PADT Expands Local 3D Printing, Support, and Simulation Services with New Albuquerque Office

Web-PADT-Front-Door-New-Mexico

We are very pleased to announce that PADT is opening new local office in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the Sandia Science and Technology Park. The office will focus on providing sales, technical support, 3D Printer maintenance, and a meeting space to better serve customers in New Mexico.

Some of PADT’s earliest customers came from the state of New Mexico, and the company provides products, support, and services to many organizations in the area, including all of the major universities, the National Labs, and dozens of commercial companies. The new office will allow the local team, and employees visiting from PADT’s Colorado or Arizona locations, the opportunity to work in a familiar location, have direct access to PADT’s infrastructure, and provide customers a location to view the 3D Printing, simulation, and product development technologies that PADT offers. The location at the Eubank entrance to Kirtland AFB and Sandia National Labs give direct access to the highest concentration of PADT customers in the state.

The sales team in the  PADT New Mexico office will focus on distributing three  products lines:  The first is the complete suite of simulation software from ANSYS, Inc. (ANSS) (www.ANSYS.com). These tools are used by companies around the world to simulate products before testing, resulting in better performance for less cost and in less time.  The second line of products are the 3D Printer and Direct Digital Manufacturing systems from Stratasys (SSYS) (www.STRATASYS.com).  Both ANSYS, Inc. and Stratasys are the world leaders in their respective markets, and PADT is proud to be one of their reselling partners for Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.  The third product line is PADT’s CUBE Systems, (www.padtinc.com/cube-hvpc) their own brand of High Value Performance Computers specifically designed and configured for the advanced simulation user.

Additionally, the office will serve as a place for PADT’s technical staff to work together at a single location, providing simulation consulting, training and technical support.  As the company grows, the area has sufficient expansion opportunities to allow for more employees and equipment.

You can read the official announcement on the press release:

Press_release

http://www.prlog.org/12158073.pdf

Here are some images of the new office:

PADT-New-Mexico-Building

The office is literally on the corner of Research and Innovation at:

PADT New Mexico
1451 Innovation Parkway
Suite 402
Albuquerque, NM  87123

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Still working on signage, but we used a large monitor to add a little touch to the entrance

Prarie_Dog_SSTP_Welcome(Note the little welcome creature in the lower right of the image)

The office is located at the Sandia Science and Technology Park on the east side of Albuquerque, just south of I-40 near the Eubank gate to Kirtland AFB and Sandia National Labs:

PADT-New-Mexico-Map

Why do my ANSYS jobs take days and weeks to finish? Well it depends…

Real World Lessons on How to Minimize Run Time for ANSYS HPC

Recently I had a VP of Engineering start a phone conversation with me that went something like this. “Well Dave, you see this is how it is. We just spent a truckload of money on a 256 core cluster and our solve times are slower now than with our previous 128 core cluster. What the *&(( is going on here?!”

I imagine many of us have heard similar stories or even received the same questions from our co-workers, CEO’s & Directors. I immediately had my concerns and I truly thought carefully as to what I should say next. I recalled a conversation I had with one of my college professors. He had told me that when I find myself stepping into gray areas that a good start to the conversation is to say. “Well it depends…”

Guess what, that is exactly what I said. I said “Well it depends…” followed by going into explaining to him two fundamental pillars of computer science that have plagued most of us since computers were created: I said “Well you may be, CPU bound (compute bound) or I/O bound. He told me that they had paid a premium for the best CPU’s on the market and some other details about the HPC cluster. Garnering some of other details about the cluster my hunch was that his HPC cluster may actually be I/O bound.

I/O Bound

Basically this means that your cluster’s $2,000 worth of CPU’s are basically stalled out and sitting idle. The CPU’s are waiting for new data to process and move on. I also briefly explained that his HPC cluster may be compute bound. I quickly reassured him that the likelihood of his HPC cluster being compute bound was about 10% possible and very unlikely. I knew the specifications on the CPU’s in this HPC cluster and the likelihood that they were the issue of his ANSYS slow run times was low on my radar. These literally were the latest and greatest CPU’s ever to hit this planet (at that moment in time). So, let me step back a minute, to refresh our memories on what it means when a system is compute bound.

Compute Bound

Being compute bound means that the HPC cluster’s CPU’s were sitting at 99 or 100% for long periods of time. When this happens very bad things begin to happen to your HPC cluster. CPU requests to peripherals are delayed or infinitely lost to the ether. The HPC cluster may become unresponsive and even lock up.

All I could hear was silence on the other end. “Dave, I get it, I understand, please find the problem and fix our HPC cluster for us. ” I happily agreed to help out! I concluded our phone conversation asking that he send me the specific details, down to the nuts and bolts of the hardware! I also requested operating system and software that was installed and used on the 256 core HPC cluster.

What NOT to do when configuring an ANSYS Distributed HPC cluster.

Seeking that perfect balance!

After a quick NDA signing, a few dollars exchange and a sprinkle of some other legal things that lawyers get excited about. I set out to discover the cause. After reviewing the information provided to me I almost immediately saw three concerns:

To interconnect what?

Let Merriam-Webster describe it:

Definition of INTERCONNECT

transitive verb
: to connect with one another
intransitive verb
: to be or become mutually connected

— in·ter·con·nec·tion noun
— in·ter·con·nec·tiv·i·ty noun

1. The systems are interconnected with a series of wires.
2. The lessons are designed to show students how the two subjects interconnect
3.  A series of interconnecting stories

First Known Use of INTERCONNECT: 1865

Concern numeral Uno!!! Interconnect me

Though the company’s 256 core HPC cluster had a second dedicated GigE interconnect. Distributed ANSYS is highly bandwidth and latency bound often requiring more bandwidth than a dedicated NIC (Network Interface Card) may provide. Yes, the dedicated second GigE card interconnect was much better than trying to use a single NIC for all of the network traffic which would also include the CPU interconnect. I did have a few of the MAPDL output files from the customer that I could take a peek at. After reviewing the customer output files it became fairly clear that interconnect communication speeds between the 16 core x 16 server in the cluster was not adequate. The master Message Parsing Interface (MPI) process that Distributed ANSYS uses requires a high amount of bandwidth and low latency for proper distributed scaling to the other processes. Theoretically the data bandwidth between cores solving local to the machine will be higher than the bandwidth traveling across the various interconnect methods (see below). ANSYS, Inc. recommends Infiniband for CPU interconnect traffic. Here are a couple of reasons why they recommend this. See how the theoretical data limits increase going from Gigabit Ethernet up to FDR Infiniband.

Theoretical lane bandwidth limits for:

  • Gigabit Ethernet (GigE): ~128MB/s
  • Signal Data Rate (SDR): ~ 328 MB/s
  • Double Data Rate (DDR): ~640 MB/s
  • Quad Data Rate (QDR): ~1,280 MB/s
  • Fourteen Data Rate (FRD): ~1,800 MB/s

GEEK CRED: A few years ago companies such as MELLANOX started aggregating the Infiniband channels. The typical aggregate modifiers are 4X or even a 12X increase. So for example the 4X QDR Infiniband switch and cards I use at PADT and recommended to this customer, would have a (4X 10Gbit/s) or 5,120 MB/s of throughput! Here is a quick video that I made of a MELLANOX IS5023 18-port 4X QDR full bi-directional switch in action:

This is how you do it with a CUBE HVPC! MAPDL output file from our CUBE HVPC w16i-GPU workstation. This is running the ANSYS industry benchmark V14sp-5. I wanted to show the communication speeds between the master MPI process and the other solver processes to see just how fast the solvers can communicate. With a peak communication speed of 9593 MB/s this CUBE HVPC workstation rocks!

Chassis Profile 4u standard depth or rackmountable
CPU 1 x One Dual Socket
Chipset INTEL 602 Chipset
Processors 2 x INTEL e5-2690 @ 2.9GHz
Cores 2 x 8
Memory 128GB DDR3-1600 ECC Reg RAM
OS Drives 2 x 2.5″ SATA III 256GB SSD Drives RAID 0
DATA/HOME Hard Disk Drives 4 x 3.5″ SAS2 600GB 15kRPM drives RAID 0
SAS RAID (Onboard, Optional) RAID 0 (OS RAID)
SAS RAID (RAID card, Optional) LSI 2208 (DATA VOL RAID)
Networking (Onboard) Dual GigE (Intel i350)
Video (Onboard) NVIDIA QUADRO K5000
GPU (Optional) NVIDIA TESLA K2000
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Optional Installed Software ANSYS 14.5 Release

imageStats for CUBE HVPC Model Number : w16i-KGPU

Learn more about this and other CUBE HVPC systems here.

Concern #2: Using RAID 5 Array for Solving Disk Volume

The hard drives that are used for I/O during a solve, the solving volume, were configured in a RAID 5 hard disk array. Some sample data below showing the minimum write speed of a similar RAID 5 array. These are speeds that are better off seen in your long-term storage volume not on your solving/working directory.

