A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 9

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 9
Design and Deploy

The group reconvened in the central courtyard. Soon most of the remaining royal court and military leadership joined them, minus Ahinadab. After picking himself up, he and his guards had fled the palace. No one knew where and few cared.

Verihbitt took charge of the palace and the planning.  “As niece to the King and ranking royal family member, since my betrothed decided to leave us, I will lead our response.  Who is the ranking military commander still here?”

The assembled officials looked around. None of the leadership from the fleet was there.  The attendees in uniform huddled in the corner and talked amongst themselves.  Before long, an older man in a tattered uniform stepped forward.

“Your Highness.  It seems I’m the ranking officer after the fleet was destroyed and others left with the prince.  I am Abibaal, supply master for this port.”

Verihbitt thought for a few minutes, then smiled. “Well, that is good. Because a quartermaster is what we need.  I hereby appoint you as Admiral of his majesty’s fleet and army in the west. Now go and do what quartermasters do best. Get me an inventory of what we have left. Food, weapons, fuel, ships, supplies.  Everything within the port and the city walls.  I expect a detailed list first thing in the morning.”

She turned to the crowd and motioned for the best-dressed man in the room to step forward.  “You are Platibaal, correct? “

The man answered, “That is correct, I am Platiball the farmer.” 

“And a smuggler and trader as well,  from what others have told me. You are now my ambassador and chief negotiator.”

The man turned ashen white. “But my princess, I know nothing of negotiation and –“

Verihbitt cut him off, “You know how to lie and hide things. That is what we need now.  You are to row out to the main boat and deliver a clear message. Tell them that we will comply with their demands but will need three days to gather the money.  Go to Baal’s temple and take enough gold to satisfy them as a token. And if you skim, I’ll shave part of your hand off.”

The crow gasped, and Takaa asked Duzi, “I thought we were going to fight?”

Verihbitt stood and said, “This is to buy us time.  We need a plan, and we need time to come up with our next step.” She paused and looked at her hands, and took a deep breath. Then asked, “Ash, what is our next step?”

Ash stood frozen. What she wanted to do was hide behind Duzi and Takaa and let someone else figure this out.  But no one was breaking the silence.  She tried to relate this to her previously normal life. What would she do if her boss asked her this question? Then an idea came to her.

“Well, what I usually do in a situation like this, is develop a project plan. And that starts with defining our specifications and then brainstorming solutions.  “

Alim asked, “Why would getting so drunk our brain storms help?”

“That didn’t translate well.  I’ll explain. We are going to use some proven project development tools to understand and design our way out of this mess.”

Alim shook his head, “I only understood the small words in that sentence. But you have been correct so far with your inventions, so lead on.”

An hour later, Ash had all of her friends sitting in a circle with two scribes ready to write things down on clay tablets.

She began the session with, “Remember, there are no bad ideas. Just share what you are thinking with the group. You don’t have to defend it. No one can criticize anyone’s ideas. Our scribes will write it down, and then we will choose the best ideas.”

“Our problem statement is simple. There is a fleet of large ships off our coast. They have big, polished metal mirrors on their decks.  When the sun is right, they use those mirrors to send the heat of the sun on the town, burning everything. How do we stop them from doing that?”

Takaa spoke first, “We sink their ships!”

Mnihh’dm shouted back, “We have no ships or soldiers to do that with!”

Ash interrupted with, “Remember, no criticism.  We are generating ideas here.”

Mnihh’dm muttered, “You do things strange where you come from. Arguing is where the fun is.”

Takaa then asked, “So no one can attack what I say?”

Ash said, “Correct. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming.”

“Then,” began Takaa with a huge grin, “I would like to point out that Alim’s tunic is the color of vomit and it makes him look sickly and makes me feel worse.”

Alim started to shout, “You oversized, insolent…,” then saw the look on Ash’s face and instead said, “Thank you for your comment.”

Some laughing and silence followed, then Verhibitt said, “What if we attack at night, in small boats, somehow disable the mirrors or the boats?”

Alim added, “We could damage their tillers, so they can’t steer.”

And that started the discussion.  For a good hour, they tossed out ideas and a few more insults, Ash facilitating and adding her own suggestions.

When two tablets were full, she said, “This is good. We have good ideas. And I think we can put them into three groups.  The first is to sneak out there and damage their ships somehow. The second is to pray for divine intervention, and the third group is to find a way to damage the mirrors so they do not work. Verihbitt, you get to decide which group to design our solution around.”

The princess began to pace the room while everyone waited for her answer.  After some time, she said, “I think we will do all three. The priests can start their sacrifices.  But the rest of us will find a way to sabotage the mirrors and their ships.  I like the idea of making clay pots filled with ink and fire. What do you all think?”

Ash answered first, “I agree. We can take clay bottles and fill them with ink or oil.  Attack them at night and cover the mirrors with ink and sink a few ships with the fire.”

