Video: Automated Test Fixture for Biopsy Device

biobsy-test-fixture-1How do you figure out when and why a product is failing?  When the failure is due to repetitive operation the only practical way is to build a machine that operates the product over and over again. Designing, building, and running this type of device is one of the many services that PADT offers its customers.

The video below is an example of how PADT’s Medical Device team developed an automated text fixture for a customer that needed to understand the failure mechanisms of a biopsy device. The fixture was designed to operate the device, repeating field operations, and capture behavior over time with the goal of capture which components failed, the nature of each failure, and the nature of each failure.

The apparatus repeats four operations that constitute one operation of the device. Video is used with a counter to determine when a failure occurred and how. The project brought together test, controls, and mechanical design engineers. It also utilized PADT’s in-house 3D Printing and machining capability.

This is also a perfect example of how a customer can hand over an entire project that they need done, but don’t have the resources to do in-house. PADT’s team created the test specification, designed the hardware, conducted the tests, and delivered actionable information to the customer.

If you have a project you do not have the resources to complete in-house, consider having our engineers take a look at it to see how we can help.

Programming a Simple Polygon Editor

polygon-editor-icon-1Part of my job at PADT is writing custom software for our various clients.  We focus primarily on developing technical software for the engineering community, with a particular emphasis on tools that integrate with the ANSYS suite of simulation tools.  Frankly, writing software is my favorite thing to do at PADT, simply because software development is all about problem solving.

This morning I got to work on a fairly simple feature of a much larger tool that I am currently developing.  The feature I’m working on involves graphically editing polygons.  Why, you ask am I doing this?  Well, that I can’t say, but nonetheless I can share a particularly interesting problem (to me at least) that I got to take a swing at solving.  The problem is this:

When a user is editing a node in the polygon by dragging it around on the screen, how do you handle the case when they drop it on an existing node?

Consider this polygon I sketched out in a prototype of the tool.


What should happen if the user drags this node over on top of that node:polygon-editor-f02

Well, I think the most logical thing to do is that you merge the two nodes together.  Implementing that is pretty easy.  The slightly harder question is what to do with the remaining structure of the polygon?  For my use case, polygons have to be manifold in that no vertex is connected to more than two edges. (The polygons can be open and thus have two end vertices connected to only one edge.)  So, what part do you delete?  Well, my solution is that you delete the “smaller” part, where “smaller” is defined as the part that has the fewest nodes.  So, for example, this is what my polygon looks like after the “drop”

polygon-editor-f03Conceptually, this sounds pretty simple, but how do you do it programmatically?  To give some background, note that the nodes in my polygon class are stored in a simple, ordered C++ std::list<>.

Now, I use a std::list<> simply because I know I’m going to be inserting and deleting nodes at random places.  Linked lists are great for that, and for rendering, I have to walk the whole list anyway, so there’s no performance hit there.  Graphically, my data structure looks
something like this:polygon-editor-f04Pretty simple.  For a closed polygon, my class maintains a flag and simply draws an edge from the last node to the first node.

The rub comes when you start to realize that there are tons of different ways a user might try to merge nodes together in either an open or closed polygon.  I’ve illustrated a few below along with what nodes would need to be merged in the corresponding data structure.  In the data structure pictures, the red node is the target (the node on which the user will be dropping) and the green node is the one they are manipulating (the source node).

Here is one example:


Here is another example:


Finally, here is one more:polygon-editor-f08polygon-editor-f09

In all these examples, we have different “cases” that we need to handle.  For instance, in the first example the portion of the data structure we want to keep is the stuff between the source and target nodes.  So, the stuff on the “ends” of the list needs to be deleted.  In the middle case, we just need to merge the source and target together.  Finally, in the last case, the nodes between the source and target need to be deleted, whereas the stuff at the “ends” of the list need to be kept.

This simple type of problem causes shivers in many programmers, and I’ll admit, I was nervous at first that this problem was going to lead to a solution that handled each individual case respectively.  Nothing in all of programming is more hideous than that.  So, there has to be a simple way to figure out what part of the list to keep, and what part of the list to throw away.

Now, I’m sure this problem has been solved numerous times before, but I wanted to take a shot at it without googling.  (I still haven’t googled, yet… so if this is similar to any other approach, they get the credit and I just reinvented the wheel…)  I remember a long time ago listening to a C++ programmer espouse the wonders of the standard library’s algorithm section.  I vaguely remember him droning on about how wonderful the std::rotate algorithm is.  At the time, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  Now, I’m right there with him.  std::rotate is pretty awesome!

std::rotate is a simple algorithm.  Essentially what it does is it takes the first element in a list, pops it off the list and moves it to the rear of the list.  Everything else in the list shifts up one spot.  This is called a left rotate, because you can imagine the items in the list rotating to the left until they get to the front of the line, at which point they fall off and are put back on the end of the list.  (Using reverse iterators you can effectively perform a right rotate as well.)  So, how can we take advantage of this to simplify figuring out what needs to be deleted from our list of nodes?

