Phoenix Business Journal: ​Nudging behavior by making things easy

pbj-phoenix-business-journal-logoBusiness is often a process of trying to influence people to do something you want. Study after study shows something simple, the approach that seemed to work over and over again was the simplest: make things easy. In “Nudging behavior by making things easy” I look at this phenomenon and relate it to the business of high technology.

Video Tips: Changing Multiple Load Step Settings in ANSYS Mechanical

ANSYS Mechanical allows you to specify settings for load steps one at a time. Most users don’t know that you can change settings for any combination of load steps using the selection of the load step graph. PADT’s Joe Woodward shows you how in this short but informative video.

The Additive Manufacturing Cellular Solids Research Landscape

I am writing this post after visiting the 27th SFF Symposium, a 3-day Additive Manufacturing (AM) conference held annually at the University of Texas at Austin. The SFF Symposium stands apart from other 3D printing conferences held in the US (such as AMUG, RAPID and Inside3D) in the fact that about 90% of the attendees and presenters are from academia. This year had 339 talks in 8 concurrent tracks and 54 posters, with an estimated 470 attendees from 20 countries – an overall 50% increase over the past year.

As one would expect from a predominantly academic conference, the talks were deeper in their content and tracks were more specialized. The track I presented in (Lattice Structures) had a total of 15 talks – 300 minutes of lattice talk, which pretty much made the conference for me!

In this post, I wish to summarize the research landscape in AM cellular solids at a high level: this classification dawned on me as I was listening to the talks over two days and taking in all the different work going on across several universities. My attempt in this post is to wrap my arms around the big picture and show how all these elements are needed to make cellular solids a routine design feature in production AM parts.

Classification of Cellular Solids

First, I feel the need to clarify a technicality that bothered me a wee bit at the conference: I prefer the term “cellular solids” to “lattices” since it is more inclusive of honeycomb and all foam-like structures, following Gibson and Ashby’s 1997 seminal text of the same name. Lattices are generally associated with “open-cell foam” type structures only – but there is a lot of room for honeycomb structures and close-cell foams, each having different advantages and behaviors, which get excluded when we use the term “lattice”.

CellularSolids
Figure 1. Classification of Cellular Solids [Gibson & Ashby, 1997]

The AM Cellular Solids Research Landscape

The 15 papers at the symposium, and indeed all my prior literature reviews and conference visits, suggested to me that all of the work in this space falls into one or more of four categories shown in Figure 2. For each of the four categories (design, analysis, manufacturing & implementation), I have listed below the current list of capabilities (not comprehensive), many of which were discussed in the talks at SFF. Further down I list the current challenges from my point of view, based on what I have learned studying this area over the past year.

AMcellular
Figure 2. AM Cellular Solid Research Landscape

Over the coming weeks I plan to publish a post with more detail on each of the four areas above, summarizing the commercial and academic research that is ongoing (to the best of my knowledge) in each area. For now, I provide below a brief elaboration of each area and highlight some important research questions.

1. Representation (Design)

This deals with how we incorporate cellular structures into our designs for all downstream activities. This involves two aspects: the selection of the specific cellular design (honeycomb or octet truss, for example) and its implementation in the CAD framework. For the former, a key question is: what is the optimum unit cell to select relative to performance requirements, manufacturability and other constraints? The second set of challenges arises from the CAD implementation: how does one allow for rapid iteration with minimal computational expense, how do cellular structures cover the space and merge with the external skin geometry seamlessly?

2. Optimization (Analysis)

Having tools to incorporate cellular designs is not enough – the next question is how to arrange these structures for optimum performance relative to specified requirements? The two most significant challenges in this area are performing the analysis at reasonable computational expense and the development of material models that accurately represent behavior at the cellular structure level, which may be significantly different from the bulk.