The group all nodded in agreement. 

“But,” asked Alim, “How do we get out there quickly and quietly?”

Ash answered, “We build outriggers?”

Takaa looked at her and said, “I do not know this word, outrigger?”

“Some island people in a distant sea use them. They are small, fast rowing boats that can get through the waves and maneuver between the large ships.” 

Ash took a clay tablet and sketched a narrow rowing boat.  It showed five rowers and someone in the front and back to throw the small bombs. She marked an area to store the clay jars.  Then she drew an outrigger on the right side of the small vessel.

She tapped the tablet with the stylus and said, “We need to make as many of these as we can, as fast as we can.   Carve the body out of logs, make them as thin as possible.   This part here,” she pointed to the outrigger, “will keep the boat from tipping over.  We also need big fat oars instead of the ones we use.” She drew a picture of a wide-bladed, sort paddle.

Alim and Mnihh’dm studied the tablet and talked to each other in low whispers. Before long, they were nodding and started making their own drawings.

Meanwhile, Verihbitt ordered the head of the local potters guild to start making the small bombs. She then commissioned another group to get oil and die to fill the projectiles. Abibaal the former quartermaster, joined her in coordinating supplies and manpower.

As the sun started to set, everyone in the town who had not fled inland was busy working on the plan.

Several rooms in the palace were turned into makeshift workshops, and everyone was busy, although Ash really had nothing to do. Her attempts to supervise slowed people down, so she found herself in her own workshop, staring at the pile of supplies she had gathered for the device Alex had sent instructions for. Her battery and her phone sat side by side on a bench, both depleted of energy.

She stood there, paralyzed, for so long that the oil lamp she had brought with her flickered out.

“Ash, are you OK? Why are you standing alone in the dark?”

She turned to find Duzi, his charming smile illuminated by a small lamp he held in his hand.

“I honestly don’t know.  I should be working on my device, but I just can’t seem to start.  Or at least charge my phone.  But same.”

She felt his strong arms wrap around her from behind. The heat of his body was comforting. She tucked her head under his chin and leaned back into him.

“I am happy with that.” He kissed to top of her head gently. “I don’t want you to work on those other things.”

She felt his arms tighten around her. But instead of comforting her, it made her feel trapped. Ash flexed her arms to signal that she wanted him to loosen his grip. Instead, he held her tighter.

Duzi said, “I want to keep you right here with me.”

Rage built up within Ash. It was not just about how Duzi was acting. It was about everything.  She had not thought about leaving him and her new friends. She had just focused on solving the problem of how to get home.

Ash shouted, “Let go of me right now!”

She felt his arms fall away as she turned to face him, “You have no right to tell me what to do or when to do it. Nor can you try and keep me here.” She poked his chest with her forefinger while she spoke, looking up at his face.

“I know that in your culture, you feel like men make all the decisions, and we women just need to meekly do what you tell us. But, and listen very clearly, where I come from,” Her voice got louder as she continued to shout at him. “Duzi, where I come from I decide what I’m going to do and who I’m going to do it with!”

She expected him to try and comfort her, or apologize. But instead, his face turned bright red.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and shouted into her face, “I came here to help you. And I was telling you that I did not want you to leave me. I have done nothing but support your strange way of doing things.  And…“ Duze let go of her shoulders and stepped back a few feet. “… And I get repaid by being accused of something I did not do. That may be how you do things where you are from, but here we talk things out and treat each other with kindness!”  

Duzi turned and walked out of the workshop, leaving Ash standing there in the dark, not really knowing how she felt.

The next few days were hectic.  Ash ventured out of her workshop to check on progress, then returned to work on her own device.  The phone sat uncharged, and she only ate sparingly and slept less.  When Verihbitt or Takaa came to check on her, she told them she was just tired and that everything would work out.

No matter where she went, Ash didn’t see Duzi, and he never returned to their rooms.  When she finally asked her friends where he was, Alim mentioned that he was angry and had taken a chariot to try and gather more supplies from the surrounding villages.  He had told Alim, “It’s best I do my part from a distance.”

On the second night, two of the outriggers were done, and she worked with the oarsmen from her ship and some navy rowers they picked. At first, they struggled with the broad paddles she had devised. But after doing laps in the harbor for a few hours, they got the hang of it and showed that they could move quickly and quietly. Takaa had recruited a group of skinny teens to be their bombardiers, and he was showing them how to throw the small pots, whild sitting down, in a field out of view from the ships blocking the city.

Before she went to bed, a little after midnight, Ash filled the battery with juice to charge her phone while she tried to sleep. At first, she blamed her restlessness on all of the stressful activities going on.  Then she realized the problem was that she missed Duzi.

As the sun rose the next morning, a messenger rowed ashore from the siege line with a scroll. Verihbitt read it and announced to everyone around her.  “We must deliver the gold tomorrow before the sun is at the highest.” She turned to Mnih’dm. “How are we doing with collecting the golds?”

