best place to start is to get a quote from PADT. However, if you still have questions then feel free to contact us and fire away. We are passionate bout this capability and love talking about it.
Download our brochure here.
Now that the hype over Pokemon Go and VR headsets has come and gone, its time to take a good hard look at “What does virtual or augmented reality mean for business?” These closely related technologies may change the way we do business and will certainly impact how we educate and train in the future.
Apps have been around for almost 10 years now (I know!) and when you take a step back and look at them, they often reflect the thinking of those early days. That is “Why it may be time to rethink how we think about apps” if your tech company uses apps in any way. The post talks about what makes a good app and what we should be looking for as what is next in mobile applications.
Although February is a short month, we have lots of activities scheduled to talk about new releases from both ANSYS and Stratasys as well as a STEM and Medtech event. Take a look for details below or visit the bottom of our home page to see the latest.
Arizona Science Bowl
|PADT will be attending this great event for middle and high schools. Dr. Bhate will be speaking to the middle school students|
|— Learn more|
2017 Stratasys New Product Launch Webinar
|Stratasys is introduce some new products and you are invited to attend online to learn how once again they will advance 3D Printing to the next level. PADT’s engineers will not just share information about these new systems, they will also explain what we thing is important about each machine and what its new advantages are.|
|— Learn more|
ANSYS 18 – Mechanical APDL & HPC Update Webinar
|ANSYS is rolling out a new version of their entire software platform, and we are offering seminars to help users understand what is new and cool. This first webinar will be focused on ANSYS Mechanical APDL and what is going on way deep under the hood.|
|— Learn more|
AZ Tech Council MedTech
|Medtech has grown a lot in Arizona over the past couple of years, so the Tech Council is putting on an event for everyone involved to get together to network and learn. PADT will have a booth and will be talking about 3D Printing in medical devices. If you are at all involved in medical technology, you should attend.|
|— Learn more|
ANSYS 18 – HPC Licensing Update Webinar
|ANSYS is rolling out a new version of their entire software platform, and we are offering seminars to help users understand what is new and cool. This second webinar will be focused on ANSYS HPC licensing and how that has changed.|
|— Learn more|
Two weeks ago we were part of a fantastic open house at the ASU Polytechnic campus for the grand opening of the Additive Manufacturing Research center, a part of the Manufacturing Research and Innovation Hub. What a great event it was where the Additive Manufacturing community in Arizona gathered in one place to celebrate this important piece in the local ecosystem. A piece that puts Arizona in the lead for the practical application of 3D Printing in industry.
I could go on and on, but better writers by far have penned some great stories on the event and on the lab.
And Hayley Ringle of the Phoenix Business Journal summed it all up, with some great insight into the impact on education and job growth in “See inside the Southwest’s largest 3D printing research facility at ASU”
And last but not least, here are some pictures related to PADT that ASU provided:
Cutting corners rarely pays off, and that is especially true in product development when you skimp on physical or virtual prototyping. In “Why accurate prototypes are important to product development success” I take a look at why accurate prototyping is so important, with some real world lesson learned as examples.
It’s all the rage. “Big Data!” fixes everything. There is a lot of hype around the value of knowing so much about so many things. The problem is very few people have figured out what to do with that data. But leading technology companies like GE are using a proven tool to get value from all that great data. In “How do you get value out of Big Data? Simulation!” I look at how numerical simulation can be used to create digital twins of what your products are doing in the real world, delivering huge benefits today.
PADT’s Manager of Human Resources, Lara Maack contributed a fantastic post to Forbes’ “Grads of LifeVoice” blog with her observations on how young employees in tech can improve their careers. In “Ask Not What Your Career Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your Career” she outlines ten basic steps every young tech worker can take to make the most out of what they have. If you are millennial in the workforce or deal with millennials, it is a useful read.
Not only is it a great article, but PADT’s very own Clinton, Patrick, and Stephen made it in the pictures of PADT’s representative “young employees”
The ANSYS Sales Team at PADT was honored last week when we were recognized four times at the recent kickoff meeting for the ANSYS North American Sales orginization. The most humbling of those trips up to the stage was when PADT was recognized as the North American Channel Partner of the Year for 2016. It was humbling because there are so many great partners that we have had the privilege of worked with for almost 20 years now. Our team worked hard, and our customers were fantastic, so we were able to make strides in adding capability at existing accounts, finding new customers that could benefit from ANSYS simulation tools, and expanding our reach further in Southern California. It helps that simulation driven product development actually works, and ANSYS tools allow it to work well.
Here we are on stage, accepting the award:
We were also recognized two other times; for exceeding our sales goals and for making the cut to the annual President’s Club retreat. As a reminder, PADT sells the full multiphysics product line from PADT in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. This is a huge geographic area with a very diverse set of industries and customers.
In addition, ANSYS, Inc. announced that PADT was one of several Channel Partners who had obtained Elite Certified Channel Partner status. This will allow PADT to provide our customers with better services and gives our team access to more resources within ANSYS, Inc.
Once we made it back from the forests and hills of Western Pennsylvania we were able to get a picture with the full sale team. Great job guys:
We could not have had such a great 2016 without the support of everyone at PADT. The sales team, the application engineers, the support engineers, business operations, and everyone else that pitches in. We look forward to making more customers happy in 2017 and coming back with additional hardware.
Metal 3D Printing is one of the more exciting areas of additive manufacturing, and we are learning a lot about how to safely operate our new system. Our very own Dhruv Bhate, PhD shared those lessons learned in this new video:
The video stresses the importance of keeping an inert environment to keep part quality and to ensure a safe operating environment. Our Concept Laser Metal 3D Printer uses high powered lasers to melt metal powder one layer at a time to build 3D Parts. This process produces soot that is highly flammable.
Dhruv shows the process we use to break the part from the machine, clean the chamber of soot, and replace the filter that captures the soot.
To learn more about PADT and how we can help you with your 3D Printing, product development, or Numerical Simulation needs, please visit www.padtinc.com
Use this link to see all of our blog posts on Metal 3D Printing
Let’s be honest, the mouse and keyboard are outdated interface methods that serve us well, but voice recognition is pretty dang awesome and efficient. In “Voice recognition, the new thing in computing” I write an entire post using voice recognition about the pros and cons of voice recognition. That is almost meta. Please enjoy, it was a fun one to do.
I’ve had enough. The destruction of facts and truth in public and business is not acceptable. The Phoenix Business Journal has allowed me a nice big soap box to rant from as a guest this week on their regular “My View” feature.
Usually I don’t make a direct apeal for anyone to read my musing, let alone share it. Now I am asking you to read “My View: Tech leaders need to take a stand for facts and truth” and if it resonates with you, please share it with others. I believe what I said:
“So what can we do? We must dig our heals in and challenge misinformation, or at least demand supporting facts. We cannot back down when those we call to task use bluster and misdirection to avoid answering our challenge. Call them out on their tactics, don’t accept lies, don’t stoop to their level of name calling, stick to the facts, and stay on topic.”
Thank you for your consideration.
Usually getting coffee is just getting coffee, but a recent trip turned into some deep thoughts on user interface design. “Um, the coffee machine needs more water and 5 rules to improve your user interface design game” explains my encounter with the office caffeine dispenser as well as five key rules that everyone should follow when developing a user interface for a product.