3D Printing Information for 5th Digital Printing Press Conference, 2014

dppcPADT was pleased to give a talk on 3D Printing at the 5th Digital Printing Press Conference on April 30th, 2014 in Scottsdale.  

Any time I get a chance to attend an industry specific conference like this one, it is a real eye opener.  There is a huge amount of work around the world in making digital printers.  I learned a huge amount that is applicable to other things that PADT does. In addition, the audience was very interested in 3D Printing and asked some very insightful questions, and provided some insight in to how ink jet is growing and evolving in additive manufacturing. 

As promised during the presentation, here are some useful links:

Pictures and Reflections from PADT’s 20th Anniversary Party

PADt-20-Logo-Rect-500wPADT held our 20th anniversary party at our primary offices in Tempe Arizona on April 10th. Despite the record high temperatures, around 400 people stop by to help us celebrate.  There was good food, good entertainment, and most importantly, good people.  

A highlight of the event is that April 10th was proclaimed PADT day in Tempe!  That was an unexpected honor.  

The only problem was not enough time to talk with everyone.  If you could not make it, no worries. We have several events planned throughout the year.

Here are some images that we captured:

Most of these pictures were taken by Aaron Moncur from PipelineDesign.

#padt20

Color 3D Printer Added to PADT’s Rapid Prototyping Product and Services Offering

PADT’s new Objet500 Connex3 is up and running, just in time for our 20th Anniversary party tonight.  The latest machine from Stratasys is the first true 3D Color Printer that allows users to print accurate and durable parts in whatever combination of color they want, including tinted transparent material. The machine is comfortably nestled between our FORTUS 400 and FORTUS 250MC.  

connex3-new-machine-padt
We are especially pleased to have several executives and support people from Stratasys, the manufacturer of this machine, here for our party tonight.  They will be around to answer questions and will be offering a brief presentation on their technology as well.

Yesterday we successfully ran the standard “wrench” demo models:
connex3-wrench-test-modelsAnd overnight we ran some more sample parts along with a printout of a 3D FEA result on a valve model:connex3-sample-fea-results
The parts are still inside the support material, so you can’t see all the colors. Have no fear, we will be blogging about the FEA model very shortly.

PADT has been offering this machine for sale since its introduction in February and we have already sold one and have several other users about to purchase.  The advantages of having a color part without having to paint on are significant.  With our own machine we can now build benchmark parts for potential buyers and we can also offer color printing as part of our Rapid Prototyping services

We will be showing off this machine, along with everything else PADT does, at our party tonight.  But if you can’t make it and would like to learn more, just reach out to our sales team at sales@padtinc.com, our prototyping services team at rp@padtinc.com or just give us a call at 480.813.4884.

UPDATE:

Here is the cleaned valve displacement 3D Plot:
color-valve-deflection-1

 

Reblog: Terry Wohlers Predictions at Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo

If you are interested in 3D Printing and you don’t follow Terry Wohlers, you should. He has been following this industry since it started and he is one of the best at separating hype from reality.

Here is a link to a blog post on 3dprinter.net on his predictions at this years Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo.

He brings up some very good points on where the technology is being used today and where growth may occur.  Also some thoughts on the global growth of additive manufacturing, and the obstacles and challenges the industry faces. 

My favorite take-away from the posting is Terry’s that “more and more effort is needed to not just take a traditional design and 3D Print it, but rather to re-think the entire part design to take into account the capabilities and limitations of AM.”

PADT to Present 3D Printing at Digital Printing Presses Conference in Scottsdale

The merger of modern 2D printing and 3D printing is getting closer and stronger.  As a sign of the convergence, this years Digital Printing Presses Conference has invited PADT to give a presentation to the digital printing press community on 3D Printing.  The conference runs from April 30th through May 2nd in Scottsdale, Arizona. PADT will be presenting during the opening session on April 30th.

Learn more about the event here.

If you happen to be one of those people at the crossroads of 2D and 3D printing, this would be a great event to attend and see how both industries are progressing.

Here is the official press release with more details:

PRLog (Press Release) – Apr. 4, 2014 – SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT) is honored to announce that they have been invited to speak on the opening day of the 5th Digital Printing Presses Conference.   The event sponsors, the Information Management Institute, recognize that the growth of 3D Printing is having a major impact on digital printing, and they asked PADT to explain the technology and how it impacts the industry. If you are needing some digital printings visit xerocopy. The presentation: “3D Printing: What it is Now and How it is Changing the Way Things are Made” will be given by one of PADT’s co-owners, Eric Miller.