Mnihh’dm said, “We are on schedule. We collected every bit in the city. Duzi is still out with some troops getting the rest from the surrounding villages.”

“There you have it,” Verihbitt said to the messenger. “Tell your king that we will have his money tomorrow.”

The messenger grinned and said, “That is good. You are wise not to fight us. However, I would have enjoyed seeing this city burned to the ground. I’ve never been a fan of Tripoli.”  Ash could see some of the city father’s in the crowd tense. But they held their cool, knowing they would get their chance to fight back after midnight.

After a brief conference to update everyone on progress, Ash returned to her shop.  She tried to work on her device but could not concentrate. Then she remembered her phone. She picked it up, flopped down on her bed in the next room, and texted,

Alexa, order me a pizza.

She waited a good fifteen minutes before a reply came back.

Ash!  So good to hear from you. We were worried something had happened.  How is the mechanism coming along?

Slow progress, we have a bit of a bigger problem here. Your normal ancient warlord battles and such.

Well, stay safe, we can’t wait to get you back in our time and place. Even the men in black are starting to get anxious.



What if I don’t want to come back?

We can’t stop you. You have to give us the time and place for us to pull you back. So you control everything.

I guess that is true

I will say, that your friends and your parents would be heartbroken if you didn’t come back.

hmmm….  I thought it would be easy, but I’ve made friends here too.

Before Alex could answer, the phone went dead. Confused, scared, and depressed, Ash closed her eyes and soon drifted off into a deep sleep

“Ash… Ash… wake up.” It was Verihbitt’s voice.

“I, ah, what… what time is it?”

“It is time to destroy a fleet. Come with me, join us on the balcony. And grab some food.”

A few minutes later, Ash found herself on the balcony overlooking the harbor.  She could see the dim outline of the sea wall and the occasional glint of moonlight off of the ships poised to attack them. The vessels had no lamps lit or fires going on their decks.  They were just darker patches on the dark sea.

She could also make out the nine outrigger canoes they had constructed. The plan was for them to follow the coast to the east, then head out to sea and loop back, attacking the extortionists from the rear with fire, then paddle between the ships and launch the die on the mirrors.

They all stood in silence and munched on the snacks each had brought, looking for some sign of what was going on. When Ash could not take it anymore, she asked Verihbitt, “Did Duzi come back from his mission.”

“Why yes, he did, just as the sun was setting. He had enough oil and dye to finish filling our pots.  He was a huge help.”

Feeling relieved that he was back safe in the walls of the city, Ash then asked, “Do you know where he is now?”

Verihbitt lifted her arm and pointed out to sea. “Somewhere out there, rowing with his men.”

Ash’s heart sank. And she knew, if he were killed in this attack, she would never forgive herself.

Just as the waiting became unbearable, they saw the first flash. All at once, flames appeared up and down the line of ships.  The flames provided enough light for them to see the outriggers speed between vessels and, hopefully, launch the multicolored dyes that the team had scraped together.

Like many battles, this one did not last long. They could hear some shouting and splashing from up on the hill, but mostly they saw the line of ships begin to move in random, at least those that were not on fire. It seems that the oarsmen on the ships had not been sleeping on their benches, and by the time they got into position and began to move, the wooden decks were on fire.  Although they could not see, they also assumed the mirrors were now covered in many different colors of dye.

When they saw the outriggers begin to head back to the harbor, A good two-thirds of the ships were on fire, and some were starting to sink. The remaining, including the large command vessel, were rowing to the east. The group on the balcony gave a loud cheer, and the rest of the city did the same.  Everyone headed to the harbor.

The outriggers were beaching themselves when Ash, Verihbitt, Mnihh’dm, and Alim got there. Then she realized that the large bodyguard had not been with them on the balcony.  Takaa must have gone with the attackers as well.  

She counted the outriggers.

There were only six that made it back to the port.

In the dim light and in the crowd of well-wishers, she could not spot Takaa or Duzi. She walked through the gathering looking, hoping. Dread and panic welling up in her as she still could not find either man.

Then she felt a tap on her shoulder. “Looking for someone?”

It was Duzi. She spun around and leaped onto him, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his hips. She kissed him as hard as she could.  When she pulled back to grab a breath of air, she saw that Verihbitt was doing the same to Takaa. 

Realizing how awkward things were, the four friends soon began to walk up the hill to the palace in silence as the townspeople and soldiers started a party that would last till well past sunrise. When they arrived at the entrance, they turned to look down on the sea, where a dozen ships still burned.

“I can’t believe we did it,” said Takaa.

“It must have been the storm braining,” responded Verhibit.

Ash said, “It is brainstorming, and that only helped a little. Mostly, it was people working hard to save their homes.”

