Marketing is one of those things that we engineers struggle with, and when “inbound marketing” became a thing, we thought it was a just another buzzword. But, after giving it a try, we are fans “How I learned to love inbound marketing” goes over why we think it is a great tool for generating business.
PADT and CEI are teaming up to answer any startup’s questions about engineering and manufacturing for their physical product. Over the years we have found lots of early stage companies who benefited from spending a little bit of time with an experienced product development engineer. Finding time for them to stop by PADT was always difficult to schedule and never seemed worked out. Or we would meet people at events and try and talk in a corner, still not good.
So last month during Phoenix StartupWeek CEI and PADT tried having some time where people could stop by and talk. It went really well for everyone involved, so Design Days was born.
Our first one will be held on April 14, 2016 at CEI’s offices in Phoenix. The idea is simple, you get one hour with an experienced mechanical engineer to talk about whatever you want. We can spend the time talking about:
- Suggestions for how to properly design your product
- Get contacts at local resources that can help you
- Brainstorm solutions to technical problems
- Discuss the weather (it’s your hour)
- Get an idea of what it would take to design and prototype your product
- Answer questions about software and hardware tools you may need
- Bounce ideas off someone new
- Review manufacturing options
- Get advice on the next steps you should be taking
- Or whatever else you want to discuss
You don’t have to be an existing CEI client, a new company or an old one. You just need to want to talk to our engineers.
Sign up for one of the available one hour slots here. Our plan is to do this once a month, and if it works, try some other incubators as well.
Here is some basic information you should be aware of:
- Do not ask for Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). PADT engineers operate under a strict company code of ethics; therefore no additional NDA is required.
- This is meant for companies developing physical products, not software.
- It is open to companies at ANY stage of development, not just startups. Entrepreneurs of any age, including students, are also welcome.
- This is not a discussion about funding nor is it a sales pitch (from either side)
- Do not expect a functioning prototype or design nor will PADT engineers solve your technical problems. To fully engage in PADT’s design, prototyping and simulation services, there will be a cost involved to be agreed upon by both parties.
Learn more about the Navy Sea SBIR Program from Jonathan Leggett, the NAVSEA SBIR Program Manager, about how AZ Manufacturers can use SBIR Grants to assist in funding R&D early stage innovation. Jonathan will also review the Navy’s roadmap on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. There will be 15 minute one-on-one sessions from 1:30 – 4:00 to answer your specific questions with:
- Jonathan Leggett, NAVSEA SBIR Outreach Program Manager
- Dave Garafano, ACA Executive Director of RevAZ
- Jill HowardAllen, ACA Manger of Technology Commercialization & SBIR Programming
Who Should Attend?
- Small to Medium Sized Businesses – (500 or less)manufacturers interested in learning how the SBIR/STTR program may assist them in commercializing their early stage innovation.
- Large & Medium Sized Businesses and/or 3rd Party Investors – Those seeking to partners with the SBIR/STTR small businesses to (a) establish the requirements and specification for the proposed outcomes; and (b) provide financial resources and collaboration for commercializing the results
- University/Institute Faculty and Staff – Those seeking consulting and partnering opportunities with the small business on the SBIR/STTR grant
When: April 7
10:00-12:00 – Navy SBIR Overview & Navy
Additive Manufacturing Technology Roadmap
1:30- 4:00 – 15 Minute 1:1 Sessions with Jonathan Leggett
7755 S Research Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85284
Please Register to Reserve your Spot!
Direct any questions to Jill HowardAllen at JillH@azcommerce.com or call 602 845 1291.
PADT is honored to be hosting the event and taking part in the training.
Meet Ovid. He is a very simple character that we use to explain 3D Printing to kids. Explaining how 3D Printing works to anyone without a technical background can be tough. To help out PADT has created a collection of resources that shows how it is done, including a hands on model for younger kids, that feature Ovid as the object being printed.
Let’s start by getting technical. 3D Printing is a common term for a class of manufacturing methods referred to as Additive Manufacturing. In 3D Printing you take a computer model and you print it out to get a real world three dimensional object. The way we do it is that we slice the computer model into thin layers, then build up material in the 3D printer one layer at a time. Here is a simple GIF showing the most common process:
This is Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM. If a classroom has a 3D Printer it is most likely an FDM printer.