The talk will focus on how the technology works, applications and how it is changing manufacturing. In addition he will discuss strengths and weaknesses of the technology, the business climate, and future directions for the technology. Additive Manufacturing technology encompasses a wide range of processes that can be used to directly create physical objects from a computer model.

3D Printing refers to a subset of Additive Manufacturing that allows the creation of parts without any special training or expertise, the users simply prints a part just as they would a document on a traditional digital printer.  As the technology evolves the differences between Digital Printing and 3D Printing are disappearing. Because of this, many providers of Digital Printing services are investigation, or adding, 3D Printing as a service that they can offer their customers.  This presentation will focus on exploring this new synergy.

Mr. Miller points out that “3D printing is on everyone’s mind, especially how it will impact their particular industry. Our goal is for everyone who attends to get a firm grasp on what the technology can and can’t do, and know enough to make decisions on how they can use it in their area of digital printing.” The event is being held on April 30th through May 2nd of 2014, at the Saguaro Scottsdale Resort in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona.  Mr. Miller will be presenting during the first session from 1:00 to 6:30 on April 30th.  To learn more about the event, visit: http://www.imiconf.com To learn more about PADT and 3D printing, visit: http://www.padtinc.com

TechShop Chandler: A Place for Makers, Builders, Inventors, and Engineers

The other day some visitors to PADT asked if we wanted to tour their new facility. Some place called TechShop Chandler. I had heard some about them, a place where you can have access to tech tools and technology, but I didn’t know much more than that. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised when we stopped by for a tour. 

Most Everything you Need

The tag line on their website reads: “TechShop is a vibrant, creative community that provides access to tools, software and space. You can make virtually anything at TechShop. Come and build your dreams!”  I have to say, that tag line looks pretty dang accurate.

The facility is located in the ASU Chandler Innovation Center just east of downtown Chandler. A great location close to the 202, and some good food and drink (not that that matters much… but if you are working on a project and need a break… just saying).  The building has been completely renovated and provides a great space.

Even in this new location (there are seven other location) in Chandler, they have fully functioning labs that contain the equipment and software one would need to truly build almost anything.  That in itself is pretty useful, but what is more important is they offer training on all of the tools they make available, often the missing piece in other attempts we have seen to offer technology and tools to people.

The offering of equipment and tools that we saw was very comprehensive and included a computer lab with full CAD software tools, a full wood shop with CNC routers, a full sheet metal shop, welding, machining, injection molding, electronics, laser cutting, 3D printing, and even industrial sewing.  They have lots of room for working and for meeting. 

On top of all that, they host programs for schools as well as meetups for the community. 

How it Works

TechShop describes their membership system like a gym.  You pay a monthly membership fee and, once you have successfully completed the training, you have access to the equipment, computers, and software at the facility.  As you would expect, they have discounts if you sign up for automatic renewal, a yearly membership, or if you add family members.  They also offer students (18 and older) and Active Duty Military a significant discount.  Corporations can negotiate memberships as well.  Check out the costs for TechShop Chandler here.  Just to give you an idea, the basic one month membership with no discounts is only $175/month.  Pretty affordable once you get your head around how many resources you get access to.

What do YOU want to make?

That is the heading at the top of their website, and it fits.  If you are a hobbyist,  inventor,  engineer,  student, or fabricator, you should check out TechShop.  Even if you have equipment at work or at home, it is a great resource to gain training and access to a wider variety of tools and equipment. All in a clean and positive environment working side by side with other like-minded members. 

Check them out on the web:

www.techshop.ws/ts_chandler.html 

Or give them a call and set up a visit: 480 327-0820.

For those of you reading this outside of the Phoenix area, there are locations in:

  • San Carlos, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Allen Park, MI (Detroit)
  • Round Rock, TX (Austin)
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Arlington, VA

With many more planned.

Desktop 3D Scanning with Geomagic Capture


Geomagic-Capture

If you have been following PADT closely for a while, you know that we have been working hard to find good scanning solutions for our customers since we started the company twenty years ago.  For many years we recommended professional inspection service providers that used traditional CMM devices to reverse engineer or inspect parts, we just didn’t have a good scanning solution in-house.

A few years back we found a great solution for many of our customers when we started using and selling Cross Sectional Scanners (CSS) from CGI. This technology works great with plastic parts and is highly accurate, especially for parts with internal features. However we still needed a solution for metal parts and parts that you can’t chop up when you inspect them.

sean-head-laser-scanSo we kept looking at scanners, we tried a variety of hand-held laser scanners.  We even made it on the local news using it on a local news anchor to scan his head. But we could not get the ease of use and accuracy we wanted for engineering.

