2013 Cleantech Open Launch

CleanTech Open LogoLast night was the kickoff gathering for the Rocky Mountain region of the Cleantech Open at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. It was a great gathering where all of the fantastic volunteers who run the event and provide mentoring get some much deserved recognition.

Cleantech-Open-2013-launch-denver-Eric-Miller
2013-Rocky-Mountain-Cleantech-Open-LaunchBetter yet, midnight was the official start for the 2013 Cleantech Open.  If you are involved in a Cleantech startup of any kind, or know someone who is, we strongly recommend that you apply to participate in this years competition. PADT is involved in a lot of startup organizations, accelerators, and incubators, and we have never seen an activity that adds so much value for their participants, giving those that make it through the process with a huge head start on success.

Apply here

Don’t know about the Cleantech Open? Here is a blurb from their website:

The Cleantech Open provides entrepreneurs and technologists the resources needed to launch and create successful and sustainable clean technology companies. We do this through our accelerator programs which provide participants with training, mentoring, infrastructure, relationships and funding opportunities to help grow them into world-class cleantech companies.

Since its inception in 2006, the Cleantech Open has awarded over $5 million in cash and services to support cleantech growth companies. The 727 participating companies in the Cleantech Open’s accelerator programs have raised more than $750 million in external capital.

They also have a great video from last years finals that explains the value of the whole competition:

PADT is very proud to be a regional sponsor and is looking forward to also volunteering throughout the year.

If you have any interest in joining those that are using technology and capitalism to solve the mound of energy and environmental problems that we face, consider getting involved in the Cleantech Open.  You will not regret it.

PADT Adds Stratasys Polyjet 3D Printers from Objet to Product Offering

Stratasys-Objet1000-350w

PADT is proud to announce that we are officially certified to resell the full line of Stratasys products, including the newly added Polyjet 3D Printers from Objet.  We were very pleased when Objet and Stratasys decided to merge to become the new Stratasys, and we have been waiting patiently for the legal merger to take place, and then for the two organizations to merge their businesses.  Now that wait is over and PADT just completed our sales and support training for the Polyjet product line and we can offer it to customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Here is a family photo of the line:

Stratasys_polyjet_machines_portfolio-500wAs you can see, they start with small desktop systems and work their way up to the monster Objet1000, a true beast of a machine capable of printing parts up to 39 inches long!

Artistic 3D Printed Prototype in Rigid Blue Material
Objet1000_bicycle-lowDinosaur3Dprinted
GPS4-low
There are two key characteristics that really sets these systems apart: The variety of materials available and the precision of the parts they make.Because the Polyjet systems use ink-jet printer heads, they lay down small droplets of photocurable material.  So the resolution of each layer can be up to 600 dpi, and the layers themselves can be very thin, as thin as 16 microns.The same ink-jet technology also allows for the use of such a wide variety of material.  Over 100 different materials can be made by mixing two different materials during the build.  This allows materials the have the properties of ABS, Polypropylene, rubber, or transparent plastic.  And materials can vary on a given layer or from layer to layer.Another set of ink-jet heads allow for the deposition of a water soluble support material, that is easily washed away to make the post processing of parts made on a Polyjet machine simple and fast.

We cold go on and on about this technology, or you can see it for yourself. As we mentioned, this technology is not new to PADT, so we know a lot about it and are eager to share what we have learned over the years.  If you want to learn more, simply contact us and we will be ready to answer your questions, show you some machines, and help determine if Polyjet technology is the right fit for you.

You can also check out our new Polyjet product pages, where you can find brochures and videos that give a lot more information.

And look for more information on this blog as we share stories, tips, and hints on the use of these systems.

View the official press release here.

StratasysLogo

Scitech Festival & How It’s Made Arizona Open House at PADT a Big Success

ScitechFestivalLogoWe just finished the last group and we can say that tonight’s open house at PADT was a big success.  We had over 100 visitors that came to see our facility and learn about simulation, product development, and rapid prototyping.  Our favorite was all the little kids that made it out to learn about 3D Printing.  They had the best questions and their enthusiasm was infectious.

There were so many visitors that we didn’t have time to take too many pictures, but hopefully the folks from the Scitech Festival will have lots to share.  Here is one:

photo

If you missed the event, have no fear, most of what we talked about is available on our website: www.padtinc.com.

Or if you have a group that would like a tour, just contact us and we will set it up.

To see other events that are part of the Arizona Scitech Festival visit: azscitechfest.org.

Colorado Cleantech Open Launch on Thursday, February 28, 2013

CleanTech Open Logo

PADT is honored to be the sponsor for the Cleantech Startup Launch & Learn that is being held at the South Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Here are the details:

Come join us for refreshments and networking with the cleantech community at the South Denver Metro Chamber as we launch the Cleantech Open 2013 Business Accelerator in the Rocky Mountain Region.

This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, volunteers and sponsors to learn more about the organization and help lead the Cleantech revolution in the Rockies.

Overview of Evening:

5:00 – Networking, Food and Beverages 

6:00 – Overview of 2013 Cleantech Open 
       – Hear from Past Alumni 
       – 2012 Accomplishments & Volunteer Appreciation         

It is FREE, but please register so they can get a good count and have a name tag ready for you:

http://cleantechlaunch.eventbrite.com/

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.

ANSYS-Tcl_Tk-Legacy-Training-2013_02_01

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.