Celebrating the Impact and Innovation of CEI, PADT’s Startup Home

In Phoenix, just North of the airport on a record hot day of 119f, about 30 people gathered into a conference room to celebrate a place that has become a bright success in the region’s startup community. The Center For Entrepreneurial Innovations, or CEI, held their first ever Innovation and Impact Celebration.  This gathering of sponsors, clients, mentors, and staff of CEI highlighted the success that this outstanding incubator has enjoyed since its grand opening in 2013.

Some of the key numbers shared were:

  • 247 high paying jobs created by CEI clients
  • $28,000,000 raised by CEI clients in investments, grants, and awards
  • $69,000,000 in revenue generating by CEI clients
  • 3,240 hours given in mentoring and consulting to CEI clients

To celebrate this success, four awards were given out.  PADT was honored to design and 3D Print these awards (read more in a separate post here) and be there to hear the great stories from the winners about how CEI has been such a great resource.

  • Paraffin International won for Graduate of the Year
  • Beacon Biomedical was awarded Client of the Year
  • Tom Lagerhausen & Tommy Andrews were recognized as Mentors of the Year
  • The City of Phoenix received Sponsor of the Year

As a tenant at CEI, PADT gets to see the inner workings that produce such fantastic numbers.  In fact, we decided to put our focus on startups at CEI because of the quality of people, programs, and support that they offer.  Back in April of 2015, we opened PADT StartUpLabs as a place to host our outreach to the community and as a way to offer affordable 3D Printing to startups. We also host seminars and meetings there because it is just a great facility.

The primary reason that we partnered with them was a little more blunt. We saw that the companies they incubated succeeded.  When many others talk the talk of startup support, CEI has been busy walking the walk.  We see it almost every day, and it is pretty unique how well they do.  Huge fans, and great to see the key success stories and contributors being recognized!

Check out this recent video to learn a bit more about how they do it:

Check it out, and get involved.  If you are a startup, look at becoming a client.  Or maybe you can volunteer to help in some way.  But what they need the most if strong partners and sponsors.   PADT has never regretted our partnership and it has  been a great win-win experience.  Stop talking about making the Phoenix area startup ecosystem better, and step up and join CEI in making it happen.




3D Printing Example: CEI Awards – Using color, multiple methods, and clever CAD

One of the fun things I get to do is design and print cool things to share what you can do with 3D Printing.  This has extended to making awards for organizations that PADT supports like the Arizona Technology Council, The Arizona SciTech Festival, and AZBio.  Recently our favorite incubator asked us to design a custom award for their first Impact and Innovation Celebration. The request was to incorporate the CEI logo:

Taking a 2D image and making it 3D can be a lot of fun, and in this case it showcased some cool things you can do with 3D CAD and then 3D Printing.  There were some special steps needed to get this one done so I thought I’d share them.

The basic concept was to take the initials, CEI, and create a block that can serve as base. Then extrude the orange line-circle geometry as the key visual object.  But the thing that sets the logo apart from most, is the use of the succulent plant, an agave I think, in the logo.  So we definitely need a 3D agave on there.  The last element needed was the actual award part, where the name and award being given could be listed.

To get started I needed to get the logo into the CAD system I use, SolidEdge. Usually I convert a PDF into DXF in Adobe Illustrator. I then imported this into sketch planes. But in this case I only had a bitmap (PNG)  Fortunately you can paste that into a sketch plan as well, then just draw on top of it.  So I made three planes: Front facing and one rotated 45 deg and another -45 about the Z axis.  I then pasted the logo on to each of these centering the bottom center of the E on the global axis. This allows me to extrude and cut on each plan while keeping everything aligned

The base was made by extruding the initials from the +45/-56 planes and doing a Boolean intersect, This gives the letters from two views while creating a “3D-ness” That stands out.  The circle-line was then extruded on the front plane to cover the block created by the intersection.  It needed a “foundation” as well as a way to hold the letters together, so I just made a simple base.

That left the agave.  I thought about modeling it but nah… too much work.  So I went online and found a bunch of plants that people have made for video games and rendering.  Cool except the format was not STL, what we need for 3D Printing. So I downloaded some crazy rendering format.  Then I used a free online tool (thank you google, sorry I didn’t write down the one I used) that converts between 3D graphics files.  That took it to STL where I could read it into Meshlab, the open source tool for playing with this type of data. As usually with models made for graphics ,there was a lot of extra data and coordinate systems didn’t really translate right.  No problem, Meshlab makes it easy to select and delete objects.  I also scaled it from gigantic to the size I needed for the award.  Next step was to save that as STL and import that into SolidEdge so I could view it and position it properly on the award.

