Constitutive Modeling of 3D Printed FDM Parts: Part 1 (Challenges)

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.

Multiscale structure of an FDM part
Multiscale structure of an FDM part

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.
Stratasys ULTEM 9085 datasheet material properties showing anisotropy
Stratasys ULTEM 9085 datasheet material properties showing anisotropy
  • 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.
Ultimate Tensile Strength of FDM ULTEM 9085 for three different build orientations, compared to injection molded value (84 MPa) for two different data sources, and two different process parameter settings from the same source. On the right are shown the different orientations and process parameters varied.
Ultimate Tensile Strength of FDM ULTEM 9085 for three different build orientations, compared to injection molded value (84 MPa) for two different data sources, and two different process parameter settings from the same source. On the right are shown the different orientations and process parameters varied.
  • 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.
FDM Defects: Staircase error (top), Internal defects (bottom)
FDM Defects: Staircase error (top), Internal defects (bottom)

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.

Click here to see part 2 of this post

3D Printed Plastics in Functional Aerospace Parts

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.

ULA's Kyle Whitlow demonstrates the ECS duct that was printed using FDM
ULA’s Kyle Whitlow demonstrates the ECS duct that was printed using FDM

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.

FDM used to enable a complex duct connection on an Orbis DC-10 aircraft
FDM used to enable a complex duct connection on an Orbis DC-10 aircraft

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!

Airbus used FDM to print safety belt holders for A310 aircraft when the original supplier went out of business
Airbus used FDM to print safety belt holders for A310 aircraft when the original supplier went out of business

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.

Airbus used FDM to manufacture wire covers for their A350 aircraft
Airbus used FDM to manufacture wire covers for their A350 aircraft

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.

Kelly MFG housing FDM
Toroid housings manufactured for Kelly Manufacturing using FDM for significant cost savings and lead time reduction

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.

Stuff I Learned about Injection Molding with 3D Printed Tooling

3DPrinting-Injection-Molding-Pic-StauberMaking injection molding tools using 3D Printing has been a long term goal for the industry.  I knew the technology had advanced recently, but was really not aware how far it had come until I attended two seminars in Utah on the subject. In this post I’ll share what I learned, and share some content that goes into greater detail.

The Seminars

The reason for my update on this subject was a visit to PADT’s Utah office.  Our two people there, Anthony Wagoner (sales) and James Barker (engineering), told me they were doing a seminar on injection molding and I should go. I figured why not, I’m in town. Maybe I’ll meet a couple of customers.  Almost 30 people showed up to the Salt Lake Community College Injection Molding lab for the event.  Gil Robinson from Stratasys presented a fantastic overview (included in the download package) on where the technology is, how to apply it, and gave some great real world examples.  There were some fantastic questions as well which allowed us to really explore the technology

 

IMG_8229

Then the best part happened when we walked into the shop and saw parts being made right there on the machine. They had recently printed a tool and were shooting polypropylene parts while we were in the classroom next door. During the hour long presentation, Richard Savage from ICU Medical was able to fine-tune the injection molding machine and good parts were popping out. As you can imagine, what followed next was they type of discussion would expect with  a room full of injection molding people. “What material? How hot? What pressure? What is the cooling time? Do you use compressed air to cool it? Not a lot of flash, how hard are you clamping it? These features here, what draft did you need?”  Good stuff.  I got caught up in everything and forgot to grab some pictures.

I learned so much at that event that I decided to head north along the Wasatch Range to Clearfield and the Davis Applied Technology College.  About the same number of people were able to make it from medical, aerospace, and consumer products companies in Northern Utah.  Gil presented the same material, but this time we got some different questions so I learned a bit more about material options and some other lessons learned.

Then we visited their lab where I did remember to take some pictures:

FullSizeRender

Here is a shot of different shots that Jonathan George from DATC did to dial in the parameters.  It took him about an hour, not bad for the first time using a 3D Printed tool.

3DPrinting-Injection-Molding-parts1

The part is actually a clam shell assembly for Christmas lights, in the shape of a snow flake. Here is what they look like on the tree itself. IMG_8235

And here is a video they made showing the process. He was able to get 950 shots out of the tool.