3. Realization (Manufacturing)

Manufacturing cellular structures is non-trivial, primarily due to the small size of the connecting members (struts, walls). The dimensions required are often in the order of a few hundred microns and lower, which tends to push the capabilities of the AM equipment under consideration. Additionally, in most cases, the cellular structure needs to be self-supporting and specifically for powder bed fusion, must allow for removal of trapped powder after completion of the build. One way to address this is to develop a map that identifies acceptable sizes of both the connecting members and the pores they enclose. For this, we need robust ways of monitoring quality of AM cellular solids by using in-situ and Non-Destructive techniques to guard against voids and other defects.

4. Application (Implementation)

Cellular solids have a range of potential applications. The well established ones include increasing stiffness-to-weight ratios, energy absorption and thermal performance. More recent applications include improving bone integration for implants and modulating stiffness to match biological distributions of material (biomimicry), as well as a host of ideas involving meta-materials. The key questions here include how do we ensure long term reliability of cellular structures in their use condition? How do we accurately identify and validate these conditions? How do we monitor quality in the field? And how do we ensure the entire life cycle of the product is cost-effective?

So What?

I wrote this post for two reasons: I love to classify information and couldn’t help myself after 5 hours of hearing and thinking about this area. But secondly, I hope it helps give all of us working in this space context to engage and communicate more seamlessly and see how our own work fits in the bigger picture.

A lot of us have a singular passion for the overlapping zone of AM and cellular solids and I can imagine in a few years we may well have a conference, an online journal or a forum of some sort just dedicated to this field – in fact, I’d love to assess interest in such an effort or an equivalent collaborative exercise. If this idea resonates with you, please connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a note, or send us an email (info@padtinc.com) and cite this blog post so it finds its way to me.

Engineering a Better Pokemon Go Experience

padt-pikachu-1The other day, I saw a post on Engadget about a special case for Pokemon Go users to solve the problem of missing your prized Jigglypuff that you have happened across in the wild (or let’s face it, probably a CP 10 Rattata who is going to break out multiple times before disappearing in a puff of smoke…). The case is designed to give the user access to on screen controls and a nice channel to keep your Pokeball flinging finger straight and true.

Pokemon Go Photo 0
Original Device designed by Jon Clever

As pointed out in the article on Engadget, this case is only useful in the capture screen. This caveat aside, the other issue with the case is that it obscures the screen. Here at PADT, we are fortunate to sell a wide variety of 3D Printing machines, some of which are capable of multiple colors and material durometers. I decided to design my own take on the case from Jon Clever to be prototyped on our Stratasys Connex 3.

Pokemon Go Photo 1

Pokemon Go Photo 2

The case was made with black and clear material. The black material can be combined to produce a custom stiffness, so we made that part soft and rubber like and kept the clear portion rigid. The clear has good optical quality, which could be increased with a layer of “clearcoat.”

Pokemon Go Photo 3

If you have a Stratasys Connex 3 or J750 and an iPhone 6, you can make your own with these STL files, one for the rubber part and one for the clear part.

Iphone 6 Pokemon_Prod_R1-CLEAR

Iphone 6 Pokemon_Prod_R19895

  Pokemon Go stl 1

Other variations and additional possibilities would be made possible with the new Stratasys J750, the first true full color printer that can also mix clear and solid as well as hard and soft materials.  The J750 was just released and highlighted on our recent road show. Visit our blog article on the Scottsdale show to learn more about this incredible printer.

Additional information about PADT and our wide range of 3D Printing offerings here.

Phoenix Business Journal: ​I’m lucky, I get to work with smart people

pbj-phoenix-business-journal-logoIn “I’m lucky, I get to work with smart people” I take a look at why it is a good thing to be able to work every day with the intelligent employees, partners, vendors, and customers I interact with every day.  Not only is it personally rewarding, it helps make me and PADT better.

