First Stop on Arizona SciTech Festival Events: Carl Hayden High School

The next couple of weeks are going to be busy ones for our team as we shuttle equipment around the valley to take part in a couple of events.

Tonight we set up shop at Carl Hayden High School for their open house featuring their robotics efforts:

Carl-Hayden-3d-printing

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we will be at 48-West in Chandler talking about 3D Printing and also showing off the Mojo.

Then on the 26th we will be having an Open House as part of the SciTech Festival and “How it is Made, Arizona”.

We hope to see some of you at one of the events!

 

 

Spaceport Colorado

HDR Chosen for Feasibility Studies for Spaceport Colorado

Spaceport ColoradoWe received great news last night that the team PADT has been working with, HDR, has been chosen to do the feasibility study on developing the Front Range Airport into Spaceport Colorado.  The Denver Post has a good summary of the effort.

Norman Stucker, our General Manager for Colorado Operations, has been a contributor to this effort to grow commercial space in Colorado. PADT has been very pleased with the support of the local business community, the governor’s office, and the legislature on this effort.

This is another important and successful step in a long but very exciting journey. Stay tuned for more!

PADT Presented with 2012 IEEE Phoenix Section Small Company of the Year Award

PADT IEEE Small Company AwardPADT is very honored to have received the “Small Company of the Year Technical Contributions Award” from the Phoenix Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at their annual award banquet held on February 9th, 2013. 

Quoting the award, it was given: “In Recognition of Developing Outstanding Engineering Services and Technologies for Companies Throughout the Southwest.”  It was a very special honor to receive this particular award because it is recognition from the local electronics business community, an important part of PADT’s customer base. As a company focused on providing products and services to customers that develop physical products, what most people consider mechanical engineering, being thanked for our contributions by a group of very hard core electrical engineers was truly touching.

Phoenix IEEE 2013 Awards BanquetThe awards banquet was well attended, there are a lot of electrical engineers in Phoenix.  Seven of PADT’s staff were able to attend, including three of the four owners.  The networking before the dinner was an enjoyable time and we were able to talk with many customers and managers of groups that we have serviced for a long time, many for over 15 years.  Some were even customers back in 1994 or 1995 when the company was just starting out.

Phoenix IEEE 2013 Awards Banquet Program

PADT IEEE Small Company AwardIt is always a privilege to be listed with other companies who are so successful and well known.  Being a co-sponsor with Freescale, Intel, and On Semiconductor, who are all also customers, was icing on the evening’s cake. 

 

 

PADT Award ShelfIt might be time to start looking for another shelf in the lobby for awards.  We placed this one between our Governor’s Celebration of Innovation and ASU Innovation Awards.  The shelves are getting so crowded that I had to move my FDM Kachina models to another shelf!

In all seriousness, we truly do appreciate the recognition that these awards signify.  They are acknowledgement from our peers and the community that what we do here at PADT is different, that by doing a good job at something you really enjoy doing, you can make a difference. 

There was time during the ceremony for a short acceptance speech. We missed filming the beginning which basically said “Thank you very much, this is an truly an honor, coming from a group made up of Electrical Engineers to a company that provides Mechanical Engineering products and services.  Most of you here are customers of PADT, and what we…” 

Here is the bulk of it:

PADT By The Numbers

We just added a new page to the “About” portion of our website: PADT By the Numbers.

I know this will be no surprise to anyone who knows engineers, but we like to quantify things.  This page takes a bunch of numbers that describe PADT and summarizes them in one place:

To save you the effort of clicking on the link, here are the numbers:

Years in Business: 19

Number of Employees: 72

Count of Employees with PhD‘s: 6

Average Number of Years Employees have Worked for PADT: 6.76

Number of States with at Least One PADT Employee: 7

Average Years of Experience for Engineers: 17.7

Number of Employees with Masters Degrees: 12

Quantity of Named Customers Served: Over 1,500

Count of Companies that have Co-Located within PADT: 4

Number of Compute Cluster Cores: Over 600

Size of Terabyts of RAM for Compute Cluster: Over 2.5

Amount invested in Lab and Prototyping Equipment: $1,500,000

Count of Approved Vendors: 350

Quantity of Approved Medical Device Vendors: 60

Amount of Rapid Prototyping Models Delivered: Over 100,000

Number of Functional Prototypes Created: Over 500

Count of Product Development Projects Completed: Over 300

Amount of Numerical Simulation Models Run: Over 7,000

Quantity of Small Business Innovative Research Grants (SBIR) awarded: 13

Number of Companies PADT has Done an Angel Investment in: 9

Automated Intellectual Property Protection with Traklight

traklight-logoEvery innovator faces the same problem: how do I make sure that I have protection for my Intellectual Property (IP).  Back “in the day” when I started in this world we wrote everything down in a numbered lab book and that was the record.  But these days we just never write anything down, it is all electronic.  Spending hours printing and pasting into a notebook just does not work.

