Innovative companies are using simulation early in the product development process to improve and optimize product designs. Companies deploying up-front simulation to their product design teams require simulation software that is easy-to-use, provides accurate simulation results and allows customization to enforce best practices. Such design engineering simulation software allows teams to develop and refine design ideas early in the design cycle when the cost of making design changes is still low.
Click Here to register for this webinar
Is your comapny designing or using electronics that are:
If so then you could potentially be a victim of signal integrity failure!
Join us August 17th, 2016 at 1 pm Pacific Time for a free webinar covering an introduction to Signal Integrity
This is a high-level introduction that will cover:
Followed by a Q&A session afterwards!
Click Here to register for this event and be sure to add it to your calendar to receive reminders.
Can’t make it? We suggest you register regardless, as our webinars are recorded and sent out along with a PDF of the presentation to our contacts within 24 hours of the presentation finishing.
At PADT we provide help to many of our customers who have trouble with their ANSYS simulations. At the top level, though, there are some computer skills for Windows that we consider basics that every engineer should know. If these are skills you already have in your tool belt, fantastic! If not, hopefully this information will help you be more effective in your simulation tasks.
Also, since most of us have been or are currently being updated to Windows 10, I’m providing the instructions for Windows 10. Windows 7 is similar, though.
1. Run as Administrator
This allows us to run programs, a.k.a. “apps” with administrator privilege, even if our login credentials don’t allow this level of usage. This is the case for most users of engineering software. Certain components of ANSYS, including the CAD Configuration Manager and the Client ANSLIC_ADMIN Utility require changes to your computer that non-admin rights won’t allow. By running as administrator, we allow the program to make the needed changes.
To do this, click the Start Menu, then find the program (app) you need to run in the resulting list, such as the Client ANSLIC_ADMIN Utility, but one important thing to keep is mind is to use a privacy filter, it is important to maintain your privacy. Next, right click on that program, select More with the left mouse button, then select Run as Administrator with the left mouse button. If you are prompted to allow changes to your system, click Yes. Here is what it will look like:
2. View File Extensions
When using Windows Explorer, now known as File Explorer in Windows 10, by default you probably won’t see file extensions. Instead, you’ll see the prefix of files, but won’t see the endings of the file names. This will be the case when browsing for files to open or save as well. Sometimes you can rely on the icons associated with a file to know which program it’s associated with or the Type field in the list view, but sometimes there are conflicts. For example, an ANSYS Mechanical APDL macro file will have the extension .mac. You can probably guess that there is at least one other major company that can have software that uses that extension. By viewing the file extensions, even if the icons are wrong, we can more easily identify the files we need. Here is how it’s done:
Click Start, then File Explorer:
The default view using “Details” in File Explorer will look something like this (file names don’t include extensions):
To view the extensions, we click on the View menu in File Explorer, then Options, then Change Folder and Search Options.
The way I set this option for all folder on my computer is to then click on the View tab in the resulting small window, then uncheck the box for Hide extensions for known file types, then click Apply to Folders, then click OK.
Now the list view (using Details under the View menu) in File Explorer looks like this, with each file showing its extension in the list:
3. Define and Edit Environment Variables
Environment Variables are values that are used by certain programs to define settings. For example, an environment variable can be used to specify the license server for certain programs. It’s good to know how to define and edit these if needed. To do this, we bring up the control panel. In Windows 10, click on the Start button, then Settings:
A quick way to get there is to type “environment” in the search window in the resulting Settings window:
The search should find Edit the System Environment Variables. Click on that:
In the resulting System Properties window, click on the Environment Variables button in the Advanced tab:
A new window will open with a list of currently defined User variables (just for your login) and System variables (for anyone who is logged in), like this:
You can click on an environment variable to edit it using the Edit… button, or you can click on the New… button to create a new one. One ANSYS-related environment variable that occasionally needs to be set is ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE. This is only needed if the default license server specifications aren’t working for some reason. You won’t need to set this under normal circumstances. Just in case, here is how to define it, using the New… button under System variables. We type in the Variable Name, in this case ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE and then the Variable Value, which in this example is 1055@myserver.