Well, the answer is remarkably simple.  Once we locate the source and target nodes in the list, regardless of their relative position with respect to one another or to the ends of the list, we simply left rotate the list until the target becomes the head of the list.  That is, if we start with this:polygon-editor-f10We left rotate until we have this:polygon-editor-f11That’s great, but what does that buy us?  Well, now that one of the participating nodes is at the head of the list, our problem is much simpler because all of the nodes that we need to delete are now at either end of the list.  The only question left to answer is which end of the list do we trim off?  The answer to that question is trivial.  We simply trim off the shorter end of the list with respect to the source node (the green node in the diagram). The “lengths” of the two lists are defined as follows.  For the head section, it’s the number of nodes up to, but not including the source. (This section obviously includes the target node)  For the tail, it’s the number of nodes from the source to the end, including the source.  (This section includes the source node).  Since we define the two sections this way we are guaranteed to delete either the source or the target, but not both.  Its fine to delete either one of them, because at this point we’ve deemed the geometrically coincident, but we must not accidentally delete both!!

In the example just given, after the rotate, we would delete the head of the list.  However, let’s take a look at our first example.  Here is the original list:

polygon-editor-f12Here is the rotated list:polygon-editor-f13So, in this case, the “end” of the list (including the source) is the shortest.  If it is a tie, then it doesn’t matter, just pick one.  Interestingly enough, if the two nodes are adjacent in the original list, then the rotated list will look like either this:polygon-editor-f14 Or this, if the source is “before” the target in the original list:polygon-editor-f15In either case, the algorithm works unchanged, and we only delete one node.  It’s beautiful! (At least in my opinion…)  Modern C++ makes this type of code really clean and easy to write.  Here is the entire thing, including the search to located geometrically adjacent nodes as well as the merge. The standard library algorithms really help out!

// Search lambda function for looking for any other node in the list that is
// coindicent to this node, except this node.
auto searchAdjacentFun = [this, pNode](const NodeListTool::AdjustNodePtrT &amp;pOtherNode)-&gt;bool
if (pNode-&gt;tag() == pOtherNode-&gt;tag()) return false;
return (QVector2D(pNode-&gt;pos() - pOtherNode-&gt;pos()).length() &lt; m_snapTolerance); }; auto targetLoc = std::find_if(m_nodes.begin(), m_nodes.end(), searchAdjacentFun); // If we don't find an adjacent node within the tolerance, then we can't merge if (targetLoc == m_nodes.end()) { return false; } // Tidy things up so that the source has exactly the same position as the target pNode-&gt;setPos((*targetLoc)-&gt;pos());
// Begin the merge by left rotating the target so that it is at the
// beginning of the list
std::rotate(m_nodes.begin(), targetLoc, m_nodes.end());
// Find this node in the list
auto searchThis = [this, pNode](const NodeListTool::AdjustNodePtrT &amp;pOtherNode)-&gt;bool
return (pNode-&gt;tag() == pOtherNode-&gt;tag());
auto sourceLoc = std::find_if(m_nodes.begin(), m_nodes.end(), searchThis);
// Now, figure out which nodes we are going to delete.
auto distToBeg = std::distance(m_nodes.begin(), sourceLoc);
auto distToEnd = std::distance(sourceLoc, m_nodes.end());
if (distToBeg &lt; distToEnd) { // If our source is closer to the beginning (which is the target) // than it is to the end of the list, then we need to delete // the nodes at the front of the list m_nodes.erase(m_nodes.begin(), sourceLoc); } else { // Otherwise, delete the nodes at the end of the list m_nodes.erase(sourceLoc, m_nodes.end()); } // Now, see if we still have more than 2 vertices if (m_nodes.size() &gt; 2) {
m_bClosed = true;
else {
m_bClosed = false;
return true;

2015 PADT Pumpkin Fest and Launch

padt-pumpkin-lunch-1Every year around the end of October PADT has our holiday season kick-off event, our Pumpkin Fest and Launch.  This year we also added in a company meeting, killing three birds with one pumpkin.

The weather was fantastic, and we all enjoyed sitting outside in the sun under a clear blue sky.  Our pumpkin catapult, recently improved, was then rolled out for some pumpkin chunkin’ fun.

Thanks to the folks at Tech Shop Chandler we had a redesigned basket for the pumpkins to go in. Their industrial sewing machine was a perfect tool to make something strong enough.  Her are some picture below that I took with my phone, we will add video next week.

Manoj M won on distance, and Jeff McK took the prize for accuracy.

The PADT Pumpkin cataPult ready to go.
Ted shows good form while striving for accuracy
The only change to this years design was a better basket made with industrial fabric on an industrial sewing machine from Tech Shop

7 Reasons why ANSYS AIM Will Change the Way Simulation is Done

ANSYS-AIM-Icon1When ANSYS, Inc. released their ANSYS AIM product they didn’t just introduce a better way to do simulation, they introduced a tool that will change the way we all do simulation.  A bold statement, but after PADT has used the tool here, and worked with customers who are using it, we feel confident that this is a software package will drive that level of change.   It enables the type of change that will drive down schedule time and cost for product development, and allow companies to use simulation more effectively to drive their product development towards better performance and robustness.

