Top Ten Additive Manufacturing Terms to Know

The world of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is constantly evolving. The technology was invented less than 35 years ago yet has come a long way. What began as a unique, though limited, way to develop low-end prototypes, has exploded into a critical component of the product development and manufacturing process with the ability to produce end-use parts for critical applications in markets such as industrial and aerospace and defense.

To help our customers and the larger technology community stay abreast of the changing world of additive manufacturing, we launched a glossary of the most important terms in the industry that you can bookmark here for easy access. To make it easier to digest, we’re also starting a blog series outlining ten terms to know in different sub-categories.

For our first post in the series, here are the top ten terms for Additive Manufacturing Processes that our experts think everyone should know:

Binder Jetting

Any additive manufacturing process that uses a binder to chemically bond powder where the binder is placed on the top layer of powder through small jets, usually using inkjet technology. One of the seven standard categories defined by ASTM International (www.ASTM.org) for additive manufacturing processes.

Digital Light Synthesis (DLS)

A type of vat photopolymerization additive manufacturing process where a projector under a transparent build plate shines ultraviolet light onto the build layer, which is against the transparent build plate. The part is then pulled upward so that a new layer of liquid fills between the build plate and the part, and the process is repeated. Digital light synthesis is a continuous build process that does not create distinct layers.

Direct Laser Melting (DLM) or Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

A type of powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process where a laser beam is used to melt powder material. The beam is directed across the top layer of powder. The liquid material solidifies to create the desired part. A new layer of powder is placed on top, and the process is repeated. Also called laser powder bed fusion, metal powder bed fusion, or direct metal laser sintering.

Directed Energy Deposition (DED)

An additive manufacturing process where metal powder is jetted, or wire is extruded from a CNC controlled three or five-axis nozzle. The solid material is then melted by an energy source, usually a laser or electron beam, such that the liquid metal deposits onto the previous layers (or build plate) and then cools to a solid. One of the ASTM defined standard categories for additive manufacturing processes.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

A type of material extrusion additive manufacturing process where a continuous filament of thermoplastic material is fed into a heated extruder and deposited on the current build layer. It is the trademarked name used for systems manufactured by the process inventor, Stratasys. Fused filament fabrication is the generic term.

Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF)

A type of powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process where a laser is used to melt material on the top layer of a powder bed. Also called metal powder bed fusion or direct laser melting. Most often used to melt metal powder but is used with plastics as with selective laser sintering.

Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS)

A type of direct energy deposition additive manufacturing process where a powder is directed into a high-energy laser beam and melted before it is deposited on the build layer. Also called laser powder forming.

Material Jetting

Any additive manufacturing process where build or support material is jetted through multiple small nozzles whose position is computer controlled to lay down material to create a layer. One of the ASTM defined standard categories for additive manufacturing processes.

Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA)

A type of vat photopolymerization additive manufacturing where a laser is used to draw a path on the current layer, converting the liquid polymer into a solid. Stereolithography was the first commercially available additive manufacturing process.

Vat Polymerization

A class of additive manufacturing processes that utilizes the hardening of a photopolymer with ultraviolet light. A vat of liquid is filled with liquid photopolymer resin, and ultraviolet light is either traced on the build surface or projected on it. Stereolithography is the most common form of vat photopolymerization. The build layer can be on the top of the vat of liquid or the bottom. One of the ASTM defined standard categories for additive manufacturing processes.

We hope this new blog series will help to firm up your knowledge of the ever-evolving world of additive manufacturing. For a list of all of the key terms and definitions in the additive manufacturing world, please visit our new glossary page at https://www.3dprinting-glossary.com/. The glossary allows you to search by terms or download a PDF of the glossary in its entirety to use as a reference guide.

We also know that there are a ton of experts in our community with knowledge to share. If you notice a term missing from our glossary or an inaccurate/incomplete description, please visit the suggestions page at https://www.3dprinting-glossary.com/suggest-a-correction-clarification-or-new-term/ and drop us a note.

Subscribe to the PADT blog or check back soon for the next installment in our series of “Top Ten Terms to Know in Additive Manufacturing.” We also welcome your feedback or questions. Just drop us a line at here.

Five Ways to Save Time and Money in Your Product Development Process Using the Stratasys J55

Is your current prototyping process costing you more time and money than it should?

Bring higher quality modeling in-house at your team’s elbow, and straight into the design process. Using traditional production methods is costing your product development teams time and money.

Quality model shops have a long queue and large price tag, traditional modeling by hand is laborious and time consuming, and outsourcing comes with a laundry list of communication headaches, IP theft concerns, and extra costs.


Ready to learn more?


Make communication easier, improve design quality, and reduce time to market.

Click the link below to download the solution guide and discover five ways the Stratasys J55 can help you save time and money during the product development process. 

Download Here

Panel Discussion: Fighting COVID-19 with 3D Printing

When the virus that causes COVID-19 started to spread around the world, supply chains started to fail. The made access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, even more difficult. That is when Additive Manufacturing stepped up and said: “We can help.”

PADT held a panel discussion with three customers and our partner, Stratasys, to hear how each of them met the challenges posed by COVID-19 and responded with 3D Printing. It was a fantastic discussion and well worth a listen.

Introducing the Stratasys J55 3D Printer – Possibilities at Every Turn

From perfecting products to applying concepts learned in the classroom, Stratasys can help you realize any number of design ideas. The new J55 introduces a rotating print platform for outstanding surface finish and printing quality, and features multimaterial capabilities and material configurations for both industrial and mechanical design.

The Stratasys J55 3D Printer is a huge leap forward for accessible, full color 3D printing and allows designers to have multiple iterations of a prototype ready and at their fingertips throughout every phase of the design process.

Enhanced 3D printing capabilities include – static print head, rotating build tray, UV LED illumination technology, new material cartridge design, and more. The full reliability and quality of PolyJet technology created for an office or studio environment, at an affordable price.

Designed for consistent, stable performance, the J55 requires zero mechanical calibrations and features a “ready-to-print” mode, so you can make ideas a reality without interruption.

Click the link below to download the product brochure and learn how this innovative new machine is revolutionizing the world of additive manufacturing. 