Press Release: PADT Honored with 2016 Most Admired Leaders Award from the Phoenix Business Journal

PADT-Press-Release-IconWe are pleased to announce that PADT was recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of 2016’s “Most Admired Leaders.” It is a real honor to be recognized by our peers in the business community and reflects on the hard work and contributions of the entire PADT family.  We are especially honored to be included in such a great group of people.

We look forward to joining  everyone for the awards ceremony on September 27, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Please find a copy of the press release below.

The official announcement from the Phoenix Business Journal can be found here.

Official copies of the press release can be found in HTML and PDF.

Press Release:

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies Honored with 2016 Most Admired Leaders Award from the Phoenix Business Journal

Award based on leadership, dedication and impact on an organization, and the Arizona community

TEMPE, Ariz., August 10, 2016 —  In a special honor that recognizes leadership within its organization and the community, Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT) announced today that the company is a recipient of Phoenix Business Journal’s 2016 Most Admired Leaders award.  Eric Miller, principal and co-founder of PADT will be on hand to accept the accolade on September 27, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Expanding from its headquarters in Tempe to offices throughout the Southwest, PADT is a great example of growth and success in Arizona’s entrepreneurial community,” said Jim Goulka, managing director of Arizona Technology Investors and CEO of Lone Mountain Associates, LLC. “The company’s leadership is known for its high level of integrity and is richly deserving of this award.”

PADT is the Southwest’s largest provider of numerical simulation, product development and 3D Printing services and products, but the company’s involvement in the communities in which it serves extends much further. In Arizona, PADT is an active angel investor and serves on the steering committee of Arizona Tech Investors as well as on numerous boards including BioAccel’s Council of Advisors and the President’s STEM Advisory Board of Grand Canyon University. Each year, PADT serves as a judge on the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Innovation Challenge and acts as a mentor to entrepreneurs seeking to start, build and grow their businesses.

“PADT is proud to be a part of Arizona’s community — an entire ecosystem of talented and innovative professionals,” said Eric Miller, Principal of Phoenix Analysis Design Technologies. “We are honored to receive this award, and could not have achieved it without the talented, hard-working, and energetic group of employees we work with every day.”

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 Rapid Prototyping 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, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at http://www.PADTINC.com.

 

Media Contact
Linda Capcara
TechTHiNQ on behalf of PADT
480-229-7090
linda.capcara@techthinq.com
PADT Contact
Eric Miller
PADT, Inc.
Principal & Co-Owner
480.813.4884
eric.miller@padtinc.com

 

ANSYS AIM Webinar: Increase Simulation Realism with Multiphysics

Some product designs require a single physics solution, while others require multiple physics simulations. Electronics cooling, wind loading on a solar array and the thermal performance of a heat exchanger are just a few examples of applications that require multiphysics simulation. Setting up and running multiphysics simulations used to be a challenging task involving the transfer of data between multiple physics solvers. With AIM, multiphysics simulations are easy to perform. AIM provides a consistent workflow and intuitive simulation environment for fluids, structures and electromagnetics that lowers the barrier to entry for multiphysics simulations.

 

Join us for this webinar to discover how AIM makes it easier than ever to solve your multiphysics design challenges in a single, easy-to-use environment. Don’t settle for single physics approximation when multiphysics simulations yield more accurate results with AIM.

This webinar will be held on September 1st from 1:00 – 2:00 pm PT 
Click Here to register for this webinar
AIM Webinar Title Page3

ANSYS AIM Webinar: Democratize Simulation for Your Design Engineers

Innovative companies are using simulation early in the product development process to improve and optimize product designs. Companies deploying up-front simulation to their product design teams require simulation software that is easy-to-use, provides accurate simulation results and allows customization to enforce best practices. Such design engineering simulation software allows teams to develop and refine design ideas early in the design cycle when the cost of making design changes is still low.