LSI 2008 HITACHI ULTASTAR 15K600
Qty / Type / Size / RAID Qty 8 x 3.5″ SAS2 15k 600GB RAID 5
TEST # p1
min Read 204 MB/s
max Read 395  MB/s
Avg Read N/A
min Write 106 MB/s
max Write 243.5 MB/s
Avg Write N/A
Access Time N/A

Concern #3: Using RAID 1 for Operating System

The hard drive array for the OS was configured in a RAID 1 configuration. For a number cruncher server having RAID 1 is not necessary. If you absolutely have to have RAID 1. Please spend the extra money and go to a RAID 10 configuration.

I really don’t want to get into the seemingly infinite details of hard drives speeds, latency. Or even begin to explain to you if I should be using an onboard RAID Controller, dedicated RAID controller or a software RAID configuration completed within the OS. There is so much information available on the web that a person gets overloaded. When it comes to Distributed ANSYS, think fast hard drives and fast RAID controllers. Start researching your hard drives and RAID controllers using the list provided below. Again, only as a suggestion! I have listed the drives in order based on a very scientific and nerdy method. If I saw a pile of hard drives, what hard drive would I reach for first?

  1. I prefer using SEAGATE SAVVIO or HITACHI enterprise class drives. (Serial Attached SCSI) SAS2 6Gbit/s 3.5”15,000 RPM spindle drives (best bang for your dollar of space, more read & write heads over a 2.5” spindle hard drive).
  2. I prefer using Micron or INTEL SSD enterprise class SSD. SATA III Solid State Drive 6 Gbit/s (SSD sizes have increased however you will need more of these for an effective solving array and they still are not cheap).
  3. I prefer using the SEAGATE SAVVIO 2.5” enterprise class spindle drives. SAS2 6Gbit/s 2.5” 15,000 RPM spindle drives (if you need a small form factor, fast and additional storage. But the 2.5” drives do not have as many read & write heads as a 3.5” drive. In a situation where I need to slam 4 or 8 drives into a tight location.
    Right now, SEAGATE SAVVIO 2.5” are the way to go!  Here is a link to a data sheet.
    Another similar option is the HITACHI ULTRASTAR 15k600.  It’s spec sheet is here.
  4. SATA II 3Gbit/s 3.5” 7,200 RPM spindle drives are also a good option.  I prefer Western Digital RE4 1TB or 2TB drives. There spec sheet is here.

LSI 2108 RAID Controller and Hard Drive data/details:

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How a CUBE HVPC System from PADT, Inc. balanced out this configuration and how much would it cost?

I quoted out the below items, installed and out the door (including my travel expenses, etc.) at: $30,601

The company ended up going with their own preferred hardware vendor. Understandable, one good thing is that we are now on the preferred purchasing supplier list. They were greatly appreciative of my consulting time and indicated that they will request a “must have” quote for a CUBE HVPC system the next refresh in a year. They want to go over 1,000 cores the next refresh.

I recommended that they install the following into the HPC cluster based: (note they already had blazing fast hard drives)

  • 16 – Supermicro AOC-S2208L-H8iR LSI 2208 RAID controller cards.
  • 32 – Supermicro CBL-0294L-01 cabling to connect the LSI RAID cards to the SAS2 hard drives.
  • 1 – MELLANOX IS5023 18-port 4X QDR Infiniband switch
  • 16 – Supermicro AOC-UIBQ-M2 Dual port 4X QDR Infiniband card
  • 16 – Supermicro QSFP Infiniband cables in a couple different lengths

A special thanks and shout out to Sheldon Imaoka of ANSYS, Inc. for inspiring me to write this blog article!

Video Tips: Automatic Cross-Sections in ANSYS DesignModeler

A quick video showing how to create a script that will automatically generate standard cross-sections in DesignModeler to be used for, as an example, line bodies.

ANSYS Help Link:  // DesignModeler User Guide // Scripting API // Script Features // Features within Script Features // Cross Section Feature

PADT In the News: Piece on 3D Printing Presentation in Southern New Mexico

PADT-Las-Cruces-3D-PrintingPADT and 3D printing got a great write up in the Las Cruces Bulletin last month.  Renee Palacios and John Wright were speaking at the High Tech Council of Southern New Mexico on May 17th and a local reporter attended and did a great interview.

With all the media attention focused on 3D Printing we have been bombarded with requests from the media to talk about the technology. This was one of the better articles that does a very good job explaining the technology and its applications.  Yes, it does lead off with the whole “printing a plastic gun” story, but that is the price of getting people’s attention these days.