Example of full color part with mapped image, created from 3MF file format brought into GrabCAD Print and printed on a Stratasys PolyJet 3D printer. (Image courtesy GrabCAD)

3MF Printing Format Comes to GrabCAD Print

Example of full color part with mapped image, created from 3MF file format brought into GrabCAD Print and printed on a Stratasys PolyJet 3D printer. (Image courtesy GrabCAD)

Example of full color part with mapped image, created from a 3MF file-format brought into GrabCAD Print and set up to print on a Stratasys PolyJet 3D printer. (Image courtesy GrabCAD)

What is the 3MF format? How does it differ from the standard STL format? And what can you do with it, especially if your 3D printers run GrabCAD Print software from Stratasys?

For most designers, engineers and users involved in 3D printing, regardless of the 3D CAD software you use, you save (convert) your model to print as an STL format file. A lot has been written about it, including a PADT post from back in 2012 – and STL-wise, things really haven’t changed. This format approximates the native CAD solid model as a closed surface comprising small triangles of various shapes and sizes. STL has been the standard since the AM industry began, and although different CAD packages use different algorithms to create the mesh, for the most part, it’s worked pretty well.

A Sample STL File Segment

However, an STL file is simply a large text file listing the Cartesian coordinates for each vertex of the thousands of triangles, along with info on the normal direction:

Sample code from saving a CAD model in STL format.

A modest number of large triangles produces relatively small files but doesn’t do a good job of reproducing curves (think highly faceted surfaces); conversely, big files of many small triangles produce much smoother transitions but can take a long time to process in slicing software.

And, perhaps the biggest negative is that an STL file cannot include any other information: desired color, desired material, transparency, internal density gradient, internal fine structure or more.

What is 3MF?

In early 2015, Microsoft and a number of other major corporations including Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, HP, Shapeways and SLM Group created a consortium to address these issues. They decided to overhaul a little-used file format called the 3D Modeling Format (3MF), to make it support highly detailed 3D model information and be more useful for 3D printing and related processes.

Logo 3MF Consortium

This ongoing consortium project defines 3MF as “a set of conventions for using XML to describe the appearance and structure of 3D models for the purpose of manufacturing (3D printing).”

In developer language, 3MF is a standard package or data that follows a core specification and may include some task-specific extensions.

In user terms, a 3MF file contains some or all of the following information in ASCII format:

  • Metadata about part name, creator and date
  • Information on the mesh of triangles (yes, it still creates and uses these, but does it better for a number of reasons, one of which is that it cannot create non-manifold edges (i.e., triangles that share endpoints with more than one triangle, which confuses the printer))
  • Color information (throughout the complete part body or in sub-sections)
  • Ways to define multiple materials combined as a composite
  • Texture information – what it is and where to place it
  • Ways to assign different materials to different sections of a part
  • Ways to duplicate information from one section of a part to another section, to save memory
  • Slicing instructions

Without getting into the nitty gritty, here are just two examples of XML code lines from 3MF metadata sections:

Example code of saving a solid CAD model in 3MF format.

Meaning, information about the part number and the part color rides along with the vertex coordinates! For a deep-dive into the coding schema, including a helpful glossary, see the 3MF github site; to learn how 3MF compares to STL, OBJ, AMF, STEP and other formats, check out the consortium’s About Us page.

Exporting 3MF Files

Now, how about using all of this? Where to start? Many 3D CAD software packages now let you save solid models as 3MF files (check out your “Save As” drop-down menu to verify), but again, they can vary as to what information is being saved. For example, a SolidWorks 3MF file can generate data on color and material but does not yet support transparency.

Here are all the options that you see in SolidWorks when you click the arrow next to “Save As”:

Second step in SolidWorks for saving a file in 3MF format: check off “include materials” and “include appearance.” (Image courtesy PADT)

“Save As” window in SolidWorks 2019, where step number one is to select “.3mf” format. (Image courtesy PADT)

You can select “.3mf” but don’t Save yet. First, click on the “Options” button that shows up below the Save as File Type line, opening this window:


Second step in SolidWorks for saving a file in 3MF format: check off “include materials” and “include appearance.” (Image courtesy PADT)

You need to check the boxes for “Include Materials” and “Include Appearances” to ensure that all that great information you specified in the solid model gets written to the converted file. A good, short tutorial can be found here.

Another interesting aspect of 3MF files is that they are zipped internally, and therefore smaller than STL files. Look at the difference in file size between the two formats when this ASA Omega Clip part is saved both ways:

Comparison of file size for STL versus 3MF formats.

The 3MF-saved file size is just 13% the size of the standard STL file, which may be significant for file manipulation; for files with a lot of detail such as texture information, the difference won’t be as great, but you can still expect to save 30 to 50%.

Working with 3MF files in GrabCAD Print

Okay, so CAD programs export files in 3MF format. The other half of the story addresses the question: how does a 3D printer import and use a 3MF file? Developers of 3D printing systems follow these same consortium specifications to define how their software will set up a 3MF file to print. Some slicers and equipment already act upon some of the expanded build information, while others may accept the file but still treat it the same as an STL (no additional functions enabled so it ignores the extra data). What matters is whether the system is itself capable of printing with multiple materials or depositing material in a way that adds color, texture, transparency or a variation in internal geometry.

GrabCAD Print (GCP), the cloud-connected 3D Printer interface for today’s Stratasys printers – both FDM and PolyJet – has always supported STL and native CAD file import. However, in GCP v.1.40, released in March 2020, GrabCAD has added support for 3MF files. For files created by SolidWorks software, this adds the ability to specify face colors, body colors and textures and send all that data in one file to a PolyJet multi-material, multi-color 3D printer. (Stratasys FDM printers accept 3MF geometry and assembly structure information.)

For a great tutorial about setting up SolidWorks models with applied appearances and sending their 3MF files to GrabCAD Print, check out these step-by-step directions from Shuvom Ghose.

Example of setting up a textured part in SolidWorks, then saving the file in 3MF format and importing it into GrabCAD Print, for printing on a full-color Stratasys PolyJet printer. (Image courtesy GrabCAD)

Example of setting up a textured part in SolidWorks, then saving the file in 3MF format and importing it into GrabCAD Print, for printing on a full-color Stratasys PolyJet printer. (Image courtesy GrabCAD)

At PADT, we’re starting to learn the nuances of working with 3MF files and will be sharing more examples soon. In the meantime, we suggest you download your own free copy of GrabCAD Print to check out the new capabilities, then email or call us to learn more.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

GrabCAD Print Software, Part Two: Simplify Set-ups, Save Time, and Do Cool Stuff You Hadn’t Even Considered

You haven’t really lived in the world of 3D printing until you’ve had a part fail spectacularly due to open faces, self-intersecting faces or inverted normals. Your part ends up looking more like modern art than technical part. Or perhaps the design you have in mind has great geometry but you wish that some parts could have regions that are dense and strong while other regions would work with minimal infill.