She felt Duzi’s arms around her again, and this time she didn’t feel trapped.  He said, “But their king got away.”

Takaa added, “And that is why we will celebrate for a few days. However, when the headaches are gone, we go back to work.”

– To Be Continued –

Please subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Hesitation and Pursuit,” wherein, the travelers sleep off their celebrations then give chase to the evil king in an attempt to end his blackmail once and for all.

Press Release: PADT Engineers Add Two Patents to the Company’s Patent List, Bringing its Total to 16 in the Last Two Years

People throw the word “innovation” around a lot in the world of technology. Like many buzzwords, it loses meaning over time. Then you do a search and find out that multiple PADT employees have been listed as co-inventor on a past employer’s or PADT customer’s patent. Innovation gets real because you now know you were part of something new and innovative when the US Patent office puts your name in their database.

We just got notification of two new ones and we recently went online to see what other patents we may have missed in 2020 and the first half of 2021. And we found fourteen new patents. Some we knew about but some were a complete surprise to the employee named and us. Sixteen patents awarded in 2020 and 2021 is the most we have had in a two-year period.

We have been making a list of patents where PADT employees are listed as an inventor for over 20 years. To get on the list the patent needs to be granted to the employee before they joined PADT or while at PADT. If you have visited our Tempe offices, you have probably seen our “wall-o-patents” in the entrance where we put up a plaque for every patent granted. We are now using two walls. Our company slogan is in big letters above the first wall: “We Make Innovation Work.”

For engineers, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s a legacy that will not go away. And we could not be more proud of our team and how they have been creative and innovative in the past. It is also a sign of what is yet to come.

The full press release about the two new patents and the other 14 awarded in 2020 and 2021 is below. And, here are links for a PDF and HTML version.

The release lists the 16 new patents with links. You can also view a list of all 68 patents listing PADT employees at: www.padtinc.com/patents

If you are looking for help with your innovation, and want to have a simulation, product development, or additive manufacturing partner where innovation is more than a buzzword, please contact us. If you scan through the patents, you can see that we can help in a variety of industries and a variety of technologies.

PADT Engineers Add Two Patents to the Company’s Patent List, Bringing its Total to 16 in the Last Two Years 

The Growing List of Patents Listing PADT Employees as Inventors Reinforces the Organization’s Expertise and Credibility in Additive Manufacturing, Simulation and Product Development

TEMPE, Ariz., November 11, 2021 ─ PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced that its world-class team of engineers have added two patents to its portfolio bringing the company’s employee’s total to 16 patents in which they are listed as co-inventors over the last two years. The newly acquired patents, awarded in September 2021 to Tyler Shaw and Keng Hsu, are focused on innovative additive manufacturing design techniques and processes. In addition, PADT has been awarded 68 patents with current and past employees listed as inventors or co-inventors since 1992.

“PADT is well-known as one the southwest’s leading resellers and service providers for 3D printing systems and simulation software,” said Tyler Shaw, PhD., vice president of engineering, PADT. “However, our product development services have grown significantly over the years due to the exceptional talent on our engineering team. These patents are a testament to their innovation and ability to solve tough challenges in unique ways.”

At its headquarters in Tempe, PADT hosts a wall of patents just outside the lobby as you walk into the building. These patents have been awarded for a number of unique technologies across the organization’s key industries, including additive manufacturing, medical, consumer goods, and more. Some of the patents showcase specific work developed for customers, while others showcase the fruition of numerous research projects.

Included below is a list of patents issued in 2020 and 2021 in which a PADT employee is listed as a co-inventor:

To learn more about PADT and its advanced product development capabilities, please visit www.padtinc.com/pd. All of the patents listing PADT employees can be found at www.padtinc.com/patents

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 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 80 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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Nerdtoberfest 2021: A Parking Lot Full of Hot Dogs, Electric Cars, 3D Printers, and More

What a great way to spend an afternoon. Last week PADT opened its doors… strike that… opened its parking lot for our annual Nerdtoberfest. Our last open house was in 2019 to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Then COVID-19 came and changed everything. Seeing so many people, around 300, in person after so long and sometimes for the first time, is what made this year’s Nerdtoberfest so special.

What is Nerdtoberfest?

PADT has had open houses since our early days in the 1990’s, usually scheduled around an anniversary or a new location. Then, in 2016, we wanted to be part of Manufacturing Month, so we scheduled an open house in October. And not wanting to miss an opportunity to kill multiple birds with one stone we decided to give it an Octoberfest theme. And Nerdtoberfest was born.

It is a celebration of PADT’s customers, partners, and employees and an opportunity for everyone in our little world to gather to learn a little about what we do here at PADT, explore what our customers and partners do, and socialize. Oh, and there is free food and beer as well.

