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.

3D Printed Parts Create a Tricked-Out Truck

PADT’s Austin Suder is a Solidworks CAD wizard, a NASA design-competition (Two for the Crew) winner and a teaching assistant for a course in additive manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. Not bad for someone who’s just started his sophomore year in mechanical engineering at Arizona State University.

PADT's Austin Suder 3D printed these custom LED reverse-light housings in carbon fiber PLA, then added heat-set inserts to strengthen the assembly and mounting structure. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)
PADT’s Austin Suder 3D printed these custom LED reverse-light housings in carbon fiber PLA, then added heat-set inserts to strengthen the assembly and mounting structure. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)

In last month’s PADT blog post about adding heat-set inserts to 3D printed parts we gave a shout-out to Austin for providing our test piece, the off-road LED light unit he had designed and printed for his 2005 Ford F-150. Now we’ve caught up with him between classes to see what other additions he’s made to his vehicle, all created with his personal 3D printers and providing great experience for his part-time work with Stratasys industrial printers in PADT’s manufacturing department.

Q: What has inspired or led you to print multiple parts for your truck?

I like cars, but I’m on a college budget so instead of complaining I found a way to fix the problem. I have five 3D printers at my house – why not put them to work! I understand the capabilities of AM so this has given me a chance to practice my CAD and manufacturing skills and push boundaries – to the point that people start to question my sanity.

Q: How did you end up making those rear-mount LED lights?

I wanted some reverse lights to match the ones on the front of my truck, so I designed housings in SolidWorks and printed them in carbon fiber PLA. Then I soldered in some high-power LED lights and wired them to my reverse lights. These parts made great use of threaded inserts! The carbon fiber PLA that I used was made by a company called Vartega that recycles carbon fiber material. (Note: PADT is an investor of this company.)

Q: In the PADT parking lot, people can’t help but notice your unusual tow-hitch. What’s the story with that?

I saw a similar looking hitch on another car that I liked and my first thought was, “I bet I could make that better.” It’s made from ABS painted chrome (not metal); I knew that I would never use it to tow anything, so this opened up my design freedom. This has been on my truck for about a year and the paint has since faded, but the printed parts are still holding strong.

An adjustable-height "topology optimized" trailer hitch Austin designed and printed in ABS. The chrome paint-job has many passersby doing a double-take, but it's just for fun, not function. (Image courtesy PADT)
An adjustable-height “topology optimized” trailer hitch Austin designed and printed in ABS. The chrome paint-job has many passersby doing a double-take, but it’s just for fun, not function. (Image courtesy PADT)

This part also gets questioned a lot! It’s both a blessing and a curse. In most cases it starts when I’m getting gas and the person behind me starts staring and then questions the thing that’s attached to the back of my truck. The conversation then progresses to me explaining what additive is, to a complete stranger in the middle of a gas station. This is the blessing part because I’m always down for a conversation about AM; the downside is I hate being late for work.

Q: What about those tow shackles on your front bumper?

Unique ABS printed tow shackles - another conversation-starter. (Image courtesy PADT)
Unique ABS printed tow shackles – another conversation-starter. (Image courtesy PADT)

Those parts were printed in ABS – they’re not meant for use, just for looks. I’ve seen towing shackles on Jeeps and other trucks but never liked the look of them, so again I designed my own in this pentagon-shape. I originally printed them in red but didn’t like the look when I installed them; the unusual shading comes because I spray-painted them black then rubbed off some of the paint while wet so the red highlights show through.

Q: Have you printed truck parts in any other materials?

Yes, I‘ve used a carbon-fiber (CF) nylon and flexible TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) on filament printers and a nylon-like resin on a stereolithography system.

The CF nylon worked well when I realized my engine bay lacked the real estate needed for a catch can I’d bought. This was a problem for about five minutes – then I realized I have the power of additive and engineered a mount which raised the can and holds it at an angle. The mount makes great use of complex geometry because AM made it easy to manufacture a strong but custom-shaped part.     

Custom mount, 3D printed in carbon-fiber reinforced nylon, puts aftermarket catch-can in just the right location. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)
Custom mount, 3D printed in carbon-fiber reinforced nylon, puts aftermarket catch-can in just the right location. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)

After adding the catch can to my engine, I needed a way to keep the hoses from moving around when driving so I designed a double S-clip in TPU. The first design didn’t even come close to working – the hoses kept coming loose when driving – so I evaluated it and realized that the outer walls needed to be thicker. I made the change and printed it again, and this time it worked great. In fact, it worked so well that when I took my truck to the Ford dealership for some warranty work, they went missing. (It’s OK Ford, you can have them – I’ll just print another set.)    

Just-right 3D printed clips keep hoses anchored and out of the way. ((Image courtesy Austin Suder)
Just-right 3D printed clips keep hoses anchored and out of the way. ((Image courtesy Austin Suder)

Other parts I printed in TPU included clips for the brake-lines. I had seen that my original clip had snapped off, so when I had the truck up on jacks, I grabbed my calipers and started designing a new, improved version. Thirty minutes later I had them in place.

I also made replacement hood dampeners from TPU since they looked as though they’d been there for the life of the truck. I measured the old ones, used SolidWorks to recreate them (optimized for AM), printed a pair and installed them. They’ve been doing great in the Arizona heat without any deformation.      

New hood-dampeners printed in TPU have just the right amount of give. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)
New hood-dampeners printed in TPU have just the right amount of give. (Image courtesy Austin Suder)

My last little print was done on my SLA system in a material that behaves like nylon. (This was really just me showing off.) The plastic clips that hold the radiator cover had broken off, which led me to use threaded sheet-metal inserts to add machine threading to the fixture. I then purchased chrome bolts and made some 3D printed cup-washers with embossed text for added personalization and flair.  

Even the cup-washers got a 3D printed make-over on Austin's F150: printed in white resin on an SLA system, these parts got a coat of black paint and then some sanding, ending up with a two-color custom look. (Image courtesy PADT)
Even the cup-washers got a 3D printed make-over on Austin’s F150: printed in white resin on an SLA system, these parts got a coat of black paint and then some sanding, ending up with a two-color custom look. (Image courtesy PADT)

Q: What future automotive projects do you have in mind?

