The ability to rate products, services, and even companies online has been fantastic for consumers. But it is also a tool that a disgruntled customer can use to seek revenge, and that is not fantastic for the company getting a bad rating. Managing your online ratings is as important as your search engine optimization. “Is your business ready for a one-star rating?“
The recent #MeToo campaign brought to light how widespread and endemic harassment and assault are in the workplace. Tech companies can often feel they are they are not part of the problem, but #MeToo has shown that they are. So, “What does #MeToo mean for your technology business?“
Sometimes, in an attempt to impress prospective customers, we bombard them with information during the proposal phase of a project. In “Exploring easy: Make it easy for your customers, keep things simple when proposing new business” I take a look at how starting simple can get you to success faster.
The web is such an important part of our life now, but many companies do not use web pages and applications to make it easier for their customers to do business with them. “Exploring Easy – Give your customers the ability to interact through the web” gives some examples of this along with some recommendations.
IEEE Day celebrates the first time in history when engineers worldwide and IEEE members gathered to share their technical ideas in 1884. Events were held around the world by 846 IEEE Chapters this year. So, to celebrate, I attended a joint chapter meeting in at The Museum of Flight in Seattle with technical presentations focused on “Smart Antennas for IoT and 5G”. There were approximately 60 in attendance, so assuming this was the average attendance globally results in over 50,000 engineers celebrating IEEE Day worldwide!
The Seattle seminar featured three speakers that spanned theory, design, test, integration, and application of smart antennas. There was much discussion about the complexity and challenges of meeting the ambitious goals of 5G, which extend beyond mobile broadband data access. Some key objectives of 5G are to increase capacity, increase data rates, reduce latency, increase availability, and improve spectral and energy efficiency by 2020. A critical technology behind achieving these goals is beamforming antenna arrays, which were at the forefront of each presentation.
Anil Kumar from Boeing focused on the application of mmWave technology on aircraft. Test data was used to analyze EM radiation leakage through coated and uncoated aircraft windows. However, since existing regulations don’t consider the increased path loss associated with such high frequencies, the integration of 5G wireless applications may be restricted or delayed. Beyond this regulatory challenge, Anil discussed how multipath reflectors and absorbers will present significant challenges to successful integration inside the cabin. Although testing is always required for validation, designing the layout of the onboard transceivers may be impractical to optimize without an asymptotic EM simulation tool that can account for creeping waves, diffraction, and multi-bounce.
Considering the test and measurement perspective, Jari Vikstedt from ETS-Lindgren focused on the challenges of testing smart antenna systems. Smart or adaptive antenna systems will not likely perform the same in an anechoic chamber test as they would in real systems. Of particular difficulty, radiation null placement is just as critical as beam placement. This poses a difficult challenge to the number and location of probes in a test environment. Not only would a large number of probes become impractical, there is significant shadowing at mmWave frequencies which can negatively impact the measurement. Furthermore, compact ranges can significantly impact testing and line of sight measurements become particularly challenging. While not a purely test-oriented observation, this lead to considering the challenge of tower hand off. If a handset and tower use beamforming to maintain a link, if is difficult for an approaching tower to even sense the handset to negotiate the hand-off.
In contrast, if the handset was continuously scanning, the approaching tower could be sensed to negotiate the hand-off before the link is jeopardized.
The keynote speaker, who also traveled from Phoenix to Seattle, was ASU Professor Dr. Constantine Balanis. Dr. Balanis opened his presentation by making a distinction between conventional “dumb antennas” and “smart antennas”. In reality, there are no smart antennas, but instead smart antenna systems. This is a critical point from an engineering perspective since it highlights the complexity and challenge of designing modern communication systems. The focus of his presentation was using an adaptive system to steer null points in addition to the beam in an antenna array using a least mean square (LMS) algorithm. He began with a simple linear patch array with fixed uniform amplitude weights, since an analytic solution was practical and could be used to validate a simulation setup. However, once the simulation results were verified for confidence, designing a more complex array with weighted amplitudes accompanying the element phase shift was only practical through simulation. While beam steering will create a device centric system by targeting individual users on massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) networks, null steering can improve efficiency by minimizing interference to other devices.
Whether spatial processing is truly the “last frontier in the battle for cellular system capacity”, 5G technology will most certainly usher in a new era of high capacity, high speed, efficient, and ubiquitous means of communication. If you would like to learn more about how PADT approaches antenna simulation, you can read about it here and contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The only day available for our company meeting was October 31st, so we combined the meeting with a Halloween celebration. We are an engineering company, so not everyone wore a costume.. but we did all have fun. Check out the slide show:
After seeing several startup companies that looked fantastic not take off, I started to look the fact that just doing something better was no indicator of success. In “Exploring Easy: The frustrating difficulty of displacing what works with newer and better technology” I look at how making a task or process easier may not be better enough to be successful.