It’s Time for a Productivity Increase

AIM-7-old-modelIf you have been doing simulation as long as I have (29 years for me) you have heard it before. And sometimes it was true.  GUI’s on solvers was the first big change I saw. Then came robust 3D tetrahedral meshing, which we coasted on for a while until fully associative and parametric CAD connections made another giant step forward in productivity and simulation accuracy. Then more recently, robust CFD meshing of dirty geometry. And of course HPC improvements on the solver side.

That was then.  Right now everyone is happily working away in their tool of choice, simulating their physics of choice.  ANSYS Mechanical for structural, ANSYS Fluent for fluids, and maybe ANSYS HFSS for electromagnetics. Insert your tool of choice, it doesn’t really matter. They are all best-in-breed advanced tools for doing a certain type of physical simulation.  Most users are actually pretty happy. But if you talk to their managers or methods engineers, you find less happiness. Why? They want more engineers to have access to these great tools and they also want people to be working together more with less specialization.

Putting it all Together in One Place

AIM-7-valve2-multiphysicsANSYS AIM is, among many other things, an answer to this need.  Instead of one new way of doing something or a new breakthrough feature, it is more of a product that puts everything together to deliver a step change in productivity. It is built on top of these same world class best-in-bread solvers. But from the ground up it is an environment that enables productivity, processes, ease-of-use, collaboration, and automation. All in one tool, with one interface.

Changing the Way Simulation is Done

Before we list where we see things changing, let’s repeat that list of what AIM brings to the table, because those key deliverables in the software are what are driving the change:

  • IAIM-7-pipe-setupmproved Productivity
  • Standardized Processes
  • True Ease-of-Use
  • Inherent Collaboration
  • Intuitive Automation
  • Single Interface

Each of these on their own would be good, but together, they allow a fundamental shift in how a simulation tool can be used. And here are the seven way we predict you will be doing things differently.

1) Standardized processes across an organization

The workflow in ANSYS AIM is process oriented from the beginning, which is a key step in standardizing processes.  This is amplified by tools that allow users, not just programmers, to create templates, capturing the preferred steps for a given type of simulation.  Others have tried this in the past, but the workflows were either too rigid or not able to capture complex simulations.  This experience was used to make sure the same thing does not happen in ANSYS AIM.

2) No more “good enough” simulation done by Design Engineers

Ease of use and training issue has kept robust simulation tools out of the hands of design engineers.  Programs for that group of users have usually been so watered down or lack so much functionality, that they simply deliver a quick answer. The math is the same, but it is not as detailed or accurate.  ANSYS AIM solves this by give the design engineer a tool they can pick up and use, but that also gives them access to the most capable solvers on the market.

3) Multiphysics by one user

Multiphysics simulation often involves the use of multiple simulation tools.  Say a CFD Solver and a Thermal Solver. The problem is that very few users have the time to learn two or more tools, and to learn how to hook them together. So some Multiphysics is done with several experts working together, some in tools that do multiple physics, but none well, or by a rare expert that has multi-tool expertise.  Because ANSYS AIM is a Multiphysics tool from the ground up, built on high-power physics solvers, the limitations go away and almost any engineer can now do Multiphysics simulation.

AIM-7-study4) True collaboration

The issues discussed above about Multiphysics requiring multiple users in most tools, also inhibit true collaboration. Using one user’s model in one tool is difficult when another user has another tool. Collaboration is difficult when so much is different in processes as well.  The workflow-driven approach in ANSYS AIM lends itself to collaboration, and the consistent look-and-feel makes it happen.

5) Enables use when you need it

This is a huge one.  Many engineers do not use simulation tools because they are occasional users.  They feel that the time required to re-familiarize themselves with their tools is longer than it takes to do the simulation. The combination of features unique to ANSYS AIM deal with this in an effective manner, making accurate simulation something a user can pick up when they need it, use it to drive their design, and move on to the next task.

6) Stepping away from CAD embedded Simulation

The growth of CAD embedded simulation tools, programs that are built into a CAD product, has been driven by the need to tightly integrate with geometry and provide ease of use for the users who only occasionally need to do simulation. Although the geometry integration was solved years ago, the ease-of-use and process control needed is only now becoming available in a dedicated simulation tool with ANSYS AIM.

7) A Return to home-grown automation for simulation

AIM-7-scriptIf you have been doing simulation since the 80’s like I have, you probably remember a day when every company had scripts and tools they used to automate their simulation process. They were extremely powerful and delivered huge productivity gains. But as tools got more powerful and user interfaces became more mature, the ability to create your own automation tools faded.  You needed to be a programmer. ANSYS AIM brings this back with recording and scripting for every feature in the tool, with a common and easy to use language, Python.

How does this Impact Me and or my Company?

It is kind of fun to play prognosticator and try and figure out how a revolutionary advance in our industry is going to impact that industry. But in the end it really does not matter unless the changes improve the product development process. We feel pretty strongly that it does.  Because of the changes in how simulation is done, brought about by ANSYS AIM, we feel that more companies will use simulation to drive their product development, more users within a company will have access to those tools, and the impact of simulation will be greater.


To fully grasp the impact you need to step back and ponder why you do simulation.  The fast cars and crazy parties are just gravy. The core reason is to quickly and effectively test your designs.  By using virtual testing, you can explore how your product behaves early in the design process and answer those questions that always come up.  The sooner, faster, and more accurately you answer those questions, the lower the cost of your product development and the better your final product.