Then Geomagic introduced the Geomagic Capture system and we gave it a try.  We feel that we now have a desktop scanning solution that we can recommend to customers and we have proven we can do engineering services work with. So we now sell the Geomagic Capture scanning system and provide non-destructive 3D scanning as a service.

Here is a great introductory video that shows the system and how it works:

Not a Laser

The big difference with this system is that it is not a laser scanner. It actually is a blue Structured-Light scanner.  Basically it projects a pattern of lines onto an object, and measure how the lines deviate from being straight. That deviation gives a very accurate measurement of the location of points on the surface of the object.  No laser, no reflective dots, no problems with stray data.  
geomagic-capture-scanner

In our testing the system seems to work on a variety of surface types and shapes.  If the object is reflective or too dark, you simply cover it with a chalky powder and everything is good.  Not using lasers, the device is also relatively small and compact.

A System: Hardware and Software

One of the reasons why we like this particular scanner over others is that it is a solution that contains both hardware and software. In fact, the scanner technology itself has been around for some time. What makes this scanner our choice is that Geomagic, experts in dealing with the output from scanners, developed the software that gathers and massages the data coming from the scanner. This makes a huge difference in ease of use.

Our engineers are still learning all the ins-and-outs on the system, but they were able to do productive work with it almost right out of the box.  The software steps you through the process and give really nice visual feedback while you are setting up a scan. This avoid the need to scan, review, fix something, try again, check… round and round.  And once you have good point data, you have the full suite of Geomagic tools to convert it into an STL file or into a usable CAD model.

When you purchase the Geomagic Capture system you have your choice of:

  • Geomagic Capture for SolidWorks
    Add-in software for SolidWorks, that presents the Geomagic tools you need in the SolidWorks interface you are used to working with.
  • Geomagic Capture for SpaceClaim
    Add-in software for SpaceClaim, combining best-in-class scanning, facet, and point cloud tools with a robust direct solid modeler, all in the same interface.
  • Geomagic Capture for Design X
    Powerful and comprehensive advanced reverse engineering that allows you to create feature-based CAD models directly from your scan data.
  • Geomagic Capture for Design Direct
    A bundle that includes SpaceClaim and the Geomagic Capture plug-in as a complete solution for those that do not have a CAD system that supports working with point data. This package is best if you have a CAD package other than SolidWorks or SpaceClaim.

Specifications 

Here are the specifications for the system:

Specification Value
Scan Speed 0.3 sec per scan
Field of View (Diagonal)/Near End – Far End 172 – 260 mm
6.77 – 10.24 in
Field of View (X-Y)/Near End – Far End 123×120 – 192×175 mm
4.84×4.72 – 7.56×6.89 in
Clearance Distance 300 mm
11.81 in
Depth of Field 180 mm
7.09 in
Resolution Average Points 985,000 per scan
Average Polygons 1.97 million per scan
Point to Point Distance 0.162 mm
0.000638 in
(at center of volume)
Accuracy / Near End – Far End 60 – 118 microns
Calibration Pre-calibrated

geomagic-capture-brochureYou can also download the brochure here.

Try it on Your Part

The best way to see if this is the right scanner for you is to contact PADT and have us do a scanning job for you.  As always with PADT we will not just do the work, but we will show you what we did and help you to see what your best solution is.

Comprehensive Online Course on 3D Printing Added to Lynda.com

The other day I got an email from Brenda Newhouse, the very talented owner of Newhouse Studios who helped us design and build the PADT website, on a link she had found on Lynda.com for a course on 3D Printing. Our to-do list always contained “produce comprehensive 3D printing online course” but we never got around to it. Now we don’t have to. (yay!)
up-and-running-with-3d-printing
The people at Lynda.com have created a really nice course that shocked us in its detail and accuracy, at least the parts we could look at for free. The listing of topics backs this up.  With the recent hype around 3D Printing, we often see postings that are mostly hyperbole or just wrong. Kacie Hultgren, the creator of this course, really knows what she is doing and covers all of the bases.  The production looks very professional as well… certainly not someone holding a phone while their buddy talks. 

You can get an overview here:

http://www.lynda.com/3D-Animation-Prototyping-tutorials/Up-Running-3D-Printing/151814-2.html 

It looks like Lynda.com charges $25/month, which is very reasonable.  If you are new to 3D Printing and want to learn more, this looks to be a great place to start.