We love sharing our experience and knowledge on this technology.  And Renee even got her picture in the paper:

Richard Majestic of the High Tech Council of Southern New Mexico and guest speaker Renee Palacios of PADT Inc. visit during lunch at the HTC meeting.

Learn more about the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing systems from Stratasys that PADT sells here. Learn about how PADT can make a 3D prototype for you here. And find useful information about 3D printing in general here.

Humbling Feedback from PADT’s Product Development Customers

Case-Studies-Screen-ShotWhen we decided to redo our website we were told by all of the experts that you need case studies and you need testimonials.  Being engineers, we immediately pushed back saying that none of our customers will give us the input we need.  We are happy to report that we were wrong. So wrong that we are humbled by the fantastic response.

Our initial effort is focused on documenting some of the projects we have done in our Product Development and Medical Device Development groups.  You can see the eleven case studies we currently have on our Successes page.  There is some good information there on how PADT helps companies develop their products.

But what we are most proud of are the awesome testimonials we have received directly from our customers.  We are usually not ones to brag and toot our own horn… but we were proud enough of these testimonials to where we felt it was OK to let them toot our horn for us.

“PADT did a great job translating our prototype ideas into a fully-designed, manufacturable product. From multi-disciplinary engineering to project management to fabrication, PADT did it all. PADT worked collaboratively with our team to understand requirements and to solve technical hurdles in order to deliver a product that best fit our expectations.”
– Garrett Beauregard, Senior VP of Engineering, ECOtality Inc.

“I found there to be great benefit in going through PADT’s disciplined steps for the development of an updated prototype of our device. Restarting with a more systematic approach, and analyzing each component fresh, made me feel confident about every aspect of the new design.”
– Neil R. Crawford, PhD Associate Professor, Spinal Biomechanics Barrow Neurological Institute

“PADT’s Design Team was instrumental in working with Orthosensor throughout the design and development activities of the Orthosensor Knee Balance. Their commitment and flexibility to our business needs allowed us to bring our product to market in a significantly shortened period of time.”
– Juan C Fernandez, COO, Orthosensor Inc

“SynCardia has chosen to work with PADT based on their ability to develop close personal relationships, to create and implement engineering solutions rapidly, and to support SynCardia’s innovative drive for our life-saving technology.”
— Douglas A Nutter, COO, SynCardia Systems, Inc.

“PADT has provided a number of valuable services for Ulthera ranging from design work and ergonomic improvements, to manufacturability and V&V testing. Over the past 18 months, PADT worked closely with our engineering staff to ensure the successful launch of our redesigned Deep See Handpiece. Our successful collaboration allowed us to focus our internal resources on our core competencies while leveraging PADT’s skill sets. Ulthera also benefited from PADT’s adaptable, customer-specific, Design Control process to minimize the QC documentation requirements on the Ulthera staff”
— Michael Peterson, Vice President, R&D, Ultherea, Inc

“For the last 2 years we have worked with PADT to develop our ClearView technology. Their team has helped us with many aspects of product development and commercialization. They have been a very valuable asset and I would highly recommend them to any startup that needs to navigate the pathway to market.”
— Tom Blondi, President, EPIC Research & Diagnostics

“PADT has demonstrated strong concept creation and development testing abilities – and have done so with very short time schedules. PADT was in charge of a key component development for our Fuel Cell System, and accomplished it as planned. Owing to PADT’s challenging spirit, Nissan was able to lease the 2005 model FCV’s to some customers in the early period of 2006. In addition, Nissan has been able to continue the FCV leasing program for five years with PADT’s reliable support.”
— Arai Takayuki, Senior Manager, EV Systems Laboratory, Nissan Motor Company

“The PADT experience was a positive one from my first phone conversation with them to the delivery of the end product. The engineers delivered a prototype that was exactly what I envisioned in a short 8 weeks. PADT will be my choice in the future.”
— Bob Rife, R.R.T.

“For the last 3 years I have worked with PADT Medical as a physician-inventor of medical devices. Their engineering team is professional, punctual, and responsible. Their management is exemplary. I recommend PADT Medical to any potential Client.”
— Charles J. Filipi M.D., Medical Director, SafeStitch Medical, Inc.

At PADT “We Make Innovation Work” and these fantastic testimonials give specific examples of how we have done that for others. If you would like to learn how PADT’s products and services can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Ready to go for Turbo Expo 2013 in San Antonio

booth2The PADT and Flownex teams have our booth set up and ready to go for the next three days at Turbo Expo 2013.