In talking to attendees at both events I learned of several great applications that they were going to try, varying from medical devices for clinical trials to making rubber masking tools for surface treatments. The injection molding community in Utah is very sophisticated and forward thinking.

Stratasys-PolyJet-based-3D-printed-mold-tools

What I Learned

I’ll spare you the details on what we had for dinner Monday night for the Utah office holiday celebration and jump right in to what I learned.

  1. For  the right applications, you can get some very nice parts from 3D Printed tools
  2. You do need to take the process in to account and oriented the tools facing upward in the machine, add a bit more draft than usual, and keep your pressures and temperature down when compared to metal tools.
  3. For some parts, you can get over 1,000 shots from a tool, but most poeple are getting a couple of hundred parts.
  4. As with any injection molding, the magic is in the tool design and setting up the right parameters on the injection molding press.
  5. Tricky parts can be made by using metal inserts
  6. Some machining may be required on your 3D printed tool to get it just right, but that is mostly reaming holes for ejector pins and metal inserts
  7. Plastic is an insulator (duh) so plastic tools have to be cooled more slowly and with air.
  8. Conformal cooling is a great idea, but some work still needs to be done to get it to work.
  9. The mold usually fails during part ejection, so using mold release, good draft, and proper design can reduce the loading during ejection and get more parts from the tool.
  10. The material of choice for this is DigitalABS on Stratasys Connex Machines.

There was a ton more, and you can find most of it in the download package.

The big take-away from both events was that this technology works and it really does allow you to create an injection molding tool in a couple of hours on a 3D Printer. In the time it normally takes to just get the order figured out for a machined tool (RFQ, Quote, Iterate, PO, etc…) you can have your parts.

3DPrinting-Injection-Molding-Pic-Diversified

Next Steps

Interested in trying this out yourself or learning more?  We have put together an injection molding package with the following content:

  • Polyjet Injection Molding Application Brief
  • 18 Page Polyjet Injection Molding Technical Guide
  • 12 Page White Paper: Precision Prototyping – The Role of 3D Printed Molds in the Injection Molding Industry
  • 3D Printed Injection Molding Application Guide from PADT and Stratasys
  • Presentation from Seminars
  • List of Relevant Videos
  • Four Real World Case Studies
  • Link List for Other Resources  on the Web

We have spent some time putting all this information in one place and put it into one convenient ZIP file.  Please click here to download this very useful content.

injection_molded_fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seminar: Additive Manufacturing & the Honeywell Global Initiative

honeywell-speachDonald Godfrey, Honeywell Engineering Fellow for Additive Manufacturing will be presenting a seminar at Arizona State University on the status of metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) within the company worldwide.  This live event, being held at the ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona, will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how this exciting technology is used in the real world to change the way aerospace parts are designed and made.

Download the PDF:  Honewell-additive-asu-1, to learn more.

Manufacturing Open House Highlights – October 2015

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

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

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

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

Below are some more quick snapshot taken during the event.

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

padt-mfg-openhouse-2015-2
PADT’s Dr. Dhruv Bhate explains the latest developments in metal Additive Manufacturing.

padt-mfg-openhouse-2015-3
PADT’s Director of Engineering, Rob Rowan, discusses how PADT Medical has helped companies turn their medical device ideas into products.
 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3D Printing in Manufacturing.

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

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

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

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

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

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-2

www.makepartsfast.com/2008/06/523/how-to-make-accurate-cad-to-stl-file-transitions

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

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

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

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

3D Printing for Final Production Parts

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

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

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

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

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

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

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-5

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

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

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-6
There is a Belgium company that creates custom frames for eyewear.

3d-printing-terry-wholers-padt-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Insider’s View on 3D Printing in Aerospace

Additive-manufacturing-honeywell-1

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

Press Release: PADT Acquires Stratasys Business from CADCAM Systems

PADT_Logo_Color_100x50At the beginning of this month, CADCAM Systems agreed to sell their Stratasys 3D Printer sales and support business to PADT.  With customers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah this acquisition will increase PADT’s presence and investment in those states. This is PADT’s first acquisition in our 21 year history and we are very excited about the whole thing.  If you have worked with us in the past you know we are all about win-win situations.  We feel that this move will be a win for our customers, CADCAM System’s customers, and Stratasys.