I’m working on a multi-section bumper and am using the project to standardize my production process – the design, material choice, sectioning and assembling. I got the idea because I saw someone with a tube frame car and thought it looked great, which led to me start thinking about how I could incorporate that onto my truck.

When I bought my F-150, it had had a dent in the rear bumper. I was never happy with this but didn’t have the money to get it fixed, so at this point the tube-frame look came full circle! I decided that I was going to 3D print a tube-frame bumper to replace the one with a dent. I started by removing the original bumper, taking measurements and locating possible mounting points for my design. Then I made some sketches and transferred them into SolidWorks.

The best part about this project is that I have additive on my side. Typical tube frame construction is limited by many things like bend allowance, assembly, and fabrication tooling. AM has allowed me to design components that could not be manufactured with traditional methods. The bumper will be constructed of PVC sections connected by 50 ABS printed parts, all glued together, smoothed with Bondo and filler primer then painted black. This is a large project!  It will take a lot of hand-finishing, but it will be perfect.

Q: If you were given the opportunity to work on any printer technology and/or material, what would you want to try working with?

Great question! If I had the opportunity to use AM for automotive components, I would redesign internal engine components and print them with direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), one of PADT’s other AM technologies. I would try printing part like piston rods, pistons, rocker arms, and cylinder valves. Additive is great for complex geometries with exotic materials.

Go Austin! Can’t wait to see what your truck looks like when you visit over semester break.

To learn more about fused deposition modeling (FDM/filament), stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS) and DMLS printers and materials, contact the PADT Manufacturing group; get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed, and share your success tips.

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

Press Release: PADT Adds the Faster, Larger and More Advanced Stratasys F900 Fused Deposition Modeling Additive Manufacturing System at its Tempe Headquarters

Well, the cat is now out of the bag. We are pleased to announce that we now have a Stratasys F900 FDM system up and running at PADT. Over the years we have helped dozens of customers specify and acquire their own F900 system. These are great machines. And our services customers were always asking when we would be adding one to our fleet of machines.

The answer is now. Our new F900 is up and running and making large, robust, and accurate parts right now.

A few weeks ago we published this picture on social media to announce the arrival of something big:

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Now we can share what it was all about. Inside the truck was a big box:

And inside that box was a brand new Stratasys F900 FDM System!

It was a tight fit through PADT’s painting room, down the hallway, and into its new home:

After our team plugged it in and Stratasys came out to finish the install and calibrate everything, we ran our first part:

This is a big machine:

Here are the specs:

Build Size: 36 x 24 x 36 in
Layer thickness: 0.005 in – 0.020 in
Materials: ABS-ESD7, ABSi, ABS-M30, ABS-M30i, ABSplus, ASA, FDM Nylon 12, FDM Nylong 5, PC, PC-ABS, PC-Iso, PPSF, ST-130, ULTEM.

The machine is up and running and ready to make parts. So please contact us at rp@padtinc.com or 480.813.4884 to talk about how our new, big, fast, robust machine can 3D Print better and bigger parts for you.

We have an official press release below or here.


PADT Adds the Faster, Larger and More Advanced Stratasys F900 Fused Deposition Modeling Additive Manufacturing System at its Tempe Headquarters

The F900 is the Most Capable System on the Market for Companies Who Need Large, 3D-Printed Production Parts in Small or Large Volume

TEMPE, Ariz., August 29, 2019 ─ In an exciting development that enhances its additive manufacturing services and capabilities, PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, added a Stratasys F900 Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Additive Manufacturing System at its headquarters in Tempe, Arizona. With fast build speed and large build volume, the F900 significantly increased PADT’s 3D Printing capability and capacity.

“The addition of the F900 flagship FDM printer to our growing lineup of additive manufacturing systems is a major milestone in our long-term partnership with Stratasys,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “This move greatly enhances the capabilities we provide our customers based on Stratasys’ leading-edge equipment.”

The Stratasys F900 is specifically built for manufacturing and aerospace. With the largest build size of any Stratasys FDM system, it’s designed to handle the most demanding manufacturing needs. The system uses a wide range of thermoplastics with advanced mechanical properties so parts can endure high heat, caustic chemicals, sterilization and high-impact applications.

FDM is the most common additive manufacturing process because of the technology’s ability to provide robust parts quickly at low-cost. PADT has developed expertise with the FDM printing process over the past 20 years. The Stratasys F900 is the pinnacle of FDM technology because it’s designed to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry’s shift from prototyping towards production parts. The addition of the F900 comes at a critical time for PADT due to the increased demand from its customers in industries such as aviation, space and defense, to create end-use components created under ISO9001/AS9100 standards.

“When we added a large stereolithography machine in 2018, we quickly learned how significant the demand is for more materials, larger parts, and faster turnaround,” said Rey Chu, co-founder and principal, PADT. “The Stratasys F900 fulfills all three of these same requirements for companies who need the outstanding performance of parts made with the FDM process. We look forward to partnering with our customers to make innovation work with this new capability.”

This new system will augment PADT’s existing fleet of four FDM systems from Stratasys.  It will compliment Stereolithography, PolyJet, Selective Laser Sintering, and Digital Light Synthesis systems. This wide range of material and process choices is why hundreds of companies rely on PADT as their Additive Manufacturing services provider. 

To learn more about PADT and its services, please visit www.padtinc.com.

About Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (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 80 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.

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3D Printing with Stratasys to Improve Workflow Efficiency

As advancements in R&D continue to expand hardware innovation in almost every industry, 3D printing is playing an increasingly larger role. For a long time, companies developed prototypes via fabrication in a machine shop or outsourced to a third party contractor. This process proved to be costly and slow. With innovations like the Stratasys F123 series, industrial-grade 3D printers, prototyping is becoming simpler, more cost-efficient, and faster. PADT is a reseller and support provider for the F123 series and has seen it used to great success in its customer’s hands.

“Our customers are finding the Stratasys F123 3D printers to be a great addition to their design floors,” said Rey Chu, co-founder and principal, PADT. “They have a very minimal learning curve, and a range of material options that provides flexibility for a wide variety of parts.”