Last was the award part itself.  I played with a couple of ideas and just came up with a simple plaque that we could 3D print words on. i made it white and the “holder” blue to stand out. Then printed the award name and winner in bright colors using the text extrusion feature in SolidEdge.  When I need to get fancy, I’ll do the words and often a logo in Illustrator, export as DXF, then import as a sketch for extrusion. But in this case a nice simple Bold Arial font worked great.

So it was done, and I have to say looked pretty good.  So I asked our experts on 3D Printing if they had any suggestions.  Their one comment was “this is really cool, but its going to be expensive to print as one part.” Duh, I should have paid more attention in my own seminar on design for 3D Printing.  I had tall thin objects and bulky objects and they were all combined.  Lots of unneeded supports and flat surfaces at non-vertical or horizontal angles in the printer.  Bad stuff.

The solution was to design the parts so they could be printed separately and easily assembled.  The resulted in an STL for the base, for the circle-line, the frame, the agave, and the award plaque with simple features that would allow us to quickly glue it all together.  We also decided to print the base on FDM because it needed to be white and used the bulk of the material, and therefore cost. The rest was printed on a Stratasys Polyjet printer in color.

One more change worth noting was how to connect the crazy shapes of the agave needed some simple interface to the circle-line part.  So I created a simple cylinder that intersected the base of the agave.  In the printer we were able to combine the STL of the cylinder and the agave with two different colors.  A cylindrical cut in the orange part made assembly easy.

The results came out pretty nice, and the winners seemed to really like them.

The great thing about 3D Printing is the restraints it removes on making things.  You still have to plan it out to align with what the printers do well, but that doesn’t take a lot of effort and the results are great



Phoenix Business Journal: ​3000 connections on LinkedIn: Celebrate or so what?

Reaching a high number of contacts on social media is one of those modern accomplishments that is not as simple as it appears. In “​3000 connections on LinkedIn: Celebrate or so what?” I talk about my reaching such a threshold, and then what that really means for business.  The connection you make, although superficial and weak, have impact.  In my opinion, it’s a good thing. Read it and see what you think.

The ANSYS Academic Program – The World’s Best Simulation Tools for Free or Discounted

Researchers and students at universities around the world are tackling difficult engineering and science problems, and they are turning to simulation more and more to get to understanding and solutions faster. Just like industry. And just like industry they are finding that ANSYS provides the most comprehensive and powerful solution for simulation. The ANSYS suite of tools deliver breadth and depth along with ease of use for every level of expertise, from Freshman to world-leading research professors. The problem in the past was that academia operates differently from industry, so getting to the right tools was a bit difficult from a lot of perspectives.

Now, with the ANSYS Academic program, barriers of price, licensing, and access are gone and ANSYS tools can provide the same benefits to college campuses that they do to businesses around the world.  And these are not stripped down tools, all of the functionality is there.

Students – Free

Yes, free.  Students can download ANSYS AIM Student or ANSYS Student under a twelve month license.  The only limitation is on problem size.  To make it easy, you can go here and download the package you need.  ANSYS AIM is a new user interface for structural, thermal, electromagnetic, and fluid flow simulation oriented towards the new or occasional user.  ANSYS Student is a size limited bundle of the full ANSYS Mechanical, ANSYS CFD, ANSYS Autodyn, ANSYS SpaceClaim, and ANSYS DesignXplorer packages.

You can learn more by downloading this PDF.

That is pretty much it. If you need ANSYS for a class or just to learn how to use the most common simulation package in industry, download it for free.

Academic Institutions – Discounted Packages

If you need access to full problem sizes or you want to use ANSYS products for your research, there are several Academic Packages that offer multiple seats of full products at discounted prices. These products are grouped by application:

  • Structural-Fluid Dynamics Academic Products — Bundles that offer structural mechanics, explicit dynamics, fluid dynamics and thermal simulation capabilities. These bundles also include ANSYS Workbench, relevant CAD import tools, solid modeling and meshing, and High Performance Computing (HPC) capability.
  • Electronics Academic Products — Bundles that offer high-frequency, signal integrity, RF, microwave, millimeter-wave device and other electronic engineering simulation capabilities. These bundles include product such as ANSYS HFSS, ANSYS Q3D Extractor,ANSYS SIwave, ANSYS Maxwell, ANSYS Simplorer Advanced. The bundles also include HPC and import/connectivity to many common MCAD and ECAD tools.
  • Embedded Software Academic Products — Bundles of our SCADE products that offer a model-based development environment for embedded software.
  • Multiphysics Campus Solutions— Large task count bundles of Research & Teaching products from all three of the above categories intended for larger-scale deployment across a campus, or multiple campuses.