Lots to See and Do

This year we only had our 3D Printing Demo open inside and moved everything else outside. Besides the wonderful food from AZ Barbeque Catering, and drink, we featured:

Stratasys Experience Tour

To help spread the word and make it easier for people to see the latest Additive Manufacturing technology from Stratasys, they built a trailer and packed it full of the latest machines and parts. On top of that, experts on the technology are inside to answer questions. And for over a year now, they have been crisscrossing the US and parking in lots in front of customers, breweries, museums, and a wide variety of other places, all while enforcing strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

The favorite seemed to be the new Stratasys Origin One machine because it adds some new capabilities to the Stratasys line.

ZEV All-Electric Delivery Van

One of PADT’s customers, and an active participant in the Ansys Startup Program, is ZEV. They are an Arizona-based electric battery and vehicle company that is bringing a practical and creative approach to electrification. They brought one of their Mercedes Spring retrofits for people to actually poke and prod. This retrofit takes the internal combustion motor and A/C compressor out and replaces them with batteries, a controller, an electric compressor, and a drive motor. All in the engine compartment. It is a great example of fantastic engineering.

ASU Luminosity Labs

One of the more popular stops was a display from ASU’s Luminosity Lab, an interdisciplinary R&D lab staffed by a group of the most capable ASU students. They work on a wide variety of projects for professors and companies, applying a wide range of skills and tools to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. They were featuring the VELOS project, a sensor for exploring parts of the moon that are in permanent shadow.

#HandsOnMetrology Scanning of a Classic’ish Car

We wanted a way let people see how the optical scanning solutions from ZEISS and GOM worked, so we brought an employee’s 2002 Saab convertible in and scanned it right there in the parking lot with an optical scanner. It was a great practical example of the type of reverse engineering you can do with this technology. In fact, it was the same scanner and software that PADT used to scan the engine compartment on the Mercedes Sprinter for ZEV.

PADT’s 3D Printing Services

For a little fun, our 3D Printing Services team built a golf game. Those who could put straight enough got one of several cool parts that PADT made on our new Stratasys H350 SAF Printer. It was harder than it looked but we did give away most of the parts.

The Demo Room

One part of the company that got really lonely during the Pandemic was our Demo Room. It usually saw three or four customer groups a week, and to be honest, was getting a little dusty. So we cleaned it up and opened the double doors to get some good air movement and let people in to see what is new and explore the wide variety of parts that we can make on Stratasys and EOS machines.

New PADT Website Preview

Yes, we are finally updating our website. We know, the current one is old enough to almost have a retro feel to it. We are working with Founder’s Workshop to reimagine how we can share information with everyone and we are just short of the MVP stage, so we wanted to show it off.

Positive Energy was Everywhere

People used different phrases to describe it, but the most common comment I heard was the overwhelmingly positive energy everywhere. Maybe it was the joy of eating a well-cooked hotdog, or seeing 3D laser scanning in action, being able to quiz and expert on the latest 3D Printing technology or just realizing that the person you have been talking to on Zoom for 18 months actually has legs. There were a lot of smiles

Here is a slideshow of some of the images we captured:

Join us Next Time

If you didn’t know about this event or want to make sure you block it off on your calendar, make sure you subscribe to PADT’s monthly newsletter. This was a customer, partner, and employee appreciation event, and we really do appreciate all of you.

A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 8

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 8

Trapped and Tested

They slowly rocked in gentle swells as everyone looked at Verhbitt. Mnihh’dm looked visibly angry. 

Ash asked, “Do we not like Ahinadab?”

Takaa said, “We do not like him. He is arrogant, selfish, stupid, vain, and has an odd odor about him.”

“And,” added Mnihh’dm, “everyone thought he was dead. He has been missing for several years. We not only do not like him, but we also are not happy that he is alive.”

“Why is that? What did he do?”

Verihbitt said, “Besides being a generally bad human being, and the odor Takaa mentioned, he was also supposed to be my husband. We were betrothed when we were young children.”

While they had been talking, the other ship had slipped closer, and Ahinadab was now only a few yards away.  Ash looked at him and realized he was truly an ugly man, and something about the way he stood and sneered at them made him seem even more unattractive.  As hard as she tried, she could not picture Verihbitt with this man.

“Cousin, so good to see you. However, that frown on your face and the glare from your pet guard and that aged assassin that seems to always be behind you, indicates that you are not so happy to see me.”

“Not at all,” she answered, “It is so good to see that you are alive and the same Prince Ahindab that we all know and love.”

Listening to Verihbitt’s answer, Ash learned how to express sarcasm in the Phonecian language truly.

The prince and princess continued to glare at one another until Duzi said, “Prince Ahinadab, I, for one, am glad to see you again, especially with such a large fleet behind you.  May we pass through and dock in Tripoli. My oarsmen are tired, and we could all use a good night’s sleep in something more substantial than a tent.”

The prince walked out to the end of the ram and leaped onto their ship. “Yes, of course. I will come with you.” He walked up to Verhibitt, took her hand, and kissed it. “And you will all be guests in my palace.”

