Desktop Engineering: Your Optimization Software Respectfully Suggests a Revision

DE_Logo109x100When Desktop Engineering needed a subject matter expert on Topological Optimization and its use to drive product development, they called on PADT’s Manoj Mahendran.  The article “Your Optimization Software Respectfully Suggests a Revision” gives a great overview of how designs can be driven by the use of Topological Optimization. They also mention a few of the more common tools, and with Manoj’s help, discuss the importance of 3D Printing to the process. An important take away is how these tools can be used to suggest design changes to the designer.

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Christmas Left-Right Gift Exchange Story: Star Wars Adventure

For our Christmas parties at PADT we generally have over 40 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes to long. So a couple of years ago we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. We ran out of stories on the internet, so we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style.  This year, 2015, we had started the day of the party by attending the new Star Wars movie, so the story had to be Star Wars related.

Everyone gets their gift and forms a big circle in the middle of the room.  Someone with a strong voice reads the story and every time the world LEFT is read, everyone passes the package they have to the left. Every time the world RIGHT is read, everyone passes the package they have to their right.  You should pause a bit at each LEFT/RIGHT to give people a chance to pass.

You can find our older stories here

– Fairy Tail Christmas (2014)
– Science Fiction Christmas (2013)
– Romance Christmas (2012)
– Film Noir Christmas (2011)


A long time ago in a galaxy far far, away…

San To Claas is in trouble. Right next to the Right-torna system on the left side of the Galaxy, the planet Northpoliax, in a left hand orbit around the star Leftonia 37, was the galactic hub for all thing Christmas. Gifts left the system right after the planet’s winter solstice. But nothing left on this orbit. Because right above the largest continent on Northpoliax, a Death Star hovered. Threatening Christmas for everyone, no one was left out.

A new Sith lord, Darth Rightis, hated Christmas. All that cheer and spirit left him cold inside. Two much of the light side of the force. Just the thought of all those gifts left for younglings left him angry. But help was right around the corner. A squadron of Xwing fighters was following right behind the Millennium Falcon.

“Arffhhhhdghgg ” said Chewy.

“What? The moon on the left or the one on the right?” Asked Han Solo. Chewy gestured and Hans went to the left.

“Your other left” yelled Princess Leia. Han dived right behind the moon on the left and slingshoted right toward the Death Star, the Xwings right behind them.

The lead pilot said: “Red leader this is blue leader. You take the left side. We will take the left as well, right after you attack, those bastards won’t expect that.”
“Right” Responded blue leader.

Han added: “We will soften up that left side for you. Then let loose the “big present” after both your attacks on the left. The warhead should go right in and end this madness. “

As they approached the Millennium Falcon put covering fire to the right, then veered to the right, leaving the left open. The Xwings attacked, diving right into the slot and trying not to hit either side, the left or the right. The first attack on the left left the defenses damaged. The second attack on the left was right on target. That left the run of the Millennium Falcon. It released a plasma bomb that was wrapped in a big red package, with a bow right on top. As Han pulled up and to the left, and then the right, the warhead exploded right on inside of the main power coupler. Chewy, sitting in the right seat, bellowed in victory as the Death Star exploded right under them. As the debris clears a hologram image appeared right in the middle of the cabin.

It showed Admiral San To Clause, wearing his red uniform with white fur epilets on the right and left shoulders.

“Thank you all for coming right when we needed you. Right now, Christmas is saved and the dark side is left with one less Sith Lord. May the force, be right with you. And Merrrrrry Christmas to all!

Arizona Chief Science Officers Design Their Own 3D Printed Name Badges

az-scitech-cso-badges-3d-printed-0The Chief Science Officer program is a program for 6th-12th grade students to represent their school in STEM. And what better way is there for them to identify themselves then with 3D Printed name badges?  The program’s sponsors, the AZ SciTech Festival offer a training retreat for the kids who get elected as their school’s CSO and we all thought introducing design and 3D Printing would be a great activity.

As part of the 2015 Fall CSO Institute, PADT’s Jeff Nichols joined local designer and artist John Drury to spend some time with the kids explaining how to work with logos and shapes to convey an idea, and how to design for 3D Printing.  The kids worked out their own design and sent it to PADT for printing.

We converted their sketch into a 3D Model, starting in Adobe Illustrator. The sketch was traced with vector geometry and then a generic name was added. This was then copied 144 times and each name was typed in, with a few extras. This step was the only boring part.

