Without Risk There Can Be No Progress

I’m sure most people don’t know the name George M. Low.  He was an early employee at NASA, serving as Chief of Manned Space Flight and later as a leader in NASA’a Apollo moon program in the late 1960’s.  In fact, he was named Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program after the deadly Apollo 1 fire in 1967, and helped the program move forward to the successful moon landings starting in 1969.

As most alumni of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute know, he returned to Rensselaer, his alma mater, serving as president from 1976 until his death in the 1980’s.  I still recall the rousing speech he gave to us incoming freshman at the Troy Music Hall on a hot September afternoon.  On our class rings is his quote, “Without risk there can be no progress.”

I’ve pondered that quote many times in the years since.  It’s easy to coast along in many facets of life and accept and even embrace the status quo.  Over the years, though, I have observed that George Low was right, and the truth is that risk is required to move forward and improve.  The hard part is determining the level of risk that is appropriate, but it’s a sure bet that by not taking any risk, we will lag behind.

How is that realization applicable to our world of engineering simulation?  Surely those already doing simulation have moved from the old process of design > test > break > redesign > test > produce to embrace the faster and more efficient simulate > test > product, right?  Perhaps, but even if they have, that doesn’t mean there can’t be progress with some additional risk.

Let’s look at a couple of examples in the simulation world where some risk taking can have significant payoffs.

First, transitioning from ANSYS Mechanical APDL to ANSYS Mechanical (Workbench).  Most have already made the switch.  I’ll allow there are still some applications that can be completely scripted within the old Mechanical Ansys Parametric Design Language in an incredibly efficient manner.  However, if you are dealing with geometry that’s even remotely complex, I’ll wager that your simulation preparation time will be much faster using the improved CAD import and geometry manipulation capabilities within the ANSYS Workbench Mechanical workflow.  Let alone meshing.  Meshing is lights out faster, more robust, and better quality in modern versions of Mechanical than anything we can do in the older Mechanical APDL mesher.

Second, using ANSYS SpaceClaim to clean up, modify, create, and otherwise manipulate geometry.  It doesn’t matter what the source of the geometry is, SpaceClaim is an incredible tool for quickly making it useable for simulation as well as lots of other purposes.  I recently used the SpaceClaim tools within ANSYS Discovery live to combine assemblies from Inventor and SolidWorks into one model, seamlessly, and was able to move, rotate, orient, and modify the geometry to what I needed in a matter of minutes (see the Discovery Live image at the bottom).  The cleanup tools are amazing as well.

Third, looking into ANSYS Discovery Live.  Most of us can benefit from quick feedback on design ideas and changes.  The new Discovery Live tool makes that a reality.  Currently, in a technology demonstration mode, it’s free to download and try it from ANSYS, Inc. through early 2018.  I’m utterly amazed by how fast it can read in a complex assembly and start generating results for basic structural, CFD, and thermal simulations.  What used to take weeks or months can now be done in a few minutes.

Credits:  Motorcycle geometry downloaded from GrabCAD, model by Shashikant Soren.  Human figure geometry downloaded from GrabCAD, model by Jari Ikonen.  Models combined and manipulated within ANSYS Discovery Live. George M. Low image from www.nasa.gov.

I encourage you to take some risks for the sake of progress.

PADT Triples 3D Printing Capacity with New Large Stereolithography System

The addition of a new UnionTech RSPro 450 further establishes PADT as the leader in Additive Manufacturing technology in the Southwestern US. With a build volume of 17.7 x 17.7 x 15.75 inches, this state of the art Stereolithography(SLA) machine will triple the company’s capacity to 3D Print with SLA technology at this Las Vegas print shop. It not only allows the printing of larger parts, it can also create multiple smaller parts in less time.  It will join PADT’s two existing SLA machines along with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), PolyJet, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) solutions currently producing parts daily for their customers across the country.

“When we started the company in 1994, one of our first purchases was an SLA machine.  It started our 3D Printing services business, and the technology is still heavily used today.” Said Rey Chu, a co-owner of PADT and the leader for PADT’s Advanced Manufacturing efforts.  “This new system gives us added capacity in size, speed, and material choices. We looked at a wide range of SLA systems and felt that UnionTech provided the quality and robustness we need to keep our customers happy.”

The new system was delivered the second week of October and will be calibrated and producing customer parts by the end of the month.  One of the advantages of the machine is the easy setup and strong calibration capabilities.  The team will be able to produce parts that are about 75% larger than they can currently.  The additional volume and speed will allow for three times as many parts to be printed in a given week than is possible with the current two smaller and older machines.  Initially, a new rigid ABS-like material will be used that produces very strong and precise parts with white plastic.  PADT’s existing pre- and post-processing tools will be applied to this process with little change.

The UnionTech RSPRO 450 SLA System

UnionTech systems are the most popular machines for SLA Additive Manufacturing outside of the United States. They have proven to be reliable, easy-to-use, accurate, and fast.  They are also an open system, allowing users to use any SLA compatible resin that can usually be acquired at a more affordable price than proprietary material solutions.

Stereolithography is the oldest commercial 3D Printing process. It uses photo-curable liquid resins to build parts one layer at a time.  A vat in the machine is filled with liquid material, and a plate is placed just under the surface. Then an ultraviolet laser draws on the very top layer of the liquid, and all of wherever the laser traces, the liquid turns to a solid.  The plate is lowered, a new layer of liquid is spread on top, and the laser creates a new layer. The process repeats until the part or parts are made.

The UnionTech machine is a refined and proven application of this technology that was a perfect match for PADT’s current needs.  Also, the company itself was great to work with, and the local sales and support team have been outstanding.  As the team learns the system, they are finding it to be easy to use as well as simple to maintain and calibrate.  The initial quality of parts has been outstanding.

PADT’s 3D Printing Services

PADT has been the Southwest’s leading provider of 3D Printing services since the company was started over 23 years ago.  The company has survived industry consolidation and a vastly changing landscape by focusing on providing high-quality 3D Printed parts to customers using Fused Deposition Modeling, Polyjet Printing, Selective Laser Sintering, and Stereolithography systems combined with one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teams in the Additive Manufacturing space.

Located in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, PADT’s advanced manufacturing facility currently features ten machines dedicated to printing parts for customers.  The lab includes a full machine shop, part finishing facilities, and an advanced scanning and inspection capability.

This added capability is yet another reason why so many companies large and small count on PADT for their 3D Printing needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our 3D Printing Services or: