As our inaugural contribution to the Phoenix Business Blog I wrote an article relating a huge lesson we learned when we started PADT. “One piece of advice every new company should know” is… well you have to read the article.
In part 1 of this two-part post, I reviewed the challenges in the constitutive modeling of 3D printed parts using the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. In this second part, I discuss some of the approaches that may be used to enable analyses of FDM parts even in presence of these challenges. I present them below in increasing order of the detail captured by the model.
- Conservative Value: The simplest method is to represent the material with an isotropic material model using the most conservative value of the 3 directions specified in the material datasheet, such as the one from Stratasys shown below for ULTEM-9085 showing the lower of the two modulii selected. The conservative value can be selected based on the desired risk assessment (e.g. lower modulus if maximum deflection is the key concern). This simplification brings with it a few problems:
- The material property reported is only good for the specific build parameters, stacking and layer thickness used in the creation of the samples used to collect the data
- This gives no insight into build orientation or processing conditions that can be improved and as such has limited value to an anlayst seeking to use simulation to improve part design and performance
- Finally, in terms of failure prediction, the conservative value approach disregards inter-layer effects and defects described in the previous blog post and is not recommended to be used for this reason
- Orthotropic Properties: A significant improvement from an isotropic assumption is to develop a constitutive model with orthotropic properties, which has properties defined in all three directions. Solid mechanicians will recognize the equation below as the compliance matrix representation of the Hooke’s Law for an orthortropic material, with the strain matrix on the left equal to the compliance matrix by the stress matrix on the right. The large compliance matrix in the middle is composed of three elastic modulii (E), Poisson’s ratios (v) and shear modulii (G) that need to be determined experimentally.
Good agreement between numerical and experimental results can be achieved using orthotropic properties when the structures being modeled are simple rectangular structures with uniaxial loading states. In addition to require extensive testing to collect this data set (as shown in this 2007 Master’s thesis), this approach does have a few limitations. Like the isotropic assumption, it is only valid for the specific set of build parameters that were used to manufacture the test samples from which the data was initially obtained. Additionally, since the model has no explicit sense of layers and inter-layer effects, it is unlikely to perform well at stresses leading up to failure, especially for complex loading conditions. This was shown in a 2010 paper that demonstrated these limitations in the analysis of a bracket that itself was built in three different orientations. The authors concluded however that there was good agreement at low loads and deflections for all build directions, and that the margin of error as load increased varied across the three build orientations.
- Laminar Composite Theory: The FDM process results in structures that are very similar to laminar composites, with a stack of plies consisting of individual fibers/filaments laid down next to each other. The only difference is the absence of a matrix binder – in the FDM process, the filaments fuse with neighboring filaments to form a meso-structure. As shown in this 2014 project report, a laminar approach allows one to model different ply raster angles that are not possible with the orthotropic approach. This is exciting because it could expand insight into optimizing raster angles for optimum performance of a part, and in theory reduce the experimental datasets needed to develop models. At this time however, there is very limited data validating predicted values against experiments. ANSYS and other software that have been designed for composite modeling (see image below from ANSYS Composite PrepPost) can be used as starting points to explore this space.
- Hybrid Tool-path Composite Representation: One of the limitations of the above approach is that it does not model any of the details within the layer. As we saw in part 1 of this post, each layer is composed of tool-paths that leave behind voids and curvature errors that could be significant in simulation, particularly in failure modeling. Perhaps the most promising approach to modeling FDM parts is to explicitly link tool-path information in the build software to the analysis software. Coupling this with existing composite simulation is another potential idea that would help reduce computational expense. This is an idea I have captured below in the schematic that shows one possible way this could be done, using ANSYS Composite PrepPost as an example platform.
Discussion: At the present moment, the orthotropic approach is perhaps the most appropriate method for modeling parts since it is allows some level of build orientation optimization, as well as for meaningful design comparisons and comparison to bulk properties one may expect from alternative technologies such as injection molding. However, as the application of FDM in end-use parts increases, the demands on simulation are also likely to increase, one of which will involve representing these materials more accurately than continuum solids.
Colorado is a major contributor to the space industry, and they are quickly adopting 3D Printing to keep costs down and get to space faster. In this article, “Colorado Companies Bringing Space Costs Down to Earth” the DBJ explores how automation and 3D Printing can have a big impact on cost and schedule. Many of the companies sighted in the article are PADT customers, and PADT’s very own Norman Stucker was quoted extensively for the article.