Along comes a product like ANSYS AIM.  It is designed by the largest simulation software company in the world to give the users of today and tomorrow access to the power they need. It enables that “sooner, faster, and more accurately” by allowing us to change, for the better, the way we do virtual testing.

The best way to see this for yourself is to explore ANSYS AIM.  Sign up for our AIM Resource Kit here or contact us and we will be more than happy to show it to you.


Video Tips: Fluid Volume Extraction

This video shows a really quick and easy way to extract a fluid domain from a structural model without having to do any Boolean subtract operations.

Making Old Desks New at PADT

  • whiteboard-desks-icon1It has been a long time since I have written any articles. I thought to get me back into the flow of writing I would share a recent fun project that I completed at work where I was able reuse and re-purpose abandoned 20 year-old office desks. The issue started out a frustration related to note taking and I wanted something better. What is my frustration, how did it start? It was started by simple pet peeve of my own. I do not like using paper to jot down quick ideas, thoughts or a to-do on! I write numerous quick notes down during my day at work.

    Some examples of my daily office dilemma:

  • Rapid fire phone calls that can bounce my phone off the desk.
  • I just have to jot something down less than a single sentence down.
  • A conference call occurs I need to capture a couple quick thoughts down because I am such a great active listener and don’t want to interrupt.
  • Even sketching out a quick design for a new CUBE HPC cluster or workstation.

My whys may not be your whys and I feel like it is a time & resource waste! You might too especially when I the thoughts go something like this.

Should I:

  • Use a new piece of paper to write quick notes on? Nope
  • Find the special square colored sticky things? Nope
  • Dig through the paper recycling bin and get strange looks from my co-workers? Nope
  • Cut my own square colored sticky note things? Nope
  • I can’t seem to find a pen, open a brand new box of pens? Nope
  • Take your notes on the electronic device of your choosing, okay which one phone, laptop, and/or tablet or how about use that conference room computer? Then I end up having quick notes and scribbles EVERYWHERE!
  • Sigh…

I hope those points made you laugh and frames a picture that I was not in my comfort zone. I knew what I wanted. I had used the same note taking process for years. Probably every day I would use my two whiteboards to write quick notes on. Whiteboards worked for me, I loved my whiteboards and life was good. What happened and where the frustration occurred was that I had four office desk moves over a time span of a year at PADT, Inc. Guess what happened the new office areas did not have whiteboards in them!

Here is a picture of a bunch of abandoned desks here at PADT, Inc. I walk past desks like these every day. Then during the office moving a thought occurred to me that maybe I could use paste or mat whiteboard type surface to them and make a whiteboard type desk?

whiteboard-desks-01I figured that someone had already thought of the idea already and remembered about a business trip that I took to California this past year. I remember walking through the insides of startup lab office building. You could feel the venture capital money pulsing through the office walls. This office building environment was sophisticated and exciting. What did I notice? I am sure you can think of some good examples. Haha, but what I found fascinating was groups of people collaborating with dry-erase markers in hand and notes scribbled over entire sections of walls. On huge conference room tables I even saw that large sections of glass walls where used. Boom! I had my solution.

I did my research and this is what I used.

The primer & the solution:

The cost:

  • About $50 and a few hours of time
    • One package of the dry erase can do about 3-4 coats for a 30 sq ft area, or about two thick coast on two desks.

The steps:

  1. Lightly sand the top until smooth.
  2. Clean the top of the desk.
  3. Mask the ends of the table
  4. Apply coat of primer
  5. Apply the solution
    1. After the third or fourth coat is on, wait 3 days for use.

The results:

whiteboard-desks-02 whiteboard-desks-03 whiteboard-desks-04

Do It!

Free ANSYS AIM Resource Kit — Expert Advice, Insights and Best Practices for Multiphysics Simulation

ANSYS-AIM-Icon1We have been talking a lot about ANSYS AIM lately.  Mostly because we really like ANSYS AIM and we think a large number of engineers out there need to know more about it and understand it’s advantages.  And the way we do that is through blog posts, emails, seminars, and training sessions.  A new tool that we have started using are “Resource and Productivity Kits,” collections of information that users can download.

Earlier in the year we introduced several kits, including ANSYS Structural, ANSYS Fluids, and ANSYS ElectroMechanical.  Now we are pleased to offer up a collection of useful information on ANSYS AIM.  This kit includes:

  • “Getting to know ANSYS AIM,” a video by PADT application engineer Manoj Mahendran
  • “What I like about ANSYS AIM,” a video featuring insights on the tool
  • Six ANSYS AIM demonstration videos, including simulations and a custom template demonstration
  • Five slide decks that provide an overview of ANSYS AIM and describe its new features
  • An exclusive whitepaper on effectively training product development engineers in simulation.

You can download the kit here.

If you need more info, view the ANSYS AIM Overview video or read about it on our ANSYS AIM page.

Watch this blog for more useful content on AIM in the future.