After a very tense hour on the ship, they were finally docked in the natural harbor of Tripoli.  Ash knew the city as the capital of modern Libya, and also as a Roman port that was originally founded by Phoenician traders.  Low hills surrounded the harbor, covered with houses, shops, and warehouses.  Much of the trade in the western Mediterranean flowed through the city, and the size of the villas on the hills reflected that wealth.

A group of soldiers and slaves emptied the ship and escorted them through the narrow streets to a complex of several villas that Ahinadab referred to as his palace.  As unpleasant as the man was, they were all delighted to be off the boat and not trudging through sand.  When they saw the heated baths, they almost wept for joy.

After they had cleaned up and changed into new robes, they all gathered in the central courtyard for dinner.  Verihbitt was still visibly upset.

Ashly sat next to her on the wonderfully overstuffed pillows and asked, “How are you doing? I can tell you are not happy.”

“Ash, I am so upset.  My whole life, that annoying little toad has been around, making me and everyone miserable.  I honestly thought I was rid of him. I know I have to marry one of my cousins, but I would prefer any of them over him.”

Ash remembered reading about how royal families often married first and second cousins.  And from what she had seen, actual marriages were more political alliances than relationships. But she did not envy Verihbitt in any way about this part of royal life.  

“Well,” said Ash, “I, for one, am happy that he does have a lovely house that is clean and out of the wind. “

“I guess this will all be mine someday,” said Verihbitt. “Hoorah.”

Once the food and bowls of wine were passed around, the group started to relax and enjoy themselves. Their host had not shown up yet.   Ash motioned for Duzi and Alim to join them, and they were soon chatting and talking about their next move.

Ash asked, “Do you think we could find a way to get me a room to set up a lab and a place for me to write? Lots of papyrus and more fruit.  It is going to take me a while to convert all that writing onto paper. Then I will need to convert those words into drawings.”

Duze said, “I will venture out tomorrow and gather writing tools and as much citrus as I can.”

“I have already spoken to the porter here,” said Alim, “and he has given you and Duzi rooms next to one another. If you are willing to share one, the other can be your workshop.” Both Ash and Duzi blushed and said nothing. “I’ll take that as a yes.  I will assist you along with the blacksmith from the ship and two other oarsmen who asked to help make your next machine. Half of them think you are a witch, the other half that you are some sort of demigod sent to improve the lot of our kingdom in the world.”

“I’m not sure I like being thought of as either, but I will accept their generous offer to help.”

Then Prince Ahinadab arrived.  Trailed by servants, he walked up to Ash and her friends and flopped onto some pillows. He soon had a cup of wine in one hand and was gnawing on a leg of lamb in the other. In between bites, he asked, “Betrothed, are you not curious as to where I have been? I heard that everyone in the King’s court thought I was dead.”

No one answered.

“Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  I took part of my fleet west, all the way to the end of the sea where a small passage let out into the great Western sea.  I sailed out and north and, having angered some got or another, was caught in a violent storm and shipwrecked.  It took us over a year to walk across mountains, through forests, and across wastelands to finally get back to the shores of the sea where we were able to, let’s say secure, a few ships and sail back to Carthage, then here. Where I rejoined with my fleet, and we are resting and recovering while we prepare to battle this mad King who is terrorizing all of our trading ports. “

Verhibitt spoke into her wine bowl.  “I thank Ball that you survived your adventure and that you are here to defend your Father’s kingdom.”

Prince Ahinadab tossed the leg bone on the floor and stood. “Cousine, your attitude has always been poor.  It does seem that your years of independence have made you even more disagreeable.  When I am done with this self-proclaimed King of thunder and lightning, I will deal with you.”

He stormed out of the room, servants still in tow.  All Verhibitt said was, “I can not wait.”

Ash slept soundly that night, comfortable not just in Duzi’s arms but also in a huge feather bed that was clean, sand-free, and didn’t move under them. The next day was a busy one as everyone settled in.   Duzi, Alim, and Ash focused on setting up the lab and gathering supplies while Verihbitt, Mnihh’dm, and Takaa ventured out to wine bars to gather information from the loose network of spies and informants that the King had in every port. 

As soon as she had something to draw on, Ash sketched a side view for a simple lever-activated press they could use to squeeze the fruit faster that was starting to arrive in large baskets.  It used a long shaft with a pivot at one end and a small pressing block attached one-tenth of the way up the shaft. This gave a ten to one ratio of force compared to the way they were squeezing the fruit now. The oarsmen went to work building it as she made a list of other supplies she would need to build the device that the government scientists had sent her.

Lost in their work, the day went fast and as the sun dipped below the hills outside the city, they gathered for dinner to catch up.