The recent explosion of interest in 3D printing has been fascinating to engineers like myself that have been using what we call Additive Manufacturing as a standard tool for over two decades. It is easy to dismiss the interest of the general public and the media as hype and trendiness. But doing so would be a mistake. It is a big deal, but not for the reasons that most people think. “Why is 3D Printing Such a Big Deal” explains what the real power is behind 3D Printing.
This popular LinkedIn Post is a review of the things I learned at SalesConnect 2015 and how to use LinkedIn to sell more efficiently. “Successful Social Selling: What I learned at LinkedIn Sales Connect 2015” covers the overall theme of “Connect + Inspire + Transform, implementation lessons that people have learned, and the idea of the Social Selling Index, or SSI.
As our final contribution to the AZ Tech Council and PBJ’s TechFlash Column for year, we shared how “3-D Printing Hits Major Milestones in 2015.” The article give our picks for what was significant with Additive Manufacturing for the Materials, Medical, Manufacturing, Military, and Mainstream aspects of the business.
The 3-D industry had a typical year in 2015. Of course, when it comes to 3-D printing, “typical” means lots of change, growth and innovation. It’s always hard to tell which of the year’s innovations will have the biggest impact on the future, but that doesn’t take the fun out of forecasting.
PADT’s December contribution to the TechFlash column in the Phoenix Business Journal is a call to action for Arizona to step up their startup game. “Why Now is the Time for Arizona to Take the Next Step with Tech Startups” suggests the following actions:
- Work Together
- Make University IP Licensing Work
- Give Back by Taking More Risk
- Get Involved in Moving Startups Forward
- Stop Whining and Get to Work
After attending the Medica/Compamed 2015 shows in Dusseldorf, Germany, we summarized the experience in this article for the Phoenix Business Journal. As the title says, it covers “How the International Business Climate in the Medical Device Industry is Changing.” and what companies need to do to keep up with the changes.
In this, our first contribution to the AZ Tech Council and PBJ’s TechFlash column, we provide some basic advice on getting products to market faster: “5 Ways to Improve your Next Product.” The five suggestions are:
- Define requirements based on customer value
- Frontload the process with exploration and iterations
- Involve suppliers in the process
- Build in a culture of excellence and relentless pursuit of continuous improvement
- Use standardization when possible, without blocking flexibility
Suggestions and examples are given for each point.
When Desktop Engineering needed a subject matter expert on Topological Optimization and its use to drive product development, they called on PADT’s Manoj Mahendran. The article “Your Optimization Software Respectfully Suggests a Revision” gives a great overview of how designs can be driven by the use of Topological Optimization. They also mention a few of the more common tools, and with Manoj’s help, discuss the importance of 3D Printing to the process. An important take away is how these tools can be used to suggest design changes to the designer.
As I showed in a prior blog post, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is increasingly being used to make functional plastic parts in the aerospace industry. All functional parts have an expected performance that they must sustain during their lifetime. Ensuring this performance is attained is crucial for aerospace components, but important in all applications. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is an important predictor of part performance in a wide range of indusrties, but this is not straightforward for the simulation of FDM parts due to difficulties in accurately representing the material behavior in a constitutive model. In part 1 of this article, I list some of the challenges in the development of constitutive models for FDM parts. In part 2, I will discuss possible approaches to addressing these challenges while developing constitutive models that offer some value to the analyst.
It helps to first take a look at the fundamental multi-scale structure of an FDM part. A 2002 paper by Li et. al. details the multi-scale structure of an FDM part as it is built up from individually deposited filaments all the way to a three-dimensional part as shown in the image below.
This multi-scale structure, and the deposition process inherent to FDM, make for 4 challenges that need to be accounted for in any constitutive modeling effort.
- Anisotropy: The first challenge is clear from the above image – FDM parts have different structure depending on which direction you look at the part from. Their layered structure is more akin to composites than traditional plastics from injection molding. For ULTEM-9085, which is one of the high temperature polymers available from Stratasys, the datasheets clearly show a difference in properties depending on the orientation the part was built in, as seen in the table below with some select mechanical properties.