3D Color Printing: Stratasys Publishes Nice White Paper on Maximizing Multi-Material and Color 3D Printing

connex3-machine
Stratasys just released a nice white paper on the uses of their new color technology in the Objet500 Connex3 system.  This machine is more than just a way to print parts in a variety of colors, it allows you to load three different materials, including colors. 
3D-Color-Printing-Colors-1The paper goes in to some detail on how the technology works, what the advantages are, and offers some use cases where beta testers in industry were able to apply the technology on their projects.  If you are interested in 3D Printing in general, and printing color parts in particular, you should download the white paper.

 3D-Color-Printing-Pressure-Contour-1As always, if you can contact PADT at 480.813.4884 or sales@padtinc.com. Or visit our website.

Triplex-Helmet_960x350

ANSYS & 3D Printing: Converting your ANSYS Mechanical or MAPDL Model into an STL File

image3D printing is all the rage these days.  PADT has been involved in what should be called Additive Manufacturing since our founding twenty years ago.  So people in the ANSYS world often come to us for advice on things 3D Printer’ish.  And last week we got an email asking if we had a way to convert a deformed mesh into a STL file that can be used to print that deformed geometry.  This email caused neurons to fire that had not fired in some time. I remembered writing something but it was a long time ago.

Fortunately I have Google Desktop on my computer so I searched for ans2stl, knowing that I always called my translators ans2nnn of some kind. There it was.  Last updated in 2001, written in maybe 1995. C.  I guess I shouldn’t complain, it could have been FORTRAN. The notes say that the program has been successfully tested on Windows NT. That was a long time ago.

So I dusted it off and present it here as a way to get results from your ANSYS Mechanical or ANSYS Mechanical APDL model as a deformed STL file.

UPDATE – 7/8/2014

Since this article was written, we have done some more work with STL files. This Macro works fine on a tetrahedral mesh, but if you have hex elements, it won’t work – it assumes triangles on the face.  It also requires a macro and some ‘C’ code, which is an extra pain. So we wrote a more generic macro that works with Hex or Tet meshes, and writes the file directly. It can be a bit slow but no annoyingly slow.  We recommend you use this method instead of the ones outlined below.

Here is the macro:  writstl.zip

The Process

An STL file is basically a faceted representation of geometry. Triangles on the surface of your model. So to get an STL file of an FEA model, you simply need to generate triangles on your mesh face, write them out to a file, and convert them to an STL format.  If you want deformed geometry, simply use the UPGEOM command to move your nodes to the deformed position.

The Program

Here is the source code for the windows version of the program:

/*
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 PADT--------------------------------------------------- Phoenix Analysis &
                                                        Design Technologies

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             www.padtinc.com
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

       Package: ans2stl

          File: ans2stl.c
          Args: rootname
        Author: Eric Miller, PADT
		(480) 813-4884 
		eric.miller@padtinc.com

	Simple program that takes the nodes and elements from the
	surface of an ANSYS FE model and converts it to a binary
	STL file.

	USAGE:
		Create and ANSYS surface mesh one of two ways:
			1: amesh the surface with triangles
			2: esurf an existing mesh with triangles
         	Write the triangle surface mesh out with nwrite/ewrite
		Run ans2stl with the rootname of the *.node and *.elem files
		   as the only argument
		This should create a binary STL file

	ASSUMPTIONS:
		The ANSYS elements are 4 noded shells (MESH200 is suggested)
		in triangular format (nodes 3 and 4 the same)

		This code has been succesfully compiled and tested
		on WindowsNT

		NOTE: There is a known issue on UNIX with byte order
				Please contact me if you need a UNIX version

	COMPILE:
		gcc -o ans2stl_win ans2stl_win.c

       10/31/01:       Cleaned up for release to XANSYS and such
       1/13/2014:	Yikes, its been 12+ years. A little update 
       			and publish on The Focus blog
			Checked it to see if it works with Windows 7. 
			It still compiles with GCC just fine.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
PADT, Inc. provides this software to the general public as a curtesy.
Neither the company or its employees are responsible for the use or
accuracy of this software.  In short, it is free, and you get what
you pay for.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
*/
/*======================================================