We would like to begin by welcoming all of CADCAM System’s customers to the PADT family. Over the coming months we will be working to get to know you and to show you the variety of products and services that PADT offers.  although a few of you are already customers for other things PADT does, we really look forward to meeting the rest of you and understanding how we can help you bring your products to market better and faster.

Secondly, we want to let our existing customers know that this will give us additional customers and revenue that we  will use to fund expanded services in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.  Once we have time to get a feel where these new customers are and what they need, we will plan our sales and support staff to better serve everyone. A larger and stronger community will be one of the key ways this will be a win-win for everyone.

You can read more about the acquisition in the press release below or view a PDF version here.

The new customers will grow PADT’s customer base for 3D Printing systems by around 20% to 40%  depending on how you count things. About half of the new customers are in Colorado and the rest are split between Utah and New Mexico; with a few single customers in other states in the west.  Our staff in those states (Littleton, CO, Albuquerque, NM, and Murray, UT) have already started reaching out to the new customers.  As an example of our growing commitment, we recently moved to a new larger suite in the Utah office to make room for a new Application Engineer, more demo machines, and additional space for training and meetings.

We are usually pretty bad about documenting these things for posterity, but fortunately someone remember to snap a picture on their phone during the signing.  From left to right are Ward Rand (PADT Co-Owner), Gloria Ontiveros (CADCAM Co-Owner), John D. Clark (PADT’s Council), and Mario Vargas (PADT’s Sales Manager for 3D Printing):

Official-Signing-CADCAM-Acquisition

 

Customers who have existing support contracts with CADCAM Systems, will continue to be supported by them until those contract expire, including the purchase of their consumables and materials.  When the contracts are up for renewal, they have the option to renew with PADT and we will be the source for their consumables and materials.  Customers who are not on maintenance can contact PADT now for support:

Repair and Maintenance:  480.813.4884 or 3dps@padtinc.com

Those who wish to purchase material and consumables can do so over the phone, via email, or at our online store: padtmarket.com.

Material: 480.813.4884, sales@padtmarket.com, or www.padtmarket.com.

This is an exciting time and we look forward to the growth and mutual success that this acquisition will bring.

Press Release:

PADT Expands 3D Printer Activities with Acquisition of the Stratasys Reselling Business of CADCAM Systems

Strategic move positions PADT as the largest provider of industrial 3D Printing solutions in the Four Corners region.

Tempe, Ariz., May 13, 2015 Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) the Southwest’s largest provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing services and products, is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Stratasys Reseller business of CADCAM Systems, based in Boulder Colorado. This move immediately boosts PADT’s existing 3D Printer sales and support customer base by approximately 30%, adding clients in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, making PADT the largest distributor of 3D Printing systems to commercial customers in the Four Corners region.

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CADCAM Systems, like PADT, has been a leader in 3D Printing sales and support, working with global manufacturer Stratasys to help build usage in the Rocky Mountain States. Throughout the course of its history, CADCAM Systems has built a reputation for outstanding technical ability and customer service. As customers transition to PADT for system support, consumables and future machines, they will receive the same exceptional service they are used to, now from PADT’s offices in Littleton, Colorado, Murray, Utah, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Additional support will come from PADT’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona. Customers will have the added advantage of access to PADT’s other products and services, including 3D Printing services, ANSYS simulation software, product development, and simulation services.

“When we heard that CADCAM Systems was interested in selling their Stratasys business, we were immediately interested. Said Rey Chu, co-owner at PADT and a recognized expert in the Additive Manufacturing industry. “We knew they took excellent care of their customers and had strong client bases in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, three states that we’ve been growing aggressively in. It was an obvious fit for both companies.”

The acquisition will have no impact on the number of people employed at either company. During the transition, customers who purchased maintenance agreements from CADCAM Systems will be serviced by them until they expire, at which time they have the option to renew with PADT. Some 3D Printing material supplies will be available from CADCAM Systems as well during the transition, with PADT taking over that service in the coming months.