When done defining and editing environment variables, we click on the OK button to complete the action and get out of that environment variable-related windows.
4. Check Usage of Your Computer Resources
As simulation experts, we are often pushing the limits of our computer resources. It’s good to know how to check those. First is disk space. An easy way to check disk space is to bring up File Explorer again. Click on This PC on the left side. This will give you a snapshot of the available space on each hard drive that is accessible on this computer:
Next, we may want to check CPU or memory utilization. Perhaps we want to make sure that our solution is running on multiple cores as we have requested.
To do this, hold down the Alt, Control, and Delete keys on the keyboard, all at the same time. Then click on Task Manager in the resulting window (it will look for a second like your computer is going to restart – it won’t actually do that).
In the resulting Task Manager window, click on More details:
In the resulting window, we can click on the Performance tab and view, for example, the current memory utilization, or we can click on Open Resource Monitor and get even more details, including utilization on each CPU:
5. Search for Large Files
It’s very common in the simulation world to end up filling up your disk drives. Therefore, it’s good to be able to find large files so we can delete them if they are no longer needed. For a simple way to do this, we’ll start with File Explorer again. This time, we’ll click in the search window at upper right, but won’t actually type in anything. We just want the search tools menu to appear:
Next, click on Search under Search Tools, followed by Size, then Gigantic (I will argue that 128 MB isn’t all that gigantic in the simulation world, but Microsoft hasn’t caught up with us yet):
Windows will now perform a search for files larger than 128 GB. If any of these are no longer needed, you can right click and delete them. Just make sure you don’t delete any files that are truly needed!
That completes our discussion on 5 computer skills every engineer should know. In conclusion, these basic skills should help you be more productive over time as you perform your simulation tasks. We hope you find this information useful, if it is is not enough, than visit this website for more infromation.
Also read: Windows SQL Server by SaveOnIT.Com.
Product design engineers are increasingly under pressure to complete product designs faster so innovative products can reach the market sooner. Performing up-front simulation as part of the product development process can accelerate designing optimized products and reduce costly physical prototypes. To successfully implement simulation early in the product development process, simulation software must be easy-to-use and cover all the necessary physics that impact product designs.
Join us for this webinar to discover how AIM delivers unparalleled ease-of-use for simulation driven product development, and learn how design engineers can benefit from using simulation early in the product development process.
This webinar will be held on August 10th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PT
Click Here to register for this webinar
If you have used or are using CFD tools like ANSYS Fluent or ANSYS CFX, then you already know how much of a pain extracting the fluid volume can be from a CAD model. Whether the extraction fails because of geometry issues, or if you’ve forgotten to create capping surfaces for all your openings it can be quite frustrating when you get the “non-manifold body” error.
We’ve done it the same way for a long time – create some super solid and do a Boolean subtract or try to close everything off and try to use a cavity function to fill in the model. Both can have headache inducing issues.
CLICK HERE for a PDF that shows how ANSYS SpaceClaim uses a different approach which can make the fluid volume extraction much easier for engineers.
CLICK HERE for a video demo of this as well
In this The Focus Video Blog, Joe Woodward shares a nice little trick he found when answering a tech support question.
When you want to take timesteps from a transient thermal analysis in ANSYS Mechanical and use the results as loads in a series of static simulations, in just a few mouse clicks.
PCB designers know that it is critical to design a board for temperature rise, thermal expansion and external structural loads. The difficulty has always been to capture a board’s structural makeup accurately without having an impractical effect on solve time.
CLICK HERE for a PDF that shows how ANSYS solves this challenge in a unique straightforward and effective manner. And as always feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
“Why are there so many different software solutions in Additive Manufacturing and which ones do I really need?“
This was a question I was asked at lunch during the recently concluded RAPID 3D printing conference by a manager at an aerospace company. I gave her my thoughts as I was stuffing down my very average panini, but the question lingered on long after the conference was over – several weeks later, I decided to expand on my response in this blog post.