In Part One of this blog post about GrabCAD Print software, we covered the basics of setting up and printing a part; now we’ll look at several of the advanced features that save you set-up time and result in better parts.

Behind the Scenes Repairs

Stratasys GrabCAD Print software, available as a free download, is crafted for users setting up solid models for 3D printing on Stratasys FDM and PolyJet printers. Once you’ve started using it, you’ll find one of its many useful advanced features is the automated STL file-repair option.

Most people still create solid models in CAD software then convert the file to the industry-standard STL format before opening it in a given 3D printer’s own set-up software. Every CAD package works a little differently to generate an STL file, and once in a while the geometry just doesn’t get perfectly meshed. Triangles may overlap, triangles may end up very long and very skinny, or the vector that signals “point in” or “point out” can get reversed.

Imported STL file, with GrabCAD Print ready to automatically repair errors. PADT image.

Imported STL file, with GrabCAD Print ready to automatically repair errors. PADT image.

Traditionally, the 3D printer set-up program reacts to these situations by doing one of two things: it prints exactly what you tell it to print (producing weird holes and shifted layers) or it simply refuses to print at all. Both situations are due to tiny errors in the conversion of a solid CAD model to a tessellated surface.

GrabCAD Print, however, gives your file a once-over and immediately flags sections of the model in need of repair. You can see a color-coded representation of all the problem areas, choose to view just some or all, and then click on Automatic Repair. No hand-editing, no counting layers and identifying sections where the problems reside – just a click of the virtual button and all the problem regions are identified, repaired and ready for the next processing steps.

CAD vs. STL: Do So Much More with CAD

GrabCAD Print also uniquely allows users to bring in their models in the original CAD file-format (from SolidWorks, Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, etc.) or neutral formats, with no need to first convert it to STL. For FDM users, this means GrabCAD recognizes actual CAD bodies, faces, and features, letting you make build-modifications directly in the print set-up stage that previously would have required layer-by-layer slice editing, or couldn’t have been done at all.

For example, with a little planning ahead, you can bring in a multi-body CAD model (i.e., an assembly), merge the parts, and direct GrabCAD to apply different parameters to each body. This way you can reinforce some areas at full density then change the infill pattern, layout, and density in other regions where full strength is unnecessary.

Here’s an example of a SolidWorks model intended for printing with a solid lower base but lighter weight (saving material) in the upper sections. It’s a holder for Post-It® notes, comprising three individual parts – lower base, upper base and upper slot – combined and saved as an assembly.

Sample multi-body part ready to bring into GrabCAD Advanced FDM. Image PADT.

Sample multi-body part ready to bring into GrabCAD Advanced FDM. Image PADT.

Here was my workflow:

1 – I brought the assembly into GrabCAD and merged all the bodies, selected an F370 Stratasys FDM printer, chose Print Settings of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and 0.005 inches layer height, and oriented the part.

2 -To ensure strength in the lower base, I selected that section (you can do this either in the model tree or on the part itself) and opened the Selection Settings menu at the right. Under Body>Advanced, I chose Solid Infill and slid Rigidity to High.

3 – Then I selected the upper base, chose Hexagram, and changed the Infill Density to 60%.

4 – Lastly, I selected the upper slot section, chose Single Dense, and changed the Infill Density to 35%.

5 – With all three sections defined, I clicked on Slice Preview, sliced the model and used the slider bar on the left to step through each section’s toolpath. For the screenshots, I turned off showing Support Material; the yellow bits indicate where seams start (another parameter that can be edited).

Here is each section highlighted, with screenshots of the parameter choices and how the part infill looks when sliced:

Lower base set up in GrabCAD to print Solid; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT.

Lower base set up in GrabCAD to print Solid; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT.
Upper base set up in GrabCAD to print as Hexagram pattern, 60% infill; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT

Upper base set up in GrabCAD to print as Hexagram pattern, 60% infill; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT.
Upper slot section set up in GrabCAD to print as Single Dense pattern, 35% infill; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT.

Upper slot section set up in GrabCAD to print as Single Dense pattern, 35% infill; sliced toolpath shown at right. Image PADT.

So that you can really see the differences, I printed the part four times, stopping as the infill got partway through each section, then letting the final part print to completion. Here are the three partial sections, plus my final part:

Lower base (solid), upper base (hexagram) and first part of upper slot (single dense), done as partial prints. Image PADT.

Lower base (solid), upper base (hexagram) and first part of upper slot (single dense), done as partial prints. Image PADT.
Completed note-holder set up in GrabCAD Print, Advanced FDM mode, weighted toward the bottom but light-weighted internally. Image PADT.

Completed note-holder set up in GrabCAD Print, Advanced FDM mode, weighted toward the bottom but light-weighted internally. Image PADT.

Automated Hole Sizing Simplifies Adding Inserts

But like the old advertisements say, “But wait – there’s more!” Do you use heat-set inserts a lot to create secure connections between 3D printed parts and metal hardware? Planning ahead for the right hole size, especially if you have different design groups involved and fasteners may not yet be decided, this is the feature for you.

Sample part set up for easy insert additions, using Advanced FDM in GrabCAD Print. Image PADT.

Sample part set up for easy insert additions, using Advanced FDM in GrabCAD Print. Image PADT.

In your CAD part model, draw a hole that is centered where you know the insert will go, give it a nominal diameter and use Cut/Extrude so that the hole is at least the depth of your longest candidate insert. Now bring your part into GrabCAD Advanced FDM (soon all these features will be available in a single Model Interface) and go to Selection Settings in the right-hand menu.

This time, click on Face (not Body) and Select the inner cylindrical wall of your hole. Several options will become active, including Apply Insert. When you check that box, a new drop-down will appear, giving you the choice of adding a heat-set insert, a helicoil insert or a custom size. Below that you select either Inch or Metric, and for either, the appropriate list of standard insert sizes appears.

Automatic hole-resizing in GrabCAD Print, for a specific, standard heat-set insert. Image PADT.

Automatic hole-resizing in GrabCAD Print, for a specific, standard heat-set insert. Image PADT.