To Use Large Deflection or Not, That Is the Question

Hamlet-Large-DeflectionIt seems like I’ve been explaining large deflection effects a lot recently. Between co-teaching an engineering class at nearby Arizona State University and also having a couple of customer issues regarding the concept, large deflection in structural analyses has been on my mind.

Before I explain any further, the thing you should note if you are an ANSYS Mechanical simulation user is this: If you don’t know if you need large deflection or not, you should turn it on. There is really no way to know for certain if it’s needed or not unless you perform a comparison study with and without it.

So, what are large deflection effects? In simple terms the inclusion of large deflection means that ANSYS accounts for changes in stiffness due to changes in shape of the parts you are simulating. The classic case to consider is the loaded fishing rod.

In its undeflected state, the fishing rod is very flexible at the tip. With a heavy fish on the end of the line, the rod deflects downward and it is then easy to observe that the stiffness of the rod has increased. In other words, when the rod is lightly loaded, a small amount of force will cause a certain downward deflection at the top. When the rod is heavily loaded however, a much larger amount of force will be needed to cause the tip to deflect downward by the same amount.

This change in the force amount required to achieve the same change in displacement implies that we do not have a linear relationship between force and displacement.
Consider Hooke’s law, also known as the spring equation:

F = Kx

Where F is the force applied, K is the stiffness of the structure, and x is the deflection. In a linear system, doubling the force results in double the displacement. In our fishing rod case, though, we have a nonlinear system. We might need to triple the force to double the displacement, depending on how much the rod is loaded relative to its size and other properties, and then to double the displacement again we might need to apply four times that force, just using numbers out of my head as examples.


So, in the case of the fishing rod, Hooke’s law in a linear form does not apply. In order to capture the nonlinear effect we need a way for the stiffness to change as the shape of the rod changes. In our finite element solution in ANSYS, it means that we want to recalculate the stiffness as the structure deflects.

This recalculation of the stiffness as the structure deflects is activated by turning on large deflection effects. Without large deflection turned on, we are constrained to using the linear equation, and no matter how much the structure deflects we are still using the original stiffness.

So, why not just have large deflection on by default and use it all the time? My understanding is that since large deflection adds computation expense to have it on, it’s off by default. It’s the same as for a lot of advanced usage, such as frictionless or frictional contact vs. the default bonded (simpler) behavior. In other words, turning on large deflection will trigger a nonlinear solution, meaning multiple passes through the solver using the Newton Raphson method instead of the single pass needed for a linear problem.

Here is an example of a simplified fishing rod. The image shows the undeflected rod (top), which is held fixed on the left side and has a downward force load applied on the right end. The bottom image shows the final deflected shape, with large deflection effects included. The deflection at the tip in this case is 34 inches.


In comparison running the same load with large deflection turned off resulted in a tip deflection of 40 inches. Thus, the calculated tip deflection is 15% less with large deflection turned on, since we are now accounting for change in stiffness with change in shape as the rod deflects.

Below we have a force (horizontal axis) vs. deflection (vertical axis) plot for a nonlinear simulation of a fishing rod with large deflection turned on. The fact that the curve is not a straight line confirms that this is a nonlinear problem, with the stiffness (slope of the curve) not constant. We can also see that as the force gets higher, the slope of the curve is more horizontal, meaning that more force is needed for each incremental amount of displacement. This matches our observations of the fishing rod behavior.


So, getting back to our original point, it’s often the case that we don’t know if we need to include large deflection effects or not. When in doubt, run cases with and without. If you don’t see a change in your key results, you can probably do without large deflection.

Here is an example using an idealized compressor vane. In this case, the deflections and stresses with and without large deflection effects are nearly the same (the stress difference is about 0.2%).

Large Deflection On:blade_large_defl

Small Deflection:blade_small_defl

Bottom line: when in doubt, try it out, with and without large deflection. In ANSYS Mechanical, Large Deflection effects are turned on or off in the details of the Analysis Settings branch.

It’s worth noting that turning on large deflection in ANSYS actually activates four different behaviors, known as large deflection which include large rotation, large strain, stress stiffening, and spin softening. All of these involve change in stiffness due to deformation in one way or another.

If you like this kind of info, or find it useful, we cover topics like this in our training classes. For more info, check out our training pages at

3D Printing – A 2D Explainer from Shapeways

shapeways_3d_printing_headerWhat is this 3D Printing anyway?  It doesn’t take long for someone new to the technology to see the wide range of applications and implications it brings to the table.  But what how does it actually work. Our friends at Shapeways have put together a great infographic that explains things well.

Take a look and share:


If you scrolled down this far, you may be asking, “Why is PADT sharing Shapeways material? Are they not competitors?”  Well, to be honest, we recommend Shapeways to people all the time. Our Additive Manufacturing business is about producing engineering prototypes, tooling, and end-use products for manufacturing companies. When a hobbiest or artist comes to ask us for a prototype, we often recommend that they go visit Shapeways.

We also recommend that people who are interested in all the non-engineering applications for 3D Printing check out their marketplace. The things that people have come up with is just amazing and shows the unbounded potential of this technology.