This is always one of our favorite events because most of us came from this industry, and in fact all four of the founders were turbine-engine-engineers before we started PADT.  A special part of this years event is that we are introducing Flownex to the North American Turbo community as well as our CUBE HVPC computer systems.  So lots of new things to talk about along with our established offerings of ANSYS, Inc software consulting, customization, and training.

If you are there, please make sure you stop by our booth. We would love to see you and chat.

 

Here is our press release on the event:

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Trusted Partners for Turbomachinery Simulation

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The ASME Turbo Expo is the industry show where PADT feels at home the most.  Founded by experienced turbine engine simulation, design, and manufacturing engineers, the company has a true understanding of the real world needs of those who are focused on simulation for Turbomachinery.

Our primary focus for this year’s conference will be the full introduction of the Flownex Simulation Environment to North America.  This thermal-fluid system simulation tool started life as a solver for combustor analysis, and has grown up to be a full featured toolset that can model any fluid-thermal network in your engine or pump.  Flownex is ideal simulation software for the quick thermo-fluid analysis of gas turbine performance.

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It provides aircraft engine design and system engineers with the ability to simulate complicated air and gas flow patterns through fans, compressors and turbines; match compressor and turbine power and compile maps; calculate thrust, shaft power, combustion calculations with convection, conduction and radiation heat transfer; and determine fuel consumption.  If you are using an in-house tool or software written for other applications to model your flow networks, please come by to see how Flownex can reduce the amount of time you spend modeling your systems while increasing the fidelity of your models.s grown up to be a full featured toolset that can model any fluid-thermal network in your engine or pump.  Flownex is ideal simulation software for the quick thermo-fluid analysis of gas turbine performance.

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PADT’s reputation in the Turbomachinery industry is built on our expertise selling, using, supporting, and customizing the complete suite of ANSYS FEA and CFD.  Turbo companies come to us for training on ANSYS software, customization of analysis tools, FEA and CFD outsourcing, and HPC hardware because they know we know their business and how to maximize the return on their investment in simulation.  We can help anyone doing simulation on Turbomachinery in a variety of ways, stop on by to find out how.

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Another new area the PADT provides this type of help to turbo companies is by offering a complete line of High Value Performance Computer systems specifically designed for the simulation user.  From workstations to large clusters, PADT can custom design a system that hits the sweet spot between cost and performance, delivering faster turnaround of CFD and FEA runs for considerably less than systems offered by general purpose computer suppliers.

Stop by our booth to look at the hardware, software, training, and consulting that we offer to companies around the world to help them make their studies more efficient and effective.

AZBioExpo 2013

PADT-AZBio-2013-Sponsors

Last week was AZBio Expo 20113 here in Tempe Arizona.  PADT was pleased to be a sponsor and we had a great time meeting with all of our customers and vendors at the event, as well as getting to chance to meet some new people. It is always an honor to be listed with so many great sponsors, and this event was no exception.

PADT-AZBio-2013-Booth

For our booth, we brought some examples of projects that we have done recently as well as one of our Stratasys Dimension 3D Printers, so that we could show off how we can make medical grade prototypes directly from CAD.

The highlight of the event was the keynote speech by Dr. Slepian from SynCardia spoke.    SynCardia is a customer that PADT has always been very proud to work with, and hearing about the progress that they are making was inspiring.

You can see other photos from the event on the AZBio Facebook page.

Startup Lesson Learned 5: Understand the Need, Focus on the Solution

10_Tech_Startup_Lessons_Learned-1_thAbout the Series “10 Tech Startup Lessons Learned”
PADT is a company focused on helping companies bring their physical products to market. As “We Make Innovation Work” for our customers, we learn a lot about what does and does not work in technology startup companies. In addition, we were once a startup ourselves and we now participate in Angel investing.  All of this has taught us a lot of valuable lessons.
In this series we will share some of those lessons learned and explore the basic concepts and ideas that will help startups overcome the odds and become successful.This posting is the second installment for our series. The previous postings were:

We hope that you find it useful and we look forward to sharing our thoughts on this topic with you.

It has been some time since we have added to this series, mostly because we have been busy working with companies both large and small helping to make their innovation work.  Its good to be busy.  We have also become further involved with several new startups by providing services, mentoring, and angel investing.  All of those experiences reinforced an important lesson we have learned through the years: you must have an honest and deep understand of the need in the marketplace, and your focus must be on finding the best possible solution for that need.