Choose the insert you want, click Update in the upper middle of the GrabCAD screen, and you’ll see the hole-size immediately changed (larger or smaller as needed). The new diameter will match the required oversized dimensions for the correct (melted into place) part-fit. You can even do this in a sidewall! (For tips on putting inserts into FDM parts, particularly with a soldering iron, see Adding Inserts to 3D Printed Parts: Hardware Tips.)

Note that this way, you can print the overall part with a sparse infill, yet reinforce the area around the insert to create just the right mass to make a solid connection.

Manufacturing notes automatically created in GrabCAD Print when insert holes are resized. Image PADT.

Manufacturing notes automatically created in GrabCAD Print when insert holes are resized. Image PADT.
Sliced view showing insert holes with reinforced walls, done in GrabCAD Print. Image PADT.

Sliced view showing insert holes with reinforced walls, done in GrabCAD Print. Image PADT.

To document the selected choices for whoever will be doing the insert assembly, GrabCAD also generates a numbered, manufacturing-footnote that lists each insert’s size; this information can be exported as a PDF file that includes a separate close-up image of each insert’s location.

GrabCAD Print keeps adding very useful functions. Download it for free and try it out with template versions of the various Stratasys 3D printers, then email or call us to learn more.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

Press Release: 3D Printing Glossary Now Available from PADT Provides Most Comprehensive Online Resource for Additive Manufacturing Terminology

3DPrinting-Glossary.com Covers Everything from Machines and Materials to Pre- and Post-Processing Terms

After searching the internet for a resource you can’t find, have you ever sat at your desk and said to yourself “I wish someone would take the time to create this. I could really use it.” Here at PADT, we have been saying that for many years about the need for a comprehensive reference on the terms used in Additive Manufacturing. Then we realized that the only way to get it done was to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. And so we did.

The result is www.3DPrinting-Glossary.com

This free online resource contains over 250 terms with definitions for each one. We write each definition and reviewed it amongst our team of long term users of Additive Manufacturing. After over 25 years in the business, we should know the difference between direct laser melting and selective laser sintering. And even if we are off a little, it is a start and we encourage the community to send us corrections, recommendations, and especially new terms to add to this compendium.

The site is free for use, and the contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This allows anyone to use the content how they wish as long as they say where it came from and don’t make money directly off of it.

Check it out and let us know what you think. More details are below in the official Press Release, which you can also find in PDF and HTML.

And do not hesitate to contact PADT for any of your Additive Manufacturing, Product Development, or Simulation needs. The same expertise that went into creating this resource is applied to every project we work on and every product we sell.


3D Printing Glossary Now Available from PADT Provides Most Comprehensive Online Resource for Additive Manufacturing Terminology

3DPrinting-Glossary.com Covers Everything from Machines and Materials to Pre- and Post-Processing Terms

TEMPE, Ariz., March 3, 2020 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced the launch of the most comprehensive online Glossary of industry terms relevant to additive manufacturing. The new site, www.3dprinting-glossary.com, includes more than 250 definitions in nine different categories.

“In addition to being an outstanding partner to our customers, PADT strives to be a trusted advisor on all things additive manufacturing,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal, PADT. “Our goal for the glossary is to help educate the community on the evolving terminology in our industry and serve as a critical resource for students and professionals seeking 3D printing knowledge and clarification.”

The company has been a provider of additive manufacturing services since 1994. They are also a Stratasys Platinum Partner that has sold and supported Stratasys equipment in the Southwest for over fifteen years. Many of their employees are recognized and award-winning experts in the AM community.

The creation of PADT’s 3D Printing Glossary was the result of a companywide effort to gather and define the terms used in the industry daily. The user-friendly website allows visitors to search for terms directly or by category. PADT will continue to support and update the glossary as the industry grows and innovates.

The nine glossary categories include:

  • Additive Manufacturing Processes
  • Build Characteristics
  • General
  • Manufacturing Term
  • Material
  • Post-Processing
  • Pre-Processing
  • Product Definition
  • System Characteristic

Since founding PADT in 1994, the company’s leadership has made a great effort to become more than just a reseller or service provider.  They want to be a resource to the community. In addition to investing in entrepreneurs, serving on technology boards and committees, and speaking at industry events, PADT donates a great deal of money, time and resources to STEM-focused educational initiatives. The 3D Printing Glossary is another resource that PADT has created for the benefit of students as well as up and coming professionals in the engineering and manufacturing industry.

PADT is also asking the community to contribute to this effort If users notice a term is missing, disagree with the definition, or have more to add to the definition, they ask that readers email additions or changes to info@padtinc.com.

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

# # #

Media contact: Alec Robertson Brodeur Partners arobertson@brodeur.com 585-281-6399

Organization Contact:
Eric Miller
PADT, Inc.
eric.miller@padtinc.com
480-813-4884

GrabCAD Print Software: Part One, an Introduction

Where are you on your New Year’s resolutions? They often include words such as “simplify,” “organize” and “streamline.” They can be timely reminders to rethink how you do things in both your personal and professional lives, so why not rethink the software you use in 3D Printing?

Preparing a CAD solid model or an STL file to print on a 3D printer requires using set-up software that is typically unique to each printer’s manufacturer. For Flashforge equipment, you use FlashPrint, for Makerbot systems you use MakerBot Print, for Formlabs printers you use PreForm, and so on.

GrabCAD Print software for setting up STL or CAD files to print on Stratasys 3D printers (main screen).
GrabCAD Print software for setting up STL or CAD files to print on Stratasys 3D printers (main screen). Image courtesy PADT.

For printers from industrial 3D printing company Stratasys, the go-to software is GrabCAD Print (along with GrabCAD Print Mobile), developed for setting up both fused deposition modeling (FDM) and PolyJet technologies in new and efficient ways. Often just called GrabCAD, this versatile software package lets you organize and control prints assigned to one of more than 30 printer models, so the steps you learn for one printer transfer directly over to working with other models.

If you’ve previously used Stratasys Catalyst (on Dimension and uPrint printers), you’ll find similarities with GrabCAD, as well as some enhanced functionality. If you’re accustomed to the fine details of Stratasys Insight, you’ll see that GrabCAD provides similar capabilities in a streamlined interface, plus powerful new features made possible only by the direct import of native CAD files.  Additionally, you can access Insight within GrabCAD, combining the best of both traditional and next-generation possibilities.