This acquisition was made as part of PADT’s long term strategy to strengthen their position as the premier supplier of mechanical engineering products and services in the Southwest. The company continues to make investments in staff, services offered, and products represented to meet the demands of existing and future customers, continuing to prove a commitment to the company’s motto “We Make Innovation Work.”

To learn more about this exciting expansion visit http://www.padtinc.com/cadcam, email sales@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884.

About Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies
Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and Rapid Prototyping solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 75 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at http://www.PADTINC.com.

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PADT Joins America Makes

America-Makes-Logo-2As part of our long-term commitment to the advancement and growth of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), PADT is now a Silver Member of America Makes. We join many of our customers and partners in supporting this National Institute that is focused on "helping the United States grow capabilities and strength in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing."   This is an important step in our journey, which started in 1994 when PADT purchased our first Stereolithography machine.  Our Rapid Prototyping team, lead by PADT Co-Owner Rey Chu, has been a key player in the industry over the years – as leaders in the Additive Manufacturing User Group (AMUG), an early channel partner for Stratasys, and as the largest provider of Additive Manufacturing services in the Southwestern US.

We joined America Makes because it is delivering on its mission of collaborating on innovation, overcoming challenges that the industry faces, and accelerating overall time to market for companies that use additive manufacturing. As a member we will be able to work closer with others, have access to intellectual property developed by America Makes, and gain access to consolidated technical information.  One of our first efforts will be to work with America Makes on our initiatives to advance simulation and design for Additive Manufacturing.  We will also work with other companies in the Southwest that are already engaged with America Makes to support them and further the growth of the technology in the region.  Membership will also facilitate our ongoing support of the educating of students on Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing. 

It was extra special to see that ANSYS, Inc. became a Platinum member at the same time as PADT joined as a Sliver member. As many of you know, PADT is a long time ANSYS Channel Partner and a close collaborator with the ANSYS development teams. Working together on Additive Manufacturing simulation efforts with ANSYS was another key reason why we joined. 

The future of Additive Manufacturing looks bright, and PADT is proud the play the role we have in the past, and look forward to the additional contributions we will be able to add through America Makes. 

America-Makes-FrontExteriorTo learn more about America Makes we recommend the following:

– Watch the introduction video here.
– Visit their website.
– See who the other members are.

Based in Youngstown, Ohio, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute was founded in 2012 as the flagship institute of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. It is a true public-private-academic initiative.

 

Encore Lunch and Learn: Designing and Simulating Products for 3D Printing

3dprinting-production-1PADT would like to invite you to a free seminar or webinar on how to use 3D Printing to manufacture parts for your products.

In February, PADT held a Lunch and Learn with the AZ Tech Council on "Designing and Simulating Products for 3D Printing."  The event sold out and we received a lot of interest in being able to attend over the web. So we have scheduled a second version of this presentation to be given live at CEI in Phoenix on March 23rd, 2015 that will also be broadcast over the web.  

Here is some info on the presentation:

This proven technology has moved from prototyping to tooling and now the creation of final parts.  However, you can't just print your existing design. PADT will cover the techniques and processes needed to evaluate existing designs to find parts that can be switched to 3D printing as well as how to design new parts to take advantage of 3D printing. 

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When:
Monday, March 23, 2015
11:30am – 1:00pm 
Where:
CEI
275 N. GateWay Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Webinar:
WebEx
Please Register, we will send you login information 
  Lunch will be Served for those attending live

We will begin with a review on the current state of 3D Printing technologies, including the creation of accurate and usable metal parts. That will be followed with design guidelines and processes and finishing up with a look at how you can use simulation to drive the design your 3D Printed components so that they work.

Please Register

Lunch is included so we need a headcount for those joining us at CEI, and we need to send login information to those attending over the web.  So Please Register

 

Major Milestone Achieved: 3D Printing of a Full Turbine Engine

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Not long ago the sages in the additive manufacturing world said "Someday in the future we will be able to print a complete Turbine Engine."  That someday is now, much sooner than many of us predicted.  Researchers at Monash University in Australia recently created a modified version of a Safron Microturbo Auxiliary Power Unit using 3D Printing.  The whole thing.  Milestone Achieved.