Traklight-flow

Enter Traklight.  This is a portal for people with IP that needs to be protected, from at-home inventors to full sized companies.  We met the people behind the site through some mutual friends and had a sit down with them to understand what they were offering.  We were so impressed we thought it was definitely worth sharing.

ID your IP

There first offering is a wizard that… well I could write something or just quote their site:

If you don’t know what Intellectual Property you possess, our ID Your IP questionnaire walks you through interactive questions and provides a Potential Intellectual Property report. If you want to identify your risk of losing your IP, take our IP Risk Quiz.

 IP Vault

For an established company like PADT, we really like their IP Vault. This is a resource for organizing all your files with time stamps that help prove what you came up with, when you came up with it.  Not only does it organize and stamp your IP, it also stores it securely in the cloud so you do not have to worry about loosing it, or even if you do backups, you do not have to worry about moving it if you or your computer moves.  Very useful.

IP Cloud

As  a leader in modern IP protection, the folks at TrakLight.com have also stepped up and created a resource for people creating IP called IP-Cloud. There are some great links here, everything from lawyers to marketing companies to software developers.  PADT is even listed.

Learn More

The best way to learn about TrakLight.com is to visit their website at… you guessed it: http://www.traklight.com.

You can also watch their cool video:

3D Printing on “Big Bang Theory”

The thing that gets me about “The Big Bank Theory” is how accurate it is. They seem to always get it right and their treatment of 3D Printing during “The Cooper/Kripke Inversion” last week was spot on.

http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory/video/EYtoEVXpKfTrFjbz8TEKJ3AZnjpAPs7k/the-big-bang-theory-the-cooper-kripke-inversion 

Take a look at 7:10 and then 11:06.

BBT-3d-Printing-Whistle“We Printed a Whistle!”

“Amazing! You know these things go for 25 cents a pop at a party store”

“And we made it in only 3 hours!”

So close it hurts!

The 3D Printing Store in Denver

LogoWe are pleased to promote the fact that The 3D Printing Store in Denver is open for business and they have their new uPrint SE Plus up and running.  We are very excited about this new more retail oriented face for 3D Printing bringing the dream of rapid prototyping as a mainstream technology to a huge audience, and we wish the owners great success.  We are very honored to have provided them with their Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer.

We really feel that before long this location will become a center for invention and creativity and people will find ways to use this technology that were never thought of before.

The store will be holding an open house on February 7th from 3:00 – 6:00 PM.  Click here to learn more.

Legacy Training Material: Tcl/Tk for ANSYS Mechanical APDL

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) for ANSYS Mechanical APDL is written in a toolset called Tcl/Tk. This is actually the same GUI toolset that ICEM CFD uses.  Way back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the .com bubble was bursting, PADT wrote and Advanced Customization class for what was then just called ANSYS.  We still use a large portion of that class today, but one area that has really been mothballed is the chapter on Tcl/Tk.

But some users may find some value there so we present it here, in its un-edited and un-verified totality as a resource for the community.

ANSYS Mechanical APDL Tcl/TK Legacy Training

Use it with success, but at your own risk.

Tcl-Tk-ANSYS-Code-ExamplesTcl-Tk-ANSYS-Examples

ANSYS Technical Support Call… or a Pizza Order

We came in the other day to find this in our ANSYS Technical Support voice mail box:

Tech Support?

Pretty darn funny.  I wonder if he would take one slice if we applied cyclo-symmetric boundary conditions?

Cyclo symmetric pizza slice

Monster in the Closet: PADT Goes Live with 512 Core HVPC CUBE Cluster

imageThere is a closet in the back of PADT’s product development lab. It does not store empty boxes, old files, or obsolete hardware.  Within that closet is a monster.  Not the sort of monster that scares little children at night.  No, this is a monster that puts fear into the heart of those who try to paint high performance computing as a difficult and expensive task only to be undertaking by those who are in the priesthood.  It makes salespeople who earn fat commissions by selling consulting services and unnecessary add-ons quake in fear.