If there is one service that most people connect PADT with it is our 3D Printing Services. We have been making prototypes for companies using this ever-advancing technology since we started the company in 1994. As 3D Printing has become more popular and entered the mainstream even beyond engineering, what 3D Printing means to people has changed as well. Along with that, people’s understanding of exactly what it is we do in this area has drifted a little from what goes on. In this month’s installment of our “Getting to Know PADT” series, we will work to provide insight into what 3D Printing Services are and how they can benefit your company.
What is “3D Printing” and “3D Printing Services?”
To start, it should be called “Additive and Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Services, ” but people search for “3D Printing” so that is what we call it. 3D Printing is the common name for what is technically referred to as Additive Manufacturing, or AM. Most physical parts are made (manufactured) by casting or shaping material into a shape you want, removing material from stock to get the shapes you want, and/or combining physical parts you get by the other two methods. Instead of these well-proven methods, AM creates a part by building up material one layer at a time. That is why it is called additive – it adds layers of material to get a shape. Here is an older blog article showing the most common technologies used in AM.
The advantage of this approach is that you just need one machine to make a part, you can go straight from a computer model to that part, and you are not held back by the physical constraints of traditional processes. These features allow anyone to make a part and to make shapes we just could not create before. At first, we only used it for prototypes before parts were made. Then we started to make tools to make final products, and now 3D Printing is employed to manufacturing end-use parts.
In the world of mechanical engineering, where 3D Printing is heavily used, we call companies that use additive manufacturing to make parts for others 3D Printing Service Bureaus or 3D Printing Service Providers. Therefore, the full process of doing manufacturing using the technology is called: 3D Printing Services.
The critical word in that last sentence is “full.” Sending a computer model to a 3D Printer is just one of many steps involved in Additive Manufacturing. When the service is employed correctly, it includes identifying the right type of additive manufacturing to use, preparing the geometry, setting parameters on the machine, printing the parts, removing supports, cleaning the parts, sanding, applying a surface finish treatment, and then inspection and shipping. Anyone can send a part to a printer; the other steps are what make the difference between simply printing a part, and producing a great part.
What Services does PADT Offer?
Additive Manufacturing covers a wide range of technologies that create parts one layer at a time, using a variety of approaches. Some extrude, some harden, some use an inkjet print head, and still others melt material. What they have in common is creating solid geometry one layer at a time. Each technology has its own unique set of advantages, and that is why PADT offers so many different 3D Printing technologies for our customers. Each of these approaches has unique part preparations, machine parameters, and post-printing processes. Each with a unique set of advantages. The key to success is knowing which technology is best for each part and then executing it correctly.
Currently, PADT’s 3D Printing Services Group makes parts for customers using the following technologies. Each one listed has a brief description of its advantages. See our website for more details.
Reliability of systems
Broad material choice
Water soluble supports
Multiple materials in a single build
Broad material choices
Custom material choices
Multiple colors in single build
Water soluble supports
Fully dense metal parts
As a proud reseller for Stratasys systems, we feel strongly that the two primary technologies from Stratasys, FDM and Polyjet, are the best for customers who want to do Additive Manufacturing in-house or as a service provider. When customers need something different, they can come to PADT to take advantage of the unique capabilities found in each technology.
How is 3D Printing with PADT Better?
The difference is in what we know and how to execute the complete process. As a provider of 3D Printing services for over 23 years, very few people in the industry even come close to the amount of experience that we bring to the table. We also know product development and traditional manufacturing, so when a customer comes to us with a need, we understand what they are asking to do and why. That helps us make the right recommendation on process, material, and post-processing.
A few differentiators are:
- We know our machines
- We know our materials
- We offer a wide range of plastic and metal materials
- We understand post-processing
- We understand support removal (we manufacture the leading support removal system)
- We understand design and manufacturing
- In-house machining, painting, and part finishing
- In-house inspection and quality
- Employees who are enthusiastic and dedicated to providing the right solution.
In addition to all of these things, PADT also offers On-Demand Manufacturing as a Carbon Production Partner. We combine Carbon’s DLS technology with our existing and proven manufacturing processes to provide low volume manufacturing solutions for plastic components.