Presentation: Leveraging Simulation for Product Development of IoT Devices


Yours truly going over the impact of Simulation on IoT Product Development

The local SEMI chapter here in Arizona held a breakfast meeting on Monetizing Internet of Things (IoT) and PADT was pleased to be one of the presenters. Always a smart group, this was a chance to sit with people making the sensors, chips, and software that enable the IoT and dig deep in to where things are and where they need to be.

The event was hosted by one of our favorite customers, and neighbor right across the street, Freescale Semiconductor.  Speakers included IoT experts from Freescale, Intel, Medtronics, ASU, and SEMICO Research.

Not surprisingly I talked about how Simulation can play a successful role in product development of IoT devices.

You can download a copy of the presentation here: PADT-SEMI-IOT-Simulation-1.pdf

UPDATE (11/9/2015): Great write-up by Don Dingee on this event in the SemiWiki. Click here to read it. It includes a great summary of the other speakers.

You can also see more details on how people use Simulation for this application on the ANSYS, Inc. website here.  We also like this video from ANSYS that shows some great applications and how ANSYS is used with them:

A couple of common themes resonated across the speakers:

  1. Price and size need to come down on the chips used in IoT (this was a semiconductor group, so this is a big part of their focus)
  2. Lowering power usage and increasing power density in batteries is a key driver
  3. The biggest issue in IoT is privacy and security. Keeping your data private and keeping people from hacking in to IoT devices.
  4. Another big problem is dealing with all the data collected by IoT devices. How to make it useful and how to store it all.  One answer is reducing the data on the device, another is only keeping track of what changes.
  5. It is early, standards are needed but they are still forming.

If you look at this list, the first two problems are addressable with simulation:


PADT has a growing amount of experience with helping customers simulate and design IoT devices as well as the chips, sensors, and antenna that go in to IoT devices.  To learn more, shoot us an email at or call 480.813.4884.


Manufacturing Open House Highlights – October 2015

padt-mfg-openhouse-2015-1Here at PADT we help people who make products, stuff that gets manufactured.  So we focused our open house yesterday on advanced manufacturing and invited the community to come out and network, learn, and share.  Even though it was a busy week for technology events in Arizona, we had a great turnout on a surprisingly cloudy Wednesday evening.

October is Manufacturing month and this open house was part of the Arizona Commerce Authority’s coordinated events to highlight manufacturing in Arizona.   You can learn more about other events in the state here.

This event was a bit more casual and less structured then past PADT open houses, letting attendees spend more time one-on-one with various experts and dig deep in to technologies like metal 3D Printing, urethane casting, topological optimization, and scanning.

What struck all of us here was the keen interest in and knowledge about the various tools we were showing across a wide range of attendees.  From students with home built 3D Printers to managers from local aerospace companies that are on the forefront of Additive Manufacturing, the questions that were asks and comments that were made with insightful and show a transition of this technology from hype to real world application.

Below are some more quick snapshot taken during the event.

A big thanks to everyone who made it out and we hope to see more of you next time. If you have any questions about the application of advanced manufacturing technologies to your products, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 480.813.4884.  As always, visit to learn more.

PADT’s Dr. Dhruv Bhate explains the latest developments in metal Additive Manufacturing.

PADT’s Director of Engineering, Rob Rowan, discusses how PADT Medical has helped companies turn their medical device ideas into products.





Ademola Falade, PADT's scanning expert, describes how blue light scanning has changed how we capture geometry of existing parts.
Ademola Falade, PADT’s scanning expert, describes how blue light scanning has changed how we capture geometry of existing parts.

PADT's Seminar Room was packed with people talking to PADT's expert engineering staff.
PADT’s Seminar Room was packed with people talking to PADT’s expert engineering staff.


PADT’s 3D Printing Demo room was the place to hang and discuss different ways to use 3D Printing.

Free Training and Evaluation for ANSYS AIM

AIM_City_CFDPADT is hosting a series of free training classes to introduce users to ANSYS AIM.  We have pasted the invitation below.  You can register here.  We are very excited about this new tool from ANSYS, Inc. and are eager to share it with everyone. Look for more AIM information on this blog in the near future.

Free Training and Evaluation for ANSYS® AIM™.
Register Today – Seats Are Limited.

Discover how to design your next product
better… and faster


ANSYS AIM: Integrated Multiphysics Simulation Environment
for All Engineers


Free Training and Evaluation for ANSYS® AIM™ – An Integrated Multi-physics Simulation Environment for All Engineers

As a special offer, PADT Inc. is offering FREE “Jump Start” training and hands-on evaluation for ANSYS® AIM™. Design engineers, method engineers and managers seeking to learn the latest simulation software, boost adoption and usability for the occasional user, or extend their existing CAD-based tool’s limited functionality will benefit from this no-obligation course.

Register Today – Seats are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. On completion of the class, you’ll be qualified to receive and use a FREE 30-day ANSYS AIM download for evaluation.

All classes will be held from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. local time and include a complimentary lunch.

PADT’s support team of ANSYS experts will help attendees understand where ANSYS AIM fits in to their organization and workflow. The class will address both situations and how ANSYS AIM provides the integration of CAD based systems and the ease of use of a modern tool in a product that steps the occasional user through the process without limiting functionality.