This closet holds PADT’s latest upgrade to our compute infrastructure: a 512 core CUBE HVPC Cluster.  No data center, no special consultants, no expensive add-ons. Just 512 cores chugging away at solving FLUENT and CFX problems, and pumping a large amount of heat up into the ceiling.

Here are the specifics:

CUBE C512 Columbia Class Cluster

  • 512 AMD 2.4GHz Cores (in 8 nodes, 4 sockets per node, 16 cores per socket)
  • 2TB RAM (256 GB per node of DDR3 1600 ECC RAM)
  • Raid Controller Card (1 per node)
  • 24TB Data Disk Space (3TB per node of SAS2 15k drives in RAID0)
  • Infiniband (8 Port switch, 40 Gbps)
  • 52 Port GIGE switch connected to 2 GIGE ports per node
  • 42 U Rack with thermal convection ducting (chimney)
  • Keyboard, monitor, mouse in drawer
  • CENTOS (switching to RedHat soon)

We built this system with CFD simulation in mind.  The original goal was to provide a proof of concept to expand our CUBE HVPC offering, showing that you can create a cluster of this size, with very good speed, for a price that small and medium sized companies can afford.  We also needed a way to run large problems for benchmarks in support of our ANSYS sales efforts and to provide faster technical support our FLUENT and CFX customers.  We already have a growing queue of benchmarks waiting to get into the machine.

The image above is the glamour shot.  Here is what it looks like in the closet:

image

Keeping with our theme of High Value Performance Computing we stuck it into this closet that was built for telephone equipment and networking equipment back at the turn of the century when Motorola had this suite.  We were able to fit a modern rack in next to an old rack that was in there. We then used the included duct to push the air up into our ceiling space and moved the A/C ducting to duct right into the front of the units.  We did need to keep the flow going into the rack instead of into the area under the networking and telephone switches, so we used an old video game poster:

image
Anyone remember Ratchet and Clank? 
Best PS2 games ever.

It works well and adds a little color to the closet.

So far our testing has shown some great numbers. Not the fastest cluster out there, but if you look at the cost, it offers incredible performance.   You could add a drive array over Infiniband, faster chips, and some redundant power. And it will run faster and more reliably, but it will cost much more.  We are cheap so we like this solution.

Oh yea, with the parts from our old CFD cluster and some new bits, we will be building a smaller mini-cluster using INTEL chips, a GPU or two, and a ton of fast disk and RAM as our FEA cluster.  Look for an update on that in a couple of months.

Interested in getting a cluster like this for you computing pleasure?  A system configured like this one will run about $150,000 (video game poster is extra). Visit our CUBE page to learn more or just shoot an email to sales@padtinc.com.  Don’t worry, we don’t sell these with sales people, someone from IT will get back with you.

The Reality of Simulation Driven Product Development

A note to our regular readers: This is not a normal Focus post. No info on how to use an obscure new ANSYS command. This may be something our regular readers (the people who do simulation) might find useful to share with their management. And maybe a CEO/CTO/COO or two might stumble across it and “see the light” that we have all been working in for years.

I’ve been involved in planning or attending a couple of what we call “C” level visits in the past month or so. A “C” level visit is where we talk with the CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, or some sort of high level executive at a company.  These visits are very different than sitting in a room with a bunch of engineers showing off what ANSYS software can do, or talking about what services PADT can offer.

In the “C” level visits we are there for two reasons. The first is to understand what the high level product development needs are for the company from a business perspective.  Once we know that, we like to articulate how the products we sell or the services we offer can help the company meet those goals faster and with less effort and cost. And when simulation fits into their needs, we talk about Simulation Driven Product Development (SDPD).

Many people in the simulation software business talk about SDPD a lot.  They use SDPD as buzz word and they surround it with buzz words: time to market, rapid product development, stage gates, decision tree, etc…  In such a discussion you talk about the vagaries of “enabling your enterprise” and “collaborative global solutions.”  All of this is oriented towards a single message: buy our tools.