You can see what capabilities are included in each package by downloading the product feature table.  These are fully functional products with no limits on size.  What is different is how you are authorized to use the tool. The Academic licence restricts use to teaching and research. Because of this, ANSYS is able to provide academic product licenses at significantly reduced cost compared to the commercial licenses — which helps organizations around the globe to meet their academic budget requirements. Support is also included through the online academic resources like training as well as access to the ANSYS Customer Portal.

There are many options on price and bundling based upon need and other variables, so you will need to contact PADT or ANSYS to help sort it all out and find the right fit for your organization.

What does all this mean?  It means that every engineer graduating from their school of choice should enter the workforce knowing how to use ANSYS Products, something that employers value. It also means that researchers can now produce more valuable information in less time for less money because they leverage the power of ANSYS simulation.The barriers are down, as students and institutions, you just need to take advantage of it.

Silicon Desert Insider: 5 ways to implement sustainable tech to save your business money

Technology has a huge impact on many things, including making your business more profitable by reducing the energy you use.  In “5 ways to implement sustainable tech to save your business money” I give some suggestions on new, but proven technology that can do just that.

Figure it Out: Guest spot on podcast – 3D Printing, automation, AI, and the comming robot wars

I was honored to be asked to join Santari Minor and George Grombacher for episode 31 of their podcast: Figure it Out.  It was wide ranging and fun conversation that flowed across so many different and interesting topics, it was hard to stop.  We covered 3D printing, automation, artificial intelligence and the future of work. Made me think. Take a listen and maybe it will make you think.

You can listen at most podcast services, here are two locations:

Podbean  –  http://figureitout.podbean.com/e/figure-it-out-31-eric-miller/

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/figure-it-out-31-eric-miller/id1190137632?i=1000386591054&mt=2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Dhl7gsnwxma46ug7bzg6dd3a6tm?t=Figure_it_Out_31_Eric_Miller-Figure_it_Out 

Enjoy and hopefully it will start your own conversation.




Phoenix Business Journal: What autocorrect can teach us about the application of AI

With all the talk about AI we sometimes forget that one of the most visible, and maligned, applications of Artificial Intelligence is something we use, or fight with, every day.  In “What autocorrect can teach us about the application of AI” I look at my own personal struggle with correct communication, and some lessons that businesses can take from how autocorrect is used.

Hey Startups! Be Concise!

“What does your startup do?”  Twenty minutes later I’ve lost interest and still don’t know why they do.  A serious problem with most startups is that those involved with them are so afraid they might leave something out that they have forgotten how to be concise.  So my advice: “Hey Startups! Be Concise!

Everyone wants to find the next great idea, what is wrong with just a good idea?

Truth is it feels great to hit a home run, but if you are trying to always knock it out of the ballpark you are going to have a lot of strikes.  In working with a lot of people trying to come up with ideas for new products, it seems like we focus too much up front on trying to hatch a unicorn, and not enough on just having something that works.  “Everyone wants to find the next great idea, what is wrong with just a good idea?” explores this and gives some examples of how trying to just solve a problem ended up being disruptive.

Upgrade to the future of 3D printing – Stratasys F 123 Webinar

Take the Next Step!

Upgrade to the future of 3D Printing

Performance so good, you won’t believe it’s so easy to use!
The Stratasys F123 3D Printer Series demands less knowledge and experience, while meeting even the most advanced rapid prototyping expectations and needs, helping to make it the perfect machine for the classroom. This Series excels at all stages of the design prototyping process, from draft-concept iterations – to complex design verification – to high-quality functional prototypes.
Enhanced 3D printing capabilities of the F123 series include: 
  • New user interface
  • Remote print monitoring
  • Built-in camera
  • Auto calibration
  • Improved software experience with GrabCAD Print
  • Easy material change out
  • Auto material changeover

Join PADT’s Application Engineer James Barker and Sales Executive Jeff Nichols for a webinar that will provide an in depth look at all three machines that make up the all new F123 3D Printer Series (F170, F270, & F370).