As some of the most well-rounded 3D printers in the industry, the Stratasys F123 Series have won numerous awards. It’s easy to operate and maintain these machines, regardless of the user’s level of experience, and they are proficient at every stage of prototyping, from concept to validation, to functional performance.

The printers work with a range of materials – so users can produce complex parts with flexibility and accuracy. This includes advanced features like Fast Draft mode for truly rapid prototyping and soluble support to prevent design compromise and hands-on removal – All designed to shorten product development cycles and time to market.

All of these different characteristics allow for the F123 series to provide innovative solutions for manufacturers working with a wide variety of applications. This vast array of potential use is best seen in the assortment of companies that have purchased the Stratasys F370, the largest and most robust model in the F123 line of 3D printers; boasting a 14 x 10 x 14 in. build size, additional software integration, and access to a plethora of unique materials designed to help ensure prototyping success, all at an accessible price point. Companies that best represent the diversity of this machine include:

Juggernaut Design | Industrial Design Logo

Juggernaut Design

PADT client Juggernaut is an authority in rugged product design, bringing innovation and expertise to products to survive in challenging environments. Employing the latest tools and technology, this team of designers and engineers is always looking for the best way to meet their client’s ever-evolving requirements. 3D printing is one such tool a design firm like Juggernaut relies on. Covering everything from the development of prototypes and form studies, to ergonomic test rigs and even functional models, the need for quick turnaround is relevant at nearly every stage of the design process. Having physical parts to show to clients also helps to improve communication, allowing them to better visualize key design elements.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focuses on advancing the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies, including marine energy. When it comes to developing the components of a wave energy device that produce power from relative motion induced by the dynamics of ocean waves for example, NREL’s research requires extensive validation before it is ready for commercialization. This process often includes generating sub-scale components for numerical model validation, prototypes for proof of concept, and other visual representations to provide clarity throughout the entire manufacturing process. It’s also important to accurately validate research projects at a more manageable and cost-effective scale before moving beyond the prototype stage.

Recently, NREL has ventured into building parts with more complex geometries, such as 3D printing hydrodynamically accurate models that are able to effectively represent the intricacies of various geometry and mass properties at scale.

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is a privately held, advanced technology company providing customer-focused innovative solutions in the areas of aerospace, aviation, electronics, and systems integration. SNC’s diverse technologies are used in applications including telemedicine, navigation and guidance systems, threat detection and security, commercial aviation, scientific research, and infrastructure protection, among others. SNC decided to purchase an F370 Stratasys 3D printer to help the company’s engineering team iterate faster on new application designs. This machine was specifically attractive due to the reasonable purchase and operational costs of Stratasys printers, as well as the reduced manufacturing times it provided.

These use cases provide an example of how the Stratasys F123 series is helping to replace traditional manufacturing to save costs and provide a more efficient in-house, rapid design solution. The Stratasys F123 printers, and specifically the power and size of its flagship model, the F370, are revolutionizing design team’s workflow by providing more flexibility and accessibility than ever before.

To learn more about the Stratasys F123 Series, and find the machine that is right for you, please visit PADT’s Stratasys product page here. And to talk to PADT’s sales staff about a demo, please call 1-800-293-PADT.

Press Release: PADT Awarded U.S. Army Phase I SBIR Grant for Combustor Geometry Research Using 3D Printing, Simulation, and Product Development

We are pleased to announce that the US Army has awarded PADT a Phase I SBIR Grant to explore novel geometries for combustor cooling holes. This is our 15th SBIR/STTR win.

We are excited about this win because it is a project that combines Additive Manufacturing, CFD and Thermal Simulation, and Design in one project. And to make it even better, the work is being done in conjunction with our largest customer, Honeywell Aerospace.

We look forward to getting started on this first phase where we will explore options and then applying for a larger Phase II grant to conduct more thorough simulation then build and test the options we uncover in this phase.

Read more below. The official press release is here for HTML and here for PDF.

If you have any needs to explore new solutions or new geometries using Additive Manufacturing or applying advanced simulation to drive new and unique designs, please contact us at 480.813.4884 or info@padtinc.com.


PADT Awarded U.S. Army Phase I SBIR Grant for Combustor Geometry Research Using 3D Printing, Simulation, and Product Development

The Project Involves the Development of Sand-Plugging Resistant Metallic Combustor Liners

TEMPE, Ariz., August 15, 2019 ─ In recognition of its continued excellence and expertise in 3D printing, simulation, and product development, PADT announced today it has been awarded a $107,750 U.S. Army Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. With the support of Honeywell Aerospace, PADT’s research will focus on the development of gas turbine engine combustor liners that are resistant to being clogged with sand.  The purpose of this research is to reduce downtime and improve the readiness of the U.S. Army’s critical helicopters operating in remote locations where dirt and sand can enter their engines.  

“PADT has supported advanced research in a wide variety of fields which have centered around various applications of our services,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We’re especially proud of this award because it requires the use of our three main areas of expertise, 3D printing, simulation and product development. Our team is uniquely capable of combining these three disciplines to develop a novel solution to a problem that impacts the readiness of our armed forces.”

The challenge PADT will be solving is when helicopters are exposed to environments with high concentrations of dust, they can accumulate micro-particles in the engine that clog the metal liner of the engine’s combustor. Combustors are where fuel is burned to produce heat that powers the gas turbine engine. To cool the combustor, thousands of small holes are drilled in the wall, or liner, and cooling air is forced through them. If these holes become blocked, the combustor overheats and can be damaged.  Blockage can only be remedied by taking the engine apart to replace the combustor. These repairs cause long-term downtime and significantly reduce readiness of the Army’s fleets.

PADT will design various cooling hole geometries and simulate how susceptible they are to clogging using advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation tools. Once the most-promising designs have been identified through simulation, sample coupons will be metal 3D printed and sent to a test facility to verify their effectiveness.  Additionally, PADT will experiment with ceramic coating processes on the test coupons to determine the best way to thermally protect the 3D printed geometries.

“When we developed new shapes for holes in the past, we had no way to make them using traditional manufacturing,” said Sina Ghods, principal investigator, PADT. “The application of metal additive manufacturing gives PADT an opportunity to create shapes we could never consider to solve a complex challenge for the U.S. Army. It also gives us a chance to demonstrate the innovation and growth of the 3D printing industry and its applications for harsh, real-world environments.”