The Real World

PADT is fortunate enough to not only be a company that sells simulation tools, we use them as a service to help our customers drive product development. We also use simulation to drive product development that we do here at PADT. (WAH? PADT does product development? Yes we do. And rapid prototyping. Click the links to learn more.)

Top this off with the technical support and mentoring that we offer our simulation customers and we are able to get a pretty good idea about the reality of SDPD. And that reality is that SDPD really works, it can make a huge difference in many areas.  But the reality is also that SDPD needs to be done correctly to make it effective.

Why SDPD is Effective

To understand the real world impact of SDPD you have to step back and look at what developing a product is about. There are a lot of different processes, and people get all “burn the heretic at the stake” over there particular flavor.  But they all share some common characteristics:

  1. Define what you want the product to do (specifications)
  2. Come up with and capture all of the things that define the product (design)
  3. See if you ideas work (test)
  4. Fix stuff that didn’t work (iterate)
  5. Make it (manufacture)

Every step in the process involves people asking questions and answering them.  How big, how strong, how long, how much this or that?  And each question can be answered in many different ways. Things like experience, calculations, comparison to existing solutions, statistical studies, testing, and many more.  The cost and correctness of how those questions are answered has a direct impact on the cost and speed of a development project.  Also, many studies have shown that the sooner in the schedule that you answer those questions, the more efficient your project is.

What is great about simulation is that it allows you to answer questions quickly and accurately.  Working in a virtual environment on the computer you can combine comparisons, testing, calculations, and statistics in one place with speed and very little capital investment. The fact that you can do it so fast also allows you to avoid making assumptions and simplifications that reduce the accuracy of the answer.

The most comprehensive study on the effectiveness of simulation for driving product development can be found in “The Impact of Strategic Simulation on Product Profitability” from the Aberdeen Group.  It shows that best-in-class companies across industries are companies that use simulation to drive their product development.

The study finds that:

There is no point in the design process where companies do not profit from intelligent decision-making. By integrating simulation analysis from the earliest stages of design, the Best-in-Class are able to make better decisions through the process. This enables these leaders to drive higher quality and lower cost products, as well as deliver the innovations and features that differentiate their products.

Making SDPD Effective for Your Organization

So companies make more money using simulation to drive their product development.  It would be nice if it was true that all companies that use simulation automatically see a benefit.  But we are talking about the reality of SDPD and that reality is you have to have the proper simulation tools, and you have to use them effectively.

The Right Tools

As far as tools go, you should know where I stand.  ANSYS, Inc’s products. If you are reading this you are probably an ANSYS, Inc. product user or you got this posting from someone who is.  Why are these tools the leaders across the industry? Because they have breadth and depth so you are not limited by your simulation tools, they are accurate, and they work together so you do not have to jump through hoops to work as a team.  That is really all there is to it.

If you can not use this tool set for some reason, say your senior manager is married to the competition’s local rep (which is maybe one of the few valid reasons) you still need to make sure you stay high end.  Do not cheap out on a CAD based tool or a low end tool that is “good enough for what we need.”  Anything other than a full function tool suit will limit your ability to get accurate solutions, or to model your product completely.  That $20,000 you saved will get eaten up in about a week of fumbling around trying to get useful information.

Yes these tools cost a lot more than the low cost or CAD based alternatives. But there is a reason for that.  It is the army of developers, support engineers, and product managers that work day in and day out to improve the speed, accuracy, and capability of their simulation tools.  The reality of simulation is having 80% is only good 80% of the time. When you need that extra 20% of functionality, you need it. And when you do not have it, your project bleeds cash.

Effective Application

Deciding to drive you product development with simulation: easy.  Deciding on the right tool set: a bit of work, unless you just go with ANSYS products, then it is easy.  Now you have to make it work.

This is such a big topic that we did a seminar on it about two years ago.  I’ve uploaded a PDF of the presentation if you would like more details.

The gist of it is the following four rules:

  1. Establish goals for SDPD in general and establish goals for each project that uses simulation.  Without goals it is easy to do too much simulation or to do the wrong simulation.
  2. You must have the right type of users doing the right tasks: experts and mainstream users. Also, do not turn good engineers into bad users by violating the other rules.
  3. Use the right tools. Not just the simulation software, we covered that.  You need the right hardware, the right support, and the right utility software to support your efforts.
  4. Design the right flexible process for your team and constantly improve on it.