Simple by Default, Powerful by Choice

GrabCAD lets users select simplified default settings throughout, with more sophisticated options available at every turn. Here are the general steps for print-file preparation, done on your desktop, laptop or mobile device:

1 – Add Models: Click-and-drag files or open them from File Explorer. All standard CAD formats are supported, including SolidWorks, Autodesk, Siemens and PTC, as well as STL. You can also bring in assemblies of parts and multi-body models, choosing whether to print them assembled or not. (Later we’ll also talk about what you can do with a CAD file that you can’t do with an STL.)

2 – Select Printer: Choose from a drop-down menu to find whatever printer(s) is networked to your computer. You can also experiment using templates for printers you don’t yet own, in order to compare build volumes and print times.

3 – Orient/Rotate/Scale Model: Icons along the right panel guide you through placing your model or models on the build platform, letting you rotate them around each axis, choose a face to orient as desired, and scale the part up or down. You can also right-click to copy and paste multiple models, then edit each one separately, move them around, and delete them as desired.

4 – Tray Settings: This icon leads to the menu with choices such as available materials, slice height options, build style (normal or draft), and more; always targeted to the selected printer. These choices apply to all the parts on the tray or build sheet.

5 – Model Settings: Here’s where you choose infill style, infill density (via slider bar), infill angle, and body thickness (also known as shell thickness) per part. Each part can have different choices.

6 – Support Settings: These all have defaults, so you don’t even have to consider them if you don’t have special needs (but it’s where, for example, you would change the self-supporting angle).

7 – Show Slice Preview: Clicking this icon slices the model and gives you the choice to view layers/tool paths individually, watch a video animation, or even set a Z-height pause if you plan on changing filament color or adding embedded hardware.

8 – Print: You’re ready to hit the Print button, sending the prepared file to the printer’s queue.

Scheduling Your Print, and Tracking Print Progress

A clock-like icon on the left-side GrabCAD panel (the second one down, or third if you’ve activated Advanced FDM features) switches the view to the Scheduler. In this mode, you can see a day/time tracking bar for every printer on the network. All prints are queued in the order sent, and the visuals make it easy to see when one will finish and another start (assuming human intervention for machine set-up and part removal, of course).

Scheduling panel in GrabCAD Print, showing status of files printing on multiple 3D printers.
Scheduling panel in GrabCAD Print, showing status of files printing on multiple 3D printers. Image courtesy PADT.

If you click on the bar representing a part being built, a new panel slides in from the right with detailed information about material type, support type, start time, expected finish time and total material used (cubic inches or grams). For printers with an on-board camera, you can even get an updated snapshot of the part as it’s building in the chamber.

Below the Scheduler icon is the History button. This is a great tool for creating weekly, monthly or yearly reports of printer run-time and material consumption, again for each printer on the network. Within a given build, you’ll even see the files names of the individual parts within that job.

Separately, if you’re not operating the software offline (an option that some companies require), you can enable GrabCAD Print Reports. This function generates detailed graphs and summaries covering printer utilization and overall material use across multiple printers and time periods – very powerful information for groups that need to track efficiencies and expenditures.

And That’s Just the Beginning

Once you decide to experiment with these settings, you begin to see the power of GrabCAD Print for FDM systems. We haven’t even touched on the automated repairs for STL files, PolyJet’s possibilities for colors, transparency and blended materials, or the options for setting up a CAD model so that sub-sections print with different properties.

For example, you’ll see how planning ahead allows you to bring in a multi-body CAD model and have GrabCAD identify and reinforce some areas at full density, while changing the infill pattern, layout, and density in other regions. GrabCAD recognizes actual CAD bodies and faces, letting you make build-modifications that previously would have required layer-by-layer slice editing, or couldn’t have been done at all.

Stay tuned for our next blog post, GrabCAD Print Software, Part Two: Simplify Set-ups, Save Time, and Do Cool Stuff You Hadn’t Even Considered, and reach out to us to learn more about downloading and using GrabCAD Print.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

Introducing the Stratasys J826 – Full-color, multi-material printing for the enterprise design world

Taking risks attempting to capture design intent at the end of the process requires a lot of post-processing (coloring, assemblies, a mix of technologies, etc.) – when its too time consuming, expensive and late to make changes or correct errors. Stratasys PolyJet 3D printing technology is developed to elevate designs by realizing ideas more quickly and more accurately and taking color copies to the next level.

By putting realistic models in a designer’s hands earlier in the process, companies can promote better decisions and a superior final product. Now, with the Stratasys J8 Series, the same is true for prototypes. This tried and tested technology simplifies the entire design process, streamlining workflows so you can spend more time on what matters –creating, refining, and designing the best product possible.

PADT is excited to introduce the new Stratasys J826 3D printer 

Based on J850 technology, the J826 supplies the same end-to-end solution for the design process and ultra-realistic simulation at a lower price point.
Better communicate design intent and drive more confident results with prototypes that realistically portray an array of design alternatives.

The Stratasys J826 3D Printer is able to deliver realism, shorter time to market, and streamlined application thanks to a variety of unique attributes that set it apart from most other Polyjet printers:

  • High Quality – The J826 can accurately print smaller features at a layer thickness of 14µm to 27µm. As part of the J8 series of printers it is also capable of printing in ultra-realistic Pantone validated colors.
  • Speed & Productivity – Three printing speed modes (high speed, high quality & high mix) allows the J826 to always operate at the most efficient speed for each print. It can also avoid unnecessary down-time associate with material changeovers thanks to it’s built-in material cabinet and workstation.
  • Easy to Use – A smooth workflow with the J826 comes from simple integration with the CAD format of your choice, as well as a removable tray for easy clean up, and automated support creation and removal.

Are you ready to learn how the new Stratasys J826 provides the same quality and accuracy as other J8 series printers at a lower cost?

Provide the requested information via the form linked below and one of PADT’s additive experts will reach out to share more on what makes this new offering so exciting for the enterprise design world.

Start a Conversation

Stratasys 3D Printing Filament: the Quality Behind OEM Sourcing

In 1925, when the automotive industry was rapidly growing in response to consumer and industrial needs, a group of independent auto parts resellers joined to form the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA). A founding member was the Genuine Parts Company; this group later acquired a number of other NAPA stores and gave rise to ad campaigns stressing the importance of buying genuine auto parts from a well-known, trusted source.