Watch this short video to learn more about the capabilities and benefits of ANSYS® AIM™ for the simulation of 3-D physics and multiphysics

Contact our ANSYS experts 1-800-293-PADT,

Beyond the Hype – Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Worldwide, A Summary of Terry Wholers’ Thoughts

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-1Terry Wholers is the founder and principal consultant of Wohlers Associates Inc., an independent consulting firm that was launched 28 years ago. Wohlers and his team have provided consulting work to over 240 organizations in 24 countries as well as to 150 companies in the investment community. He has authored over 400 books, articles, and technical papers. Terry has twice served as a presenter at the White House. For the past 20 years hes has been the principal author for the Wohlers Report which is an annual worldwide publication focused on Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing. In 2007 more than a 1,000 industry professionals from around the world selected Terry as the most influential person in Rapid Prototyping Development and Additive Manufacturing.

PADT was fortunate enough to sponsor, with the local SME group, an event in Fort Collins, Colorado where Terry came and shared his views on the industry. What follows is a summary of what we learned. They are basically notes and observations.  Please contact us for any clarification or details: 

Terry Wohlers started his talk by asking: How many people have heard of 3D printing?

He noted that these days it was pretty much everyone and if you haven’t then you must be living in a cave. It is like everyone can’t get enough of it.

There has been a lot of growth. In the last 5 years the industry has quadrupled. Last year it was a 4.1 billion industry and this year 5.5 billion. Terry doesn’t own any stock in any of the different 3D printing companies. He cautioned everyone to not confuse the share prices with the growth and the expansion within this industry.

After this introduction, Terry stated that there were really two things in the industry that really excited him.  3D Printing for Manufacturing and for Production Parts.

3D Printing in Manufacturing.

The first area to watch is the use of this technology for manufacturing applications. The team looking at the sales data drew a line in the sand for the low cost hobbyist printers at $5,000. There were 140,000 of them sold last year compared to under 13,000 above $5k. However, they don’t cost much so the money is still in the industrial machines. Here are the revenues for 2014:

Industrial: 1.12 Billion, or 86.6%.
Hobbyist: 173.3 Million, or 13.4%

There are FDM clones everywhere. 300 or more brands. There is a lot of open source software out there to develop your own FDM printer.

One thing to watch in the industry is expiring patents. This opens up competition and lowers prices and sometimes brings better machines to market.  Right now, the SLS patent expired in June of last year so we are seeing new Selective Laser Sintering devices coming to market.

An exciting example of using 3D printing in manufacturing is the landing gear created by Stratasys. It was built and assembled with a Stratasys FDM printer and used for a fit check. Very Cool!


In medical, some great examples of tooling are jigs, fixtures, drill press, and custom cutting guide for knee replacement. You can take scanned data and create a custom cutting guide for replacing your knee. Tens of thousands of those have been done.

Lots of work is being done on test fixtures as well.

In tooling, with additive manufacturing you can do things that are highly complex. Instead of just straight gun drilled cooling channels you can make the cooling channels conform to the purpose of the part. You can reduce 30-300% cycle time by improving the cooling channels for injection molding dies.  It turns out that Lego is printing their molds! They are using conformal cooling to increase their cycle times.

On the aerospace side of things, end use parts are literally taking off.  Airbus is flying today 45,000 to 60,000 Ultem plastic parts. Both passenger and non-passenger planes have Ultem parts on them.

3D Printing for Final Production Parts

The second area to watch is the next frontier, and that is what excites him. You can do structural ribs in 3D printed parts. You need to make sure there are places in your parts to remove the support material used if you are going to use structural ribs. Design is absolutely critical. When he was at Solidworks world in Orlando a few years ago, there was a 3D printed bird that was flapping its wings.

This is a part of that bird that was being flown.

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-4 3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-3
Two weeks ago Terry did a four day course at NASA on Design for Additive Manufacturing. The importance of the subject now is that companies and organizations are paying a lot of money to host people to teach them how to design for additive manufacturing. It was a great learning experience and NASA has already signed up for a second course that is focused on metals. NASA 3D printed a turbopump with 45%fewer parts that runs at 90,000 rpm, and creates 2,000 hp. This turbopump manufactured with conventional methods costs $220,000 for one, they can 3D print 2 of them in Inconel for $20,000.

A big part of Design for Additive Manufacturing is using the correct thinking but also using the right tools. There is a lack of both. We are taught to design for the conventional method of manufacturing. Now we have to undo some of that and think, hey there can be a better way to design this part.

One of those ways is Topology Optimization (let mathematics decide where to place the support structure so there is a increased strength to weight ratio). Another is the use of lattice structure (mesh and cellular). Ever since the beginning of time, man would make parts out of a solid material. Well now you can have a thin skin and a lattice structure on the interior to produce something superior in some cases.

We need these kind of tools integrated into the different CAD software’s so that we can design better parts.  This bracket is flying on a Airbus. This cabinet bracket is made out of titanium and is flying on the A35 Airbus. It was designed for 2.3 tons and actually holds up to 12.5-14 tons depending on the test. Peter Zander at Airbus believes that in 2 years they will be printing 30 tons of metal per month!


GE Aviation is building fuel nozzles for the new leap engine. The new design is 25% lighter and five times more durable than the previous design that took 20 different parts to assemble to make one fuel nozzle. The will be printing 40,000 fuel nozzles per year.