The idea behind these resources is to show the process:
- Start with a 3D Computer model
- Slice it
- Build it one layer at a time
The materials below can be used by parents or teachers to explain things to kids, K-8. Please use freely and share!
This PowerPoint has slides that explain the 3D Printing process and the video is of the slides being presented, with our narration.
Making a Hands-On Ovid
Our fun little plexiglass model of Ovid is an example of a manual 3D printing process. Students can stack up the layers to “3D Print” their own Ovid by hand, reinforcing the layered manufacturing process.
We did everything the same as a real 3D Printer, but instead of automatically stacking the layers, we cut each layer on a laser cutter and the students do the cutting.
Here is a video showing the laser cutting.
And this is a zip file containing the geometry we used to make Ovid in STEP, IGES, Parasolid, and SAT.
To put it all together we created a triangular rod with a base and height that are identical. Figure out the size you need once you have scaled the geometry for your version of Ovid. we glued the rod to a base.
Files for 3D Printing and Other Information
If you have access to a 3D Printer, you can print your own Ovid. Here is an STL and a Parasolid: Ovid-PADT-3D_Printing-1
We also have a video showing how the software for the printer slices the geometry and makes the tool path for each layer:
And to round things out, here is a few minutes of Ovid being made in one of our Stratasys FDM printers:
3-D Printing is having a significant impact on healthcare technology. In “3-D Printing Applications Changing Healthcare” PADT’s Dhruv Bhate gives real world examples of how this technology is enabling never-before-seen breakthroughs.
Have you heard? It’s Pi Day! This post, “5 reasons why nerds celebrate Pi Day” shares the reasons why those of us in the know like Pi day so much.
Thirty-one. That is the number of years that I have been using CAD software. CADAM was the tool, 1985 was the year. As some of our engineers like to point out, they were not even born then.
Twenty-one. that is the number of years that I have been using SolidEdge. This classifies me as an old dog, a very old dog. As PADT has grown the amount of CAD I do has gone way down, but every once in a while I need to get in there and make some geometry happen. I’m usually in a hurry so I just pop in to SolidEdge and without really thinking, I get things done.
Then ANSYS, Inc. had to go and buy SpaceClaim. It rocks. It is not just another solid modeler, it is a better way to create, repair, and modify CAD. I watch our engineers and customers do some amazing things with it. I’m still faster in SolidEdge because I have more years of practice than they have been adults. But this voice in my head has been whispering “think how fast you would be in SpaceClaim if you took the time to learn it.” Then that other voice (I have several) would say “you’re too old to learn something new, stick with what you know. You might break your hip”
I had used SpaceClaim a bit when they created a version that worked with ANSYS Mechanical four or five years ago, but nothing serious. Last month I attended some webinars on R17 and saw how great the tool is, and had to accept that it was time. That other voice be damned – this old dog needs to get comfortable and learn this tool. And while I’m at it, it seemed like a good idea to bring some others along with me.
These posts will be a tutorial for others who want to learn SpaceClaim. Unlike those older tools, it does not require five days of structured training with workshops. The program comes with teaching material and tutorials. The goal is to guide the reader through the process, pointing out things I learned along the way, as I learn them.
A link to the table of contents is here.
The product I’m learning is ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler, a version of SpaceClaim that is built into the ANSYS simulation product suite. There is a stand alone SpaceClaim product but since most of our readers are ANSYS users, I’m going to stick with this version of the tool.
This is what you see when you start it up:
I’ve been using the same basic layout for 20 years, so this is a bit daunting for me. I like to start on a new program by getting to know what different areas of the user interface do. The “Welcome to ANSYS SCDM” kind of anticipates that and gives me some options.
Under “Getting Started” you will see a Quick Reference Card, Introduction, and Tutorials. Open up the Quick Reference and print it out. Don’t bother with it right now, but it will come in handy, especially if you are not going to use SpaceClaim every day.
The Introduction button is a video that gets you oriented with the GUI. Just what we need. It is a lot of information presented fast, so you are not going to learn everything the first viewing, but it will get you familiar with things.
Here I am watching the video. Notice how attentive I am.
Once that is done you should sort of know the basic lay of the land. Kind of like walking into a room and looking around. You know where the couch is, the window, and the shelf on one wall. Now it is time to explore the room.
It is kind of old school, but I like user guides. You can open the SpaceClaim User Guide from the Help line in the “Welcome” window. I leave it open and use it as a reference.