We are also always looking at the latest technologies and adding what our customers need. You can see this with the recent addition of systems from ConceptLaser, Carbon and Desktop Metal systems.
Next Steps and Where to Learn More
The very best way to learn more about PADT’s 3D Printing services is to have us print a part. The full experience and the final product will explain why, with so many choices, so many companies large and small count on us for their Additive Manufacturing. If you need to learn more, you can also contact us at 480.813.4884 or email@example.com.
Here are some links that you may find useful:
- PADT’s 3D Printing Services Pages on our website.
- Our 3D Printing Services Brochure
- The On-Demand Manufacturing Brochure
- More Information on Scanning & Reverse Engineering
- Details on our Product Development Services
- Blog posts on 3D Printing
The addition of a new UnionTech RSPro 450 further establishes PADT as the leader in Additive Manufacturing technology in the Southwestern US. With a build volume of 17.7 x 17.7 x 15.75 inches, this state of the art Stereolithography(SLA) machine will triple the company’s capacity to 3D Print with SLA technology at this Las Vegas print shop. It not only allows the printing of larger parts, it can also create multiple smaller parts in less time. It will join PADT’s two existing SLA machines along with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), PolyJet, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) solutions currently producing parts daily for their customers across the country.
“When we started the company in 1994, one of our first purchases was an SLA machine. It started our 3D Printing services business, and the technology is still heavily used today.” Said Rey Chu, a co-owner of PADT and the leader for PADT’s Advanced Manufacturing efforts. “This new system gives us added capacity in size, speed, and material choices. We looked at a wide range of SLA systems and felt that UnionTech provided the quality and robustness we need to keep our customers happy.”
The new system was delivered the second week of October and will be calibrated and producing customer parts by the end of the month. One of the advantages of the machine is the easy setup and strong calibration capabilities. The team will be able to produce parts that are about 75% larger than they can currently. The additional volume and speed will allow for three times as many parts to be printed in a given week than is possible with the current two smaller and older machines. Initially, a new rigid ABS-like material will be used that produces very strong and precise parts with white plastic. PADT’s existing pre- and post-processing tools will be applied to this process with little change.
The UnionTech RSPRO 450 SLA System
UnionTech systems are the most popular machines for SLA Additive Manufacturing outside of the United States. They have proven to be reliable, easy-to-use, accurate, and fast. They are also an open system, allowing users to use any SLA compatible resin that can usually be acquired at a more affordable price than proprietary material solutions.
Stereolithography is the oldest commercial 3D Printing process. It uses photo-curable liquid resins to build parts one layer at a time. A vat in the machine is filled with liquid material, and a plate is placed just under the surface. Then an ultraviolet laser draws on the very top layer of the liquid, and all of wherever the laser traces, the liquid turns to a solid. The plate is lowered, a new layer of liquid is spread on top, and the laser creates a new layer. The process repeats until the part or parts are made.
The UnionTech machine is a refined and proven application of this technology that was a perfect match for PADT’s current needs. Also, the company itself was great to work with, and the local sales and support team have been outstanding. As the team learns the system, they are finding it to be easy to use as well as simple to maintain and calibrate. The initial quality of parts has been outstanding.
PADT’s 3D Printing Services
PADT has been the Southwest’s leading provider of 3D Printing services since the company was started over 23 years ago. The company has survived industry consolidation and a vastly changing landscape by focusing on providing high-quality 3D Printed parts to customers using Fused Deposition Modeling, Polyjet Printing, Selective Laser Sintering, and Stereolithography systems combined with one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teams in the Additive Manufacturing space.
Located in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, PADT’s advanced manufacturing facility currently features ten machines dedicated to printing parts for customers. The lab includes a full machine shop, part finishing facilities, and an advanced scanning and inspection capability.
This added capability is yet another reason why so many companies large and small count on PADT for their 3D Printing needs.
Contact us today to learn more about our 3D Printing Services or:
The long-term promise of 3D Printing has always been using the technology to replace traditional manufacturing as a way to make production parts. The various technologies that are considered Additive Manufacturing have been fantastic for prototyping and making tools that are used to manufacturing end-use parts, but rarely work well for production. Carbon is literally turning the 3D printing world upside down by introducing real production capabilities with their systems. And now that PADT has joined Carbon’s Production Partner Program, on-demand manufacturing using 3D Printing is now a reality in the Southwestern US.
The Production Partner program establishes vetted service providers with 3D Printing and manufacturing experience as manufacturing centers. This allows customers who are early adopters of CARBON’s exciting technology, to find a trusted source for their production parts. PADT was chosen to participate because of our twenty-plus years of experience as a 3D Printing service provider and more than $5,000,000 in injection molding projects, along with in-house product development, scanning, simulation, and inspection.