Mainstream

I have been driving product development with simulation for over 25 years, and many people who read this blog have been doing it for longer. Once a secret of the aerospace and automotive industry, SDPD is now mainstream. We have customers that use it to design ear buds, mining equipment, coolers for organ transplants, and toys.  It is used to make almost every electronic device around us more reliable, cooler, and faster.  And we still have people that use it to design Turbine Engines, space craft, and automotive components.

In fact the industries that are long time users are increasing their seat count and the size of the computing systems.  Many that we know of are making multi-million dollar investments every year and growing that investment year over year for a simple  reason, they see results from driving more and more of their design process with simulation.

If you are not using simulation, or some portion of your company is not using simulation, than something is wrong. You or they are literally leaving money on the table and giving a competitive edge to the competition.  If you would like to learn more about how PADT and many of our customers have been successful with simulation, feel free to contact me. Or just get out there and start evangelizing something that has already been proven to work.

Seven Case Studies on Product and Medical Device Development

This morning we added the seventh case study highlighting some customer stories to PADT’s new website.  These short documents highlight a project that our product and medical device development teams worked on with a variety of customers, from Nissan to a medical device inventor. 

You can view them under the Successes portion of our website, or browse the list below:

Clearview Diagnostic TechnologyTHE WORLD’S FIRST AND ONLY FDA APPROVED TOTAL ARTIFICIAL HEART

SynCardia has chosen to work with PADT based on their ability to develop close personal relationships, to create and implement engineering solutions rapidly, and to support SynCardia’s innovative drive for our life-saving technology” — Douglas A Nutter, COO, SynCardia Systems, Inc.

SynCardia turned to PADT Medical to carry out a comprehensive series of product verification testing within a very challenging timeframe.  Continuous and successful collaboration between PADT and SynCardia professionals guaranteed the program’s success.

READ FULL STORY

Clearview Diagnostic TechnologyCLEARVIEW: A NOVEL MEDICAL MEASUREMENT DEVICE

“For the last 2 years we have worked with PADT to develop our ClearView technology. Their team has helped us with many aspects of product development and commercialization. They have been a very valuable asset and I would highly recommend them to any startup that needs to navigate the pathway to market.”— Tom Blondi, President, EPIC Research & Diagnostics

From 2010 – 2012, PADT worked with EPIC to help them develop their ClearView diagnostic technology. PADT provided engineering, quality, manufacturing, and regulatory support. During this period, EPIC was able to raise over $6 million in private investment, achieve 510(k) submission, conduct a clinical trial at a Johns Hopkins affiliate with devices delivered by PADT, and transfer the product to manufacturing with a local contract manufacturer.

READ FULL STORY

High Pressure Hydrogen Pump A COMPACT HIGH PRESSURE HYDROGEN PUMP

PADT has demonstrated strong concept creation and development testing abilities – and have done so with very short time schedules. PADT was in charge of a key component development for our Fuel Cell System, and accomplished it as planned. Owing to PADT’s challenging spirit, Nissan was able to lease the 2005 model FCV’s to some customers in the early period of 2006. In addition, Nissan has been able to continue the FCV leasing program for five years with PADT’s reliable support.— Arai Takayuki, Senior Manager, EV Systems Laboratory, Nissan Motor Company

PADT worked with Nissan for 4 years to develop a high pressure, high performance hydrogen pump. We have now delivered over 200 working systems and have supported fielded vehicles since 2006.

READ FULL STORY

Germicical Light for Tracheal TubeGERMICIDAL LIGHT FOR ENDOTRACHEAL AND TRACHEOSTOMY TUBES

The PADT experience was a positive one from my first phone conversation with them to the delivery of the end product. The engineers delivered a prototype that was exactly what I envisioned in a short 8 weeks. PADT will be my choice in the future.” — Bob Rife, R.R.T.

In 8 short weeks PADT Medical transformed a recently patented invention into a functional prototype. This novel Endotracheal Tube includes a germicidal light to reduce the risk of pneumonia in patients requiring prolonged airway intubation. This device is a good example of PADT’s ability to quickly convert an inventors ideas into a working, functional prototype.