   SAMPLE ANSYS INPUT DECK THAT SHOWS USAGE

finish
/clear
/file,a2stest
/PREP7  
!----------
! Build silly geometry
BLC4,-0.6,0.35,1,-0.75,0.55 
SPH4,-0.8,-0.4,0.45 
CON4,-0.15,-0.55,0.05,0.35,0.55 
VADD,all
!------------------------
! Mesh surface with non-solved (MESH200) triangles
et,1,200,4
MSHAPE,1,2D   ! Use triangles for Areas
MSHKEY,0      ! Free mesh
SMRTSIZE,,,,,5
AMESH,all
!----------------------
! Write out nodes and elements
nwrite,a2stest,node
ewrite,a2stest,elem
!--------------------
! Execute the ans2stl program
/sys,ans2stl_win.exe a2stest

======================================================= */

#include 
#include 
#include 

typedef struct vertStruct *vert;
typedef struct facetStruct *facets;
typedef struct facetListStruct *facetList;

        int     ie[8][999999];
        float   coord[3][999999];
        int	np[999999];

struct vertStruct {
  float	x,y,z;
  float	nx,ny,nz;
  int  ivrt;
  facetList	firstFacet;
};

struct facetListStruct {
  facets	facet;
  facetList	next;
};

struct facetStruct {
  float	xn,yn,zn;
  vert	v1,v2,v3;
};

facets	theFacets;
vert	theVerts;

char	stlInpFile[80];
float	xmin,xmax,ymin,ymax,zmin,zmax;
float   ftrAngle;
int	nf,nv;  

void swapit();
void readBin();
void getnorm();
long readnodes();
long readelems();

/*--------------------------------*/
main(argc,argv)
     int argc;
     char *argv[];
{
  char nfname[255];
  char efname[255];
  char sfname[255];
  char s4[4];
  FILE	*sfile;
  int	nnode,nelem,i,i1,i2,i3;
  float	xn,yn,zn;

  if(argc <= 1){
        puts("Usage:  ans2stl file_root");
        exit(1);
  }
  sprintf(nfname,"%s.node",argv[1]);
  sprintf(efname,"%s.elem",argv[1]);
  sprintf(sfname,"%s.stl",argv[1]);

  nnode = readnodes(nfname);
  nelem = readelems(efname);
  nf = nelem;

  sfile = fopen(sfname,"wb");
  fwrite("PADT STL File, Solid Binary",80,1,sfile);
  swapit(&nelem,s4);    fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);

  for(i=0;i<nelem;i++){ 
      i1 = np[ie[0][i]];
      i2 = np[ie[1][i]];
      i3 = np[ie[2][i]];
      getnorm(&xn,&yn,&zn,i1,i2,i3);

      swapit(&xn,s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&yn,s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&zn,s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);

      swapit(&coord[0][i1],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[1][i1],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[2][i1],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);

      swapit(&coord[0][i2],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[1][i2],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[2][i2],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);

      swapit(&coord[0][i3],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[1][i3],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      swapit(&coord[2][i3],s4);	fwrite(s4,4,1,sfile);
      fwrite(s4,2,1,sfile);
  }
  fclose(sfile);
    puts(" ");
  printf("  STL Data Written to %s.stl \n",argv[1]);
    puts("  Done!!!!!!!!!");
  exit(0);
}

void  getnorm(xn,yn,zn,i1,i2,i3)
	float	*xn,*yn,*zn;
	int	i1,i2,i3;
{
	float	v1[3],v2[3];
	int	i;

        for(i=0;i<3;i++){
	  v1[i] = coord[i][i3] - coord[i][i2];
	  v2[i] = coord[i][i1] - coord[i][i2];
	}

	*xn = (v1[1]*v2[2]) - (v1[2]*v2[1]);
	*yn = (v1[2]*v2[0]) - (v1[0]*v2[2]);
	*zn = (v1[0]*v2[1]) - (v1[1]*v2[0]);
}
long readelems(fname)
        char    *fname;
{
        long num,i;
        FILE *nfile;
        char    string[256],s1[7];

        num = 0;
        nfile = fopen(fname,"r");
		if(!nfile){
			puts(" error on element file open, bye!");
			exit(1);
		}
        while(fgets(string,86,nfile)){
          for(i=0;i<8;i++){
            strncpy(s1,&string[6*i],6);
            s1[6] = '\0';
            sscanf(s1,"%d",&ie[i][num]);
          }
          num++;
        }

        printf("Number of element read: %d\n",num);
        return(num);
}

long readnodes(fname)
        char	*fname;
{
        FILE    *nfile;
        long     num,typeflag,nval,ifoo;
        char    string[256];

        num = 0;
        nfile = fopen(fname,"r");
		if(!nfile){
			puts(" error on node file open, bye!");
			exit(1);