Join us for this webinar to discover how AIM’s intuitive simulation workflow delivers high levels of automation and allows customization to automate engineering simulation best practice. Learn how AIM’s custom applications enable every engineer in your organization to benefit from simulation insights.
This webinar will be held on August 24th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PT

 

Click Here to register for this webinar

AIM Webinar Title Page2

Introducing Signal Integrity: What is it and how does it impact you? – Webinar

Is your comapny designing or using electronics that are:
  • Critical to revenue, performance, or safety
  • Designed in-house or by 3rd parties
  • Using wireless technology (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)
  • Connecting to the cloud or Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Collecting large sets of data
  • Getting smaller, faster, or more efficient
If so then you could potentially be a victim of signal integrity failure!
Join us August 17th, 2016 at 1 pm Pacific Time for a free webinar covering an introduction to Signal Integrity

This is a high-level introduction that will cover:
  • What Signal Integrity is
  • Some of the challenges related to it
  • How to identify those at risk of signal integrity related failure
  • What is being done in response
Followed by a Q&A session afterwards!

Click Here to register for this event and be sure to add it to your calendar to receive reminders.

 

Can’t make it? We suggest you register regardless, as our webinars are recorded and sent out along with a PDF of the presentation to our contacts within 24 hours of the presentation finishing.

Albuquerque Business First: What you need to consider when designing for the Internet of Things

ABF-Albuquerque_Business_FirstAlmost everyone in the technology industry agrees: the Internet of Things, or IoT, is “the next big thing.” Taking products and connecting them to the internet will change how people live their lives and how companies do their work. In “What you need to consider when designing for the Internet of Things” I explain three suggestions for designing an IoT device.

Phoenix Business Journal: ​Flaming hoverboards – Why engineering matters

pbj-phoenix-business-journal-logoEngineering is all around us, but most people don’t think about how important engineering is to our modern lives. In “Flaming hoverboards: Why engineering matters” I take a look at a specific example of where a lack of engineering can cause problems.

Five Basic Windows 10 Computer Skills Every Engineer Should Know

WINDOWS-ANSYS-1
At PADT we provide help to many of our customers who have trouble with their ANSYS simulations. At the top level, though, there are some computer skills for Windows that we consider basics that every engineer should know. If these are skills you already have in your tool belt, fantastic! If not, hopefully this information will help you be more effective in your simulation tasks.
Also, since most of us have been or are currently being updated to Windows 10, I’m providing the instructions for Windows 10. Windows 7 is similar, though.

1. Run as Administrator

This allows us to run programs, a.k.a. “apps” with administrator privilege, even if our login credentials don’t allow this level of usage. This is the case for most users of engineering software. Certain components of ANSYS, including the CAD Configuration Manager and the Client ANSLIC_ADMIN Utility require changes to your computer that non-admin rights won’t allow. By running as administrator, we allow the program to make the needed changes.

To do this, click the Start Menu, then find the program (app) you need to run in the resulting list, such as the Client ANSLIC_ADMIN Utility. Next, right click on that program, select More with the left mouse button, then select Run as Administrator with the left mouse button. If you are prompted to allow changes to your system, click Yes. Here is what it will look like:

ansys-windows-10-f01
2. View File Extensions

When using Windows Explorer, now known as File Explorer in Windows 10, by default you probably won’t see file extensions. Instead, you’ll see the prefix of files, but won’t see the endings of the file names. This will be the case when browsing for files to open or save as well. Sometimes you can rely on the icons associated with a file to know which program it’s associated with or the Type field in the list view, but sometimes there are conflicts. For example, an ANSYS Mechanical APDL macro file will have the extension .mac. You can probably guess that there is at least one other major company that can have software that uses that extension. By viewing the file extensions, even if the icons are wrong, we can more easily identify the files we need. Here is how it’s done:
Click Start, then File Explorer:

ansys-windows-10-f02

The default view using “Details” in File Explorer will look something like this (file names don’t include extensions):

ansys-windows-10-f03

To view the extensions, we click on the View menu in File Explorer, then Options, then Change Folder and Search Options.