Need: What it is, How Much, and How Many

A technology startup is created as a business that uses some sort of technology to solve some sort of need in the market.  The need may already be met by existing solutions, it may be unmet, or it may even be a need that no one knows they have.  So first, find a need.  That is where you start.  Define the “Why” for your technology.  Then make sure that those who want that need met are willing to pay more for meeting that need than it costs you to provide the solution – profit.

People want coffee.  They will pay around $4.35 for coffee. It costs you $0.50 to make and serve a cup– profit. Switch out coffee with any other need and the equation is the same.

It is also a good idea for the need to be one that is large enough that the risk of doing the startup is counterbalanced by the possible return.  The old higher risk requires higher potential rewards equation. Taking our food example a bit too far, there are people who want Donkey Milk Cheese. They will pay over $600/pound for it.  But if there are only a few hundred of them, you will have a hard time getting investors or employees to invest a lot of money or time in your endeavor. Good enough for a family farm that just needs to make a little bit of money, but not good enough for a technology startup – low or negative profit.

This stuff is startup fundamentals.  Identify the market from a business standpoint and really understand it as a market: how strong is the demand (impacts price) and how big is it.

Avoid Overdoing the Need Part

Most companies start by identifying a credible and real need, then they veer off the road and start obsessing about why that need is important.  Going on and on about how bad the current solutions are, how it is ignored by others, how others just do not understand it, or that is is the next “big thing.”  These things matter, but only in terms of how they contribute to how much people will pay for a solution and how many of them there are. 

It is not uncommon for us to listen to a pitch and have the CEO of a startup spend over half of their time talking about the need in the market.  Going on and on why the need is significant or important.  This should be a small part of a pitch, simply presented to gain some interest and establish the size and desire of the market.

Meet the Need: Develop a Complete Solution that Works and Makes Money

So the easy part is done. A need is identified and the potential financial return for meeting it is also quantified.  Now comes the hard part – finding the right solution. As a technology startup, that solution is most likely technology based.  It could the the application of existing technology or it could require the development of a new technology.  Either way your job as a startup is to turn that solution into a product or service that can be sold to the market.

This is where you focus should be. Even if you have not solved the technical problems, you should be planning out what resources and how much money you will need to solve them.  If you are looking for funding, investors are going to want to know less about the nuts and bolts of the technology and more about how much it costs to get the technology working, and how much it will cost to produce or maintain the technology you will be selling.

The need to come up with a working solution is so fundamental some may ask why this is even listed in a “Lessons Learned” list.  It is obvious.  But our experience is that a large number of startup companies take the solution on faith. It is not uncommon for us to be hired by a startup, especially in the clean-tech sector, who wants us to help them evaluate or improve their technology.  When we look at the technology we often find that it is not unique, not as good as they think it is, or simply does not work.  And this is after the company has funding, employees and interest from customers.

A complete solution also includes a manufacturing or distribution plan. For software, this has become somewhat trivial, but for hardware solutions it is often overlooked.  You need to know as early as possible if you can make your solution, how long it will take to make, and what it will cost to make it.

A Solution Looking for A Problem is a Bad Thing

When you talk about a market need and a solution, you always need to ask yourself if a startup has a solution, but is looking for a problem to solve.  With the rising trendiness of the whole “pivot” thing many people downplay this more than they should. If the market is wrong, pivot. That is an expensive and painful process. 

We often see brilliant technical solutions that have a significant “wow” factor associated with them. They are often well executed and examples of how to do technology right. But they do not have a market or a market has not been identified.  This often results from an unrealistic assessment of the need up front. If you develop a Donkey Milk Cheese that is truly a work of art, your business will fail because you now need to create a market for Donkey Milk Cheese as a cheese, or find a new problem that can be solved with Donkey Milk Cheese. Perhaps it is a good foot balm?

It’s a Business

People have problems with understanding their market and focusing on their solution when they forget that what they are doing is a business.  A tech startup is not a club, a social experiment, or a family adventure. It can look like all of those things, but it is a business. And not just any business. It has significant financial and technical challenges and the expectation for it is rapid and significant growth.

Without the identification and understanding of a clear market need, and a team that is focused on providing a technical solution that makes business sense, a startup will surely fail and may not even be able to attract funding.

Video Tips: Automatic Contact Generation in ANSYS Mechanical

A quick video showcasing the automatic contact generation feature in ANSYS Mechanical.  This feature automatically selects the faces that are in contact or are close to contact and assigns a contact definition.