Honeywell joined PADT to support this research because it is well aligned with the company’s Gas Turbine Engine products. The outcome of this research has the potential to significantly improve the performance of the company’s engines operating in regions with high dust concentrations.

This will be PADT’s 15th SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award since the company was founded in 1994. In August 2018, the company, in partnership with Arizona State University, was awarded a $127,000 STTR Phase I Grant from NASA to accelerate biomimicry research, the study of 3D printing objects that resemble strong and light structures found in nature such as honeycombs or bamboo.

To learn more about PADT and its advanced capabilities, please visit www.padtinc.com.

About Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (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 80 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.

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Adding Inserts to 3D Printed Parts: Hardware Tips plus One-Click Design in GrabCAD Print Advanced FDM

Heat-set, ultrasonic, helicoil: metal inserts are exceedingly useful when you want to add threads to a plastic part, preparing it for a strong screwed-in connection. Whether you heat up the insert and push it down into the pre-made hole (purposely melting the plastic as you do so) or tap a hole to allow a helicoil to dig into its side, you create a better grip for whatever hardware you eventually install. Inserts are especially useful for parts that will be assembled and disassembled multiple times.

Here at PADT, Inc., we thought we’d research the different installation approaches and demonstrate several ways to use inserts in FDM 3D-printed parts (be sure to check out the short video further on). Our awesome intern-turned-employee Austin Suder had already designed and printed some LED light boxes for off-roading with his truck, so we used his parts for our tests and demos. (Stay tuned – we’ll soon be featuring a whole variety of Austin’s automotive upgrades in an upcoming PADT post.)

For a classically milled plastic part, you plan ahead by drilling a slightly undersized hole that is enlarged as the heated insert is pushed into place. For a 3D printed part (let’s say ABS), you plan ahead in a similar way, using the hole dimensions given on any insert data-sheet. However, to get the best anchor against torque-out and pull-out, holes in 3D printed FDM parts need multiple material contours around them. You don’t want to melt through a thin wall into the infill region, and you don’t want weird bulges on the exterior if the hole is close to an edge.

An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting.
An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting, showing sections ready for M3 heat-set inserts. Sample side part printed in white for clarity. (Images courtesy PADT)
An LED light box for off-road automotive lighting, showing sections ready for M3 heat-set inserts. Sample side part printed in white for clarity. (Images courtesy PADT)

Heat-Set versus Ultrasonic Inserts

We’ll talk about defining those beefed-up contours in a moment. First, let’s describe the difference in installing heat-set (also called heat-staked) versus ultrasonic inserts, and talk about the pros and cons of their use. Inserts can also be dropped into slightly oversized holes if you pause the printer, add the part, and continue to print over them with enough material to just trap them in place. (Note: Helical inserts require tapping and then an installation tool, and do not give quite the strength of the former two types.)

Both types of inserts may come as small as #0-80 and M2.5×0.45 up to 3/8-16 and M8x1.25 (inches and metric, respectively), depending on whether you choose tapered or straight-sided versions. Material choice typically is aluminum, brass or stainless steel, in order to provide high thermal conductivity with strength.

Close-up of M3 size metric heat-set inserts to show relative size, ready for installation. (Image courtesy PADT)
Close-up of M3 size metric heat-set inserts to show relative size, ready for installation. (Image courtesy PADT)

A heat-stake machine looks like a small drill-press with a soldering-iron tip, and does ensure a perfectly vertical motion. However, the easiest insertion tool is a handheld soldering iron fitted with a flat-end heat-set tip that matches the inner diameter of the insert. Heat-set tips cost less than $20, and their benefit (compared to using just the default soldering iron tip) is that the flat head is easier to retract after the insert is completely in position.

(Left) Using a standard chisel-tip on a soldering iron to install a heat-set insert can make it difficult to get the insert in straight. (Right) Using a specialized heat-set tip gives a good vertical installation. Tips are sold to match each insert type and size (Image courtesy PADT)
(Upper) Using a standard chisel-tip on a soldering iron to install a heat-set insert can make it difficult to get the insert in straight. (Lower) Using a specialized heat-set tip gives a good vertical installation. Tips are sold to match each insert type and size. (Image courtesy PADT)                                                

A useful guide from Stratasys, “Inserting Hardware Post-Build,” suggests pre-heating the soldering iron or heat-staking press to a temperature that is approximately 170% of the glass transition temperature (Tg) of the FDM material, or work with a variable-power iron set for about 40 watts. Stratasys material data sheets list Tg values for each material.

Step-by-step Installation

To install a heat-set insert, set the metal insert on the 3D-printed part surface, centered on the hole. Tapered inserts are self-seating and make it easier to ensure the insert goes in straight, but even the straight-wall designs have a slightly smaller lead-in section to assist with alignment.

Fit the soldering-iron tip into the center of the insert, then push the insert down gently into place – you’ll feel the plastic around it starting to melt. Stop pushing when you see the insert has almost completely gone in, then pull back on the tip. Immediately place a flat aluminum plate on the insert/part area and push down until the insert is completely flush with the part surface. Alternatively, you can turn the part upside down and push the face against a table or flat plate – whatever is easiest given the part geometry.

Once you remove the soldering iron (heat source), the cooling, melted plastic reflows into the grooves, knurls and slots cut into the insert’s outer walls and solidifies. This connection is what forms the excellent grip between metal and plastic.

Finished part with insert flush to the part’s surface. (Image courtesy PADT)
Finished part with insert flush to the part’s surface. (Image courtesy PADT)

Ultrasonic installation also melts the plastic and ends up with the same result, but the process and equipment are quite different. The user (or an automated system) sets the insert in place then lowers an ultrasonic horn directly onto the metal’s surface. Ultrasonic vibrations create frictional heat, again melting the plastic, and the equipment pushes the insert down to a preset depth.

Both methods work, but unless you need the speed of automated assembly, heat-insertion is a simpler and less expensive approach. The equipment for ultrasonic insertion can be expensive, is very loud when operating, and can be harder to control. There’s also the chance that metal chips get generated and stuck in the part.