- Toolpath Definition: In addition to the variation in material properties that arise from the layered approach in the FDM process, there is significant variation possible within a layer in terms of how toolpaths are defined: this is essentially the layout of how the filament is deposited. Specifically, there are at least 4 parameters in a layer as shown in the image below (filament width, raster to raster air gap, perimeter to raster air gap and the raster angle). I compiled data from two sources (Stratasys’ data sheet and a 2011 paper by Bagsik et al that show how for ULTEM 9085, the Ultimate Tensile Strength varies as a function of not just build orientation, but also as a function of the parameter settings – the yellow bars show the best condition the authors were able to achieve against the orange and gray bars that represent the default settings in the tool. The blue bar represents the value reported for injection molded ULTEM 9085.
- Layer Thickness: Most FDM tools offer a range of layer thicknesses, typical values ranging from 0.005″ to 0.013″. It is well known that thicker layers have greater strength than thinner ones. Thinner layers are generally used when finer feature detail or smoother surfaces are prioritized over out-of-plane strength of the part. In fact, Stratasys’s values above are specified for the default 0.010″ thickness layer only.
- Defects: Like all manufacturing processes, improper material and machine performance and setup and other conditions may lead to process defects, but those are not ones that constitutive models typically account for. Additionally and somewhat unique to 3D printing technologies, interactions of build sheet and support structures can also influence properties, though there is little understanding of how significant these are. There are additional defects that arise from purely geometric limitations of the FDM process, and may influence properties of parts, particularly relating to crack initiation and propagation. These were classified by Huang in a 2014 Ph.D. thesis as surface and internal defects.
- Surface defects include the staircase error shown below, but can also come from curve-approximation errors in the originating STL file.
- Internal defects include voids just inside the perimeter (at the contour-raster intersection) as well as within rasters. Voids around the perimeter occur either due to normal raster curvature or are attributable to raster discontinuities.
Thus, any constitutive model for FDM that is to accurately predict a part’s response needs to account for its anisotropy, be informed by the specifics of the process parameters that were involved in creating the part and ensure that geometric non-idealities are comprehended or shown to be insignificant. In my next blog post, I will describe a few ways these challenges can be addressed, along with the pros and cons of each approach.
For our Christmas parties at PADT we generally have over 40 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes to long. So a couple of years ago we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. We ran out of stories on the internet, so we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style. This year, 2015, we had started the day of the party by attending the new Star Wars movie, so the story had to be Star Wars related.
Everyone gets their gift and forms a big circle in the middle of the room. Someone with a strong voice reads the story and every time the world LEFT is read, everyone passes the package they have to the left. Every time the world RIGHT is read, everyone passes the package they have to their right. You should pause a bit at each LEFT/RIGHT to give people a chance to pass.
You can find our older stories here
– Elf Family Christmas (2017)
– Western Christmas (2016)
– Star Wars Christmas (2015)
– Fairy Tail Christmas (2014)
– Science Fiction Christmas (2013)
– Romance Christmas (2012)
– Film Noir Christmas (2011)
A long time ago in a galaxy far far, away…
San To Claas is in trouble. Right next to the Right-torna system on the left side of the Galaxy, the planet Northpoliax, in a left hand orbit around the star Leftonia 37, was the galactic hub for all thing Christmas. Gifts left the system right after the planet’s winter solstice. But nothing left on this orbit. Because right above the largest continent on Northpoliax, a Death Star hovered. Threatening Christmas for everyone, no one was left out.
A new Sith lord, Darth Rightis, hated Christmas. All that cheer and spirit left him cold inside. Two much of the light side of the force. Just the thought of all those gifts left for younglings left him angry. But help was right around the corner. A squadron of Xwing fighters was following right behind the Millennium Falcon.
“Arffhhhhdghgg ” said Chewy.
“What? The moon on the left or the one on the right?” Asked Han Solo. Chewy gestured and Hans went to the left.
“Your other left” yelled Princess Leia. Han dived right behind the moon on the left and slingshoted right toward the Death Star, the Xwings right behind them.
The lead pilot said: “Red leader this is blue leader. You take the left side. We will take the left as well, right after you attack, those bastards won’t expect that.”
“Right” Responded blue leader.