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The design worked great because it is a simple extrusion with no need for support material.    The outline of their names were exported as DXF from Illustrator and then imported onto the 3D Model and extruded up to make a solid model of a badge. This was then copied to make a badge for each student. Then the names were imported and extruded on the patterned badges.

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The was a simple extrusion for each feature, allowing for contrast and readability but keeping things simple.
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This project was a great opportunity to use both patterns and importing 2D drawings. By laying everything out in a grid, we only had to make one badge and copy that. Then import the names and extrude those on the patterned badges.

STL files were then made and sent off to one of our Stratasys FDM 3D Printers. The FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) process extrudes an ABS plastic filament, and you can change material during the build. So, to add a bit of contrast, we changed the filament color after the base of the design was done, making the logo and student names stand out.  The final results came out really nice.

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This is what they look like right out of the machine. We swapped out two color for each build. With some clever packing, we were able to get 12 badges on each platform.
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The final products really stand out.

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This project was a lot of fun because we were able to work with the students. They got what John and Jeff taught them and did a great job.  We know they will be placed with pride on back backs and jackets across Arizona.

To learn more about the CSO program, visit their website: http://chiefscienceofficers.org/ Check out the blog.  Some of these kids can really write well and their insight into Science, Technology, Math, and Education is insightful.

Star Wars – The Force Awakens with PADT

padt-star-wars-vii-5For an engineer, there are certain TV and Movie experiences that border on the religious – Star Wars is of course one of those.  That is why PADT’s main office in Tempe closed down today to head down the freeway to the Chandler to see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

Around 370 employees, family members, friends, vendors, former employees, and customers showed up for the 10:00 am showing.  We were confident that JJ Abrams would do a great job, because he did so well with an even more important franchise to PADT, Star Trek.  We were not disappointed.  There were cheers, there was laughter, and several of us confessed in the lobby afterwards that we teared up a bit.  A true treat.

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We had a 410 seat theater and about 350 RSVP’s . So we got a bit nervous as the seats filled up. We did get more unexpected people then we cancellations, but we had plenty of room and the more the merrier. Bottom line, the first two rows were empty. So prefect.

I want to thank Josh Heaps here for putting it all together and for dealing with our constantly asking him about when and where it was and how many seats the theater had.

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My friend Ryan, one of AZ’s biggest Star War fans, and our fantastic V.P from Chase, Camille, were great sports who dressed up and posed for pictures. Not only does Camille constantly help make our banking a great experience, she jumps right in with our engineering fun.

This is also a great venue to thank our customers and vendors for coming and for bringing your families.  We don’t get to see many of you often enough, and rarely outside of a meeting or a phone call.  Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face after the movie was, as they say, worth the price of admission.

May the Force Be With You

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That Opening Logo that We have All Been Waiting a Long Time to See.

Activating Hyperdrive in ANSYS Simulations

punch-it-chewie-ansysWith PADT and the rest of the world getting ready to pile into dark rooms to watch a saga that we’ve been waiting for 10 years to see, I figured I’d take this opportunity to address a common, yet simple, question that we get:

“How do I turn on HPC to use multiple cores when running an analysis?”

For those that don’t know, ANSYS spends a significant amount of resources into making the various solvers it has utilize multiple CPU processors more efficiently than before.  By default, depending on the solver, you are able to use between 1-2 cores without needing HPC licenses.

With the utilization of HPC licenses, users can unlock hyperdrive in ANSYS.  If you are equipped with HPC licenses it’s just a matter of where to look for each of the ANSYS products to activate it.

ANSYS Mechanical

Whether or not you are performing a structural, thermal or explicit simulation the process to activate multiple cores is identical.

  1. Go to Tools > Solve Process Settings
  2. The Solve Process Settings Window will pop up
  3. Click on Advanced to open up the Advanced Settings window
  4. You will see an option for Max number of utilized cores
  5. Simply change the value to your desired core count
  6. You will see below an option to allow for GPU acceleration (if your computer is equipped with the appropriate hardware)
  7. Select the GPU type from the dropdown and choose how many GPUs you want to utilize
  8. Click Ok and close
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Go the proper settings dialog
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Choose Advanced…
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Specify the number of cores to use

Distributed Solve in ANSYS Mechanical

One other thing you’ll notice in the Advanced Settings Window is the option to turn “Distributed” On or Off using the checkbox.