		}
        while(fgets(string,100,nfile)){
          sscanf(string,"%d ",&nval);
          switch(nval){
            case(-888):
                typeflag = 1;
            break;
            case(-999):
                typeflag = 0;
            break;
            default:
                np[nval] = num;
                if(typeflag){
                        sscanf(string,"%d %g %g %g",
                           &ifoo,&coord[0][num],&coord[1][num],&coord[2][num]);
                }else{
                        sscanf(string,"%d %g %g %g",
                           &ifoo,&coord[0][num],&coord[1][num],&coord[2][num]);
                        fgets(string,81,nfile);
                }
num++;
            break;
        }

        }
        printf("Number of nodes read %d\n",num);
        return(num);

}

/* A Little ditty to swap the byte order, STL files are for DOS */
void swapit(s1,s2)
     char s1[4],s2[4];
{
  s2[0] = s1[0];
  s2[1] = s1[1];
  s2[2] = s1[2];
  s2[3] = s1[3];
}

ans2stl_win_2014_01_28.zip

Creating the Nodes and Elements

I’ve created a little example macro that can be used to make an STL of deformed geometry.  If you do not want the deformed geometry, simply remove or comment out the UPGEOM command.  This macro is good for MAPDL or ANSYS Mechanical, just comment out the last line  to use it with MAPDL:

et,999,200,4

type,999

esurf,all

finish ! exit whatever preprocessor your in

! move the RST file to a temp file for the UPCOORD. Comment out if you want

! the original geometry

/copy,file,rst,,stl_temp,rst

/prep7 ! Go in to PREP7

et,999,200,4 ! Create a dummy triangle element type, non-solved (200)

type,999 ! Make it the active type

esurf,all ! Surface mesh your model

!

! Update the geometry to the deformed shape

! The first argument is the scale factor, adjust to the appropriate level

! Comment this line out if you don’t want deformed geometry

upgeom,1000,,,stl_temp,rst

!

esel,type,999 ! Select those new elements

nelem ! Select the nodes associated with them

nwrite,stl_temp,node ! write the node file

ewrite,stl_temp,elem ! Write the element file

! Run the program to convert

! This assumes your executable in in c:\temp. If not, change to the proper

! location

/sys,c:\temp\ans2stl_win.exe stl_temp

! If this is a ANSYS Mechanical code snippet, then copy the resulting STL file up to

! the root directory for the project

! For MAPDL, Comment this line out.

/copy,stl_temp,stl,,stl_temp,stl,..\..

An Example

To prove this out using modern computing technology (remember, last time I used this was in 2001) I brought up my trusty valve body model and slammed 5000 lbs on one end, holding it on the top flange.  I then inserted the Commands object into the post processing branch:

image

When the model is solved, that command object will get executed after ANSYS is done doing all of its post processing, creating an STL of the deformed geometry. Here is what it looks like in the output file. You can see what it looks like when APDL executes the various commands:

/COPY FILE FROM FILE= file.rst

TO FILE= stl_temp.rst

FILE file.rst COPIED TO stl_temp.rst

1

***** ANSYS – ENGINEERING ANALYSIS SYSTEM RELEASE 15.0 *****

ANSYS Multiphysics

65420042 VERSION=WINDOWS x64 08:39:44 JAN 14, 2014 CP= 22.074

valve_stl–Static Structural (A5)

Note – This ANSYS version was linked by Licensee

***** ANSYS ANALYSIS DEFINITION (PREP7) *****

ELEMENT TYPE 999 IS MESH200 3-NODE TRIA MESHING FACET

KEYOPT( 1- 6)= 4 0 0 0 0 0

KEYOPT( 7-12)= 0 0 0 0 0 0

KEYOPT(13-18)= 0 0 0 0 0 0

CURRENT NODAL DOF SET IS UX UY UZ

THREE-DIMENSIONAL MODEL

ELEMENT TYPE SET TO 999

GENERATE ELEMENTS ON SURFACE DEFINED BY SELECTED NODES

TYPE= 999 REAL= 1 MATERIAL= 1 ESYS= 0

NUMBER OF ELEMENTS GENERATED= 13648

USING FILE stl_temp.rst

THE SCALE FACTOR HAS BEEN SET TO 1000.0

USING FILE stl_temp.rst

ESEL FOR LABEL= TYPE FROM 999 TO 999 BY 1

13648 ELEMENTS (OF 43707 DEFINED) SELECTED BY ESEL COMMAND.

SELECT ALL NODES HAVING ANY ELEMENT IN ELEMENT SET.