The best place to learn where things are in the interface is to look at the interface section in the manual. It has this great graphic:
The top bit is pretty standard, MS office like. You have your application menu, quick access toolbar, and Ribbon Bar. The Ribbon Bar is where all the operations sit. We used to call these commands but in an object oriented world, they are more properly referred to as operations – do something to objects, operate on them. I’ll come back and explore those later. Over on the left there are panels, the thing we need to explore first because they are a view into our model just like the graphics window.
The Structure Panel is key. This is where your model is shown in tree form, just like in most ANSYS products. In SpaceClaim your model is collection of objects, and they are shown in the tree in the order you added them. You can turn visibility on and off, select objects, and act on objects (using the right mouse button) using the tree. At this point I just had one solid, so pretty boring. I’m sure it will do more later.
Take a look at the bottom of the Structure Panel and you will find some tabs. These give access to Layers, Selection, Groups, and Views. All handy ways to organize and interact with your model. I felt like I needed to come back to these later when I had something to interact with.
TIP: If you are like me, you probably tried to drag these panels around and hosed up your interface. Go to File > SpaceClaim Options (button at the bottom) > Appearance and click the “Reset Docking Layout” button in the upper right of the window. Back to normal.
The options panel changes dynamically as you choose things from the ribbon. If you click on the Design > Line you get this:
And if you click on Pull you get this:
Keeps the clutter down and makes the commands much more capable.
Below that is the Properties Panel. If the Options panel is how you control an operation, then the Properties panel is how you view and control an object in your model. No point in exploring that till we have objects to play with. It does have an appearance tab as well, and this controls your graphics window.
At the bottom is the Status Bar. Now I’m a big believer in status bars, and SpaceClaim uses theirs well. It tells you what is going on and/or what to do next. It also has info on what you have selected and short cut icons for selection and graphics tools. Force yourself to read and use the status bar, big time saver.
The last area of the interface is the graphics window. It of course shows you your geometry, your model. In addition there are floating tools that show up in the graphics window based upon what you are doing. Grrr. #olddogproblem_1. I’m not a fan of these, cluttering up my graphics. But almost all modern interfaces work this way now and I will have to overcome my anger and learn to deal.
For most of the 30+ years that I’ve been doing this CAD thing, I’ve always started with the same object: A block with a hole in it. So that is what we will do next. I have to admit I’m a little nervous.
I’m nervous because I’m a history based guy. If you have used most CAD tools like SolidWorks or ANSYS DesignModeler you know what history based modeling is like. You make a sketch then you add or subtract material and it keeps track of your operations. SpaceClaim is not history based. You operate on objects and it doesn’t track the steps, it just modifies your objects. SolidEdge has done this for over ten years, but I never got up the nerve to learn how to use it. So here goes, new territory.
Things start the same way. But instead of a sketch you make some curves. The screen looks like this when you start:
The default plane is good enough, so I’ll make my curves on that. Under Design>Sketch click on the Rectangle icon then move your mouse on to the grid. You will notice it snaps to the grid. Click in the Upper Left and the Lower Right to make a rectangle then enter 25mm in to each text box, making a 25 x 25 square:
Next we want to make our block. In most tools you would find an extrude operation. But in SpaceClaim they have combined the huge multitude of operations into a few operation types, and then use context or options to give you the functionality you want. That is why the next thing we want to do is click on Pull on the Edit group.
But first, notice something important. If you look at the model tree you will notice that you have only one object in your design, Curves. When you click Pull it gets out of sketch mode and into 3D mode. It also automatically turns your curves into a surface. Look at the tree again.
This is typical of SpaceClaim and why it can be so efficient. It knows what you need to do and does it for you.
Move you mouse over your newly created surface and notice that it will show arrows. Move around and put it over a line, it shows what object will be selected if you click. Go to the inside of your surface and click. It selects the surface and shows you some options right there.
Drag your mouse over the popup menu and you can see that you can set options like add material, subtract material, turn off merging (it will make a separate solid instead of combining with any existing ones), pull both directions, get a ruler, or specify that you are going to pull up to something. For now, we are just going to take the default and pull up.
As you do this the program tells you how far you are pulling. You can type in a value if you want. I decided to be boring and I put in 25 mm. Geometry has been created, no one has been hurt, and I have not lost feeling in any limbs. Yay.