There are over 25 software solutions available (scheduling software for service technicians, etc.) and being used for different aspects of Additive Manufacturing (AM). To answer the question above, I found it best to classify these solutions into four main categories based on their purpose, and allow sub-categories to emerge as appropriate. This classification is shown in Figure 1 below – and each of the 7 sub-categories are discussed in more detail in this post.
1. Design Modeler
You need this if you intend to create or modify designs
Most designs are created in CAD software such as SOLIDWorks, CATIA and SpaceClaim (now ANSYS SpaceClaim). These have been in use long before the more recent rise in interest in AM and most companies have access to some CAD software internally already. Wikipedia has a comparison of different CAD software that is a good starting point to get a sense of the wide range of CAD solutions out there.
2. Build Preparation
You need this if you plan on using any AM technology yourself (as opposed to sending your designs outside for manufacturing)
Once you have a CAD file, you need to ensure you get the best print possible with the printer you have available. Most equipment suppliers will provide associated software with their machines that enable this. Stand-alone software packages do exist, such as the one developed by Materialise called Magics, which is a preferred solution for Stereolithography (SLA) and metal powder bed fusion in particular – some of the features of Magics are shown in the video below.
Scanning & File Transfer
3. Geometry Repair
You need this if you deal with low-quality geometries – either from scans or since you work with customers with poor CAD generation capabilities
Geomagic Design X is arguably the industry’s most comprehensive reverse engineering software which combines history-based CAD with 3D scan data processing so you can create feature-based, editable solid models compatible with your existing CAD software. If you are using ANSYS, their SpaceClaim has a powerful repair solution as well, as demonstrated in the video below.
Improving Performance Through Analysis
4. Topology Optimization
You need this if you stand to benefit from designing towards a specific objective like reducing mass, increasing stiffness etc. such as the control-arm shown in Figure 2
Of all the ways design freedom can be meaningfully exploited, topology optimization is arguably the most promising. The ability to now bring analysis up-front in the design cycle and design towards a certain objective (such as maximizing stiffness-to-weight) is compelling, particularly for high performance, material usage sensitive applications like aerospace. The most visible commercial solutions in the AM space come from Altair: with their Optistruct solution (for advanced users) and SolidThinking Inspire (which is a more user-friendly solution that uses Altair’s solver). ANSYS and Autodesk 360 Inventor also offer optimization solutions. A complete list, including freeware, can be availed of at this link.
5. Lattice Generation
You need this if you wish to take advantage of cellular/lattice structure properties for applications like such as lightweight structural panels, energy absorption devices, thermal insulation as well as medical applications like porous implants with optimum bone integration and stiffness and scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 different approaches that have been taken to lattice design software:
- Infill or Conformal Lattice Design: ANSYS SpaceClaim, Magics, Simpleware, Paramount Industries, NetFabb
- Topology Optimization Driven Lattice Design: Altair OptiStruct
- Generative Design: Autodesk Within
I will cover the differences between these approaches in detail in a future blog post. A general guideline is that the generative design approach taken by Autodesk’s Within is well suited to medical applications, while Lattice generation through topology optimization seems to be a sensible next step for those that are already performing topology optimization, as is the case with most aerospace companies pursuing AM technology. The infill/conformal approach is limiting in that it does not enable optimization of lattice structures in response to an objective function and typically involves a-priori definition of a lattice density and type which cannot then be modified locally. This is a fast evolving field – between new software and updates to existing ones, there is a new release on an almost quarterly, if not monthly basis – some recent examples are nTopology and the open source IntraLattice.
Below is a short video demo of Autodesk’s Within:
You need this if you do either topology optimization or lattice design, or need it for part performance simulation
Basic mechanical FE analysis solvers are integrated into most topology optimization and lattice generation software. For topology optimization, the digitally represented part at the end of the optimization typically has jarring surfaces that are smoothed and then need to be reanalyzed to ensure that the design changes have not shifted the part’s performance outside the required window. Beyond topology optimization & lattice design, analysis has a major role to play in simulating performance – this is also true for those seeking to compare performance between traditionally manufactured and 3D printed parts. The key challenge is the availability of valid constitutive and failure material models for AM, which needs to be sourced through independent testing, from the Senvol database or from publications.