6814 NODES (OF 53895 DEFINED) SELECTED FROM

13648 SELECTED ELEMENTS BY NELE COMMAND.

WRITE ALL SELECTED NODES TO THE NODES FILE.

START WRITING AT THE BEGINNING OF FILE stl_temp.node

6814 NODES WERE WRITTEN TO FILE= stl_temp.node

WRITE ALL SELECTED ELEMENTS TO THE ELEMENT FILE.

START WRITTING AT THE BEGINNING OF FILE stl_temp.elem

Using Format = 14(I6)

13648 ELEMENTS WERE WRITTEN TO FILE= stl_temp.elem

SYSTEM=

c:\temp\ans2stl_win.exe stl_temp

Number of nodes read 6814

Number of element read: 13648

STL Data Written to stl_temp.stl

Done!!!!!!!!!

/COPY FILE FROM FILE= stl_temp.stl

TO FILE= ..\..\stl_temp.stl

FILE stl_temp.stl COPIED TO ..\..\stl_temp.stl

image

The resulting STL file looks great:

image

I use MeshLab to view my STL files because… well it is free.  Do note that the mesh looks coarser.  This is because the ANSYS mesh uses TETS with midside nodes.  When those faces get converted to triangles those midside nodes are removed, so you do get a coarser looking model.

And after getting bumped from the queue a couple of times by “paying” jobs, our RP group printed up a nice FDM version for me on one of our Stratasys uPrint Plus machines:

image

It’s kind of hard to see, so I went out to the parking lot and recorded a short video of the part, twisting it around a bit:

Here is the ANSYS Mechanical project archive if you want to play with it yourself.

Other Things to Consider

Using FE Modeler

You can use FE Modeler in a couple of different ways with STL files. First off, you can read an STL file made using the method above. If you don’t have an STL preview tool, it is an easy way to check your distorted mesh.  Just chose STL as the input file format:

image

You get this:

image

If you look back up at the open dialog you will notice that it reads a bunch of mesh formats. So one thing you could do instead of using my little program, is use FE Modeler to make your STL.  Instead of executing the program with a /SYS command, simply use a CDWRITE,DB command and then read the resulting *.CDB file into FE Modeler.  To write out the STL, just set the “Target System” to STL and then click “Write Solver File”

image

You may know, or may have noticed in the image above, that FE Modeler can read other FEA meshes.  So if you are using some other FEA package, which you should not, then you can make an STL file in FE Modeler as well.

Color Contours

The next obvious question is how do I get my color contours on the plot. Right now we don’t have that type of printer here at PADT, but I believe that the dominant 3D Color printer out, the former Z-Corp and now 3D Systems machines, will read ANSYS results files. Stratasys JUST announced a new color 3D Printer that makes usable parts. Right now they don’t have a way to do contours, but as soon as they do we will publish something.

Another option is to use a /SHOW,vrml option and then convert that to STL with the color information.

Scaling

Scaling is something you should think about. Not only the scaling on your deformed geometry, but the scaling on your model for printing.  Units can be tricky with STL files so make sure you check your model size before you print.

Smoother STL Surfaces

Your FEA mesh may be kind of coarse and the resulting STL file is even coarser because of the whole midside node thing.  Most of the smoothing tools out there will also get rid of sharp edges, so you don’t want those. Your best best is to refine your mesh or using a tool like Geomagic.

Making a CAD Model from my Deformed Mesh

Perhaps you stumbled on this posting not wanting to print your model. Maybe you want a CAD model of your deformed geometry.  You would use the same process, and then use Geomagic Studio.  It actually works very well and give you a usable CAD model when you are done.

Usable Color 3D Printed Parts Now Available with Stratasys Objet500 Connex3

We have been waiting for this day for a long time.  There have been 3D Printers out there that do multiple colors, but let’s be frank, the parts were not very strong.  Nice to look at, but not much else.

This weekend Stratasys announced the Objet500 Connex3 machine.  Based on the proven Object500 Connex this multi-material platform allows the user to use three materials, giving you a choice of 46 colors for each build.  That includes transparent material with color tinting!  You can also still mix rubber and ABS like materials.

Objet 500 machine with man and multi material 3D printed shoes

We will have more to report on this in the coming weeks, but we just wanted to get the word out: Usable Color Prototyping is here and it is bright.

If you have an immediate need, or just want to learn more, contact PADT at 480.813.4884 or shoot an email to sales@padtinc.com.