Leaving CAD Embedded Simulation Behind – Webinar

With simulation driven product design and development becoming the norm in the world of manufacturing, it has become increasingly relevant for companies to stay on the cutting edge in the search of the next best thing, in order to succeed in their respective industries.

Join PADT’s Co-Owner and Principal Engineer, Eric Miller for a live presentation on the benefits of ditching your current CAD-Embedded Software for state of the art ANSYS Simulation Solutions.

This webinar will dispel common misconceptions surrounding ANSYS Software, explain how to make the move away from CAD-Embedded tools, and present highly requested topics that ANSYS can provide solutions for, such as:

  • Understanding fluid flow: accurate and fast CFD
  • Real parts that exist in assemblies
  • The importance of robust meshing
  • Advanced capabilities and faster solvers

Robust Meshing for FEA with ANSYS

Meshing is one of the most important aspects of a simulation process and yet it can be one of the most frustrating and difficult to get right.  Whether you are using CAD based simulation tools or more powerful flagship simulation tools, there are different approaches to take when it comes to meshing complicated assemblies for structural or thermal analysis.

ANSYS has grown into the biggest simulation company globally by acquiring powerful technologies, but more importantly, integrating their capabilities into a single platform.  This is true for meshing as well.  Many of ANSYS’ acquisitions have come with several strong meshing capabilities and functionalities and ANSYS Workbench integrates all of that into what we call Workbench Meshing.  It is a single meshing tool that incorporates a variety of global and local mesh operations to ensure that the user not only gets a mesh, but gets a good quality mesh without needing to spend a lot of time in the prep process. We’ll take a look at a couple examples here.



This is a Tractor Axle assembly that has 58 parts including bolts, gaskets and flanges.  The primary pieces of the assembly also has several holes and other curved surfaces.  Taking this model into Workbench Meshing yielded a good mesh even with default settings. From here by simply adding a few sizing controls and mesh methods we quickly get a mesh that is excellent for structural analysis.

Tractor Axle Geometry

Tractor Axle Default Mesh

Tractor Axle Refined Mesh



The assembly below, which is a model from Grabcad of a riveting machine, was taken directly into Workbench Meshing and a mesh was created with no user input. As you can see the model has 5,282 parts of varying sizes, shapes and complexity.  Again without needing to make any adjustments, Workbench Meshing is able to mesh this entire geometry with 6.6 million elements in only a few minutes on a laptop.

Riveting Machine

Riveting Machine

Riveting Machine Default Mesh

Riveting Machine Default Mesh


The summary of the meshing cases are shown below:

Case # of Parts User Operations # of Elements # of Nodes Time [s]
Tractor Axle 58 0 415,735 723,849 34
Tractor Axle Refined 58 5 Body Sizings

2 Local Mesh Methods

930,406 1,609,703 43
Riveting Machine 5,282 0 2,481,275 6,670,385 790


Characteristics of a robust meshing utility are:

  • Easy to use with enough power under the hood
  • Able to handle complex geometry and/or large number of parts
  • Quick and easy user specified mesh operations
  • Fast meshing time

ANSYS Meshing checks all of these boxes completely.  It has a lot of power under the hood to handle large and/or complex geometry but makes it simple and easy for users to create a strong quality mesh for FEA analysis.

Here is the link to download the geometry used in this model

If you would like a more detailed step-by-step explanation of this process, check out the video below!

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at manoj@padtinc.com


Credit to Manoj Abraham from Grabcad for Riveting Machine Model. And no I didn’t choose this model just because he shared my name

Assembly Modeling with ANSYS

In my previous article, I wrote about how you get what you pay for with your analysis package.  Well, buckle up for some more…but this time we’ll just focus on handling assemblies in your structural/thermal simulations.  If all you’re working on are single components, count yourself lucky.  Almost every simulation deals with one part interacting with another.  You can simplify your boundary conditions a bit to make it equivalent, but if you have significant bearing stresses, misalignments, etc…you need to include the supporting parts.  Better hope your analysis package can handle contact…

Image result for get what you pay for

First off, contact isn’t just for structural simulations.  Contact allows you to pass loads across difference meshes, meaning you don’t need to create a conformal mesh between two parts in order to simulate something.  Here’s a quick listing on the degrees of freedom supported in ANSYS (don’t worry…you don’t need to know how to set these options as ANSYS does it for you when you’re in Workbench):


You can use contact for structural, thermal, electrical, porous domain, diffusion, or any combination of those.  The rest of this article is going to focus on the structural side of things, but realize that the same concepts apply to essentially any analysis you can do within ANSYS Mechanical..