Han added: “We will soften up that left side for you. Then let loose the “big present” after both your attacks on the left. The warhead should go right in and end this madness. “
As they approached the Millennium Falcon put covering fire to the right, then veered to the right, leaving the left open. The Xwings attacked, diving right into the slot and trying not to hit either side, the left or the right. The first attack on the left left the defenses damaged. The second attack on the left was right on target. That left the run of the Millennium Falcon. It released a plasma bomb that was wrapped in a big red package, with a bow right on top. As Han pulled up and to the left, and then the right, the warhead exploded right on inside of the main power coupler. Chewy, sitting in the right seat, bellowed in victory as the Death Star exploded right under them. As the debris clears a hologram image appeared right in the middle of the cabin.
It showed Admiral San To Clause, wearing his red uniform with white fur epilets on the right and left shoulders.
“Thank you all for coming right when we needed you. Right now, Christmas is saved and the dark side is left with one less Sith Lord. May the force, be right with you. And Merrrrrry Christmas to all!
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the most widely used 3D printing technology today, ranging from desktop printers to industrial scale manufacturing tools. While the use of FDM for prototyping and rapid tooling is well established, its use for manufacturing end-use parts in aerospace is a more recent phenomenon. This has been brought about primarily due to the availability of one material choice in particular: ULTEM. ULTEM is a thermoplastic that delivers compliance with FAA FAR 25.853 requirements. It features inherent flame retardant behavior and provides a high strength-to-weight ratio, outstanding elevated thermal resistance, high strength and stiffness and broad chemical resistance (official SABIC press release).
During an industry scan I conducted for a recent research proposal PADT submitted, I came across several examples of the aerospace industry using the FDM process to manufacture end-use parts. Each of these examples is interesting because they demonstrate the different criteria that make FDM preferable over traditional options, and I have classified them accordingly into: design opportunity, cost and lead-time reduction, and supply complexity.
Design Opportunity: In this category, I include parts that were primarily selected for 3D printing because of the unique design freedom that layer-wise additive manufacturing offers. This applies to all 3D printing technologies, the two examples below are for FDM in ducts.
ULA Environmental Control System (ECS) duct: As reported in a prior blog post, United Launch Alliance (ULA) leveraged FDM technology to manufacture an ECS duct and reduce the overall assembly from 140 parts to only 16, while reducing production costs by 57%. The ECS ducts distribute temperature and humidity controlled air onto sensitive avionics equipment during launch and need to withstand strong vibrations. The first Atlas V with these ducts is expected to launch in 2016.
Orbis Flying Eye Hospital aircraft duct: The Flying Eye Hospital is an amazing concept from Orbis, who use a refurbished DC-10 plane to deliver eye care around the world. The plane actually houses all the surgical rooms to conduct operations and also has educational classrooms. The refurbishment posed a particular challenge when it came to air conditioning: a duct had to transfer air over a rigid barrier while maintaining the volume. Due to the required geometric complexity, the team selected FDM and ULTEM to manufacture this duct, and installed it and met with FAA approval. The story is described in more detail in this video.
Supply Complexity: 3D printing has a significant role to play in retro-fitting of components on legacy aircraft. The challenge with maintaining these aircrafts is that often the original manufacturer either no longer is in business or makes the parts.
Airbus Safety belt holder: Airbus shared an interesting case of a safety belt holder that had to be retrofitted for the A310 aircraft. The original supplier made these 30 years ago and since went out of business and rebuilding the molds would cost thousands of dollars and be time-consuming. Airbus decided to use FDM to print these safety belt holders as described in this video. They took a mere 2 hours to design the part from existing drawings, and had the actual part printed and ready for evaluation within a week!
Incidentally, the US Air Force has also recognized this as a critical opportunity to drive down costs and reduce the downtime spent by aircrafts awaiting parts, as indicated by a recent research grant they are funding to enable them to leverage 3D printing for the purpose of improving the availability of parts that are difficult and/or expensive to procure. As of 2014, The Department of Defense (DOD) reported that they have maintenance crews supporting a staggering 31,900 combat vehicles, 239 ships and 16,900 aircraft – and identified 3D printing as a key factor in improving parts availability for these crews.
Cost & Lead-time Reduction: In low-volume, high-value industries such as aerospace, 3D printing has a very strong proposition to make as a technology that will bring products to market faster and cheaper. What is often a surprise is the levels of reduction that can be obtained with 3D printing, as borne out by the three examples below.