7. Process Simulation
You need this if you would like to simulate the actual process to allow for improved part and process parameter selection, or to assess how changes in parameters influence part behavior
The real benefit for process simulation has been seen for metal AM. In this space, there are broadly speaking two approaches: simulating at the level of the part, or at the level of the powder.
- Part Level Simulation: This involves either the use of stand-alone AM-specific solutions like 3DSIM and Pan Computing (acquired by Autodesk in March 2016), or the use of commercially available FE software such as ANSYS & ABAQUS. The focus of these efforts is on intelligent support design, accounting for residual stresses and part distortion, and simulating thermal gradients in the part during the process. ANSYS recently announced a new effort with the University of Pittsburgh in this regard.
- Powder Level Simulation: R&D efforts in this space are led by Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) and the focus here is on fundamental understanding to explain observed defects and also to enable process optimization to accelerate new materials and process research
Part level simulation is of great interest for companies seeking to go down a production route with metal AM. In particular there is a need to predict part distortion and correct for it in the design – this distortion can be unacceptable in many geometries – one such example is shown in the Pan Computing (now Autodesk) video below.
A Note on Convergence
Some companies have ownership of more than one aspect of the 7 categories represented above, and are seeking to converge them either through enabling smooth handshakes or truly integrate them into one platform. In fact, Stratasys announced their GrabCAD solution at the RAPID conference, which aims to do some of this (minus the analysis aspects, and only limited to their printers at the moment – all of which are for polymers only). Companies like Autodesk, Dassault Systemes and ANSYS have many elements of the 7 software solutions listed above and while it is not clear what level of convergence they have in mind, all have recognized the potential for a solution that can address the AM design community’s needs. Autodesk for example, has in the past 2 years acquired Within (for lattice generation), netfabb (for build preparation) and Pan Computing (for simulation), to go with their existing design suite.
Conclusion: So what do I need again?
What you need depends primarily on what you are using AM technologies for. I recommend the following approach:
- Identify which of the 4 main categories apply to you
- Enumerate existing capabilities: This is a simple task of listing the software you have access to already that have capabilities described in the sub-categories
- Assess gaps in software relative to meeting requirements
- Develop an efficient road-map to get there: be aware that some software only make sense (or are available) for certain processes
In the end, one of the things AM enables is design freedom, and to quote the novelist Toni Morrison: “Freedom is not having no responsibilities; it is choosing the ones you want.” AT PADT, we work with design and analysis software as well as AM machines on a daily basis and would love to discuss choosing the appropriate software solutions for your needs in greater detail. Send us a note at email@example.com and cite this blog post, or contact me directly on LinkedIn. .
Thank you for reading!
Joining Two of PADT’s Favorite Things: Simulation and 3D Printing
Recent advances in Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) have removed barriers to manufacturing certain geometry because of constraints in traditional manufacturing methods. Although you can make almost any shape, how do you figure out what shape to make. Using ANSYS products you can apply topological optimization to come up with a free-form shape that best meets your needs, and that can be made with Additive Manufacturing.
A few months ago we presented some background information on how to drive the design of this type of part using ANSYS tools to a few of our customers. It was a well received so we cleaned it up a bit (no guarantee there all the typos are gone) and recorded the presentation. Here it is on YouTube
Let us know what you think and if you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Some of you have probably already noticed, but ANSYS Mechanical licenses have some changes at version 17. First, the license that for years has been known as ANSYS Mechanical is now known as ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise. Further, ANSYS, Inc. has enabled significantly more functionality with this license at version 17 than was available in prior versions. Note that the license task in the ANSYS license files, ‘ansys’ has not changed.