The best article on this amazing story is on the Melbourne Examiner page:
www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/3d-printing-melbourne-engineers-print-jet-engine-in-world-first-20150226-13pfv1.html 

Turbine Engines are really the peak of machine design. They contain every nasty thing you might run into in other machines, but spin faster and run hotter.  It's hard stuff. The geometry is difficult, lots of small features and holes, and significant assembly and tolerance constraints.  Getting a demonstrator built like this is a huge deal.  As a former turbine engine engineer and a long time user of additive manufacturing, I'm amazed. 

Check out their video:

The "3d Printer" they used was a huge Concept Laser Direct Laser Melting system.  The technology uses a laser to draw on the top of a bed of powder medal, melting the medal in small pools the bind and create a fully dense part with cast like properties.  They used three different metals: nickel alloy, titanium, and aluminum.

Concept-Laser-3d-printed-turbine-enginePADT has chosen to partner with Concept Laser for our metal 3D Printing strategy, which gives us additional excitement for this sucessful project.  

Now that someone has achieved this milestone, the industry can move forward with confidence that even more can be done with metal 3D Printing.  Much was learned in the creation of this advanced device that we can build on and apply to other industries and applications. 

Much is said in the twittersphere and press about printing food or custom dog tags, but this sort of high value industrial application is where the real impact of 3D Printing will be felt. It shows that companies can develop new more efficient products in less time and that are not constrained by traditional manufacturing methods. 

Seminar Info: Designing and Simulating Products for 3D Printing

Note: We have scheduled an encore Lunch & Learn and companion Webinar for March 23, 2015.  Please register here to attend in person at CEI in Phoenix or here to attend via the web.

ds43dp-1People are interested in how to better do design and simulation for products they manufacture using 3D Printing.  When the AZ Tech council let us know they had a cancelation for their monthly manufacturing Lunch and Learn, we figured why not do something on this topic, a few people might show up. We had over 105 people register, so we had to close registration. In the end around 95 total people made it to the seminar, which is more than expected so we had to add chairs. Who would have thought that many people would come for such a nerdy topic?.

For an hour and fifteen minutes they sat and listned to us talk about the ins and outs of using this growing technology to make end use parts.  Here is a copy of the PowerPoint as a PDF.

We did add one bullet item in the design suggestions area based on a question. Someone pointed out that the machine instructions, what the AM machine uses to make the parts, should be a controlled document. They are exactly right and that is a very important process that needs to be put in place to get traceability and repeatability.  

Here are some useful links:

As always, do not hesitate to contact us for more information or with any questions.

If you missed this presentation, don't worry, we are looking to schedule a live/web version of this talk with some enhancements sometime in March.  Watch the usual channels for time, place, and registration information. We will also be publishing detailed blog posts on many of the topics covered today, diving deeper into areas of interest.

Thank you to the AZ Tech Council, ASU SkySong, and everyone that attended for making this our best attended non-web seminar ever.

Design and Simulation for 3D Printing Full House

The Real Revolution in 3D Printing: It’s Normal

3D-printed-printerReading through my email this morning I saw an update from the "maker" site Instructables and I glanced at it quickly: "floating bed, how to make a sword, that's cool, 3D printable printer, folding chair charcoal forge, what?, parachord hammer holder, just buy one, duh, blah, blah, blah how do people have time for this… wait, 3D printable printer?" CLICK.  

So this 17 year old kid used his 3D Printer, an arduino board and parts he scrounged from old DVD drives to make a 3D Printer. Read about it here.  This kid, wootin24, designed and built an X, Y, Z positioning device that could be fited with a dremel tool to be a CNC machine, or an extruder to be a 3D Printer.  No CAD experience, no formal engineering training, just a smart person.  And the ad that popped up on the side of the how-to this kid wrote was for a Dremel 3D Printer, available at Home Depot. Not some kickstarter funded rehash of an opensource printer, Dremel. The big guys.  As I was feeling bad about how I spent my time when I was 17 (I'm not going to go there but I never did become a the backup bass player for Rush nor did I get a second date from T—–) and starting to worry about how systems from very capable companies like Dremel will impact our sales of Stratasys equipment, I realized that the true revolution in 3D printing happened and most of us involved day-to-day in the industry didn't even notice.  