PADT will be adding three Carbon M2 printers to our existing 3D Printing facility at our main office in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona. The first two machines will be available for production in early 2018, and the third machine will be online by early summer. Customers will then be able to order production quality parts in volume and receive them within a week. PADT’s investment and this partnership make the dream of On Demand manufacturing of complex plastic components a reality.
“We have been looking for a low volume plastic manufacturing solution that uses 3D Printing for some time.” Said Rey Chu, co-owner of PADT “Since we started the company we have been providing soft tooling and rapid injection molding. Once we saw the Carbon DLS technology in action, we knew we found our solution. The part quality and material properties are as close to injection molded as we have ever seen.”
About Carbon’s Disruptive Technology
Carbon has introduced a revolutionary way to 3D Print plastic components called Digital Light Synthesis, or DLS. It combines their proprietary continuous printing technology with programmable liquid resins to create parts with the same strength and surface finish of injection molded parts. The part creation is fast because it is a continuous process, whereas most 3D Printing machines build up one layer at a time with pauses in-between. This continuous process is not only fast, but it also avoids the stair-steps created with layered methods. This results in textured surfaces and a surface finish that no other process can approach.
Programmable materials are the other technology that enables production quality parts. This unique approach joins two liquid resins as the build material; one that hardens with light and the other with heat. The 3D Printer creates the desired geometry of the part by using light to shape the first material. Then a second step uses an oven to harden the heat activated resin, resulting in engineering-grade mechanical properties. Moreover, since the strength comes from a heat cured resin, the properties are the same in every direction. Most 3D Printed parts that use a layered approach are weaker in the build direction. The other significant advantage of including heat activated resins is that they offer a much broader material selection than light activated resins.
PADT’s On-Demand Manufacturing Service
In the past, when PADT’s customers needed parts manufactured with production quality, surface finish, and strength we had to use soft tooling or low-volume injection molding. Both are expensive and take time to make tools. 3D printing is leveraged to make those tools faster, but it still takes time and labor. Production manufacturing could benefit from going directly from a computer model to a finished part, as we do with prototyping. When we first saw an early Carbon sample part we knew that this was a technology we needed to watch. As the technology matured further, it became obvious that this was the process PADT was looking for – this was the type of end-use part our customers were requesting. Then, when the Production Partner program was introduced, we knew we needed to take part.
Our On-Demand Manufacturing service will be built around the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis process. Initially, we will use three Carbon M2 systems, a cleaning station, and a curing oven. This will be placed in the middle of our existing advanced manufacturing facility, allowing us to add machining, hand finishing, painting, and other post-processing steps into each production process as needed.
What sets PADT’s offering apart from other providers of production manufacturing with 3D Printing is that we also provide full product development, simulation, and part scanning services to help customers make sure their designs are correct. Before parts are made, we can use our simulation and design knowledge to make sure everything is correct before production begins. And when the parts are completed, we can use our advanced scanning to inspect and our product development testing to verify performance. By adapting our proven quality to this new technology, we can ensure that every step is done correctly and traceability exists.
You do not have to wait till our production line is up and running. We can start working with customers now on getting their parts ready for manufacturing with Carbon’s breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis. Our experienced staff can evaluate your components and find the best fit, recommend design changes, and work with Carbon to produce samples. And when our line is up, you can hit the ground running and obtain your parts on-demand, when you need them.
- Download the On-Demand Manufacturing brochure
- View the official press release announcing the partnership
- Visit the Carbon website
Take part in the transition of manufacturing to faster, better, and on demand by contacting PADT today to learn more.
ANSYS HFSS features an integrated “history-based modeler”. This means that an object’s final shape is dependent on each and every operation performed on that object. History-based modelers are a perfect choice for analysis since they naturally support parameterization for design exploration and optimization. However, editing imported solid 3D Mechanical CAD (or MCAD) models can sometimes be challenging with a history-based modeler since there are no imported parameters, the order of operation is important, and operational dependencies can sometimes lead to logic errors. Conversely, direct modelers are not bound by previous operations which can offer more freedom to edit geometry in any order without historic logic errors. This makes direct modelers a popular choice for CAD software but, since dependencies are not maintained, they are not typically the natural choice for parametric analysis. If only there was a way to leverage the best of both worlds… Well, with ANSYS, there is a way.