|16.2 and Older (task)||17.0 (task)|
|ANSYS Mechanical (ansys)||ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise (ansys)|
The 17.0 ANSYS License Manager unlocks additional capability with this license, in addition to the existing Mechanical structural/thermal abilities. Previously, each of these tools used to be an additional cost. The change includes other “Mechanical-” licenses: e.g. Mech-EMAG, Mech CFD. The new tools enabled with ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise licenses at version 17.0 are:
|Fatigue Module||Rigid Body Dynamics||Explicit STR||Composite PrepPost (ACP)|
|SpaceClaim||DesignXplorer||ANSYS Customization Suite||AQWA|
Additionally, at version 17.1 these tools are included as well:
These changes do not apply to the lower level licenses, such as ANSYS Structural and Professional. In fact, these licenses are moving to ‘legacy’ mode at version 17. Two newer products now slot below Mechanical Enterprise. These newer products are ANSYS Mechanical Premium and ANSYS Mechanical Pro. We won’t explain those products here, but your local ANSYS provider can give you more information on these two if needed.
Getting back to the additional capabilities with Mechanical Enterprise, these become available once the ANSYS 17.0 and/or the ANSYS 17.1 license manager is installed. This assumes you have a license file that is current on TECS (enhancements and support). Also, a new license task is needed to enable Simplorer Entry.
Ignoring Simplorer Entry for the moment, once the 17.0/17.1 license manager is installed, the single Mechanical Enterprise license task (ansys) now enables several different tools. Note that:
- Multiple tool windows can be open at once
- g. ANSYS Mechanical and SpaceClaim
- Only one can be “active” at a time
- If solving, can’t edit geometry in SpaceClaim
- Capabilities are then available in older versions, where applicable, once the 17.0/17.1 license manager is installed
Here is a very brief summary of these newly available capabilities:
- Runs in the Mechanical window
- Can calculate fatigue lives for ‘simple’ products (linear static analysis)
- Stress-life for
- Constant amplitude, proportional loading
- Variable amplitude, proportional loading
- Constant amplitude, non-proportional loading
- Constant amplitude, proportional loading
- Activated by inserting the Fatigue Tool in the Mechanical Solution branch
- Postprocess fatigue lives as contour plots, etc.
- Requires fatigue life data as material properties
- Stress-life for
- Runs in the Mechanical window
- ANSYS, Inc.-developed solver using explicit time integration, energy conservation
- Use when only concerned about motion due to joints and contacts
- To determine forces and moments
- Activated via Rigid Dynamics analysis system in the Workbench window
- Runs in the Mechanical window
- Utilizes the Autodyn solver
- For highly nonlinear, short duration structural transient problems
- Drop test simulations, e.g.
- Activated via Explicit Dynamics analysis system in the Workbench window
- Tools for preparing composites models and postprocessing composites solutions
- Define composite layup
- Fiber Directions and Orientations
- Optimize composite design
- Results evaluation
- Layer stresses
- Failure criteria
- Activated via ACP (Pre) and ACP (Post) component systems in the Workbench window
- Geometry creation/preparation/repair/defeaturing tool
- Try it, learn it, love it
- A direct modeler so no history tree
- Just create/modify on the fly
- Import from CAD or create in SpaceClaim
- Can be an incredible time saver in preparing geometry for simulation
- Activated by right clicking on the Geometry cell in the Workbench project schematic
- Design of Experiments/Design Optimization/Robust Design Tool
- Allows for variation of input parameters
- Geometric dimensions including from external CAD, license permitting
- Material property values
- Mesh quantities such as shell thickness, element size specifications
- Track or optimize on results parameters
- Max or min stress
- Max or min temperature
- Max or min displacement
- Mass or volume
- Create design of experiments
- Fit response surfaces
- Perform goals driven optimizations
- Reduce mass
- Drive toward a desired temperature
- Understand sensitivities among parameters
- Perform a Design for Six Sigma study to determine probabilities
- Activated by inserting Design Exploration components into the Workbench project schematic
ANSYS Customization Suite:
- Toolkit for customization of ANSYS Workbench tools
- Includes tools for several ANSYS products
- Top level Workbench
- Based on Python and XML
- Wizards and documentation included
- Offshore tool for ship, floating platform simulation
- Uses hydrodynamic defraction for calculations
- Model up to 50 structures
- Include effects of moorings, fenders, articulated connectors
- Solve in static, frequency, and time domains
- Transfer motion and pressure info to Mechanical
- Activated via Hydrodynamic Diffraction analysis system in the Workbench window
- New, common user interface for multiphysics simulations
- Capabilities expanding with each ANSYS release (was new at 16.0)
- Uses SpaceClaim as geometry tool
- Single window
- Easy to follow workflow
- Activated from the ANSYS 17.0/17.1 Start menu
- System level simulation tool
- Simulate interactions such as between
- Structural Reduced Order Models
- Simple circuitry
- Optimize complex system performance
- Understand interactions and trade offs
- Entry level tool, limited to 30 models (Simplorer Advanced enables more)
- Activated from the ANSYS Electromagnetics tools (separate download)
- Requires an additional license task from ANSYS, Inc.