READ FULL STORY

Portable Fuel Cell Power SupplyPORTABLE FUEL CELL POWER SUPPLY

PADT worked with PolyFuel for 18 months to develop a fuel cell based, laptop power supply that was powered from a methanol fuel stock. We started with a blank sheet and developed a POC system that included the fuel cell stack, all of the custom components and controls, and was hybridized with a Lithium-ion battery pack. During that period Polyfuel was able to raise Venture Capital to develop their product.

READ FULL STORY

Portable Fuel Cell Power SupplyCLINICAL SPECIMEN COLLECTION SYSTEM

The ReadyFreezer will rapidly freeze biospecimens collected from any tissue, using any surgical retrieval device, and in any hospital or clinical setting to preserve key biomarkers.  This project took full advantage of PADT’s internal simulation and analysis capabilities as well as our in-house rapid prototyping services.

READ FULL STORY

Endoscopic Obesity Treatment ToolAN ENDOSCOPIC TOOL FOR THE TREATMENT OF OBESITY

For the last 3 years I have worked with PADT Medical as a physician-inventor of medical devices. Their engineering team is professional, punctual, and responsible. Their management is exemplary. I recommend PADT Medical to any potential Client.— Charles J. Filipi M.D., Medical Director, SafeStitch Medical, Inc.

In 2006, PADT was approached by a physician who had developed intellectual property that centered on endoscopic treatments for obesity and was founding a new company called SafeStich Medical. PADT served as SafeStitch’ engineering team for several years, developed a suite of related products, helped them achieve 510-k status on their first product, and supported their effort to build a permanent engineering organization. In June of 2010, SafeStitch raised $5 Million of capital to help commercialize their technologies.

READ FULL STORY

If you are interested in learning more about our Product Development team or PADT Medical, contact us and we will be more than happy to discuss your needs.

Tags and Filters in ANSYS Mechanical 14.5

imageI have been doing this simulation thing for too long. I actually got giddy when I saw a new icon in 14.5.  That usually is enough to get me going. Then when I saw it allowed me to put tags on items in my model tree, the OCD part of me got very interested. When it became apparent that it all worked with filtering I got down right joyful.  These are the sort of little tools that can make your analysis process a lot more enjoyable and efficient. And to be honest, these are the things that we used to use APDL to control in the old days, and that we have been needing a GUI equivalent for in ANSYS Mechanical.  In this weeks posting we will look at the new tagging, and then take an in-depth look at what you can do with filtering. 

Both of these tools are ways for you to get a handle on larger models.  When you have one or two parts in an assembly, and maybe four or five loads and boundary conditions, you can see all of your model in the tree in one quick glance. But when you are dealing with a big assembly, with dozens if not hundreds of parts, contacts, boundary conditions, etc… it can become overwhelming and you spend all of your time looking through the tree. And thanks to the hard work of the ANSYS development team,  Filters and Tags come to the rescue.

Tags

So the cute new little icon is a picture of a tag, and it is used to tag things. I like it when things are that literal. Do note that it is used to tag items in your model outline, not geometric entities. Why? Because you have named selections for that.  This is for grouping things that are not groupable with named selections.

When you click on the Tag icon it brings up the Tags window.  It looks like the default state for this window is free and floating. I found that it goes nicely under the details window, or as a tab under the model tree itself. If you are not familiar with how to move windows around in ANSYS Mechanical, here is a short video:

When you first bring the window up it will be blank.

image

To create a tag you go to your Outline and select (CTRL-Click to select more than one) the items you want to group. For this first example I am going to put all my size controls in a group:

image

Then go to the Tags window and click Add icon (tag with a green plus) and give it a name:

image

Now you have your first tag:

image

The way tags work is that the checkbox next to the name is there to add an entity to a tag, remove it from a tag, or to show that it is currently part of the tag.  To see this we can click on something that is not in the tag group and note that the check box is un-checked:

image

Then if we click on one of more of the edge sizes, the check box is checked:

image

If I want to remove one or more of the entities from the tag, select them and un-check the box. The same goes if I want to add an entity, click on it, then check the check box.  Easy as can be.

The only other thing you should know is that if you want to delete a tag completely, click on it and RMB->Delete Tag(s) or click on the delete icon (tag with a red minus sign). To rename a tag, click on the rename tag icon, which is just a picture of a tag with now fancy additions. 

image

The other interaction you should be aware of is the ability to select items in the tree by Tag.  You can do this with filters, which we will cover next, or by doing a RMB on the tag and choosing “Find Items with selected tag”

image

In a huge model, this can really speed up finding things in the tree.