As discussed in a previous blog post, since the release of ANSYS 18.1, ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler (SCDM) and the MCAD translator used to import geometry from third-party CAD tools are now packaged together. The post also covered a few simple procedures to import and prepare a solid model for electromagnetic analysis. However, this blog post will demonstrate how to define parameters in SCDM, directly link the model in SCDM to HFSS, and drive a parametric sweep from HFSS. This link unites the geometric flexibility of a direct modeler to the parametric flexibility of a history-based modeler.
You can download a copy of this model here to follow along. If you need access to SCDM, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s also worth noting that the processes discussed throughout this article work the same for HFSS-IE, Q3D, and Maxwell designs as well.
 To begin, open ANSYS SpaceClaim and select File > Open to import the step file.
 Split the patch antenna and reference plane from the dielectric. Click here for steps to splitting geometry. Notice the objects can be renamed and colors can be changed under the Display tab.
 Click and hold the center mouse button to rotate the model, zoom into the microstrip feed using the mouse scroll, then select the side of the trace.
 Rotate to the other side of the microstrip feed, hold the Ctrl key, and select the other side of the trace. Note the distance between the faces is shown as 3mm in the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen, which is the initial trace width.
 Select Design > Edit > Pull and select No merge under Options – Pull.
 Click the yellow arrow in the model, and drag the side of the trace. Notice how both faces move in or out to change the trace width. After releasing the mouse, a P will appear next to the measurement box. Click this P to create a parameter.
 Select the Groups panel under the Structure tree. Change “Group1” to “traceWidth” and reset the Ruler dimension to 0mm. Then, save the project as UWB_Patch_Antenna_PCB.scdoc and leave SCDM open.
 Open ANSYS Electronics Desktop (AEDT), insert a new HFSS Design, and select the menu item Modeler > SpaceClaim Link > Connect to Active Session… Notice that there is an option to browse and open any SCDM project if the session is not currently active (or open).
 Select the active UWB_Patch_Antenna_PCB session and click Connect.
 The geometry from SCDM is automatically imported into HFSS.
 Double-click the SpaceClaim1 model in the HFSS modeler tree and select the Parameters tab in the pop-up dialogue box. Notice the SCDM parameter can now be controlled within HFSS. Change the Value of traceWidth to SCDM_traceWidth to create a local variable and set SCDM_traceWidth equal to -1mm. Then click OK. Notice a lightning bolt over the SpaceClaim1 model to indicate changes have been made.
 Right-click SpaceClaim1 in the modeler tree and select Send Parameters and Generate.
 Notice how the HFSS geometry reflects the changes.
 Notice how the SCDM also reflects the changes. In practice, it is generally recommended to browse to unopen SCDM projects (rather than connecting to an active session) to avoid accidentally editing the same geometry in two places.
At this point, not only can the geometry in SCDM be controlled by variables in HFSS, but a parametric analysis can now be performed on geometry within a direct modeler. The best of both worlds!
Use the typical steps within HFSS to setup a parametric sweep or optimization. When performing a parametric analysis, the geometry will automatically update the link between HFSS and SCDM, so step  above does not need to be performed manually. Be sure to follow the typical HFSS setup procedures such as assigning materials, defining ports and boundaries, and creating a solution setup before solving.
Here are some additional pro-tips:
- Create local variables in HFSS that can be used for both local and linked geometry. For example, create a variable in HFSS for traceWidth = 3mm (which was the previously noted width). Define SCDM_traceWidth = (traceWidth-3mm)/2. Now the port width can scale with the trace width.
- Link to multiple SCDM projects. Either move and rotate parts as needed or create a separate coordinate system for each component. For example, link an SMA end connector to the same HFSS project to analyze both components. Notice that each component has variables and the substrate thickness changes both SCDM projects.
- Design other objects in the native HFSS history-based modeler that are dependent on the SCDM design variables. For example, the void in an enclosure could be a function of SCDM_dielectricHeight. Notice that the enclosure void is dependent on the SCDM dielectric height.
When you find yourself humming to a pop song from your youth while in the grocery store, you may just keep humming. I start thinking about marketing and the ways to leverage pop culture to reinforce your brand and connect with customers. Take a look at “Debbie Harry sang to me at grocery store about pop culture impacting business” to see what conclusions I came to before I got to the produce section.
Nothing makes what you do as a value-added reseller and service provider into focus like a visit to a customer. A recent trip was a real eye-opener into how our engineers and the products we represent are used in a positive way every day. Take some time to read “That feeling when what you are selling is working” and then take some more time to go visit some customers.