On the status bar, click on the little menu next to the magnifying glass and choose Zoom Extents. That centers the block. Whew. That makes me feel better.
Now for the hole. It is the same process except simpler than in most tools. Click on the circle tool in Sketch. The grid comes back and you can use that to sketch, or you can just click on the top of the block. Let’s do that. The grid snaps up there. To make the circle click in the middle of the grid and drag it out. Put 10 in for the diameter. A circle is born.
Now choose Pull from the Edit section. There is only a Solid now?
SpaceClaim went ahead and split that top surface into two surfaces. Saving a step again.
Click on the circle surface and drag it up and down. If you go up, it adds a cylinder, if you go down, it automatically subtracts. Go ahead and pull it down and through the block and let go. Done. Standard first part created. Use the File>Save command to save your awesome geometry.
That is it for the getting started part. In the next post we will use this geometry to explore SpaceClaim more, now that we have an object to work on. As you were building this you probably saw lots of options and input and maybe even played with some of it. This is just a first look at the power inside SpaceClaim.
Click here for Post 2 where the Pull command is explored.
Online meeting are great. Sharing your work in real time with others makes a huge difference. In “6 tips for conducting a technical meeting over the Internet” we share advice on how to make those online meeting even more productive.
Engineers see the serious problems of climate change, lost habitat, pollution, and sustainability differently. This article, “For tech companies, ‘green’ is all about efficiency, stupid” is about how tech companies need to ignore the rhetoric and noise and focus on using science to produce solutions.
We thought we would open PADT’s doors to families and maybe a few people would stop by. Over 250 people did just that. What a great evening of smiling kids and adults enjoying the excitement of engineering. Exciting engineering? Yes, we know enough to not talk about quality system protocols, matrix inversions, and non-linear turbulence model convergence. We stuck to 3D Printing, elephants on skateboards, and 3D scanners. And we fed everyone pizza.
It was a great evening where everyone learned something. The focus was on exposing what engineers do, what PADT does, to people who may not be technical. Mostly kids but we also saw it as a way for engineers to show their family members and friends what engineering is about. The results far exceeded our expectation, mostly because of how great everyone who showed up was.
Some of the quotes from people who have emailed to thank us are:
“Thank you for opening up your office to me. What a cool place! Even though I have been familiar with and worked with 3D printing for 20+ years, it is always nice to see the new technology, products, and the output of the products. “
“… to see my son and all of the other kids so excited and amazed was truly awesome. Mason told me it was the best night of his life! And this morning his first words to me where thanking me for taking him to the event and when can we go back.”
“This is such a great opportunity for me to show my grandkids what I spent my life doing, and seeing them get so excited about it is wonderful”
The best part of the event for most of us here at PADT were the fantastic questions. As one of our engineers said “for 2 hours I was just lost in the joy of positive human interaction.” We do love what we do here, but it was nice to share it with other people.
Below are some pictures from the evening. Make sure you sign up for PADT’s email list to get invites to future events.
Raising money is critical, but at some point it became what startups were about. In “When did starting a new company become about funding?” I take a look at this phenomenon and offer some reasons why we should focus more on the product or service.
Have you ever thanked an engineer? In this week’s TechFlash post I explore how we live in a world that has been transformed for the better (mostly) by engineers. We are simple creatures who avoid the spotlight… but a thanks you would be nice. When was the last time you thanked an engineer?
Metal Additive Manufacturing, or Metal 3D Printing, is a topic that generates a lot of interest, and even more questions. So we held a webinar on February 9th, 2016 to try and answer the most common questions we encounter. It was a huge success with over 150 people logging in to watch live. But many of you could not make it so we have put the slides and a recording of the webinar out there. Just go to this link to access the information.
The presentation answered the fllowing common questions:
- Who are PADT and Concept Laser?
- How does laser-based metal 3D printing work?
- Are there other ways to 3D print in metal and how do they compare?
- What are the different process steps involved?
- How “good” are 3D printed metal parts?
- What materials and machines do you offer?
- Who uses this technology today?
- What is the value proposition of metal 3D printing for me?
- What can I do after this webinar?
As always, our technical team is available to answer any additional questions you may have. Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 480.813.4884.
The first “opinion” piece for the TechFlash blog of the Phoenix Business Journal. My thoughts on how the trend of ignoring science is harmful: “Flint’s water problem and the dangers of ignoring science“