Airbus A350 Electric wire covers: The Airbus A350 has several hundred plastic covers that are 3D printed with FDM. These covers are used for housing electric wires at junction boxes. Airbus claims it took 70% less time to make these parts, and the manufacturing costs plunged 80%. See this video for more information.
Kelly Manufacturing Toroid housing: Kelly Manufacturing selected FDM to manufacture toroid housings that are assembled into their M3500 instrument, which is a “turn and bank” indicator which provides the pilot information regarding the rate of aircraft turn. These housings were previously made of urethane castings and required manual sanding to remove artifacts from the casting process, and also had high costs and lead times associated with tooling. Using FDM, they were able to eliminate the need to do sanding and reduced the lead time 93% and also reduced per-piece costs by 5% while eliminating the large tooling costs. See the official case study from Stratasys here.
These examples help demonstrate that 3D printing parts can be a cost savings solution and almost always results in significant lead time reduction – both of vital interest in the increasingly competitive aerospace industry. Further, design freedom offered by 3D printing allows manufacturing geometries that are otherwise impossible or cost prohibitive to make using other processes, and also have enormous benefit in overcoming roadblocks in the supply chain. At the same time, not every part on an aircraft is a suitable candidate for 3D printing. As we have just seen, selection criteria involve the readily quantifiable metrics of part cost and lead time, but also involve less tangible factors such as supply chain complexity, and the design benefits available to additive manufacturing. An additional factor not explicitly mentioned in any of the previous examples is the criticality of the part to the flight and the safety of the crew and passengers on board. All these factors need to be taken into consideration when determining the suitability of the part for 3D printing.
The Chief Science Officer program is a program for 6th-12th grade students to represent their school in STEM. And what better way is there for them to identify themselves then with 3D Printed name badges? The program’s sponsors, the AZ SciTech Festival offer a training retreat for the kids who get elected as their school’s CSO and we all thought introducing design and 3D Printing would be a great activity.
As part of the 2015 Fall CSO Institute, PADT’s Jeff Nichols joined local designer and artist John Drury to spend some time with the kids explaining how to work with logos and shapes to convey an idea, and how to design for 3D Printing. The kids worked out their own design and sent it to PADT for printing.
We converted their sketch into a 3D Model, starting in Adobe Illustrator. The sketch was traced with vector geometry and then a generic name was added. This was then copied 144 times and each name was typed in, with a few extras. This step was the only boring part.
The design worked great because it is a simple extrusion with no need for support material. The outline of their names were exported as DXF from Illustrator and then imported onto the 3D Model and extruded up to make a solid model of a badge. This was then copied to make a badge for each student. Then the names were imported and extruded on the patterned badges.
STL files were then made and sent off to one of our Stratasys FDM 3D Printers. The FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) process extrudes an ABS plastic filament, and you can change material during the build. So, to add a bit of contrast, we changed the filament color after the base of the design was done, making the logo and student names stand out. The final results came out really nice.
This project was a lot of fun because we were able to work with the students. They got what John and Jeff taught them and did a great job. We know they will be placed with pride on back backs and jackets across Arizona.
To learn more about the CSO program, visit their website: http://chiefscienceofficers.org/ Check out the blog. Some of these kids can really write well and their insight into Science, Technology, Math, and Education is insightful.
For an engineer, there are certain TV and Movie experiences that border on the religious – Star Wars is of course one of those. That is why PADT’s main office in Tempe closed down today to head down the freeway to the Chandler to see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.
Around 370 employees, family members, friends, vendors, former employees, and customers showed up for the 10:00 am showing. We were confident that JJ Abrams would do a great job, because he did so well with an even more important franchise to PADT, Star Trek. We were not disappointed. There were cheers, there was laughter, and several of us confessed in the lobby afterwards that we teared up a bit. A true treat.
I want to thank Josh Heaps here for putting it all together and for dealing with our constantly asking him about when and where it was and how many seats the theater had.
This is also a great venue to thank our customers and vendors for coming and for bringing your families. We don’t get to see many of you often enough, and rarely outside of a meeting or a phone call. Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face after the movie was, as they say, worth the price of admission.
May the Force Be With You
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