In many cases Distributing a solution can be significantly faster than the opposite (Shared Memory Parallel).  It requires that MPI be configured properly (PADT can help guide you through those steps).  Please see this article by Eric Miller that references GPU usage and Distributed solve in ANSYS Mechanical

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Turn on Distributed Solve if MPI is Configured

ANSYS Fluent

Whether launching Fluent through Workbench or standalone you will first see the Fluent Launcher window.  It has several options regarding the project.

  1. Under the Processing Options you will see 2 options: Serial and Parallel
  2. Simply select Parallel and you will see 2 new dropdowns
  3. The first dropdown lets you select the number of processes (equal to the number of cores) to use in not only during Fluent’s calculations but also during pre-processing as well
Default Settings in Fluent Launch Window
Default Settings in Fluent Launch Window
Options When Parallel is Picked
Options When Parallel is Picked

ANSYS CFX

For CFX simulations through Workbench, the option to activate HPC exists in the Solution Manager

  1. Open the CFX Solver Manager
  2. You will see a dropdown for Run Mode
  3. Rather than the default “Serial” option choose from one of the available “Parallel” options.
  4. For example, if running on the same machine select Platform MPI Local Parallel
  5. Once selected in the section below you will see the name of the computer and a column called Partitions
  6. Simply type the desired number of cores under the Partitions column and then either click “Save Settings” or “Start Run”
Change the Run Mode
Change the Run Mode
Specify number of cores for each machine
Specify number of cores for each machine

ANSYS Electronics Desktop/HFSS/Maxwell

Regardless of which electromagnetic solver you are using: HFSS or Maxwell you can access the ability to change the number of cores by going to the HPC and Analysis Options.

  1. Go to Tools > Options > HPC and Analysis Options.
  2. In the window that pops up you will see a summary of the HPC configuration
  3. Click on Edit and you will see a column for Tasks and a column for Cores.
  4. Tasks relate to job distribution utilizing Optimetrics and DSO licenses
  5. To simply increase the number of cores you want to run the simulation on, change the cores column to your desired value
  6. Click OK on all windows
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Select the proper settings dialog
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Select Edit to change the configuration
Specify Tasks and Cores
Specify Tasks and Cores

There you have it.  That’s how easy it is to turn on Hyperdrive in the flagship ANSYS products to advance your simulations and get to your endpoint faster than before.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the possibility of upgrading your ship with Hyperdrive (HPC capabilities) please feel free to call us at 1-800-293-PADT or email us at support@padtinc.com.

New Enhancements to Flownex 2015: Even Better Fluid-Thermal Simulation

987786-flownex_simulation_environment-11_12_13The developers of Flownex have been hard at work again and have put out a fantastic update to Flownex 2015.  These additions go far beyond what most simulation programs include in an update, so we thought it was worth a bit of a blog article to share it with everyone.  You can also download the full release notes here: FlownexSE 2015 Update 1 – Enhancements and Fixes

What is Flownex?

Some of you may not be familiar with Flownex. It is a simulation tool that models Fluid-Thermal networks.  It is a 1-D tool that is very easy to use, powerful, and comprehensive. The technology advancements delivered by Flownex offer a fast, reliable and accurate total system and subsystem approach to simulation that complements component level simulation in tools like ANSYS Fluent, ANSYS CFX, and ANSYS Mechanical.  We use it to model everything from turbine engine combustors to water treatment plants. Learn more here

Major Enhancements

A lot went in to this update, much hidden behind the scenes in the forms of code improvements and fixes.  There are also a slew of major new or enhanced features worth mentioning.

Shared Company Database

One of the great things about Flownex is that you can create modeling objects that you drag and drop into your system model. Now you can share those components, fluids, charts, compounds, and default settings across your company, department, or group.    There is no limit on the number of databases that are shared and access can be controlled. This will allow users to reuse information across your company.

Shared Database
Shared Database

Static Pressure Boundary Conditions

In the past Flownex always used a total pressure boundary condition. Based on user requests, this update includes a new boundary condition object that allows the user to specify the static pressure as a boundary condition. This is useful because many tests of real hardware only provide static pressure. It is also a common boundary condition in typical rotational flow fields in turbo machinery secondary flow.

Subdivided Cavities

Another turbo machinery request was the ability to break cavities up into several radial zones, giving a more accurate pressure distribution in secondary flow applications for Rotor-Rotor and Rotor-Stator cavities.  These subdivisions can be automatically created in the radial direction by Flownex.

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Subdivided Cavity Input Dialog

Excel Input Sheets and Parameter Tables

The connection between Microsoft Excel and Flownex has always been strong and useful, and it just get even better.  So many people were connecting cells to their Flownex model parameters that the developers decided to directly connect the two programs so the user no longer has to establish data connection links.  Now an properties in Flownex can be hooked to a cell in Excel.

The next thing users wanted was the ability to work with tables of parameters, so that was added as well.  The user can hook a table of values in Excel to Flownex parameters and then have Flownex solve for the whole table, even returning resulting parameters.  This makes parametric studies driven from Excel simple and powerful.

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Excel Parameter Tables

Component Enhancements

Users can now create component defaults and save them in a library. This saves time because in the past the user had to specify the parameters for a given component. Now thy just drag and job the existing defaults into their model.

Compound components have also been enhanced by the development team so you no loner have to restart Flownex when you move, export, or import a compound component.

Find Based on Property Values

Users can now search through properties on all the objects in their model based on the value assigned to those properties.  As an example, you can type > 27.35 to get a list of all properties with an assigned value that is larger than 27.35.  This saves time because the user no longer has to look through properties or remember what properties were assigned.

Network Creation through Programming

Users can now write programs through the API or scripting tool to build their network models. This will allow companies to create vertical applications or automate the creation of complex networks based on user input. Of all the enhancements in this update, this improvement has the potential to deliver the greatest productivity improvements.

Automatic Elevations Importing in GIS

Users who are specifying flow networks over real terrain can now pull elevation data from the internet, rather than requiring that the data be defined when the network is specified. This enhancement will greatly speed up the modeling of large fluid-thermal systems, especially when part of the simulation process is moving components of the system over terrain.

Multiple Fluid Interface Component

A very common requirement in fluid-thermal systems is the ability to model different fluids or fluid types and how they interact. With this update users can now model two separate fluid networks and define a coupling between the two. The mass balance and resulting pressure at the interface is maintained.

Static Condition Calculation Improvements

Many simulation require an accurate calculation of static pressures. To do this, the upstream and downstream areas and equivalent pipe diameters are needed to obtain the proper values.  Many components now allow upstream and downstream areas to be defined, including restrictors and nozzles.

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Dialog for upstream and downstream area specification

Scaled Drawing

The ability to create a scale 2-Dimensional drawing was added to Flownex. The user can easily add components onto an existing scaled drawing that is used as a background image in Flownex. These components will automatically detect and input lengths based on the drawing scale and distance between nodes. This results in much less time and effort spent setting up larger models where actual geometric sizes are important.

Scaled Drawing Tools
Scaled Drawing Tools

How do I Try this Out?

As you can see by the breadth and depth of enhancements, Flownex is a very capable tool that delivers on user needs.  Written and maintained by a consulting company that uses the tool every day, it has that rare mix of detailed theory and practical application that most simulation engineers crave.  If you model fluid-thermal systems, or feel you should be simulating your systems, contact Brian Duncan at 480.813.4884 or brain.duncan@padtinc.com. We can do a quick demo over the internet and learn more about what your simulation needs are.  Even if you are using a different tool, you should look at Flownex, it is an great tool.

Stuff I Learned about Injection Molding with 3D Printed Tooling

3DPrinting-Injection-Molding-Pic-StauberMaking injection molding tools using 3D Printing has been a long term goal for the industry.  I knew the technology had advanced recently, but was really not aware how far it had come until I attended two seminars in Utah on the subject. In this post I’ll share what I learned, and share some content that goes into greater detail.

The Seminars

The reason for my update on this subject was a visit to PADT’s Utah office.  Our two people there, Anthony Wagoner (sales) and James Barker (engineering), told me they were doing a seminar on injection molding and I should go. I figured why not, I’m in town. Maybe I’ll meet a couple of customers.  Almost 30 people showed up to the Salt Lake Community College Injection Molding lab for the event.  Gil Robinson from Stratasys presented a fantastic overview (included in the download package) on where the technology is, how to apply it, and gave some great real world examples.  There were some fantastic questions as well which allowed us to really explore the technology

 

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Then the best part happened when we walked into the shop and saw parts being made right there on the machine. They had recently printed a tool and were shooting polypropylene parts while we were in the classroom next door. During the hour long presentation, Richard Savage from ICU Medical was able to fine-tune the injection molding machine and good parts were popping out. As you can imagine, what followed next was they type of discussion would expect with  a room full of injection molding people. “What material? How hot? What pressure? What is the cooling time? Do you use compressed air to cool it? Not a lot of flash, how hard are you clamping it? These features here, what draft did you need?”  Good stuff.  I got caught up in everything and forgot to grab some pictures.

I learned so much at that event that I decided to head north along the Wasatch Range to Clearfield and the Davis Applied Technology College.  About the same number of people were able to make it from medical, aerospace, and consumer products companies in Northern Utah.  Gil presented the same material, but this time we got some different questions so I learned a bit more about material options and some other lessons learned.

Then we visited their lab where I did remember to take some pictures:

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Here is a shot of different shots that Jonathan George from DATC did to dial in the parameters.  It took him about an hour, not bad for the first time using a 3D Printed tool.

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The part is actually a clam shell assembly for Christmas lights, in the shape of a snow flake. Here is what they look like on the tree itself. IMG_8235

And here is a video they made showing the process. He was able to get 950 shots out of the tool.

In talking to attendees at both events I learned of several great applications that they were going to try, varying from medical devices for clinical trials to making rubber masking tools for surface treatments. The injection molding community in Utah is very sophisticated and forward thinking.

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What I Learned

I’ll spare you the details on what we had for dinner Monday night for the Utah office holiday celebration and jump right in to what I learned.

  1. For  the right applications, you can get some very nice parts from 3D Printed tools
  2. You do need to take the process in to account and oriented the tools facing upward in the machine, add a bit more draft than usual, and keep your pressures and temperature down when compared to metal tools.
  3. For some parts, you can get over 1,000 shots from a tool, but most poeple are getting a couple of hundred parts.
  4. As with any injection molding, the magic is in the tool design and setting up the right parameters on the injection molding press.
  5. Tricky parts can be made by using metal inserts
  6. Some machining may be required on your 3D printed tool to get it just right, but that is mostly reaming holes for ejector pins and metal inserts
  7. Plastic is an insulator (duh) so plastic tools have to be cooled more slowly and with air.
  8. Conformal cooling is a great idea, but some work still needs to be done to get it to work.
  9. The mold usually fails during part ejection, so using mold release, good draft, and proper design can reduce the loading during ejection and get more parts from the tool.
  10. The material of choice for this is DigitalABS on Stratasys Connex Machines.

There was a ton more, and you can find most of it in the download package.

The big take-away from both events was that this technology works and it really does allow you to create an injection molding tool in a couple of hours on a 3D Printer. In the time it normally takes to just get the order figured out for a machined tool (RFQ, Quote, Iterate, PO, etc…) you can have your parts.

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Next Steps

Interested in trying this out yourself or learning more?  We have put together an injection molding package with the following content:

  • Polyjet Injection Molding Application Brief
  • 18 Page Polyjet Injection Molding Technical Guide
  • 12 Page White Paper: Precision Prototyping – The Role of 3D Printed Molds in the Injection Molding Industry
  • 3D Printed Injection Molding Application Guide from PADT and Stratasys
  • Presentation from Seminars
  • List of Relevant Videos
  • Four Real World Case Studies
  • Link List for Other Resources  on the Web

We have spent some time putting all this information in one place and put it into one convenient ZIP file.  Please click here to download this very useful content.

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Seminar: Additive Manufacturing & the Honeywell Global Initiative

honeywell-speachDonald Godfrey, Honeywell Engineering Fellow for Additive Manufacturing will be presenting a seminar at Arizona State University on the status of metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) within the company worldwide.  This live event, being held at the ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona, will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how this exciting technology is used in the real world to change the way aerospace parts are designed and made.

Download the PDF:  Honewell-additive-asu-1, to learn more.

GCOI 2015 – Celebrating Arizona’s Technology Community

gcoi_iconFor those of us that are part of the Arizona Technology community, the official kickoff of holiday and end of year celebrations is the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, or GCOI.  A who’s who of key people from startups to large aerospace firms gather at the convention center to recognize students, academicians, companies, and individuals who have had a significant impact on the State’s high tech industries.  This is always a special evening for PADT because many of the attendees, and usually a few of the award winners, are our customers.

In fact, for 2015 we are proud to congratulate the following long time PADT customers who were recognized last night:

  • Medtronic Tempe Campus for Innovator of the Year, Large Company
  • Raytheon Missile Systems for winning the Pioneering Award
  • ASU’s Michael Crow, the OneNeck IT Services People’s Choice Lifetime Achievement Award winner (ASU is a large PADT customer… so we feel Dr. Crow is our customer as well.)

You can find a full list of winners and some great pictures  from the event in Tishin Donkersley’s article at AZ Tech Beat.

This fantastic event is put on by the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority.  For those that were there: Mac & Cheese bar FTW.

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About the Awards

As in past years, PADT was honored to be able to fabricate the awards that were handed out. This year we used the overall design for the event, created by Atom, as our starting point. We used our Stratasys FDM printers to make the stair steps and “tech guy silhouette” The graphics are then printed on large stickers that are adhered to the back of an Arizona’ish shaped piece of plexiglass.

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The PADT Booth

This year we decided to not bring a 3D Printer and instead focus on parts made on a wider variety of printers. The hit for visitors were the metal parts that were made on ConceptLaser Direct Laser Melting systems.  In addition we got to talk about the great work that our product development team did for GlobalStar on the Spot devices and Orthosensor for their intelligent orthopedic sensors. We even had a few simulation people come by to talk ANSYS.

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Hopefully you had a chance to talk with Andrew Miller, Kathryn Pesta, or Mario Vargas. If you missed us and want to know more about PADT, what we do, or the Arizona Technology Community, reach out and we will be happy to chat.

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Video: Automated Test Fixture for Biopsy Device

biobsy-test-fixture-1How do you figure out when and why a product is failing?  When the failure is due to repetitive operation the only practical way is to build a machine that operates the product over and over again. Designing, building, and running this type of device is one of the many services that PADT offers its customers.

The video below is an example of how PADT’s Medical Device team developed an automated text fixture for a customer that needed to understand the failure mechanisms of a biopsy device. The fixture was designed to operate the device, repeating field operations, and capture behavior over time with the goal of capture which components failed, the nature of each failure, and the nature of each failure.

The apparatus repeats four operations that constitute one operation of the device. Video is used with a counter to determine when a failure occurred and how. The project brought together test, controls, and mechanical design engineers. It also utilized PADT’s in-house 3D Printing and machining capability.

This is also a perfect example of how a customer can hand over an entire project that they need done, but don’t have the resources to do in-house. PADT’s team created the test specification, designed the hardware, conducted the tests, and delivered actionable information to the customer.

If you have a project you do not have the resources to complete in-house, consider having our engineers take a look at it to see how we can help.

2015 PADT Pumpkin Fest and Launch

padt-pumpkin-lunch-1Every year around the end of October PADT has our holiday season kick-off event, our Pumpkin Fest and Launch.  This year we also added in a company meeting, killing three birds with one pumpkin.

The weather was fantastic, and we all enjoyed sitting outside in the sun under a clear blue sky.  Our pumpkin catapult, recently improved, was then rolled out for some pumpkin chunkin’ fun.

Thanks to the folks at Tech Shop Chandler we had a redesigned basket for the pumpkins to go in. Their industrial sewing machine was a perfect tool to make something strong enough.  Her are some picture below that I took with my phone, we will add video next week.

Manoj M won on distance, and Jeff McK took the prize for accuracy.

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The PADT Pumpkin cataPult ready to go.
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Ted shows good form while striving for accuracy
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The only change to this years design was a better basket made with industrial fabric on an industrial sewing machine from Tech Shop

7 Reasons why ANSYS AIM Will Change the Way Simulation is Done

ANSYS-AIM-Icon1When ANSYS, Inc. released their ANSYS AIM product they didn’t just introduce a better way to do simulation, they introduced a tool that will change the way we all do simulation.  A bold statement, but after PADT has used the tool here, and worked with customers who are using it, we feel confident that this is a software package will drive that level of change.   It enables the type of change that will drive down schedule time and cost for product development, and allow companies to use simulation more effectively to drive their product development towards better performance and robustness.

It’s Time for a Productivity Increase

AIM-7-old-modelIf you have been doing simulation as long as I have (29 years for me) you have heard it before. And sometimes it was true.  GUI’s on solvers was the first big change I saw. Then came robust 3D tetrahedral meshing, which we coasted on for a while until fully associative and parametric CAD connections made another giant step forward in productivity and simulation accuracy. Then more recently, robust CFD meshing of dirty geometry. And of course HPC improvements on the solver side.

That was then.  Right now everyone is happily working away in their tool of choice, simulating their physics of choice.  ANSYS Mechanical for structural, ANSYS Fluent for fluids, and maybe ANSYS HFSS for electromagnetics. Insert your tool of choice, it doesn’t really matter. They are all best-in-breed advanced tools for doing a certain type of physical simulation.  Most users are actually pretty happy. But if you talk to their managers or methods engineers, you find less happiness. Why? They want more engineers to have access to these great tools and they also want people to be working together more with less specialization.

Putting it all Together in One Place

AIM-7-valve2-multiphysicsANSYS AIM is, among many other things, an answer to this need.  Instead of one new way of doing something or a new breakthrough feature, it is more of a product that puts everything together to deliver a step change in productivity. It is built on top of these same world class best-in-bread solvers. But from the ground up it is an environment that enables productivity, processes, ease-of-use, collaboration, and automation. All in one tool, with one interface.

Changing the Way Simulation is Done

Before we list where we see things changing, let’s repeat that list of what AIM brings to the table, because those key deliverables in the software are what are driving the change:

  • IAIM-7-pipe-setupmproved Productivity
  • Standardized Processes
  • True Ease-of-Use
  • Inherent Collaboration
  • Intuitive Automation
  • Single Interface

Each of these on their own would be good, but together, they allow a fundamental shift in how a simulation tool can be used. And here are the seven way we predict you will be doing things differently.

1) Standardized processes across an organization

The workflow in ANSYS AIM is process oriented from the beginning, which is a key step in standardizing processes.  This is amplified by tools that allow users, not just programmers, to create templates, capturing the preferred steps for a given type of simulation.  Others have tried this in the past, but the workflows were either too rigid or not able to capture complex simulations.  This experience was used to make sure the same thing does not happen in ANSYS AIM.

2) No more “good enough” simulation done by Design Engineers

Ease of use and training issue has kept robust simulation tools out of the hands of design engineers.  Programs for that group of users have usually been so watered down or lack so much functionality, that they simply deliver a quick answer. The math is the same, but it is not as detailed or accurate.  ANSYS AIM solves this by give the design engineer a tool they can pick up and use, but that also gives them access to the most capable solvers on the market.

3) Multiphysics by one user

Multiphysics simulation often involves the use of multiple simulation tools.  Say a CFD Solver and a Thermal Solver. The problem is that very few users have the time to learn two or more tools, and to learn how to hook them together. So some Multiphysics is done with several experts working together, some in tools that do multiple physics, but none well, or by a rare expert that has multi-tool expertise.  Because ANSYS AIM is a Multiphysics tool from the ground up, built on high-power physics solvers, the limitations go away and almost any engineer can now do Multiphysics simulation.

AIM-7-study4) True collaboration

The issues discussed above about Multiphysics requiring multiple users in most tools, also inhibit true collaboration. Using one user’s model in one tool is difficult when another user has another tool. Collaboration is difficult when so much is different in processes as well.  The workflow-driven approach in ANSYS AIM lends itself to collaboration, and the consistent look-and-feel makes it happen.

5) Enables use when you need it

This is a huge one.  Many engineers do not use simulation tools because they are occasional users.  They feel that the time required to re-familiarize themselves with their tools is longer than it takes to do the simulation. The combination of features unique to ANSYS AIM deal with this in an effective manner, making accurate simulation something a user can pick up when they need it, use it to drive their design, and move on to the next task.

6) Stepping away from CAD embedded Simulation

The growth of CAD embedded simulation tools, programs that are built into a CAD product, has been driven by the need to tightly integrate with geometry and provide ease of use for the users who only occasionally need to do simulation. Although the geometry integration was solved years ago, the ease-of-use and process control needed is only now becoming available in a dedicated simulation tool with ANSYS AIM.

7) A Return to home-grown automation for simulation

AIM-7-scriptIf you have been doing simulation since the 80’s like I have, you probably remember a day when every company had scripts and tools they used to automate their simulation process. They were extremely powerful and delivered huge productivity gains. But as tools got more powerful and user interfaces became more mature, the ability to create your own automation tools faded.  You needed to be a programmer. ANSYS AIM brings this back with recording and scripting for every feature in the tool, with a common and easy to use language, Python.

How does this Impact Me and or my Company?

It is kind of fun to play prognosticator and try and figure out how a revolutionary advance in our industry is going to impact that industry. But in the end it really does not matter unless the changes improve the product development process. We feel pretty strongly that it does.  Because of the changes in how simulation is done, brought about by ANSYS AIM, we feel that more companies will use simulation to drive their product development, more users within a company will have access to those tools, and the impact of simulation will be greater.

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To fully grasp the impact you need to step back and ponder why you do simulation.  The fast cars and crazy parties are just gravy. The core reason is to quickly and effectively test your designs.  By using virtual testing, you can explore how your product behaves early in the design process and answer those questions that always come up.  The sooner, faster, and more accurately you answer those questions, the lower the cost of your product development and the better your final product.

Along comes a product like ANSYS AIM.  It is designed by the largest simulation software company in the world to give the users of today and tomorrow access to the power they need. It enables that “sooner, faster, and more accurately” by allowing us to change, for the better, the way we do virtual testing.

The best way to see this for yourself is to explore ANSYS AIM.  Sign up for our AIM Resource Kit here or contact us and we will be more than happy to show it to you.

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Free ANSYS AIM Resource Kit — Expert Advice, Insights and Best Practices for Multiphysics Simulation

ANSYS-AIM-Icon1We have been talking a lot about ANSYS AIM lately.  Mostly because we really like ANSYS AIM and we think a large number of engineers out there need to know more about it and understand it’s advantages.  And the way we do that is through blog posts, emails, seminars, and training sessions.  A new tool that we have started using are “Resource and Productivity Kits,” collections of information that users can download.

Earlier in the year we introduced several kits, including ANSYS Structural, ANSYS Fluids, and ANSYS ElectroMechanical.  Now we are pleased to offer up a collection of useful information on ANSYS AIM.  This kit includes:

  • “Getting to know ANSYS AIM,” a video by PADT application engineer Manoj Mahendran
  • “What I like about ANSYS AIM,” a video featuring insights on the tool
  • Six ANSYS AIM demonstration videos, including simulations and a custom template demonstration
  • Five slide decks that provide an overview of ANSYS AIM and describe its new features
  • An exclusive whitepaper on effectively training product development engineers in simulation.

You can download the kit here.

If you need more info, view the ANSYS AIM Overview video or read about it on our ANSYS AIM page.

Watch this blog for more useful content on AIM in the future.


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3D Printing – A 2D Explainer from Shapeways

shapeways_3d_printing_headerWhat is this 3D Printing anyway?  It doesn’t take long for someone new to the technology to see the wide range of applications and implications it brings to the table.  But what how does it actually work. Our friends at Shapeways have put together a great infographic that explains things well.

Take a look and share:

shapeways_3d_printing_v3_optimized

If you scrolled down this far, you may be asking, “Why is PADT sharing Shapeways material? Are they not competitors?”  Well, to be honest, we recommend Shapeways to people all the time. Our Additive Manufacturing business is about producing engineering prototypes, tooling, and end-use products for manufacturing companies. When a hobbiest or artist comes to ask us for a prototype, we often recommend that they go visit Shapeways.

We also recommend that people who are interested in all the non-engineering applications for 3D Printing check out their marketplace. The things that people have come up with is just amazing and shows the unbounded potential of this technology.

Presentation: Leveraging Simulation for Product Development of IoT Devices

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Yours truly going over the impact of Simulation on IoT Product Development

The local SEMI chapter here in Arizona held a breakfast meeting on Monetizing Internet of Things (IoT) and PADT was pleased to be one of the presenters. Always a smart group, this was a chance to sit with people making the sensors, chips, and software that enable the IoT and dig deep in to where things are and where they need to be.

The event was hosted by one of our favorite customers, and neighbor right across the street, Freescale Semiconductor.  Speakers included IoT experts from Freescale, Intel, Medtronics, ASU, and SEMICO Research.

Not surprisingly I talked about how Simulation can play a successful role in product development of IoT devices.

You can download a copy of the presentation here: PADT-SEMI-IOT-Simulation-1.pdf

UPDATE (11/9/2015): Great write-up by Don Dingee on this event in the SemiWiki. Click here to read it. It includes a great summary of the other speakers.

You can also see more details on how people use Simulation for this application on the ANSYS, Inc. website here.  We also like this video from ANSYS that shows some great applications and how ANSYS is used with them:

A couple of common themes resonated across the speakers:

  1. Price and size need to come down on the chips used in IoT (this was a semiconductor group, so this is a big part of their focus)
  2. Lowering power usage and increasing power density in batteries is a key driver
  3. The biggest issue in IoT is privacy and security. Keeping your data private and keeping people from hacking in to IoT devices.
  4. Another big problem is dealing with all the data collected by IoT devices. How to make it useful and how to store it all.  One answer is reducing the data on the device, another is only keeping track of what changes.
  5. It is early, standards are needed but they are still forming.

If you look at this list, the first two problems are addressable with simulation:

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PADT has a growing amount of experience with helping customers simulate and design IoT devices as well as the chips, sensors, and antenna that go in to IoT devices.  To learn more, shoot us an email at info@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884.