Where to get more information:
- Your local ANSYS provider
- ANSYS Help System
- ANSYS Customer Portal
This was the opening line from a presentation given by the VP of sales for a major engineering software company. It got my attention because it wasn’t hype or hyperbole. He was just pointing out the obvious. Over the past two years the signs have been there. Smart devices will connected to the internet, and older devices will be made smart and then connected. Those that don’t, will no longer be competitive.
It is not all about smart thermostats. Far from it. I went to IoT world in San Jose last week and saw a lot of people scrambling to find their solution. And a few that found them. The best example was an older letter stamping machine, you can guess at the manufacturer, that plugged a modular device from Electric Imp in to their controller and boom – they were connected. Some back end programming and they now had a competitive IoT device.
When we visit customers, we will often ask them what their IoT Strategy is. The answers vary from “we don’t really think our products have an IoT play” to existing products on the market. The focus in the media is on consumer IoT products, but the bigger push right now is for industrial Internet, where machines used in manufacturing, energy generation, raw material extraction, and processing are smart and connected.
Customers from consumers to other companies will be requiring the benefits of IoT devices as they look to replace older hardware. That is why every company that makes physical products needs to develop an IoT strategy.
PADT Can Help
We have been helping our customers define and implement their approach to IoT well, since before it was called the Internet of Things. From assisting semiconductor companies that make MEMS sensors to making smart medical devices we are plugged in to what is needed to make IoT work.
There you can find some basic information about how PADT is a more comprehensive and technically capable solution then most design houses that claim to have IoT solutions. We are uniquely qualified to make sure the “Thing” in your IoT strategy is designed and manufactured right.
- My cat didn’t preheat the oven: Is your company ready for the Internet of Things?
- Sensors and controls: Making a product smart enough for the Internet of Things
- Connectivity: What makes the Internet of Things a big deal
- How to deal with all that data from your Internet of Things device
- Security: This is the biggest challenge for the Internet of Things
Simulation can play a big role in almost every aspect of making your IoT device development faster and more productive. PADT uses ANSYS, Inc.’s comprehensive Multiphysics simulation tool set to model everything from the chip to the embedded system software.
We highly recommend this white paper, “Engineering the Internet of Things”
We also have a recording of a very popular webinar that we did: “Engineering the Internet of Things Devices with ANSYS Simulation”
and this video on how ANSYS can drive your IoT Design:
For detailed examples, check out the ANSYS IoT Landing page to get a feel for why so many companies are driving their design with ANSYS simulation software: www.ansys.com/iot
Talking is the Best Approach
We hope that you find all of the material above, and the information we will provide in the coming months useful. But they are no substitute for giving us a call or sending us an email and setting up a face-to-face to talk about your IoT strategy and device development needs. If you are doing the work in-house, we have the hardware and software tools you need to be successful. If you need outside help, you won’t find engineers with more applicable experience.
Give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While much has been (justifiably) written about HP and XJet releasing new, potentially game-changing products at RAPID 2016, I wanted to write this post about some of the smaller, unexpected joys that I discovered. If I sound overly enthusiastic about the people and companies behind them, it is likely due to the fact that I wrote this on the flight back, staring out at the clouds and reflecting on what had been a wonderful trip: I own no locks, stocks or barrels in any of these companies.