For more information comparing the two methods, see the in-depth Machine Design article, “Putting inserts in plastic parts: ultrasonic or heat?

Designing CAD Models for Inserts

The key to sizing holes to be insert-ready is to slightly undersize them. Insert datasheets provide diameter and depth information for all the standard sizes, with virtually identical values regardless of brand (one company might list a diameter as 5.2mm and another as 5.23mm but these are negligible differences for this purpose).

Two online resources are SI Inserts for Plastic and the McMaster-Carr insert webpages.

These online charts or diagrams give the minimum hole depth and diameter that must be designed into the CAD model. For tapered inserts, the mounting hole officially has its own taper, but the difference is so minimal that for most cases, a straight hole will grip the insert just fine, as shown in the figure below.

CAD part with straight-walled holes set up for adding M3 inserts (Image courtesy PADT)
Sample CAD part with straight-walled holes set up for adding M3 inserts (Image courtesy PADT)

In print set-up software such as Stratasys Insight, the recommendation is to create four to six contours around each hole that is designated for an insert. This is done by creating a Custom Group under the Toolpath heading, defining the number of contours, and selecting all the relevant holes. When you review the toolpath layer by layer you’ll see those contours show up.

One-Step Insert Set-Up in GrabCAD Advanced FDM Software

For parts printed on many Stratasys FDM printers – from the F170/270/370 Series up through the larger Fortus 380, 450 and 900 models – users can even more quickly prepare their parts for inserts using GrabCAD Print’s Advanced FDM features. Since GrabCAD Print’s set-up software works directly with CAD files, all the feature intelligence is retained, meaning the software recognizes bodies and faces, including the cylindrical sides of a hole.

As long as your part has a hole whose center is in the desired location, GrabCAD does something very cool. It lets you choose an insert from a drop-down menu then automatically resizes that hole to the correct dimensions and reinforces its perimeter with an optimized number of contours. No need to create custom groups, isolate model slices, rebuild tool paths or wonder if you added enough material.

Automated contour-creation around holes for heat-set inserts, created using Stratasys GrabCAD Print software. (Image courtesy PADT)
Automated contour-creation around holes for heat-set inserts, created using Stratasys GrabCAD Print software. (Image courtesy PADT)

Try GrabCAD Print for yourself – it greatly simplifies optimizing the contours and hole-sizing, and makes it easy to evaluate different insert sizes on-the-fly without having to edit the original CAD file.

To learn more about working with inserts in general, GrabCAD Print software and FDM printers and materials, contact the PADT Manufacturing group; get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed, and share your success tips.

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

3D Printing Polymer Parts with Electrostatic Dissipative (ESD) Properties

Getting zapped by static electricity at the personal level is merely annoying; having your sensitive electronic equipment buzzed is another, highly destructive story.

Much as you’d like to send these components out into the world wearing their own little anti-static wristbands, that’s just not practical (and actually, not good enough*). During build and use, advanced electronics applications need true charge-dissipative protection that is inherent to their design and easy to achieve. However, the typical steps of painting or coating, covering with conductive tape, or wrapping with carbon-filled/aluminum-coated films incur both time and cost.

Electrostatic dissipative (ESD) polymer materials instead provide this kind of protection on a built-in basis, offering a moderately conductive “exit path” that naturally dissipates the charge build-up that can occur during normal operations. It also prevents powders, dust or fine particles from sticking to the surface. Whether the task is protecting circuit boards during transport and testing, or ensuring that the final product works as designed throughout its lifetime, ESD materials present low electrical resistance while offering the required mechanical, and often thermal and/or chemically-resistant properties.

ESD-safe fixture for testing a printed-circuit board, produced by 3D printing with Stratasys ABS-ESD7 material. (Image courtesy of Stratasys)

Combining ESD Behavior with 3D Printing

All the features that are appealing with 3D printing carry over when printing with ESD-enabled thermoplastics. You can print trays custom-configured to hold circuit-boards for in-process testing, print conformal fixtures that speed up sorting, and produce end-use structures for projects where static build-up is simply not allowed (think mission-critical aerospace applications).

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), that work-horse of the plastics industry, has been available as 3D printing filament for decades. Along the way, Stratasys and other vendors started offering this filament in a version filled with carbon particles that decrease the plastic’s inherent electrical resistance. Stratasys ABS-ESD7 runs on the Fortus 380, 400, 450 and 900 industrial systems, and soon will be available on the office-friendly F370 printer.

What kind of performance does ABS-ESD7 offer? When evaluating materials for ESD performance, the most important property is usually the surface resistance, measured in ohms. (This is not the same as surface resistivity, plus there’s also volume resistivity – see Note at end). Conductive materials – typically metals – have a surface resistance generally less than 103 ohms, insulators such as most plastics are rated at greater than 1012 ohms, and ESD materials fall in the mid-range, at 106 to 109 ohms.

Compared to standard ABS filament, ABS-ESD7 offers more than five orders of magnitude lower resistance, converting it from an insulator to a material that provides an effective static-discharge path to the outside world. Due to the inherent layered structure of FDM parts, the differences in properties between flat (XY) and vertical (ZX) build orientations produces a range of resistance values, with a target of 107 ohms, reflected in the product name of ABS-ESD7. Stratasys offers an excellent, easy-to-read FAQ paper about ABS-ESD7.

Printed-circuit board production tool, custom 3D-printed in Stratasys ABS-ESD7 material for built-in protection from electrostatic discharge during test and handling. (Image courtesy of Stratasys)

When ABS isn’t strong enough or won’t hold up to temperature extremes, engineers can turn to Stratasys’ ESD-enhanced polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), termed Antero 840CN03. Developed in 2016 and slated for full release in October 2019, this new filament expands the company’s Antero line of  high-temperature, chemically resistant formulations. The PEKK base material offers a high glass transition temperature (Tg 149C, compared to 108C for ABS-ESD7) while meeting stringent outgassing and cleanroom requirements. As with ABS-ESD7, the carbon-nanotube loading lowers electrical resistance values of Antero 840CN03 parts to the desirable “ESD safe” range of 106 to 109 ohm.