Stratasys 3D printing filament is crafted to stringent standards, ensuring dimensional consistency and repeatable material properties. Image courtesy PADT.
Stratasys 3D printing filament is crafted to stringent standards, ensuring dimensional consistency and repeatable material properties. Image courtesy PADT.

Following that same philosophy is a good idea for users involved with industrial 3D printing (additive manufacturing/AM). How do you know your part will print consistently, and display measureable, repeatable material properties, if you can’t rely on the consistency of the AM material’s own production?

At PADT, we print the gamut of filament options on our Stratasys industrial 3D printers, from ABS and TPU to production-grade Nylons and certified Ultem ® . As both an authorized AM system reseller and service provider, we count on the quality of the materials we source for ourselves and our customers, so it’s enlightening to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Stratasys filament production-process.

Ingredients Matter

Great recipes start with the finest ingredients, right? It’s no different when you’re producing filament for demanding applications: start with qualified raw materials from reputable sources. Standard Stratasys filament (like ASA and ABS), Engineering Grade materials (including polycarbonate and Nylon 12) and most Support materials are made in Israel at one of the two Stratasys corporate offices, while the High Performance materials such as Nylon 12 Carbon-Fiber (CF), Antero and Ultem ® products are produced at the original Minnesota location.

The raw stock for 3D printing filament comes in pellet form. Image courtesy Shutterstock.
The raw stock for 3D printing filament comes in pellet form. Image courtesy Shutterstock.

Stratasys buys polymers in pellet form from chemical suppliers such as France-based Arkema, who blends the proprietary polyethyl ketone ketone (PEKK) base formula for Antero and Antero ESD materials, and SABIC who supplies the raw pellets for Ultem ® -based filaments.

Some pellets are fed directly into the filament production equipment while others are compounded like a custom pharmaceutical: mixed and blended with stabilizers and colorants, extruded as interim-stage filament, cooled and then granulated all over again into new pellet stock. (Given that FDM is an extrusion-based technology, one of the seven standard AM technologies defined by ISO/ASTM52900-15, it’s interesting that extrusion plays a key role in the material production-process itself.)

Polymer Pasta

Whether you’ve made your own fresh pasta or just watched a child crank out endless strings of PlayDoh, you can envision the next steps in filament production, starting with melting the pellets into a viscous liquid resin. Chaffee Tran, Stratasys’ Materials Product Director, explains, “Resin is (then) run through a screw extruder and forced through a die (metal perforated with precision holes), cooled as it comes out, and wound onto spools.” An optical monitor continuously checks for “ovality” of the filament as it moves past, and triggers a stop for anything out-of-round beyond tolerance. If you’ve ever struggled with a printer that jammed because of inconsistent filament diameters, you’ll understand the importance of this process requirement.

Loading bays for Stratasys F370 office-environment FDM 3D Printer. Image courtesy Stratasys.
Loading bays for Stratasys F370 office-environment FDM 3D Printer. Image courtesy Stratasys.

Filament for the Stratasys F123 plug-and-play series of printers is packaged on-site as bagged or boxed spools. Filament for the industrial printers such as the F380cf, F450 and F900 gets loaded into sealed canisters that hold larger volumes in both standard and extended capacity. For all filament types, Tran says, “We have full traceability of our finished products via serial number and manufacturing lots. This can be traced back to production documents, to link back to the production-line settings and batch lots of resin used.”

Canister of Stratasys Ultem® 9085 filament, with production documentation for traceability. Image courtesy Stratasys.

One Step Beyond: Certification

For truly demanding applications, the quality process gets kicked up another notch. Ultem ® 9085 Aerospace and Ultem ® 1010 Certified Grade (CG) are shipped with Certificates of Compliance that confirm the production parameters down to the exact machine type and location where the filament is manufactured. “Certified Ultem ® has a higher sampling rate of finished goods for various filament properties and tighter internal specification,” adds Tran.

This tightly regulated process allows Stratasys to be the only AM company offering material certified by the Aircraft Interior Solution (AIS), a process – developed in collaboration with the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) – that provides the necessary tools, documentation, and training needed to guide aerospace producers down the aircraft qualification process. In order to meet the requirements aerospace manufacturers face, their parts must not only be made from the AIS certified version of the Stratasys Ultem ® 9085 material, but must also be printed on a certified F900mc Gen II system, in accordance with a string of aerospace standards documents. (For more information see details provided by NCAMP.) That’s what you call Quality Control.

For historical details about the development of standards for qualifying non-metallic materials for aircraft applications, now including the first polymer AM material, download this nine-page document, A Path to Certification:

Today's aircraft increasingly rely on non-metallic component design to save on weight and therefore fuel consumption. Certified Ultem 9085® filament from Stratasys plays a key role in supporting the design and use of 3D printed flight-qualified parts. Image courtesy Stratasys.
Today’s aircraft increasingly rely on non-metallic component design to save on weight and therefore fuel consumption. Certified Ultem 9085® filament from Stratasys plays a key role in supporting the design and use of 3D printed flight-qualified parts. Image courtesy Stratasys.

Even if your part production process is not as stringent as that demanded for the AIS program, you’ll avoid jammed drive-gears and cross-wound spools and get consistent part performance when your Stratasys printers run “genuine Stratasys” filament. Classic ABS, chemically resistant Antero, flexible TPU and new, fine-finish Diran are just some of the materials that will offer you repeatable results. Ask us for more details, and stay tuned as Stratasys launches even more options for true industrial applications.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and filaments, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

New Awards and Fantastic Winners: 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation does not Disappoint

Way back in 2011, PADT participated in our first Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, or GCOI. We actually won the award for being a Pioneer that year, and we also started making custom awards with our 3D Printing systems. And every year we get to see friends, customers, and partners take a PADT original home. 2019 was no different.

You can read about the event in the Phoenix Business Journal here.

This year FreeFall Aerospace was won the Innovation Award for startups. They are part of the ANSYS Startup program and someone we really enjoy working with. In addition, Qwick won the Judges award. They are a local software startup that we have interacted with through our mentoring and angel investing activities.

This year’s awards came out nice, combining PolyJet and Stereolithography to make a kinetic sculpture:

We were pleased to watch these being handed out to eight winners. The Tucson winners, half of those recognized, were happy to show their’s off:

New Options for 3D Printing with Nylon Filament, Including Diran

NOTE 10/28/2019: See updated information regarding Diran extruder heads, below.