3D Printing is Now Normal

When a revolutionary technology comes out there is a lot of hoopla and press. Tons of people start jumping on the bandwagon and your Aunt's friend in Topeka is sending you links on Facebook about 3D Printing and how it is "going to change everything."  Do not get me started on how 3D Printing is not new, we've been doing it at PADT for over 20 years, and certainly do not ask about the "3D printed gun.  The false-newness and fear-mongering stories are what the mainstream press picked up on. The good news is that the hype got the word out. And then smart people like this kid and the engineers at Dremel said "hmmm, that is useful. I can do something with this" and boom, the real revolution happened.  

After all these years this tool that was really a special tool used when needed, has become just another screwdriver in the toolbox.  A standard part of the process it is something most engineers understand well, and a majority of non-engineers are aware of. When we first started showing people our SLA machine back in the 90's they would either not understand what they were looking at or become flabergasted and amazed, treating it more like a magic box than a fairly simple additive curing system.  Now when we give tours we hear "that one looks like the one we have in our office" or "oh yea, an Objet, I'd love to trade my older system in for one of those." And the dreaded "oh, we have three of these in our robotics lab at school, do you have anything interesting?"  

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Amazon now has a section for all the 3D Printers they sell, just like headphones or video games.

So What

There is a lot of power in 3D Printing.  That is the real reason why the technology has blossomed as it has.  The power of 3D Printing is that it lets you make physical objects without special equipment or knowledge, the laser printer of manufacturing. However, as long as the tool is treated as something to be used in special cases or as a mystical new magic bullet, it will not be used correctly.  Now that it is mainstream, the use of additive manufacturing becomes mainstream and the power it brings to the table can be fully realized.  We see this every day at PADT. Product managers have "3D Printed Prototypes" as a standard line item in their budget templates.  Customers are increasingly talking about going back to their current product lines and identifying parts that are machined, injection molded, or cast and determining which can be replaced by 3D printed parts.  And most importantly, the supply chain and quality people are sniffing around and starting to make paperwork to control and manage 3D Printed components.  

As proponents of the technology since the early days, we could not be happier than when we see a check box for "Created with additive manufacturing" on a quality form. When it becomes part of the bureaucracy, the revolution has truly happened. 

Celebrate Arizona Manufacturing

arizona-manufacturing-month-2014-header

WE ARE CELEBRATING MANUFACTURING IN ARIZONA

The state of Arizona has a vibrant and robust manufacturing community, something that most people do not know. To highlight this strong part of the state’s economy, the month of October has been designated as Manufacturing Month. Learn more at the ACA website.

PADT has been busy participating in a variety of events throughout the month of October.  We are excited to celebrate the culmination of this amazing month.

Everyone is welcome!

What:  Celebrating Arizona Manufacturing – The Special Closing Event of the 2014 Arizona Manufacturer’s Month

When: October 30th, 4-7pm

Where: PADT – 7755 S. Research Drive, Tempe, AZ 85284

Please register at: bit.ly/MMclosing

Food and drinks will be provided. 

In addition to networking and celebrating, several companies involved in Manufacturing will be in attendance for an exhibit focused on the future of manufacturing.  

Exhibitors attending include:

…..and more

If you have questions about the event or are interested in exhibiting, please contact Kathryn Pesta at kathryn.pesta@padtinc.com

Join us in Colorado for a 3D printing Demo

happyhour563dprinting

PADT Colorado is excited to be partnering again with Alignex for a 3D printer demo/happy hour at their upcoming networking event.  

The event is from 10 am to 6pm and will feature guest speakers discussing the latest in engineering and design productivity.  PADT will be on site to discuss 3D printing during their happy hour from 5 to 6pm. 

For more details and to register for the event please click here.