ansys-windows-10-f04

The way I set this option for all folder on my computer is to then click on the View tab in the resulting small window, then uncheck the box for Hide extensions for known file types, then click Apply to Folders, then click OK.

ansys-windows-10-f05

Now the list view (using Details under the View menu) in File Explorer looks like this, with each file showing its extension in the list:

ansys-windows-10-f06

3. Define and Edit Environment Variables

Environment Variables are values that are used by certain programs to define settings. For example, an environment variable can be used to specify the license server for certain programs. It’s good to know how to define and edit these if needed. To do this, we bring up the control panel. In Windows 10, click on the Start button, then Settings:

ansys-windows-10-f07

A quick way to get there is to type “environment” in the search window in the resulting Settings window:

ansys-windows-10-f08

The search should find Edit the System Environment Variables. Click on that:

ansys-windows-10-f09

In the resulting System Properties window, click on the Environment Variables button in the Advanced tab:

ansys-windows-10-f10

A new window will open with a list of currently defined User variables (just for your login) and System variables (for anyone who is logged in), like this:

ansys-windows-10-f11

You can click on an environment variable to edit it using the Edit… button, or you can click on the New… button to create a new one. One ANSYS-related environment variable that occasionally needs to be set is ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE. This is only needed if the default license server specifications aren’t working for some reason. You won’t need to set this under normal circumstances. Just in case, here is how to define it, using the New… button under System variables. We type in the Variable Name, in this case ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE and then the Variable Value, which in this example is 1055@myserver.

ansys-windows-10-f12
When done defining and editing environment variables, we click on the OK button to complete the action and get out of that environment variable-related windows.

4. Check Usage of Your Computer Resources

As simulation experts, we are often pushing the limits of our computer resources. It’s good to know how to check those. First is disk space. An easy way to check disk space is to bring up File Explorer again. Click on This PC on the left side. This will give you a snapshot of the available space on each hard drive that is accessible on this computer:

ansys-windows-10-f13

Next, we may want to check CPU or memory utilization. Perhaps we want to make sure that our solution is running on multiple cores as we have requested.
To do this, hold down the Alt, Control, and Delete keys on the keyboard, all at the same time. Then click on Task Manager in the resulting window (it will look for a second like your computer is going to restart – it won’t actually do that).
In the resulting Task Manager window, click on More details:

ansys-windows-10-f14

In the resulting window, we can click on the Performance tab and view, for example, the current memory utilization, or we can click on Open Resource Monitor and get even more details, including utilization on each CPU:

ansys-windows-10-f15
5. Search for Large Files

It’s very common in the simulation world to end up filling up your disk drives. Therefore, it’s good to be able to find large files so we can delete them if they are no longer needed. For a simple way to do this, we’ll start with File Explorer again. This time, we’ll click in the search window at upper right, but won’t actually type in anything. We just want the search tools menu to appear:

ansys-windows-10-f16

Next, click on Search under Search Tools, followed by Size, then Gigantic (I will argue that 128 MB isn’t all that gigantic in the simulation world, but Microsoft hasn’t caught up with us yet):

ansys-windows-10-f17

Windows will now perform a search for files larger than 128 GB. If any of these are no longer needed, you can right click and delete them. Just make sure you don’t delete any files that are truly needed!

That completes our discussion on 5 computer skills every engineer should know. In conclusion, these basic skills should help you be more productive over time as you perform your simulation tasks. We hope you find this information useful.

PADT Events – August 2016

PADT-Events-LogoIt’s August and the activities keep coming. Those of us in the Tempe office managed to travel to cooler climates in July, and we have pictures to prove it below.  This month’s events are mostly online.  As always, check back to see if we have added anything. You can also see a list of events on our homepage and on the right column of the blog.


solid-freeform-logoAugust 8-10: Austin, TX
2016 Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium

This event is the academic side of 3D Printing.  Less about the business and splash of the industry, this symposium focuses on R&D around the technology of freeform fabrication.  PADT’s very own Dhruv Bhate will be there presenting a paper and interacting with other researchers in industry and academia.