First, it’s incredibly easy to create contact in your assembly.  Mechanical automatically looks for surfaces within a certain distance from one another and builds contact.  You can further customize the automated process by defining your own connection groups, as I previous wrote about.  These connection groups can create contact between faces, edges, solids bodies, shell bodies, and line bodies.


Second, not only can you create contact to transfer loads across different parts, but you can also automatically create joints to simulate linkages or ‘linearize’ complicated contacts (e.g. cylindrical-to-cylindrical contact for pin joints).  With these joints you can also specify stops and locks to simulate other components not explicitly modeled.  If you want to really model a threaded connection you can specify the pitch diameter and actually ‘turn’ your screw to properly develop the shear stress under the bolt head for a bolted joint simulation without actually needing to model the physical threads (this can also be done using contact geometry corrections)

image Look ma, no threads (modeled)!


If you’re *just* defining contact between two surfaces, there’s a lot you simulate.  The default behavior is to bond the surfaces together, essentially weld them closed to transmit tensile and compressive loads.  You also have the ability to let the surfaces move relative to each other by defining frictionless, frictional, rough (infinite coefficient of friction), or no-separation (surfaces don’t transmit shear load but will not separate).


Some other ‘fancy’ things you can do with contact is simulate delamination by specifying adhesive properties (type I, II, or III modes of failure).  You can add a wear model to capture surface degradation due to normal stress and tangential velocity of your moving surfaces.  You can simulate a critical bonding temperature by specifying at what temperature your contacts ‘stick’ together instead of slide.  You can specify a ‘wetted’ contact region and see if the applied fluid pressure (not actually solving a CFD simulation, just applying a pressure to open areas of the contact interface) causes your seal to open up.


Now, it’s one thing to be able to simulate all of these behaviors.  The reason you’re running a finite element simulation is you need to make some kind of engineering judgement.  You need to know how the force/heat/etc transfers through your assembly.  Within Mechanical you can easily look at the force for each contact pair by dragging/dropping the connection object (contact or joint) into the solution.  This will automatically create a reaction probe to tell you the forces/moments going through that interface.  You can create detailed contour plots of the contact status, pressure, sliding distance, gap, or penetration (depending on formulation used).



Again, you can generate all of that information for contact between surface-to-surface, surface-to-edge, or edge-to-edge.  This allows you to use solids, shells, beams, or any combination you want, for any physics you want, to simulate essentially any real-world application.  No need to buy additional modules, pay for special solvers, fight through meshing issues by trying to ‘fake’ an assembly through a conformal mesh.  Just import the geometry, simplify as necessary (SpaceClaim is pretty awesome if you haven’t heard), and simulate it.)

For a more detailed, step-by-step look at the process, check out the following video!

Getting to Know PADT: Part Scanning and Reverse Engineering

This is the first installment in our review of all the different products and services PADT offers our customers. As we add more, they will be available here.  As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to info@padtinc.com or give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT.

Product innovation doesn’t always start with a blank sheet. Many times our customers need to begin with an accurate representation of their existing products, or a piece that theirs interfaces with, or even a competitive solutions.  That is why we offer scanning and reverse engineering services that take real world parts and convert them into an accurate and useful CAD model.

What is Part Scanning

Part scanning is a process where we use machines to measure geometry.  Before scanning someone would use rulers, calipers, and other measuring devices dating from the industrial revolution to get critical dimensions off of a part and painstakingly document what they find. That got better with Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) where you could accurately measure key locations on the geometry. The problem with this approach was that it only gave you data where you measured.  Fine for simple parts like a flange with bolt holes.  But not good when you have crazy free-form surfaces or many features. Another approach was to section the parts and project a shadow onto a piece of paper and trace it.  If you needed more measurements, cost went way up.

To solve this problem, people found a way to measure lots of points easily: scan the part with some sort of optical sensor and measure points on the part as you go.  Early scanning systems used lasers, measuring the beam that bounced back.  This worked well, especially for very large objects.  But was tricky on some surfaces and produced a lot of noise in the data. So researches figured out that they could project patterns of light and dark onto an object and measure how the edges of that pattern bent and warped.   This is called Structured Light Scanning, and Wikipedia has a good article giving more details on how it works. We use the “blue light” version of this process here at PADT for our optical scanning services.