Mnihh’dm summarized what they had learned from the informants.  “It appears that this bandit king has set up on an island a few days sailing north of here.  He has a large fleet and some magical devices that shoot lightning and burns everything they encounter.  His pattern is to show up at a port town and burns some ships in the harbor.  Then he demands a ransom. Every day they do not pay, he burns something else.  Some towns end up in ashes. Others hand over the gold and silver, and the King and his ships move down the coast. “

Verhihbitt added, “And it looks like Tripoli may be next. We think the best step for us is to take our ship and row out to try and spot them, try and understand their tactic. But we have time. We can let the crew rest a few more days. They will need to row fast for us to avoid being caught by this lightning.”

Unfortunately, they did not have a few days.  They spent the morning continuing the work of the previous day.  Ash’s press was done, and the oarsmen delighted in taking turns smashing fruit and draining the liquid into large pots.  When noon approached, she had more than enough to start charging her phone.

But before she could start, she heard a loud horn.  Alim informed her it was an alarm that signaled an attack. They raced to the balcony that overlooked the harbor.  From that position, they could see the Phonecian fleet in flames.  Beyond the line of ships that had been protecting the harbor were around twenty galleys, not too dissimilar from the Phonecian warships. What was different was a series of large barges in the middle of the attacking fleet.  They were low, flat-topped vessels with some type of shiny structure on the top.  Ash would have done anything to get her hands on a good pair of binoculars.

As they watched, a loud rumble would come from the barges and a bright light would envelope one Phoenecian galley after another. Within a few seconds, the illuminated ship would begin to smoke, then burst into flames. 

“Now I get it!” shouted Ash. “The shiny things on those barges, they must be large polished pieces of copper or brass.  They are focusing the sunlight on one ship at a time!”

“It is not lightning and thunder?” asked Duzi.

“No, it is concentrated sunlight. You know how hot the sun can be. Well, if you reflect it, you can point that heat.  And if you do it with dozens of mirrors, the heat adds up and can be hot enough to catch almost anything on fire. They just be banging on the back of those brass plates to make the thunder sound.”

“Well, witch, that is wonderful that you think you know how this mad King is doing this.” It was Ahinadab. He must have joined them while they watched the attack. “But that is not going to save my fleet.”

They stood there for some time as the enemy galleys and the Phoenician warships battled. The barges focused sunlight on one ship after another until the few that remained had no choice but to row away, leaving the city undefended.

The attacking ships then began to row towards Tripoli. When they got close enough, Ash could see that her guess was correct.  Each barge had a line of polished brass mirrors suspended from a wooden structure. Each panel was about 12 feet wide and 4 feet tall. A soldier stood behind each, pulling on ropes to point reflected sunlight from each panel at the same spot. Another soldier banged on the panels with a wooden club, making the sound of thunder. The waves and distance made it hard for them to all focus on the same location at the same time, but when they did, their target burst into flames. They were showing how it all worked as they picked off one small ship after another in the harbor.

With a shout of horror, the group of travelers realized that the beam was focused on their own ship. It quickly began to smoke, and then flames enveloped the deck and mast.  Ash could hear Duzi sobbing as his pride and joy burned and sank.

The attack stopped soon after.  Everyone assumed that the ransom demand was being sent.  As the sun was starting to dip towards the horizon, a runner appeared and spoke to Ahinadab.

“Well, cousin, I hope you didn’t leave any gold on that ship of yours and that you brought it up here, because we are going to need it.”

“Why?” asked Verihbitt.

“Because we have no choice but to pay the ransom, you stupid cow. My fleet is gone, and they will start to burn down this city next.”

Verihbitt’s face turned red. Without uttering a word, she walked up to her cousin, her future husband, and a son of King Attiball, and slapped him so hard on his cheek that he staggered and fell. 

“Over my dead body,” shouted Verihbitt. “This ends here.”

The people gathered on the balcony stood in silence as the princess walked up to Ash and whispered into her ear, “my smart friend, I am really going to need your help to get us out of this one.”

– To Be Continued –

lease subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Design and Deploy,” wherein, the travelers turn to Ash to help them find a way to defeat the machine of death that is threatening them in Tripoli.

Press Release: NASA Awards PADT and Penn State University a $375,000 Phase III STTR Research Grant

When we applied for a NASA Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant with Arizona State University in 2018 we had high hopes around that the idea of developing simulation and manufacturing techniques that would allow engineers to mimic structures found in Nature. Today’s win of a rare Phase III grant from NASA exceeded those hopes and further showed the space agencies’ interest in the research that PADT, ASU, and now Penn State are engaged in.

Inspired by the research of former PADT engineer and now ASU professor, Dr. Dhruv Bhate, the idea was to take a look at how nature uses repeating structures and responses to loads to optimize structures and to use 3D Printing as a way to create the derived shapes, growing geometry just as nature does. That Phase I was received well and led to a Phase II grant in 2019 to dig specifically into lattice structures. In addition to that work was the development of a topological optimization tool that could look at multiple types of loads and create aperiodic lattice topologies.