1. Essentium Materials – Carbon Nanotubes and Microwaves to improve FDM mechanical properties
Over the past year, I have studied, written and made presentations about the challenges of developing models for describing Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) given their complex and part-specific meso-structure. And while I worked on developing analytical and numerical techniques for extracting the best performance from parts in the presence of significant anisotropy, the team at Essentium has developed a process to coat FDM filaments with Carbon nanotubes and extrude them in the presence of microwave radiation. In the limited data they showed for test specimens constructed of unidirectional tool-paths, they demonstrated significant reduction in anisotropy and increase in strength for PLA. What I liked most about their work is how they are developing this solution on a foundation of understanding the contributions of both the meso-structure and inter-filament strength to overall part performance. Essentium was awarded the “RAPID Innovations award”, first among the 27 exhibitors that competed and are, in my opinion, addressing an important problem that is holding back greater expansion of FDM as a process in the production space.
2. Hyrel 3D – Maker meets Researcher meets The-Kid-in-All-of-Us
I only heard of Hyrel 3D a few days prior to RAPID, but neglected to verify if they were exhibiting at RAPID and was pleasantly surprised to see them there. Consider the options this 3D printer has that you would be hard pressed to find in several 3D printers combined: variable extrusion head temperatures (room temp to 450 C), sterile head options for biological materials, a 6W laser (yes, a laser), spindle tools, quad head dispensing with individual flow control and UV crosslinking options. Read that again slowly. This is true multiple degree-of-freedom material manipulation. What makes their products even more compelling is the direct involvement of the team and the community they are building up over time, particularly in academia, across the world, and the passion with which they engage their technology and its users.
3. Technic-Print: New Chemistry for Improved FDM Support Removal
If you manufacture FDM parts with soluble supports, keep reading. A chemist at Technic Inc. has developed a new solution that is claimed to be 400% faster than the current Sodium-Hydroxide solution we use to dissolve parts. Additionally, the solution is cited as being cleaner on the tank, leaving no residue, has a color indicator that changes the solution’s color from blue to clear. And finally, through an additional agent, the dissolved support material can be reclaimed as a clump and removed from the solution, leaving behind a solution that has a pH less than 9. Since PADT manufactures one of the most popular machines that are used to dissolve these supports that unbeknown to us, were used in the testing and development of the new solution, we had an enriching conversation with the lead chemist behind the solution. I was left wondering about the fundamental chemistry behind color changing, dissolution rates for supports and the reclaiming of support – and how these different features were optimized together to develop a usable end-solution.
4. Project Pan: Computationally Efficient Metal Powder Bed Fusion Simulation
I presented a literature review at AMUG (another Additive Manufacturing conference) last month, on the simulation of the laser-based powder bed fusion. At the time, I thought I had captured all the key players between the work being done at Lawrence Livermore National Labs by Wayne King’s group, the work of Brent Stucker at 3DSIM and the many academics using mostly commercially available software (mostly ANSYS) to simulate this problem. I learned at RAPID that I had neglected to include a company called “Project Pan” in my review. This team emerged from Prof. Pan Michaleris’s academic work. In 2012, he started a company that was acquired by Autodesk two months ago. In a series of 3 presentations at RAPID, Pan’s team demonstrated their simulation techniques (at a very high level) along with experimental validation work they had done with GE, Honeywell and others through America Makes and other efforts. What was most impressive about their work was both the speed of their computations and the fact that this team actually had complex part experimental validations to back up their simulation work. What most users of the powder bed fusion need is information on temperatures, stresses and distortion – and within time frames of a few hours ideally. It seems to me that Pan and his team took an approach that delivers exactly that information and little else using different numerical methods listed on their site (novel Hex8 elements, an element activation method and intelligent mesh refinement) that were likely developed by Pan over the years in his academic career and found the perfect application, first in welding simulation and then in the powder bed fusion process. With the recent Autodesk acquisition, it will be interesting to see how this rolls out commercially. Details of some of the numerical techniques used in the code can be found at their website, along with a list of related publications.