The other process we use is Cross Sectional Scanning. As the name implies it scans the cross section of parts, and it does it by actually shaving off material one layer at a time and then taking a picture of the 2D cross section that is revealed.  Although you consume the part in the process, it is a very accurate and fairly affordable way to measure complex internal geometry.

What you get from both scanning approaches is what we call a point cloud.  What is a point cloud? A file with millions of points defined as an X, Y, and Z position in space that represent locations that sit on the surfaces of the object.  You can measure critical dimensions, compare different geometries, and use it as a basis to create a computer model.  The key thing to note is that PADT uses precise scanners and leading software, combined with the experience of our operators to produce an accurate and usable point cloud.

Creating Accurate Models from Scan Data – Reverse Engineering

For most projects, getting the point cloud is just the first step. In order for our customers to redesign, update, simulate, or interface with the part we scanned, they need an accurate computer model.  Instead of millions of points, the computer model contains a more concise mathematical representation of the surface defined by the points. The simplest thing we can do is simply fit triangles through those points.  This is refered to as a faceted model because it is made up of triangular facets.  This data is used for 3D Printing, rendering, and for design in some cases.  Most often we deliver an STL file for this type of model. If a more accurate representation is needed, our engineers can convert those facets into an actual Computer Aided Design (CAD) model.  It can be just a dumb solid, or we can even make key features parametric.  The geometry can be handed over in many different formats, including IGES, Paraolids, STEP, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, NX, or CREO.

How Part Scanning with PADT Different

To be blunt, the reason why we added scanning to our capabilities was that we had always outsourced this service for our customers.  We found plenty of people with scanners, but they just scanned a part, ran the software, and provided OK data for our customers.  The problem was they were not experts in the technology behind scanning, they lacked a theoretical understanding of math behind 3D computer geometry modeling, and they were not experts in product development.  It turned out that scanning the geometry was the easy part, what our customers needed was someone who knew how to scan it right and produce useful information.  Information they didn’t have to spend time cleaning and massaging. Our engineers combine all of these skills along with a firm understanding of quality requirements, GD&T, and most of the major CAD systems.  In addition, PADT is ITAR compliant and can deal with your confidential geometry and data requirements.  The fact that PADT is a recognized expert in Additive Manufacturing is often useful as well.  We could not find a service provider that had all of the things our customers required, so we decided to do it ourselves.

Leveraging PADT’s Part Scanning and Reverse Engineering Services

Getting parts scanned by PADT is actually fairly easy.  Step one is to contact PADT and talk to our engineers so they can produce a quote.  Ideally it is best for you to bring the part or parts in to our Tempe office. If that is not feasible we will need some basic pictures of your part and key dimensions like maximum length, width, and height. They will then talk with you to understand what you actually want to accomplish by scanning.  Armed with this information they will provide a quote for scanning and any geometry creation or other activities you need completed including cost, schedule, and a list of deliverables.

In  most cases, you will ship us or drop off the part or parts, and our team will go to work.  If needed, we can also come to where the parts are located and scan them there.  The deliverables vary from job to job, and are negotiated as part of the quoting process.  In general we will provide you with an STL or CAD file with the level of accuracy and detail that you ask for. If needed, we can also provide you with the point cloud  itself.  We can also complete inspection reports and provide comparisons between datasets.

Reach out to Give it a Try or Learn More

Our team is ready and waiting to answer your questions or provide you with a quote.  You can email us at info@padtinc.com or give us a call at 480.813.4884 or 1-800-293-PADT.

Still want to learn more? Here are some links to more information:

  • A more detailed blog post on scanning from early 2017, including a “Scanning 101” section with some great background on the technology
  • The 3D Scanning Wikipedia article.  This has lots of basic information as well as more links to greater details.
  • Information on the Geomagic Capture Scanner, an easy to use, compact, and very portable blue light scanner that we use for a lot of projects.
  • Details about the ZIESS Comet optical scanner, a professional and highly accurate blue light scanner that we use for our more demanding projects.
  • An overview of Cross Sectional scanning.
  • A brief summary of the Geomagic Software we use to create useful models from point clouds. It also has links to more in-depth information.
  • An article in Additive Manufacturing magazine about how PADT used our scanners to create a replacement part for a P-51 Mustang airplane.  It includes a great video as well.