You may have noticed by now that Tags are non-exclusive.  A tag can refer to more than one entity, and a given entity can have more than one tags. Because of this you can get real fancy and select entities that belong to any selected tags, or only those that belong to all the selected tags. In this example I have selected any entities belonging to Sizes2 and TopNSs:

image

You can find the union of two or more groups by choosing “Find items with all selected tags”  This can become very handy in complex models.

One thing to remember is to be careful when you are  clicking around in the Tags window. I found that I was checking and unchecking the boxes when I meant to just select a tag in the list.  So my grouping was getting muffed up a bit.

Filtering

The close cousin to tagging for managing a big tree is the ability to filter what is in visible from your tree. Again, if you have a simple model as far as item count goes, you may never need this. But if you have a complicated tree, Filtering can be a life saver.

It exists at the top of the Model Outline window.  You do have to expand the window it sits in a bit more than I normally do to see all the controls. Not a big deal, but be aware of it.

image

The interface is pretty intuitive.  You specify what you want to filter on, choose some sort of filter value, refresh the tree applying the new filter, and clear the filter. The final icon, Expand on Refresh, expands your tree to show every selected entity. On a huge tree you may want to turn this off and manually expand the tree where you need to.

Fort filter types your options are Name, Tag, Type, and State. For Name and Tag, it looks for the string you specify anywhere in the name or tag of each entity.  So you don’t need to use wildcard characters.  “siz” and “size” will both filter any string with size in the name… and any with just siz if you use “siz.”

image

If you want to filter on Type the text box turns into a drop down and you have two choices: all or results.  I’m guessing that will expand over time, but right now the way you would use it is to just hide everything in your model tree but your results.  I have often in the past found myself scrolling the tree window to the bottom to get to my results, use the Type = Results to avoid this.

image

The State filter can be helpful in checking out or debugging a model.  It can filter on the state of each entity: Suppression, Underdefined, or Not Licensed.

image

As you muck around with a big model you are constantly suppressing and unsupressing things. The icon next to a suppressed item turns into one with a little X next to it, but in a big model these might be hard to spot. Use the “Not suppressed” and “Suppressed” options to find what is and what is not suppressed. On a big model you may surprise yourself and find something suppressed that you thought was active.

The Underdefined is just as useful. In a complicated model you may see the dreaded “underdefined” question mark high up on a branch, but become overwhelmed as you look for the source in a big tree.  The answer is to simply filter and show only Underdefined entities in the tree.

imageThere are two things you should know about when using the Filter options.  The first is that I found that it was really important for me to remember to hit the clear button when I was done doing what I wanted to do with the filter. If I did not, then I would work with a filtered tree and miss important information.  The second is that you

can avoid having to hit the refresh button for filter types Name and Tag by pressing the enter key when you are done typing your string in.  It automatically does a refresh when you do so. It also automatically does a refresh when you choose an item from the drop down for State and Type.

Thoughts

There is not much else to say about these two productivity tools.  They are handy and well thought out.  If you have been using ANSYS Mechanical for a while, you just need to get used to having them by using them as often as possible.  Once you do so, you will find it difficult to work on your models without them.

Retail 3D Printing at the Beginning of 2013

I just came across a posting from Terry Wohlers that he did in December with some interesting observations on the growth of 3D Printing in retail stores:

3D Printing at Retail Stores

I have to agree with Terry’s assessment that these efforts in Africa and Europe to bring this new technology to a mass market through old business models may not click.  Some of the efforts here in the US seem to be a better fit.  Reading the article, and the fact that non-technical people are constantly bringing up 3D Printing around me, got me to thinking about the retail space and where it is headed.

Is Online the Future for Retail 3D Printing?

Shapeways_websiteIn New York, the VC backed experiment at Shapeways seems like a more viable option for mass retail 3D printing.   There was an interesting interview done in December by the Business Insider that sheds some light on how things are going, but does not discuss the business aspect too much.  What I am interested in knowing is what type of margin Shapeways is making on their parts with the prices as low as they are, or are they using their buckets of VC money to build market share in hopes that volume will bring their margins up?  It would be interesting to know.

A French company called Sculpteo has a similar model. I’m sure there are others.