Consumer Products:
It is going to be very big. Terry thinks this is going to be a sweet spot in the industry. Once example is this guitar called the Hive Bass. It is built out of Nylon and would cost you $3,500. You can have a custom guitar made for that price.

There is a Belgium company that creates custom frames for eyewear.


There is also a lot of Jewelry available for consumers along with many other products.

For metal part production there are many steps needed to finish the part. About 9 steps that Terry counted so it can be a long process.

Myth: Additive Manufacturing is fast! Well that depends on Polymers versus Metals and the size and complexity of the parts. Airbus had one build that took 14 days to print with their metal printer! GE mentioned that they have to print the same part twice before they get it right because they will have to reorient the part or change the build parameters to get the best quality build possible.

According to some estimates the global manufacturing economy is in the range of $13 trillion. If this technology were to penetrate 2% of it then that is over a quarter of a trillion dollars. 5% is approaching two thirds of a trillion!

Terry finished by asking: How many of you think this will be North of the 5% estimate?

We want to thank Terry for giving such an informative talk, and New Belgium Brewing for hosting. The networking afterwords was fantastic. 

If you would like to stay up to date on 3D Printing, we recommend the Wohlers Report. It is our primary reference document here at PADT.  

NICE Desktop Cloud Visualization


In a previous post I argued that engineers do magic (read it here). And to help them do their magic better PADT Inc. introduced

Among the magical skills engineers use in their daily awesomeness is their ability to bend the time fabric of the universe and perform tasks in almost impossible deadlines. It’s as if engineers work long hours and even work from home, while commuting and even at the coffee shop. Wait, is that what they actually do?

Among a myriad of tools that facilitate remote access and desktop redirection available, one stands out with distinction. NICE-Software developed a tool called Desktop Cloud Visualization (DCV for short). DCV has numerous advantages that we will get into shortly. The videos below give a general idea of what can be achieved with NICE-DCV.

Here is a video from the people at NICE:

And here is one of two PADT Employees using an iPhone to check their CFD results:

Advantages of Nice-DCV

Physical location of cluster/workstation or the engineers becomes irrelevant

Because engineers have fast, efficient and secure access to their workstations and clusters, they no longer need to be in the same office or on the same network segment to utilize the available compute resources. They can utilize NICE-DCV to create a fast, efficient and encrypted connection to their resources to submit, monitor and process results. The DCV clients are supported on Windows, Linux & IOS and even have a stand-alone Windows client that can be run on shared or public computers. In a recent live test, one of our engineers was travelling on a shuttle bus to a tiny ski town in Colorado, he was able to connect over the courtesy Wifi, check the status of his jobs and visualize some of the results.


The need for a powerful laptop or remote workstation to enable offsite work is no longer the only solution

There is no need for offsite engineers lug around a giant laptop in order to efficiently launch and modify their designs or perform simulation runs. Users launch the DCV client, connect to their workstation or cluster and are immediately given access to their desktop. No need to copy files, borrow licenses or transfer data. Engineers don’t need to create copies of files and carry them around on the laptops or on external storage which is an unnecessary security risk.


 “If it ain’t broken don’t fix it!”

Every engineer uses ANSYS in his own special way. Some prefer the good old command line for everything even when a flashy GUI option is available. Others are comfortable using the Windows like GUI interface and would


Opens the door for GUI-only users to utilize large cluster resources without a steep learning curve or specialized tools.

Nice-DCV makes the use of ANSYS on large HPC clusters within reach for everyone. Engineers can log into pre-configured environments with all of the variables needed for parallel ANSYS runs already defined. Users can use can have their favorite ANSYS software added to the desktop as shortcuts or system admins can write small scripts or programs that serve as an answer file for custom job scripts.

From 0-60 in about…10 Minutes

For an engineer with the smallest amount of system administration skills it takes about 10 minutes to install the Nice-DCV server and launch the first connection. It’s surprisingly simple and straightforward on both the server and the client side. The benefits of Nice-DCV can be immediately realized in both simplified cluster administration and peace of mind for both the engineers and the system admins.

PADT’s CoresOnDemand and Nice-DCV

The CoresOnDemand service that PADT introduced last year utilizes the Nice-DCV tool to simplify and enhance the user experience. If you are interested in a live demo on Nice-DCV or the CoresOnDemand environment contact us either by phone: 480-813-4884 or by email For more information please visit:

(Note: some of the social media posts had a typo in the title, that was my fault (Eric) not Ahmed’s…)

ReBlog: An Insider’s View on 3D Printing in Aerospace

In all the hype and hoopla around 3D Printing there are teams around the world that are quietly making a difference in manufacturing – making real parts and figuring out the processes, testing, and protocols needed to realize the dream of additive manufacturing.  One such team is at Honeywell Aerospace, and we are proud to be one of their vendors.

They just published a great blog on where they are and what they have achieved and we recommend you give it a read. Very informative.

An Insider’s View on 3D Printing in Aerospace


If you would like to learn how you can use this same technology to move your manufacturing process forward, fill out our simple form here, call us at 480.813.4884, or send an email to