Video Tips: Importing SolidWorks Geometry into ANSYS Mechanical

TheFocus-Video-Tips-2We are pleased to introduce a new feature in The Focus blog, video posts.  With this entry we are putting up our first “The Focus Video Tips, Examples, and Demonstrations”  Sometimes a video just works better, especially when showing how to do something in a Graphical User Interface.

So we have put some basic infrastructure in place and that lets us quickly record something on one of our computers, stick a title and end slide on it, and then upload to YouTube.

In this first entry, we show how easy it is to read in geometry from SolidWorks to ANSYS Mechanical.

PADT Celebrates with Private Star Trek Showing

Uhuru-PADTCustomers, friends, and families joined PADT’s employees for a private screening of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” last Friday afternoon. We had such a great turnout that the only seats open were in the front row.

Watching a movie like this with a group of technical people is a lot more fun than a general crowd.  Many of us are long time fans so we truly enjoyed sharing some of the inside jokes and tie-ins to Star Trek: TOS as well as the older movies.

2013-05-17 14.25.44

We want to thank everyone who was able to make it and we are already looking at upcoming films to find the right one to do this again with.  And yes, we will get a bigger theater next time.

CFX Expression Language–Part 5: Using CEL for Solution Monitoring

In four previous entries we introduced CFX Expression Language, CEL:

After a break to teach some ANSYS classes in beautiful northern Utah we’re back to conclude our series on CFX Expression Language.

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In our fifth and final installment on CEL we will discuss the use of CEL in monitoring items of interest while the CFX solution is progressing. Back in the first installment in this series, we showed how to create expressions for results quantities in CFD Post. By creating expressions in similar fashion for results quantities in CFX Pre, we can use these expressions to monitor items during solution.

Here is an example. In CFX Pre we have defined three expressions which are really extracting and operating on results data.

forceX1 = resulting force on one face of the structure
forceX2 =resulting force on another face of the structure
fdiffx = the difference between these two values or the net force acting on the structure

This shows these three expressions in the CFX Pre outline tree:

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Still within CFX Pre, click on Insert > Solver > Output Control. That will add an Output Control tab on the left side of the CFX Pre window. Click on the Monitor tab, expand Monitor Points and Expressions, and then click on the button near the right of the window below that to add a monitor point:

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Set the Option to Expression and in the Expression Value box left click then right click to select from your list of defined expressions:

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The CFX Pre tree will now have one or more Monitor Points listed under Output Control:

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When we initiate the solution, these user-defined monitor points will be available for real time display in addition to the normal Momentum and Mass and Turbulent kinetic energy monitors. All we need to do is click on the User Points tab during solution to view our expressions as monitors. In the example shown below, Monitor 1 is forceX1, Monitor 2 is forceX2, and Monitor 3 is fdiffx, the difference between the first two quantities. These could have been renamed during their definition to make it easier to understand the monitor plot. Here is a snapshot of the quantities being monitored during the solution:

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So, as we have seen in the last 5 CFX Expression Language blog entries, CEL exposes a lot of powerful capability to CFX users (and to Fluent users within CFD Post). In this case we have seen how to add additional items to monitor during the solution process. The advantages of this are to help us determine on the fly if the solution is progressing as expected and to give us an idea of the values of certain results quantities before the solution is fully completed.

We certainly hope you now have a better understanding for how CEL can be used to increase the capabilities and useful information available from CFX and CFD Post.

A Visit to the Solar Impulse Aircraft and Thoughts on Doing Big Things

2013-05-13 11.43.19Our recent visit to see the Solar Impulse aircraft while it visited Phoenix was a great opportunity for us to see some great engineering, share some thoughts on cleantech technology, and be reminded of the power of doing something big.

The Solar Impulse is a “movement challenging conventional thinking to inspire innovation, hope and action among citizens and policymakers.”

Innovation, hope and action about what?

How existing and future technologies can change the way we use energy around the world.

They are doing it by using existing technologies to build an airplane that operates entirely on power gathered from sunlight and that is capable of flying night and day over long distances.  They are currently flying across the US, and are building a second generation aircraft that should be able to fly around the world.

We got some great pictures of the event that you can view on our Facebook or Tumblr

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You can learn the technical specifics about the plane here, and about the trip across the US here.  It truly is an engineering marvel in how every inch of the aircraft is optimized to increase the glide ratio and decrease weight.  The entire power train, from sunlight hitting the wings to the turning of the propellers has a total efficiency of 12%, which is pretty impressive if you consider the fact that the solar cells are only 22% efficient.  The motors and the gearbox are, well, like a finely made Swiss machine.

