3D Printing Ansys Mechanical Results with PADT’s “AM Result Printer” Ansys ACT Extension

One of the first things PADT did when we got our first multi-color 3D Printer was figure out how to convert a result in Ansys Mechanical to something to be printed. If you go back to earlier blog posts (2014, 2020) on the topic and find that our earlier methods were – well cumbersome would be kind. There was no easy way to get Ansys Mechanical results into a file that contained color contour information on the surface that could then be printed with a color Additive Manufacturing system.

That is when our Matt Sutton stepped up and used Ansys ACT skills and knowledge on graphics programming to create simple plugin that converts any result object on a solid object in Ansys Mechanical into a 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) file: AM Result Printer. The 3MF file can be read by Stratasys Grab CAD, the standard tool for Stratasys color systems and, because 3MF is an accepted platform across systems, it should work with any newer color additive manufacturing system.

The plugin is available at the Ansys Store here. It is free, and the download file contains installation and user instructions, or read on to learn more.

Installation

Instaillation is simple. For each installation of Ansys Mechanical, do the following:

  1. Download the ZIP file from the Ansys store
  2. Extract the files in some scratch location
  3. Go into 2021_09_00-3MF-Writer\AM_Result_Printer_v1\Incoming
  4. Then also expand the bianary.zip file. This contains the plugin for various versions of Ansys Workbench
  5. You need the right Visual C++ Redistributable package, so doublick on “vcredist_x64.exe” to make sure its installed. Follow the prompts until its done.
  6. Add the extension through Ansys Workbench. On the project page, go to Extensions > Install Extensions

Go into the binary folder and find the “Additive Manufacturing Result Exporter.wbex” in the proper version folder.

Then to into Extensions > Manage Extensions and click the check box for the Additive Manufacturing Result Exporter.

Now, when you got into your model in Ansys Mechanical, you should see the extensions listed at the top, and if you right-mouse-click on the Solution part of you model, it should be a choice.

How to use it

Make sure you insert any result objects you want to 3d Print and scope them to the things you want printed. Then, for each 3MF file you want, insert an “AM Result Export” into the tree. Then select the result you want a file for, they type of contour, and the number of bands.

When everything is ready, Generate the model to create the file or files.

How it works

This little tool is a great example of using Opensource libraries with the Ansys ACT interface. Matt used the VTK and lib3mf libraries. When you generate the object, the following happens:

  1. Converts the mechanical mesh scoped to the result body to a VTK unstructured mesh.
  2. Export out the result data from the result object as nodal values to a temporart file.
  3. Apply these nodal values to the VTK mesh.
  4. Contour using an appropriate VTK algorithm.
  5. Extract the VTK contour data as a series of triangular facets.
  6. Group the facets by color for banded, or extract the individual vertex colors for smooth.
  7. Write that data to the .3mf format using the lib3mf library.

Need more information?

If you would like more information or have any questions or need support on the tool, please email info@padtinc.com or give us a call at 480.813.4884.

This is also a great example of the type of custom application that PADT creates for a wide variety of customers to improve and enhance their simulation experience. If you have any questions on software development or customization needs around simulation, please reach out to info@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884 as well.


Press Release

This article is getting posted as we also do a press release on the V1 posting of the program to the Ansys Store. You can also find the official press releases as a PDF and HTML.

Free Extension Designed to Export Ansys Mechanical Results as Color 3MF Files for Additive Manufacturing Released by PADT

Custom Plugin Allows Users to Create 3D Printed Full-Color Models with Results Contours

TEMPE, Ariz., August 31, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, is pleased to announce the initial release of the Ansys Mechanical extension, AM Result Printer.  Written by PADT’s Scientific & Technical Computing team in the Ansys Customization Toolkit (ACT), AM Result Printer allows users to select any Ansys Mechanical results they have extracted from their model and output a 3D manufacturing format[, or 3MF, file. The extension is available on the Ansys Store today.

“PADT is an industry leader in off-the-shelf and custom 3D printing and simulation tools and products,” said Tyler Shaw, PADT’s VP of Engineering. “When customers requested a way to export Ansys Mechanical results as color 3MF files, we saw an opportunity to develop a custom program and share it with our community for free.”

The PADT Scientific & Technical Computing team work on small extensions like the AM Result Printer, large standalone programs, and a multitude of tools that make simulation more efficient and useful. The AM Result Printer extension was written by Matt Sutton, PADT’s Lead Developer for Scientific & Technical Computing using the tools provided by Ansys through their API and several publicly available libraries for working with tessellated geometry and the 3MF format.

Any Ansys Mechanical user can install the extension for free by first downloading it from the Ansys Store where it is listed as “AM Result Printer.”  The download includes installation instructions. Once installed, users can easily add an AM Result Object to any result object and then create the 3MF file. This file can then be used in any additive manufacturing system that support the 3MF format and prints in full color, like the Stratasys J55, J826, J835, and J850 PolyJet systems.

“This simple program is a fantastic example of how our software experts, who are also Ansys experts, create applications that greatly enhance the already strong capabilities of Ansys products,” said Sutton. “We’re proud to make this powerful tool available to the Ansys user community.”

For more information on how to customize Ansys programs or to speak to PADT for help with writing custom tools and programs, please visit the PADT website at www.padtinc.com, contact info@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884. 

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing 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 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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