3D Systems, along with buying up as many technologies as they can, has launched their own retail competitor to Shapeways called Cubify.   Their advantage is that they do not have to pay full price for machines or materials.  It is early days and in some ways it looks like a vehicle for promoting their low-end FDM CUBE machines, but the reach of 3D Systems may make a difference.

The Brick and Mortar Store

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Although these online based models have the advantage of access to the masses to grow their markets, storefront retail outlets for 3D Printing also seem to be taking off.  Makerbot, the kings of getting media attention for low-end 3D printing, has a showcase store now in Manhattan. This store may be more for marketing than a direct revenue generator, but it starts a trend.   A new startup, 3DEA is also in New York City and they are trying to use similar low-end FDM technology to provide 3D printing to the masses through a corner store, literally.

Here at PADT we are aware of several companies starting the same thing in the west and they seem to have good solid business models that will not only go after the art/accessory/gadget market but they are also looking at other more practical retail applications.  We think this broader and more balanced approach has merit.

Is New York the Center of Retail 3D Printing?

Are you seeing a trend here? Retail 3D Printing in the US seems to be focused on New Your City. There is a store in Pasadena called Deezmaker, but it is more hacker-centric selling more kits than home machines or direct to consumer printed objects.

Is this NYC bias because the market for consumer 3D printing is huge there? Or is it the art community? Or is it a tech-infiriority complex with the west coast?  A “we missed all this computer based stuff, so we are going to lead on this 3D printing thing” effect?

I suspect it has more to do with the proximity to Wall Street and the mass media than anything else.  Which may or may not be good for the additive manufacturing business.  It means cash and exposure for something that really captures the imagination of the general public. But is this a bubble that will grow and pop for the full industry? Or will it just be the retail side?  Only time will tell.

FDM Rules, but not Necessarily Good FDM.

One other take away from this retail trend is the dominance of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology that is making much of this possible. Although Shapeways seems to use almost all of the technologies, most of the startups that are trying to get the cost down and the volume up are using some sort of low-cost FDM technology. This is reflected in the lower costs and in the poor finished part quality that is seen on most of the websites. It is too bad more are not looking at technology Stratasys, the originators of FDM and producers of machines that make very high-quality parts.

stratasys_mojoI bring this up not only because PADT is a long time Stratasys reseller, but because the poor part quality might result in a black eye for the industry as a whole.  And the concern is not just about aesthetics, but also about part strength.  There is a lot of excitement over making replacement parts for appliances, toys, and consumer electronics.  Delamination in low-cost FDM parts is a real concern.

I also wonder if the merger of Stratasys and Objet might allow for the development of low cost and reliable 3D Printing based on the Objet inkjet printing approach as a compliment to FDM based systems.

What is the Future?

rasputinAnyone that is in the RP business knows that the use of additive manufacturing for prototyping, tooling, and even production is growing and getting better. Machines are faster, more accurate, and offer much better material choices. And the cost of systems that make strong, high-quality parts is coming down. So the non-retail side of this market should see continued strong growth.

The retail side of things is seeing a lot of buzz, a lot of press, and a lot of interest from average consumers.  As with any new market it is hard to guess where it is going.  But history has shown us that something like this that shows the potential of being a disruptive technology will have a big impact, and the market will whipsaw back and forth a few times before the technology finds its place and becomes mainstream.

For the record, just to see how close I get, I predict the following landscape for retail 3D Printing in five to ten years:

  • Two or three large on-line outlets, focused on art, fashion, and accessories as an outlet for small designers.
  • One or two large business supply/service chains that offer 3D Printing alongside traditional printing and copying using high quality FDM technlogy
  • A variety of specialty local almost neighborhood stores that offer duplication using 3D scanning and printers along with part printing.

Hopefully someone will remind me of this post in the future and we can see how far off I am.

 

 

11411 – Symmetry in Subscribers

Every day we get a little update from Constant Contact on how many people subscribed or unsubscribed from our mailing list.  The number this morning was 11411:

11411_subscribers

I don’t really remember when it got above 10,000, but 11,000 is an impressive number of people who want to be kept informed about various things going on at PADT.  But what struck me for some reason was the symmetry of the number: 11-4-11

Does symmetry in numbers fascinate you?  Or am I just weird   Does posting stuff like this risk a reduction in our subscriber count?

If you want to help us get to 11511, or 12012, subscribe to PADT’s emails on our subscription page.