Does the idea of 3D printing parts in semi-aromatic polyamides (PA) sound intriguing? Too bad it has nothing to do with making nicely scented models – but it has everything to do with reaping the benefits of the Nylon family’s molecular ring structure. Nylon 6, Nylon 12, carbon-filled Nylon 12 and now a new, smoother Nylon material called Diran each offer material properties well-suited for additive manufacturing on industrial 3D printers. Have you tried Holden’s Screen Supply? It has the emulsions and reclaimers needed for screen printing. To get more information about 3D printers, Go through PrtWd.com website.

Stratasys Nylon 12 Battery Box
3D printed Nylon 12 Battery Box. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Quick chemistry lesson: in polyamides, amine sub-groups containing nitrogen link up with carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in a ring structure; most end up with a strongly connected, semi-crystalline layout that is key to their desirable behaviors. The number of carbon atoms per molecule is one way in which various Nylons (poly-amines) differentiate themselves, and gives rise to the naming process.

Now on to the good stuff. PA thermoplastics are known for strength, abrasion-resistance and chemical stability – useful material properties that have been exploited since Nylon’s discovery at Du Pont in 1935. The first commercial Nylon application came in 1938, when Dr. West’s Miracle Tuft Toothbrush closed the book on boar’s-hair bristle use and let humans gently brush their teeth with Nylon 6 (then called “Exton”) fibers.

Today’s Nylon characteristics translate well to filament-form for printing with Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) production-grade systems. Here’s a look at properties and typical applications for Nylon 6, Nylon 12, Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) and Diran (the newest in the Stratasys Nylon material family), as we see their use here at PADT.

When Flexibility Counts

Nylon 12 became the first Stratasys PA offering, filling a need for customized parts with high fatigue resistance, strong chemical resistance, and just enough “give” to support press (friction-fit) inserts and repetitive snap-fit closures. Users in aerospace, automotive and consumer-goods industries print Nylon 12 parts for everything from tooling, jigs and fixtures to container covers, side-panels and high vibration-load components.

3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Nylon 12 is the workhorse of the manufacturing world, supporting distortion without breaking and demonstrating a high elongation at break. Its ultimate tensile strength in XZ part orientation (the strongest orientation) is 6,650 psi (46 MPa), while elongation at break is 30 percent. Users can load Nylon 12 filament onto a Stratasys Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc system.

As evidenced by the toothbrush renaissance, Nylon 6 has been a popular thermoplastic for more than 80 years. Combining very high strength with toughness, Nylon 6 is great for snap-fit parts (middle range of flexing/stiffness) and for impact resistance; it is commonly used for things that need to be assembled, offering a clean surface finish for part mating.

Nylon 6 displays an XZ ultimate tensile strength of 9,800 psi (67.6 MPa) and elongation at break of 38%; it is available on the F900 printer. PADT customer MTD Southwest has recently used Nylon 6 to prototype durable containers with highly curved geometries, for testing with gasoline/ethanol blends that would destroy most other plastics.

Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)
Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)

Both Nylon 12 and Nylon 6 come as black filament that prints in tandem with a soluble brown support material called SR-110. Soluble supports make a huge difference in allowing parts with internal structures and complicated overhangs to be easily 3D printed and post-processed.

Getting Stronger and Smoother

As with these first two PA versions, Nylon 12CF prints as a black filament and uses SR-110 soluble material for support; unlike those PAs, Nylon 12CF is loaded at 35 percent by weight with chopped carbon fibers averaging 150 microns in length. This fiber/resin combination produces a material with the highest flexural strength of all the FDM Nylons, as well as the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Nylon 12 CF (carbon-filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

That strength shows up in Nylon 12 CF as a high ultimate XZ tensile strength of 10,960 psi (75.6 MPa), however, similar to other fiber-reinforced materials, the elongation at break is lower than for its unfilled counterpart (1.9 percent). Since the material doesn’t yield, just snaps, the compressive strength is given as the ultimate value, at 9,670 psi (67 MPa).

Nylon 12 CF’s strength and stiffness make it a great choice for lightweight fixtures. It also offers electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection properties better than that of Stratasys’ ABS ESD7, yet is still not quite conductive, if that is important for the part’s end-use. (For more details on printing with Nylon 12 CF, see Seven Tips for 3D Printing with Nylon 12 CF.) The material runs on the Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc systems.

Just announced this month, Stratasys’ Diran filament (officially Diran 410MF07) is another black Nylon-based material; it, too, features an infill but not of fibers – instead there is a mineral component listed at seven percent by weight. This filler produces a material whose smooth, lubricious surface offers low sliding resistance (new vocabulary word: lubricious, meaning slippery, with reduced friction; think “lube job” or lubricant).

Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

This smooth surface makes Diran parts perfect for applications needing a non-marring interface between a tool and a workpiece; for example, a jig or fixture that requires a part to be slid into place rather than just set down. It resists hydrocarbon-based chemicals, displays an ultimate tensile strength of 5,860 psi (40 MPa), and has a 12 percent elongation at break.

Close-up of Diran's smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Close-up of Diran’s smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

(Revised) For the first time, Diran also brings the benefits of Nylon to users of the Stratasys office-environment, plug-and-play F370 printer. The system works with the new material using the same extruder heads as for ABS, ASA and PC-ABS, with just a few material-specific requirements. 

To keep thermal expansion consistent across a model and any necessary supports, parts set up for Diran automatically use model material as support. A new, breakaway SUP4000B material comes into play as an interface layer, simplifying support removal. The higher operating temperature also requires a different build tray, but the material’s lubricious properties (just had to use that word again) make for easy part removal and allow that tray to be reused dozens of times.

Read more about this intriguing material on the Diran datasheet:

and contact PADT to request a sample part of Diran or any of these useful Nylon materials.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

Mars, Hearts, Spaceships, and Universities: 2019 Colorado Additive Manufacturing Day a Success

Engineers, educators, and enthusiasts gathered on the green lawn of beside the Platte River at the Blind Faith Brewing to talk about Additive Manufacturing. Over 170 attendees (and two dogs) met each other, caught up with old colleagues, and shared their AM journey during the breaks and listened to 13 presenters and panelists. 12 antipasto platters and 30 pizzas were consumed, and 298 beers or sodas were imbibed. By the numbers and by type of interaction we saw, a successful event all around.