Combining ANSYS Simulation with HPC

Engineering simulation has become much more prevalent in engineering organizations than it was even 5 years ago.  Commercial tools have gotten significantly easier to use whether you are looking at tools embedded within CAD programs or the standalone flagship analysis tools.  The driving force behind these changes are to ultimately let engineers and companies understand their design quicker with more fidelity than before.

Engineering simulation is one of those cliché items where everyone says “We want more!”  Engineers want to analyze bigger problems, more complex problems and even do large scale design of experiments with hundreds of design variations – and they want these results instantaneously.   They want to be able to quickly understand their designs and design trends and be able to make changes accordingly so then can get their products optimized and to the market quicker.

ANSYS, Inc. spends a significant amount of R&D in helping customers get their results quicker and a large component of that development is High Performance Computing, or HPC.  This technology allows engineers to solve their structural, fluid and/or electromagnetic analyses across multiple processors and even across multiple computing machines.  Engineers can leverage HPC on laptops, workstations, clusters and even full data centers.

PADT is fortunate to be working with Nimbix, a High Performance Computing Platform that easily allowed us to quickly iterate through different models with various cores specified.  It was seamless, easy to use, and FAST!

Let’s take a look at four problems: Rubber Seal FEA, Large Tractor Axle Model, Quadrocopter CFD model and a Large Exhaust CFD model.  These problems cover a nice spectrum of analysis size and complexity. The CAD files are included in the link below.

Click here to download geometry files that were used in the following benchmarks


This model has several parts all with contact defined and has 51 bolts that have pretension defined.  A very large but not overly complex FEA problem.  As you can see from the results, even by utilizing 8 cores you can triple your analysis throughput for a work day.  This leads to more designs being analyzed and validated which gives engineers the results they need quicker.


  • 58 Parts
  • 51 x Bolts with Pretension
  • Gaskets
  • 928K Elements, 1.6M Nodes


Elapsed Time

Estimated Models Per 8 [hours]










16 4,009




The rubber seal is actually a relatively small size problem, but quite complex.  Not only does it need full hyperelastic material properties defined with large strain effects included, it also includes a leakage test.  This will pressurize any exposed areas of the seal.  This will of course cause some deformation which will lead to more leaked surfaces and so on.  It basically because a pressure advancing solution.

From the results, again you can see the number of models that can be analyzed in the same time frame is signifcantly more.  This model was already under an hour, even with the large nonlinearity, and with HPC it was down to less than half an hour.


  • 6 Parts
  • Mooney Rivlin Hyperelastic Material
  • Seal Leakage with Advancing Pressure Load
  • Frictional Contact
  • Large Deformation
  • 42K Elements, 58K Nodes


Elapsed Time
Estimated Models Per 8 [hours]







8 1,795




The drone model is a half symmetry model that includes 2 rotating domains to account for the propellers.  This was ran as a steady state simulation using ANSYS Fluent.  Simply utilizing 8 cores will let you solve 3 designs versus 1.


  • Multiple Rotating Domains
  • 2M Elements, 1.4M Nodes


Elapsed Time










8 0.7




The exhaust model is a huge model with 33 million elements with several complicated flow passages and turbulence.  This is a model that would take over a week to run using 1 core but with HPC on a decent workstation you can get that down to 1 day.  Leveraging more HPC hardware resources such as a cluster or using a cloud computing platform like Nimbix will see that drop to 3 hours.  Imagine getting results that used to take over 1 week that now will only take a few hours.  You’ll notice that this model scaled linearly up to 128 cores.  In many CFD simulations the more hardware resources and HPC technology you throw at it, the faster it will run.


  • K-omega SST Turbulence
  • Multi-Domain
  • 33M Elements, 7M Nodes


Elapsed Time













128 3.3


As seen from the results leveraging HPC technology can be hugely advantageous.  Many simulation tools out there do not fully leverage solving on multiple computing machines or even multiple cores.  ANSYS does and the value is easily a given.  HPC makes large complex simulation more practical as a part of the design process timeline.  It allows for greater throughput of design investigations leading to better fidelity and more information to the engineer to develop an optimized part quicker.

If you’re interested in learning more about how ANSYS leverages HPC or if you’d like to know more about NIMIBX, the cloud computing platform that PADT leverages, please reach out to me at manoj@padtinc.com