Setting up Parts for Printing with ESD-Enhanced Filament                                                            

Support structures in contact with part walls/surfaces can disturb the surface resistance behavior. To counter-act this condition for filament printing with any type of ESD material, users should perform a special calibration that makes the printer lay down slightly thinner-than-usual layers of support material. In Stratasys Insight software, this is currently accomplished by setting the Support Offset Thickness to -0.003; this decreases the support layers from 0.010 inches to 0.007 inches. In addition, supports should be removed (in Insight software) from holes that are smaller in diameter than 0.25 inches (6.35mm).

As more of these materials are developed, the software will be updated to automatically create supports with this process in mind.

ESD Applications for 3D Printing

Avionics boxes, fixtures for holding and transporting circuit boards, storage containers for fuel, and production-line conveyor systems are just a few examples of end-use applications of ESD-enabled materials. Coupled with the geometric freedom offered by 3D printing, three categories of manufacturing and operations are improved:

  • Protecting electronics from ESD damage (static shock)
  • Preventing fire/explosion (static spark)
  • Preserving equipment/product performance (static cling)

If you’re exploring how 3D printing with ESD-enhanced materials can help with your industrial challenge, contact our PADT Manufacturing group: get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed, and discover what filament is right for you.

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

*Anti-static is a qualitative term and refers to something that prevents build-up of static, rather than dissipating what does occur


Surface Resistance, Surface Resistivity and Volume Resistivity

Surface resistance in ohms is a measurement to evaluate static-dissipative packaging materials.

Surface resistivity in ohms/square is used to evaluate insulative materials where high resistance characteristics are desirable. (Ref. https://www.evaluationengineering.com/home/article/13000514/the-difference-between-surface-resistance-and-surface-resistivity)

The standard for measuring surface resistance of ESD materials is EOS/ESD S11.11, released in 1993 by the ESD Association as an improvement over ASTM D-257 (the classic standard for evaluating insulators). Driving this need was the non-homogeneous structure of ESD materials (conductive material added to plastic), which had a different effect on testing parameters such as voltage or humidity,  than found with evaluating conductors.

Volume resistivity is yet a third possible measured electrical property, though again better suited for true conductors rather than ESD material. It depends on the area of the ohmeter’s electrodes and the thickness of the material sample. Units are ohm-cm or ohm-m.

             

Bring Your Most Imaginative Ideas to Life with Pantone Validation on the Stratasys J750 & J735

If seeing is believing, holding something this vivid is knowing for sure.

The Stratasys J735 and J750 deliver unrivaled aesthetics to your brightest ideas and boldest ambitions with true, full-color capability, texture mapping and color gradients.

3D print prototypes that look, feel and operate like the finished products in multiple materials and colors without sacrificing time for intricacy and complexity. Better communicate designs with vivid, realistic samples, and save on manual post-processing delays and costs.

Stratasys J735 and J750 printers are PANTONE Validated™

This validation makes the Pantone Matching System (PMS) Colors available for the first time in a 3D printing solution. It provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers. It helps define, communicate and control color from inspiration to realization.

Color matching to Pantone Colors in a single click

GrabCAD Print software provides a quicker, more realistic expression of color in your models and prototypes, saving hours over traditional paint matching or iterative color matching processes.

  • Adding Pantone color selection increases the color gamut found within the GrabCAD Print Application and simplifies the color selection process
  • Designers can access the colors directly from GrabCAD Print, selecting Pantone within the Print Settings dialog box. From within this view the user can search for their desired Pantone color or select from the list.

Multiple material selections

This means  you can load up to six materials at once, including any combination of rigid, flexible, transparent or opaque materials and their components.

Double the number of print nozzles

More print heads means you can produce ultra-smooth surfaces and fine details with layer thickness as fine as 0.014 mm—about half the width of a human skin cell.

Discover how you can achieve stronger realism and color matching thanks to the Pantone Validation available on the Stratasys J750 & J735.

Contact the industry experts at PADT via the link below for more information:

Presentation: 3D Printing & Optics

The experts at PADT are often asked to speak at conferences around the country, even around the world. This is a great opportunity for us to present what we do and share what we know. The downside is that we only reach the people in the room. The solve this, we are going back and presenting past live seminars at our desks and recording them on BrightTalk. This is the third of those recordings. To find others go to our BrightTalk Channel

The world of optical systems is a subset of mechanical engineering with unique needs and requirements. Those unique needs also make it an ideal area to apply Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D Printing.

This is a presentation that we gave at Photonics Days, held at the University of Arizona in Tucson Arizona from January 30th through February 1st of 2019.

You can view the presentation on BrightTALK here:
https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15747/360024

Presentation: Metal 3D Printing is Changing Design, Here is how Design Engineers can Adapt

Legacy Presentation Series:

The experts at PADT are often asked to speak at conferences around the country, even around the world. This is a great opportunity for us to present what we do and share what we know. The downside is that we only reach the people in the room. The solve this, we are going back and presenting past live seminars at our desks and recording them on BrightTalk. This is the first of those recordings. To find others go to our BrightTalk Channel

Metal 3D Printing systems, especially Powder Bed Fusion Additive Manufacturing machines, have made the free-form creation of metal parts directly from CAD a reality. This has freed geometry from the constraints of traditional manufacturing and reducing the product development process. 

This presentation goes over what Design Engineers need to know to adapt to the possibility and constraints of 3D Printing in metal.

View the recording here: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15747/359359

3D Printing Infill Styles – the What, When and Why of Using Infill

Have you ever wondered about choosing a plain versus funky infill-style for filament 3D-printing? Amongst the ten standard types (no, the cat infill design is not one of them), some give you high strength, some greatly decrease material use or printing time, and others are purposely tailored with an end-use in mind.

Highly detailed Insight slicing software from Stratasys gives you the widest range of possibilities; the basic versions are also accessible from GrabCAD Print, the direct-CAD-import, cloud-connected slicing software that offers an easy approach for all levels of 3D print users.

A part that is mimicking or replacing a metal design would do best when built with Solid infill to give it weight and heft, while a visual-concept model printed as five different test-versions may work fine with a Sparse infill, saving time and material. Here at PADT we printed a number of sample cubes with open ends to demonstrate a variety of the choices in action. Check out these hints for evaluating each one, and see the chart at the end comparing build-time, weight and consumed material.