AZTC-logoAugust 15: Phoenix, AZ
AZ Additive Manufacturing Committee Meeting

Industrials leaders in 3D Printing across Arizona will be gathering for this month’s committee meeting at PADT.  After the normal discussions, Dhruv Bhate will give a presentation then a tour of our 3D Printing resources.


PADT-Webinar-Logo

We have several great Webinars on tap for August. All PADT webinars are recorded, so even if you can’t make the specified time register and we will send you a link to the recording.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 – 12:00 PM AZ/PDT, 1:00 PM MDT
ANSYS AIM: Simulation For Product Design Engineers
Register
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – 12:00 PM AZ/PDT, 1:00 PM MDT
ANSYS AIM: Democratize Simulation for Your Design Engineers
Register
Thursday, September 1, 2016 – 12:00 PM AZ/PDT, 1:00 PM MDT
ANSYS AIM: Increase Simulation Realism with Multiphysics
Watch this space for the date and registration link.
Register

July Events in Review

Last month was all about 3D Printing, with a booth in Tucson and a road show to show off a brand new printer.


The ACTE AZ event in Tucson is always a fantastic chance for us to meet with our education customers and show educators why industrial quality systems are the right solution for classrooms and labs. The team had a great time… but didn’t send any pictures.


ICOSA_07169-150x150The “Full Color 3D Printer Road Show” was a big success. We started in Denver at a Brewery (we need to do this more often) with great presentations and a ton of sample parts that highlight the capability of the new Stratasys J750. We then moved the machines and parts on to Downtown Salt Lake City and where the interaction was fantastic amongst many veteran users.  The final stop was in Scottsdale Arizona where we had our largest crowd and more great interaction.

ICOSA_30368-768x512The Denver event was on the local Money Talk radio station. You can listen to the interview here.

Not to be outdone, a local TV station covered the Arizona event. That clip can be found here.

You can read about each event and see pictures by following these links:
Denver – Salt Lake CityPhoenix

Stratasys-J750-Road-Show-group-768x535

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSYS AIM Webinar: Simulation For Product Design Engineers

Product design engineers are increasingly under pressure to complete product designs faster so innovative products can reach the market sooner. Performing up-front simulation as part of the product development process can accelerate designing optimized products and reduce costly physical prototypes. To successfully implement simulation early in the product development process, simulation software must be easy-to-use and cover all the necessary physics that impact product designs.

Join us for this webinar to discover how AIM delivers unparalleled ease-of-use for simulation driven product development, and learn how design engineers can benefit from using simulation early in the product development process.

This webinar will be held on August 10th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PT

Click Here to register for this webinar

AIM Webinar Title Page

On the Biocompatibility of PolyJet MED610

Is PolyJet MED610 truly biocompatible? And what does that mean anyway?

IMG_0144
Figure 1. Our PolyJet Eden 260V dedicated to running MED610

A couple of months ago, our product development team contacted me to see if I could 3D print them a small bio-compatible masking device that was needed for temporary attachment to an invasive device prior to insertion for surgery. That led me to investigate all the different bio-compatible materials we did have access to at PADT on our FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and PolyJet machines. Given the tiny size and high detail required in the part, I decided to opt for PolyJet, which does offer the MED610 material that is claimed to be biocompatible. As it so happens, we have an Objet Eden 260V PolyJet machine that has been dedicated to running MED610 exclusively since it’s installation a year ago.

We printed the mask, followed all the post-processing instructions per supplier recommendations (more on that later) and delivered the parts for further testing. And that is when I asked myself the questions at the top of this post.

I set off on a quest to see what I could find. My first stop was the RAPID conference in (May 2016), where the supplier (Stratasys Inc.) had a well-staffed booth – but no one there knew much about MED610 apart from the fact that some orthodontists were using it. I did pick up one interesting insight: one of the engineers there hypothesized that MED610 was not very popular because it was cost-prohibitive since its proper use required machine dedication. I then went to the Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (a service bureau owned by Stratasys) booth, but it turned out they don’t even offer MED610 as a material option for service jobs – presumably because of the low demand for this material, consistent with our own observations.

So I took a step back and began searching for all I could find in the public domain on MED610 – and while it wasn’t much, here is the summary of my findings that I hope help anyone interested in this. I categorize it in three sources of information: claims made by the supplier, published work on in vitro studies and finally, some in vivo animal trials. But first, we must ask…

What does it mean for a Material to be Biocompatible?

A definition by Williams (The Williams Dictionary of Biomaterials, 1999) is in order: “Biocompatibility is the ability of a material to perform with an appropriate host response in a specific application.” So if PolyJet MED610 is to be called biocompatible, we must ask – what application do we have in mind? Fortunately, the supplier has a recommendation.

IMG_0152
Figure 2. PolyJet MED610 printed “Hydrogel Hand Bone Scaffolds” [Design Attribution: dotmatrix, Published on December 11, 2015, www.thingiverse.com/thing:1193425]

Supplier Claims

MED610 was launched by Objet in 2011 (Objet was acquired by Stratasys in 2012) as a biocompatible material, ideal for “applications requiring prolonged skin contact of more than 30 days and short-term mucosal-membrane contact of up to 24 hours“. Stratasys claims that parts printed according to Objet MED610 Use and Maintenance Terms were evaluated for biocompatibility in accordance with standard “DIN EN ISO 10993-1: 2009, Biological Evaluation of Medical Devices-Part 1: Evaluation and testing within a risk management process. This addresses cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, delayed hypersensitivity, and USP plastic Class VI, which includes the test for irritation, acute systemic toxicity and implantation”. Unfortunately, the actual data from the biocompatibility study conducted by Objet have not been made publicly available.

It is important to remember that Stratasys publishes a “Use and Maintenance Terms” document that details the steps needed not just to clean the part after printing, but also on the proper setup of the machine for ensuring best chances of meeting biocompatibility requirements. These are published online at this link and include a 3 hour soak in a 1-percent NaOH solution, a 30 min soak in IPA and multiple water jet rinses, among other steps. In other words, the claimed biocompatibility of MED610 is only valid if these instructions are followed.  These steps are primarily driven by the need to completely remove supports and any support-residue, but it is not clear if this is needed if a part can be printed without supports. Given such strong process dependencies, it is only to be expected that Stratasys provide a disclaimer at the end of the document clarifying that the users of their machines are responsible for independently validating biocompatibility of any device they make with MED610.

The next question is: have there been any relevant published, independent studies that have used MED610? In my search, I could only find two instances, which I discuss below.

Primary Human Cells Response (In Vitro)

In a recent (January 2016) study published in the Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering, Schmelzer et al. studied the response of primary human cells to four 3D printed materials in vitro: ABS, PC, PLA and MED610 – the only such study I could find. All samples instead went through a 100% ethanol brief rinse and were washed 5 times with de-mineralized water – this seems like a less stringent process than what the supplier recommends (3 hour 1-percent NaOH solution soak, 30 minutes IPA soak and 10 times waterjet blasting) but was designed to be identical across all the materials tested.

There were some very interesting findings:

  • Different cells had different responses:
    • MED610 had the most negative impact on cell viability for keratinocytes (epidermal cells that produce keratin) – and the only material that showed statistically significant difference from the control.
    • For bone marrow mesenchymal (stem) cells, a different effect was observed: direct culture on ABS and PC showed significant growth (7X compared to control) but MED610 and PLA showed no significant effect
  • Surface Roughness influences cell attachment and proliferation:
    • In agreement with other work, the authors showed that while rougher surfaces promote initial cell attachment, subsequent cell proliferation and overall cell numbers are higher on smoother surfaces. The MED610 samples had rougher surfaces than the FDM samples (possibly due to the use of the “matte” finish option) and could be one of the contributors to the observed negative effects on cell viability, along with the leached contents from the specimen.