5. FDA Participation: Regulating through education and partnership
On a different note from the above, I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of the FDA, represented by Matthew Di Prima, PhD. He taught part of a workshop I attended on the first day, took the time to talk to everyone who had an interest and also gave a talk of his own in the conference sessions, describing the details of the recently released draft guidance from the FDA on 3D printing in medical applications. It was good to connect the regulatory agency to a person who clearly has the passion, knowledge, intelligence and commitment to make a difference in the Additive Manufacturing medical community. Yes, the barriers to entry in this space are high (ISO certifications, QSR systems, 510(k) & Pre-Market Approvals) but it seems clear that the FDA, at least as represented by Dr. Di Prima, are doing their best to be a transparent and willing partner.
What really makes a trip to a conference like RAPID worth it are the new ideas, connections and possibilities you come away with that you may not stumble upon during your day job – and on that account, RAPID 2016 did not disappoint. As a line in one of my favorite song’s goes:
“We’ll never know, unless we grow.
There’s too much world outside the door.”
– Fran Healy (Travis, “Turn”).
Over the past two academic semesters (2015/16), I had the opportunity to work closely with six senior-year undergraduate engineering students from the Arizona State University (ASU), as their industry adviser on an eProject (similar to a Capstone or Senior Design project). The area we wanted to explore with the students was in 3D printed lattice structures, and more specifically, address the material modeling aspects of these structures. PADT provided access to our 3D printing equipment and materials, ASU to their mechanical testing and characterization facilities and we both used ANSYS for simulation, as well as a weekly meeting with a whiteboard to discuss our ideas.
While there are several efforts ongoing in developing design and optimization software for lattice structures, there has been little progress in developing a robust, validated material model that accurately describes how these structures behave – this is what our eProject set out to do. The complex internal meso- and microstructure of these structures makes them particularly sensitive to process variables such as build orientation, layer thickness, deposition or fusion width etc., none of which are accounted for in models for lattice structures available today. As a result, the use of published values for bulk materials are not accurately predictive of true lattice structure behavior.
In this work, we combined analytical, experimental and numerical techniques to extract and validate material parameters that describe mechanical response of lattice structures. We demonstrated our approach on regular honeycomb structures of ULTEM-9085 material, made with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. Our results showed that we were able to predict low strain responses within 5-10% error, compared to 40-60% error with the use of bulk properties.
This work is to be presented in full at the upcoming RAPID conference on May 18, 2016 (details at this link) and has also been accepted for full length paper submission to the SFF Symposium. We are also submitting a research proposal that builds on this work and extends it into more complex geometries, metals and failure modeling. If you are interested in the findings of this work and/or would like to collaborate, please meet us at RAPID or send us an email (email@example.com).
With the introduction of the new ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise, many add-on products that had to be purchased separate, are now included. In these webinars PADT’s engineers will provide an overview of the key applications that users now have easy access to.
Each product will be reviewed by one of PADT’s engineers. The will share the functionality of each tool, discuss some lessons we have learned in using and supporting each tool, and provide a short demonstration. Each session will have time for Questions and Answers.
Sign up for the one you want, or all three. Everyone that registers will receive a link to the recording and to a copy of the slides. So register even if you can not make the specific dates.
Here are the times and links to register:
Overview of ANSYS Rigid Body Dynamics (RBD) and ANSYS Explicit STR
May 19, 2016 (Thu)
11:00 am MST & PDT / 12:00 pm MDT
Overview of ANSYS SpaceClaim and ANSYS AIM
May 24, 2016 (Tue)
11:00 am MST & PDT / 12:00 pm MDT
Overview of ANSYS Customization Toolkit (ACT) and ANSYS DesignXplorer (DX)
May 26, 2016 (Thu)
11:00 am MST & PDT / 12:00 pm MDT
We hope to see you online. If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480.813.4884.