Infill choices for 3D printed parts, offered with Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print software. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Basic Infill Patterns

Solid (also called Alternating Raster) This is the default pattern, where each layer has straight fill-lines touching each other, and the layer direction alternates by 90 degrees. This infill uses the most material but offers the highest density; use it when structural integrity and super-low porosity are most important.

Solid (Alternating Raster)

Sparse Raster lines for Sparse infill also run in one direction per layer, alternating by layer, but are widely spaced (the default spacing is 0.080 inches/2 mm). In Insight, or using the Advanced FDM settings in GrabCAD, you can change the width of both the lines and the spaces.

Sparse Double Dense As you can imagine, Sparse Double Dense achieves twice the density of regular Sparse: it deposits in two directions per layer, creating an open grid-pattern that stacks up throughout the part.

Sparse High Density Just to give you one more quick-click option, this pattern effectively sits between Sparse Double Dense and Solid. It lays rasters in a single direction per layer, but not as closely spaced as for Solid.

Hexagram The effect of this pattern looks similar to a honeycomb but it’s formed differently. Each layer gets three sets of raster lines crossing at different angles, forming perfectly aligned columns of hexagons and triangles. Hexagram is time-efficient to build, lightweight and strong in all directions.

Hexagram
Additional infill styles and the options for customizing them within a part, offered within Stratasys Insight 3D printing slicing and set-up software. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Advanced Infill Patterns (via Custom Groups in Insight)

Hexagon By laying down rows of zig-zag lines that alternately bond to each other and bend away, Hexagon produces a classic honeycomb structure (every two rows creates one row of honeycomb). The pattern repeats layer by layer so all vertical channels line up perfectly. The amount of build material used is just about one-third that of Solid but strength is quite good.

Hexagon

Permeable Triangle A layer-by-layer shifting pattern of triangles and straight lines creates a strong infill that builds as quickly as Sparse, but is extremely permeable. It is used for printing sacrificial tooling material (i.e., Stratsys ST130) that will be wrapped with composite material and later dissolved away.

Permeable Triangle

Permeable Tubular This infill is formed by a 16-layer repeating pattern deposited first as eight varying wavy layers aligned to the X axis and then the same eight layers aligned to the Y axis. The resulting structure is a series of vertical cylinders enhanced with strong cross-bars, creating air-flow channels highly suited to tooling used on vacuum work-holding tables.

Permeable Tubular 0.2 Spacing
Permeable Tubular 0.5 Spacing

Gyroid (so cool we printed it twice) The Gyroid pattern belongs to a class of mathematically minimal surfaces, providing infill strength similar to that of a hexagon, but using less material. Since different raster spacings have quite an effect, we printed it first with the default spacing of 0.2 inches and then widened that to 0.5 inches. Print time and material use dropped dramatically.

Gyroid 0.2 Spacing
Gyroid 0.5 Spacing

Schwarz D (Diamond) This alternate style of minimal surface builds in sets of seven different layers along the X-axis, ranging from straight lines to near-sawtooth waves, then flipping to repeat the same seven layers along the Y-axis. The Schwarz D infill balances strength, density and porosity. As with the Gyroid, differences in raster spacing have a big influence on the material use and build-time.

Schwarz Diamond 0.2 Spacing
Schwarz Diamond 0.5 Spacing

Digging Deeper Into Infill Options

Infill Cell Type/0.2 spacing Build Time Weight Material Used
Alternating Raster (Solid) 1 h 57 min 123.77 g 6.29 cu in.
Sparse Double Dense 1 hr 37 min 44.09 g 4.52 cu in.
Hexagon (Honeycomb) 1 h 49 min 37.79 g 2.56 cu in.
Hexagram (3 crossed rasters) 1 h 11 min. 47.61 g 3.03 cu in.
Permeable Triangle 1 h 11 min. 47.67 g 3.04 cu in.
Permeable Tubular – small 2 h 5 min. 43.95 g 2.68 cu in.
Gyroid – small 1 h 48 min. 38.68 g 2.39 cu in.
Schwarz Diamond (D) – small 1 h 35 min. 47.8 g 3.04 cu in.
Infill Cell Type/0.5 spacing Build Time Weight Material Used
Permeable Tubular – Large 1 h 11 min. 21.84 g 1.33 cu in.
Gyroid – Large 57 min. 20.59 g 1.29 cu in.
Schwarz Diamond (D) – Large 58 min. 23.74 g 1.51 cu in.

Hopefully this information helps you perfect your design for optimal strength or minimal material-use or fastest printing. If you’re still not sure which way to go, contact our PADT Manufacturing group: get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed and discover what infill works best for the job at hand.

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

Introducing the Stratasys V650 Flex – Stereolithography Upgraded

The result of over four years of testing, the Stratasys V650 Flex delivers high quality outputs unfailingly, time after time. More than 75,000 hours of collective run time have gone into the V650 Flex; producing more than 150,000 parts in its refinement.

Upgrade to the Stratasys V650 Flex 3D Stereolithography printer and you can add game-changing advances in speed, accuracy and reliability to the established capabilities of Stereolithography. Create smooth-surfaced prototypes, master patterns, large concept models and investment casting patterns more quickly and more precisely than ever.  

In partnership with DSM, Stratasys have configured, pre-qualified and fine-tuned a four-strong range of resins specifically to maximize the productivity, reliability and efficiency of the V650 Flex 3D printer. Create success with thermoplastic elastomers, polyethylene, polypropylene and ABS:

Next-generation stereolithography resins, ideal for investment casting patterns.

Stereolithography accuracy with the look, feel and performance of thermoplastic.

For applications needing strong, stiff, high-heat-resistant composites. Great detail resolution

A clear solution delivering ABS and PBT-like properties for stereolithography.

Thanks to reduced downtime and increased workflow, the Stratasys V650 Flex prints through short power outages, and if you ever need to re-start, you can pick up exactly where you left off. Years of testing have helped deliver not only the stamina to run and run, but also low maintenance needs and high efficiency. To make life even easier, the V650 Flex runs on 110V power, with no need to switch to a 220V power source.