Once we got over the technical aspects of the aircraft we started to listen to the pilot, Bertrand Piccard.  You may recognize his name (no he is not Capt. Picard’s great-great-great grandfather… as far as we no). He was one of the Aeoronauts who made the first non-stop around the world balloon flight.  He honestly and directly pointed out that there is no real practical application for this aircraft. It has the wingspan of a 747 and can only carry one person.  What he did do is talk about using this project as a demonstration, and a catalyst, to get people around the world to understand that today we can all make small changes that will have a major impact on how much energy we consume, and where it comes from.  From the solar cells to the motors to the high-efficiency LED landing lights, every inch of this plane underscores that message.

It also got me to thinking.  We are often too focused on only doing projects that produce a tangible benefit, that generate direct income or fix a problem directly. If you look at history and when we made giant leaps forward, those leaps were usually started by someone doing something that may not have had a direct and practical application. But it inspired, it pushed the technology forward, and in the end it almost always improved the lives of everyone in some way.

Everywhere this plane goes it attracts big crowds. It’s image on TV and the Internet is shared by millions.  It is changing the way people think about cleantech and showing that we have technology here now that can make a difference.  Will we ever travel in a solar powered commercial airplane? No, probably not. But will this effort inspire someone to develop a more efficient motor and better composite material for wing spars?  I am sure of it.

As we left the improvised hanger at Sky Harbor airport I felt that excitement I used to feel as a child, that challenge that pushed me to become an engineer in the first place. Solving difficult problems, using technology to make the world around us a better place, that is what it is all about. That is what makes what we do here at PADT so damn cool.

So here is to doing something big that inspires.  Thank you SolarImpulse. We all need to follow your lead and dream about making big changes, and make sure that inspiration is a part of what we do.

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PADT Interviewed on Local TV on 3D Printing

cbs5-vanThose of us that have been doing rapid prototyping for over 20 years are a bit taken aback by the sudden interest by the mainstream public in 3D printing, but in  good way. We have been amazed by this technology for decades and have been evangelizing about its uses even before we bought our first Stereolithography machine in 1994.

Two recent news stories have really brought the technology out into open where producers in news rooms are starting to take notice.  The first is the video of some guy who built a single shot gun on FDM machine. The second is the fact that Staples will start selling “hobby” 3D Printers in their stores.  So those same producers googled Phoenix and 3D Printing and they got PADT.  We were more than happy to help set the record straight on additive manufacturing, where it is, and where it is going. Here are stills of all of our soon to be discovered stars:

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The first interview was a nice one on Channel 12, but it never got put on the internet so you will just have to take our word for it, we were fabulous.

The next video was on the local ABC affiliate, channel 15 and we talked about 3D Printing and also made a copy of the reporters head:

The List: The Futurist: 3D Printing a beak, a break and something in vain

Next came another story on the same channel, really focused on the whole printed gun thing.  John here at PADT did a great job staying focusing on the technology and what it could do.  They even got a shot of our building sign, which made us very happy:

Channel 15 News: 3D Printed Gun Story

Up to that point everything was recorded and edited. Then the local CBS station, Channel 5 asked us to do a live segment where we scanned the news anchors head then talked about the technology while we built it.  It was a lot of fun and Mario was great. Here is the final segment from that show:

Part 1:

CBS 5 – KPHO

 

Part 2:

CBS 5 – KPHO

We look forward to doing more in the future. And maybe one day soon, the general public will get just as excited about numerical simulation, now there is some compelling TV.

 

G3Box Raising Funds to Send First Maternity Clinic to Kenya

20130408100433-g3box-FINAL_LOGO_adjustWe are very pleased to let our community know about some great progress that has been made by a startup here in Phoenix called G3Box.  What is G3Box?

“G3Box converts steel shipping containers into medical clinics. We passionately pursue healthcare concerns around the world with a commitment to integrity, humility, and collaboration. We Generate Global Good.”

They hit a major milestone this weekend when they raised enough money to ship their first526595_461714910568706_1510356826_n clinic to Kenya Africa.  But they are still raising more money to help them deliver an even better solution.

We at PADT really like this startup for a simple reason: they have developed an efficient, practical, and well engineered solution to a real world problem that has a positive impact on the world.  We also like the fact that the company came out of ASU and that one of the key players is a part time PADT employee, Susanna Young.

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Check it out for yourself: http://www.g3boxllc.com/

If you find their idea as compelling as we do, then maybe you can help fund them to get their real clinic into the hands of people who need it.