This was the fourth annual gathering, hosted by PADT and sponsored by our partners at this brewery. We could not have put this event on without the support of Stratasys, ANSYS, ZEISS, and Desktop Metal. We also want to thank our promotional partners, Women in 3D Printing and Space for Humanity who both brought new people to our community. Carbon, Visser and a student project with Ball Aerospace did their part as exhibitors.

Check out the Slideshow at the end of this post to get a visual snapshot of the day.

We want to thank the true stars of our event, the speakers and panelists who shared their knowledge and experience that turned a great gathering into a learning experience.

We started the morning off with an inspirational keynote from Dr. Robert Zubrin. A visionary in the space community and long term champion of going to Mars, Dr. Zubrin shared with us his observations about the new space race with his talk: “The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibilities.” He left the packed audience energized and ready to do our part in this next step in humanities exploration of the universe. He stayed after to talk with people and sign copies of his book, which you can find here.

We then heard from user David Waller of Ball Aerospace on his experience with their Desktop Metal system. He went over the testing, lessons learned, and usage of their Studio system. It was a great in-depth look at someone implementing a new technology. There is a lot of interest around this lower-cost approach to producing metal parts, and the audience was full of questions.

Sticking with the Desktop Metal technology, PADT’s very own Pamela Waterman talked about how PADT is using our in-house Zeiss Optical Scanning hardware and software to inspect the parts we are making with our Desktop Metal System. She shared what we have learned about following the design guidelines that are developing for this technology and how scanning is a fast and accurate way to determine the final geometry created in the three-step process of building a green part, debinding, and sintering.

Next up was Christopher Robinson form ANSYS, Inc. to talk about recent additions to the ANSYS Additive products. He shared how customers are using simulation to design parts for metal powder bed fusion AM and then model the build process to predict and avoid failures as well as compensate for the distortion inherent in the process. The key takeaway was that simulation is the solution for getting parts built right the first time.

After a short break, and some AM trivia that won some PADT25 T-Shirts for people who knew the history of 3D Printing, we heard all about the new V650 Flex Stereolithography system that Stratasys recently introduced. Yes, Stratasys now makes and sells an SL system and it is literally a dream machine designed by people with decades of AM and Stereolithography experience. Learn more about this open and powerful system here.

Another AM technology was up next when Nick Jacobson spoke about Voxel Printing with PolyJet technologies. He discussed how he varies materials and colors spacially to create unique and realistic replicas for medicine and engineering. He also showed how the voxel-based geometry he creates can be used to create Virtual Reality representations of objects. Much of their work revolves around the visualization of hearts for adults and children to improve surgery planning. While we had been focused on space at the start of the afternoon, he reminded us of the immediate and life saving medical applications of AM.

And then we moved back to space with a presentation from Lockheed Martin‘s Brian Kaplun on how they are using AM to create parts that will fly on the Orion Spacecraft. Making production parts with 3D Printing has been a long-term goal for the whole industry, and Lockheed Martin has done the long and hard work of design, test, and putting processes in place to make this dream a reality. One of the biggest takeaways of his talk was how once the Astronauts saw a few AM parts in the capsule, they started asking of its use to redesign other tools and components. The ultimate end-users, they saw the value of lightweight and strong parts that could be made without the limitations of traditional manufacturing.

We finished up the day, after another break and some more trivia, with a fascinating panel on AM at Colorado’s leading Universities. We were lucky to have Ray Huff from Wohlers Associates moderate a distinguished group of deans, directors, and professors from four outstanding but different institutions:

  • Martin Dunn PhD,  Dean of Engineering, CU Denver
  • Jenifer Blacklock PHD, Mechanical Engineering Professor – Colorado School of Mines
  • David Prawel PhD, Director, Idea-2-Product 3D Printing Lab, Colorado State University 
  • Matt Gordon, PhD,  Chair, Mechanical Engineering, University of Denver 

Their wide-ranging discussion covered their education and research around AM. A common theme was industry cooperation. Each school shared how they use AM to help students not just make things, but also understand how parts are made. The discussion was fantastic and ended far too soon, which is always an indicator of a great group of experts.

And that sums up our great day, leaving out several hundred side conversations that went on. Check out this slide show to get a feel for how energetic and interesting the afternoon was.

As everyone left, some reluctantly and after one more beer, the common comment was that they can’t wait to get together again with everyone. We hope that next year we will have more speakers and participants and continue to support the growth of Additive Manufacturing in Colorado.

A quick note about the location: You are not wrong if you remember a different name for the three previous events. St. Patricks’s is now Blind Faith and the new owners could have not been more welcoming. Plus, they have more Belgian’s, which I am a big fan of.

Video Interview: Topology Optimization versus Generative Design

While attending the 2019 RAPID + TCT conference in Detroit this year, I was honored to be interviewed by Stephanie Hendrixson, the Senior Editor of Additive Manufacturing magazine and website. We had a great chat, covering a lot of topics. I do tend to go on, so it turned into two videos.

The first video is about the use of simulation in AM. You should watch that one first, here, because we refer back to some of the basics when we zoomed in on optimization.

Generative design is the use of a variety of tools to drive the design of components and systems to directly meet requirements. One of those tools, the most commonly used, is Topological Optimization. Stephanie and I explore what it is all about, and the power of using these technologies, in this video:

You can view the full article on the Additive Manufacturing website here.

If you have any questions about how you can leverage simulation to add value to your AM processes, contact PADT or shoot me an email at eric.miller@padtinc.com.

Video Interview: 3 Roles for Simulation in Additive Manufacturing

While attending the 2019 RAPID + TCT conference in Detroit this year, I was honored to be interviewed by Stephanie Hendrixson, the Senior Editor of Additive Manufacturing magazine and website. We had a great chat, covering a lot of topics. I do tend to go on, so it turned into two videos.

In the first video, we chat about how simulation can improve the use of Additive Manufacturing for production hardware. We go over the three uses: optimizing the part geometry to take advantage of AM’s freedom, verifying that the part you are about to create will survive and perform as expected, and modeling the build process itself.

You can read the article and watch the video here on the Additive Manufacturing website. Or you can watch it here:

If you have any questions about how you can leverage simulation to add value to your AM processes, contact PADT or shoot me an email at eric.miller@padtinc.com.

For the second interview, we focus on Topological Optimization, Generative design, and the difference between the two. Check that out here.