For ease of use, every V650 Flex comes with a user-friendly, touch-enabled interface developed in parallel with SolidView build preparation software. This software contains smart power controls and an Adaptive Power Mode for automated adjustment of laser power, beam size and scan speeds for optimum build performance. 

The V650 Flex also comes equipped with adjustable beam spot sizes from 0.005” to 0.015” that enhance control, detail, smoothness and accuracy. With more precise printing comes better informed decision-making and better chances of success. You have twice the capacity and, to ease workflow further, this production-based machine provides a large VAT for maximum output (build volume 20”W x 20”D x 23”H) and interchangeable VATs.

Through partnering with Stratasys and Stereolithography now comes with an invaluable component: peace of mind. The V650 Flex is backed by the end-to-end and on-demand service and world-class support that is guaranteed with Stratasys. Any field issues get fixed fast, and their 30 years’ experience in 3D printing enable us to help you do more than ever, more efficiently.

Discover how you can work with advanced efficiency thanks to the all new Stratasys V650 Flex.

Contact the industry experts at PADT via the link below for more information:

Seven Tips for 3D Printing with Nylon 12CF

If you’ve been thinking of trying out Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber (12CF)  to replace aluminum tooling or create strong end-use parts, do it! All the parts we’ve built here at PADT have shown themselves to be extremely strong and durable and we think you should consider evaluating this material.

Nylon 12CF filament consists of black Nylon 12 filled with chopped carbon fibers; it currently runs on the Stratasys Fortus 380cf, Fortus 450 and Fortus 900 FDM systems when set up with the corresponding head/tip configuration. (The chopped fiber behavior requires a hardened extruder and the chamber runs at a higher temperature.) We’ve run it on our Fortus 450 and found with a little preparation you get excellent first-part-right results.

Forming tool printed in Nylon 12CF on a Stratasys Fortus 450 FDM printer. Build orientation was chosen to have the tool on its side while printing, producing a smooth curved surface (the critical area). (Image courtesy PADT)

With Nylon 12CF, fiber alignment is in the direction of extrusion, producing ultimate tensile strength of 10,960 psi (XZ orientation) and 4,990 psi (ZX orientation), with tensile modulus of 1,100 ksi (XZ) and 330 ksi (ZX). By optimizing your pre-processing and build approach, you can create parts that take advantage of these anisotropic properties and display behavior similar to that of composite laminates.

Best Practices for Successful Part Production

Follow these steps to produce best-practice Nylon 12CF parts:

  1. Part set-up in Insight or GrabCAD Print software:
    • If the part has curves that need a smooth surface, such as for use as a bending tool, orient it so the surface in question builds vertically. Also, set up the orientation to avoid excess stresses in the z-direction.
    • The Normal default build-mode selection works for most parts unless there are walls thinner than 0.2 inches/0.508 mm; for these, choose Thin Wall Mode, which reduces the build-chamber temperature, avoiding any localized overheating/melting issues. Keep the default raster and contour widths at 0.2 inches/0.508 mm.
    • For thin, flat parts (fewer than 10 layers), zoom in and count the number of layers in the toolpath. If there is an even number of layers, create a Custom Group that lets you define the raster orientation of the middle two layers to be the same – then let the rest of the layers alternate by 90 degrees as usual. This helps prevent curl in thin parts.
    • Set Seam Control to Align or Align to nearest, and avoid setting seams on edges of thin parts; this yields better surface quality.

2. In the Support Parameters box, the default is “Use Model Material where Possible” – keep it. Building both the part and most of the surrounding supports from the same material reduces the impact of mismatched thermal coefficient of expansion between the model and support materials. It also shortens the time that the model extruder is inactive, avoiding the chance for depositing unwanted, excess model material. Be sure that “Insert Perforation Layers” is checked and set that number to 2, unless you are using Box-style supports – then select 3. This improves support removal in nearly enclosed cavities.

3. Set up part placement in Control Center or GrabCAD Print software: you want to ensure good airflow in the build chamber. Place single parts near the center of the build-plate; for a mixed-size part group, place the tallest part in the center with the shorter ones concentrically around it.

4. Be sure to include a Sacrificial Tower. This is always the first part built, layer by layer, and should be located in the right-front corner. Keep the setting of Full Height so that it continues building to the height of the tallest part. You’ll see the Tower looks very stringy! That means it is doing its job – it takes the brunt of stray strings and material that may not be at perfect temperature at the beginning of each layer’s placement.

Part set-up of a thin, flat Nylon 12CF part in GrabCAD print, with Sacrificial Tower in its correct position at lower right, to provide a clean start to each build-layer. (Image courtesy PADT)

5. Run a tip-offset calibration, or two, or three, on your printer. This is really important, particularly for the support material, to ensure the deposited “bead” is flat, not rounded or asymmetric. Proper bead-profile ensures good adhesion between model and support layers.

6. After printing, allow the part to cool down in the build chamber. When the part(s) and sheet are left in the printer for at least 30 minutes, everything cools down slowly together, minimizing the possibility of curling. We have found that for large, flat parts, putting a 0.75-inch thick aluminum plate on top of the part while it is still in the chamber, and then keeping the part and plate “sandwiched” together after taking it out of the chamber to completely cool really keeps things flat.

7. If you have trouble getting the part off the build sheet: Removing the part while it is still slightly warm makes it easier to get off; if your part built overnight and then cooled before you got to it, you can put it in a low temp oven (about 170F) for ten (10) to 20 minutes – it will be easier to separate. Also, if the part appears to have warped that will go away after the soluble supports have been removed.

Be sure to keep Nylon 12CF canisters in a sealed bag when not in use as the material, like any nylon, will absorb atmospheric moisture over time.

Many of these tips are further detailed in a “Best Practices for FDM Nylon 12CF” document from Stratasys; ask PADT for a copy of it, as well as for a sample or benchmark part. Nylon 12 CF offers a fast approach to producing durable, custom components. Discover what Nylon 12CF can mean for your product development and production groups. Don’t forget to check the Custom Printing San Diego services for more information on the best printing techniques.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Nylon 12CF and Stratasys products, contact us at info@padtinc.com.