Glaucoma Drainage Device (In Vivo, Rabbit studies)

A group of Australian researchers published a 2015 paper where they designed and used PolyJet MED610 to manufacture a Glaucoma Drainage Device (GDD). They selected PolyJet because of its ability to resolve very fine details that they needed for the device. Importantly, the purpose of this study was to assess the effect of different design parameters on the effectiveness of the device (relieving intraocular pressure). The device was implanted into rabbit eyeballs where it remained for up to 4 weeks.

The devices were printed on a Connex 350 PolyJet machine, after which the supports were removed from the devices with a water jet and “were repeatedly washed and inspected for consistency and integrity.” Tubes were attached with Silicone adhesive and the entire assembly was then “washed and sterilized with a hospital-grade hydrogen peroxide system before use”. The researchers did not examine the cellular and extracellular reactions in great detail, but did conclude that the reactions were similar between the MED610 device and the more standard polypropylene injection-molded device.

A short video recorded by some of the researchers as part of a Bioprinting course also provides some details into the 3D printing aspects of the work done.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, the question I posed at the start of this post (Is PolyJet MED610 truly biocompatible?) is too simplistic. A process and a material together are not sufficient – there are procedures that need to be defined and controlled and further and more importantly, biocompatibility itself has to be viewed in the context of the application and the specific toxicity and interaction demands of that application. And that brings us to our key takeaways:

  • MED610 is only recommended at best for applications requiring prolonged skin contact of more than 30 days and short-term mucosal-membrane contact of up to 24 hours and there is no data to dispute the suppliers claim that it is biocompatible in this context once all recommended procedures are implemented
  • The work done by Australian researchers in using PolyJet MED610 for devoloping their Glaucoma Drainage Device in animal trials is perhaps the best example of how  this material and the technology can be pushed further for evaluating designs and hypothesis in vivo when really fine features are needed. Stratasys’s FDM PC-ISO or ABS M30i materials, or other FDM extrusion capable materials like PLA, PCL and PLGA may be better options when the resolution allows – but this is a topic for a follow-on blog post.
  • More in vitro work needs to be done to extend the work done by Schmelzer et al., which suggests that MED610 potentially has leachables that do impact cell viability negatively. Specifically, effects of surface finish (“matte” vs “gloss”) and sterilization on cell viability is a worthwhile follow-on step. In the interim, MED610 is expected to perform well for mucosal membrane contact under 24 hours (and why this is a great technology for dental guides and other temporary in-mouth placement).

If you have any thoughts on this matter or would like to collaborate with us and take advantage of our access to a PolyJet printer that is dedicated to MED610 or other bio-compatible FDM materials, as well as our extensive post-processing and design & analysis facilities, please connect with me on LinkedIn or send us a note at info@padtinc.com and cite this blog post.

Thanks for reading!

References

  1. Stratasys Bio-compatible Materials Page: http://www.stratasys.com/materials/polyjet/bio-compatible
  2. PolyJet MED610 Data Sheets: http://www.stratasys.com/materials/material-safety-data-sheets/polyjet/dental-and-bio-compatible-materials
  3. Schmelzer, E., Over, P., Gridelli, B., & Gerlach, J. (2016). Response of Primary Human Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and Dermal Keratinocytes to Thermal Printer Materials In Vitro. Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering, 36, 153-167.
  4. Ross C, Pandav S, Li Y, et al. Determination of Bleb Capsule Porosity With an Experimental Glaucoma Drainage Device and Measurement System. JAMA Ophthalmol.2015;133(5):549-554. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.30.
  5. Glaucoma case study in online course on Bioprinting, University of Woolongong, Future Learn, https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/bioprinting/3/steps/87168