Blue glasses with tinted lenses and black rubber parts Untitled-1

PADT’s team was able to see parts made on the new device at a recent Stratasys gathering. Then they had to keep their mouths shut for two weeks.  That was hard. These parts are high-quality prototypes like you would expect from the Objet technology. But now in color.  Bright brilliant color on strong parts.  This is what many of us have been waiting for.

Here are some links to get your appetite whetted:

(Yes to our ANSYS readers. We are working on a way to get this to print results)

Wohlers Associates Lists Top 3D Printing News of 2013

Wohlers Associates just blogged their list of the top news stories for 2013 in 3D Printing.  It is worth a read to look beyond the hype we have seen this year and focus on the stories that will be having an impact in the future:

http://wohlersassociates.com/blog/2014/01/top-3d-printing-developments-in-2013/

As a Stratasys distributor and provider of additive manufacturing services, PADT can attest to the importance of the stories listed.  The first one, the GE Fuel Nozzle, had an especially significant impact on the world of commercial additive manufacturing, especially with the Aerospace customers we work with.  In many ways, GE’s move was the tipping point for metal additive manufacturing and for companies to really look at AM as an end part manufacturing solution.

2014 is already shaping up to be a big year.  We expect to see consolidation and a weeding out in the consumer and prosumer 3D printer market, better material options across all of the technologies, and more adoption of the technology in new industries and applications.

Wholers Associates has been consulting in additive manufacturing for over 27 years and is PADT’s go-to resource for what is really going on in the AM world.

What is Going on with MakerBot’s Acquisition by Stratasys?

Back in June it was announced that Stratasys was acquiring MakerBot. Many of you have been asking about the acquisition and how it impacts Stratasys and PADT. We now have some answers so we thought we would share them with you.

PADT has been involved in what is now called 3D Printing since our founding in 1994. We have seen the technology grow in popularity beyond our core engineering customer base to become a mainstream technology. The addition of MakerBot to the Stratasys family allows us to become more involved in those mainstream applications. Exciting times.

First off, the deal was a stock only transaction worth about $400,000,000, so it does not impact the ability of Stratasys to continue to invest in product growth and improvement. That was great news.

Second, it looks like for now MakerBot will be run as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys, Ltd. At first we were a bit worried about that because we wanted to interact more with the whole MakerBot universe. We soon found out that Stratasys understood this and although marketing, sales, and support are separate, there is some great cross-pollination going on.

PADT received a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer a few weeks ago and we have been playing around with it in our Colorado office. Our sales people and engineers are learning as much as they can about the system so we can better explain it to everyone we meet out there who are interested in 3D Printing.

Although we do not sell or support MakerBot products directly, we can now offer access to the MakerBot online store through a PADT link. When you purchase a printer, scanner, material, or parts after using the link, everyone knows you are a friend of PADT and we receive a small commission. We plan on using those funds to help support local 3D printer networking and education activities. And you do not have to be an existing PADT customer or located in our Stratasys sales and support territory. Anyone can purchase through the PADT link.

We will announce events, videos, and articles about MakerBot through our social media outlets and email as they get scheduled.

Presentation: Realizing Your Invention in Plastic, 3D Printing to Production

plastics-cover-1

PADT was honored to be invited to present to the Inventors Association of Arizona on September 4th, 2013. This well attended event focused on giving an overview on plastic parts, their design, and there manufacture including a quick look at additive manufacturing.

Here is a link to a PDF of the presentation:
IAA-Realizing-Invention-Plastic-2013_09_04-1

Also, during the presentation some animations showing the various additive manufacturing (3D Printing) processes didn’t play. You can find them here on an previous blog posting.

 

Polyjet 3D Printers Up and Running in Denver and Albuquerque Offices

PADT-Polyjet-Albuquerque PADT-Polyjet-Denver

With all the opening and moving of offices we failed to notice that our crack sales team sold all of our demonstration 3D Printing and rapid manufacturing machines out from underneath us.  This made it easier to move, but hard on customers who wanted to see these systems in action.  So we took the opportunity to not only replace the FDM systems in our offices, but to also add Objet30 Pro desktop printers in our New Mexico and Colorado offices.  In the past we only had Polyjet systems in our Tempe facility.

If you are not familiar with the advantages of Polyjet 3D Printing when compared to FDM or other technologies, contact us to arrange a visit to our Littleton, Albuquerque, or Tempe offices to not only see these machines in action, but to also see sample parts we have made on them.