Researchers at NASA like those results enough to then grant PADT a Phase III project to further the development of the optimization tool and to connect it to a fluid-thermal optimization tool developed at Penn State under a separate NASA project. The study is called “Thermo-Fluid and Structural Design Optimization for Thermal Management” and it will look at creating structures that are strong, light weight, and have the thermal performance required for difficult launch and space-based missions.

You can read more in the press release below or here: PDF | HTML.

We are exceptionally proud of all three phases of this project because they show:

  1. PADT’s ability to work with academia for R&D that results in useful tools
  2. Our deep and broad understanding of simulation across physics
  3. How our unique expertise in Additive Manufacturing can be combined with our simulation knowledge to turn theory into practical hardware.

If you have needs in any of these areas or are just looking for a strong R&D partner that can help make your innovation work, reach out to PADT.

Press Release

NASA Awards PADT and Penn State University a $375,000 Phase III STTR Research Grant

The Grant is a Continuation of PADT’s Topology Optimization Research, Which Will Fund “Thermo-Fluid and Structural Design Optimization for Thermal Management”

TEMPE, Ariz., September xx, 2021 ─ In a move that acknowledges its excellence and expertise in R&D for numerical simulation and 3D printing, PADT today announced NASA has awarded a $375,000 Phase III Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for PADT to collaborate with Penn State University. The partners will expand research into thermo-fluid and structural design optimization to provide engineers who design next generation launch and space crafts with better ways to design more robust and efficient structures that experience loading fluids, forces, vibration, and temperatures.

The Phase III STTR grant is a continuation of the original $127,000 Phase I and $755,000 Phase II grants awarded to PADT and ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in August 2018 and December 2019 respectively. This is PADT’s 17th STTR/SBIR grant since the company was founded in 1994.

“Furthering our research in simulation and 3D printing for topology optimization and thermal management is critical to the future of aerospace development,” said Alex Grishin, Ph.D., consulting engineer, PADT. “This Phase III award underscores how valuable NASA found the work we did earlier with ASU and signals their desire to have PADT work with other universities to transform it into a tool that engineers can use to design better launch and space-based structures.”

The objective of the joint effort between PADT and Penn State University is to successfully demonstrate the integration of 3D data output from Penn State Mechanical Engineering Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory’s (ExCCL) thermo-fluid optimization code, developed under a NASA Aeronautics Fellowship grant, into PADT’s topology optimization tool. The latter was developed by PADT under the STTR Phase II contract.

In Phase II, PADT partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to develop and test a novel shape optimization tool that used a unique methodology for topological optimization, taking both the thermal and stress response of a part into account. 3D printing was also used to create the geometry produced by the optimization approach. Phase III will connect PADT’s tool to Penn State’s tool, which uses genetic algorithms to better handle the optimization found in thermo-fluid problems.

“Taking our tool and connecting it with the optimization capability that Penn State developed has the potential to benefit aerospace design engineers worldwide,” said Tyler Shaw, PhD, PADT’s VP of Engineering and the leader of the group responsible for this work. “This project will take the joint research one step closer to delivering on an optimization approach that, just as in nature, takes into account all loads, regardless of physics.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to continue research with internal and government funding to create a commercial product that engineers can use as an alternate way to optimize the shape of structures that see loading from multiple physics.

To learn more about PADT and its advanced capabilities, please visit www.padtinc.com.

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 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 80 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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A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 7

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 7
Journey to Tripoli

It took all four of them to raise the crossbar and then pull the huge bronze doors back.  Outside, the elite soldiers posing as oarsmen had been busy, and the steps outside were covered with more dead men dressed as priests. Without pausing to talk, the soldiers formed a circle around the four travelers, and in a mass, they all began to jog back to Baal’s temple.  There was no time to talk or really think about what had just happened. Ash focused on her footing and breathing. 

A few hours later, she supervised a group of temple workers who packed up her lab in straw-filled wicker baskets.  She had wanted to spend more time in Egypt, to explore so much and learn more about what the ancient culture was really like.  But once again, they were off to the next destination. And Ash was filled with overwhelming sadness. She missed home, she did not know where things stood with Duzi, and mostly she was devastated by all of the death she had seen.

The swiftly flowing Nile carried them back towards the sea.  As the sun set, they found a place to safely anchor in the maze of reeds that filled the river’s delta.  Ash had spent the journey downriver staring at the farms and then wetlands that passed by the ship, not talking with her friends or crew members. They sensed that she wanted to be alone and didn’t try and talk to her. Now she sat by herself at the prow of the boat, leaning back and watching bright stars and the Milky Way in the moonless night sky.

“Can I interest you in some food?” It was Duzi.

She looked at him with surprise and then realized that some company was precisely what she needed. She said, “Even by starlight, with the lamps behind you, I can see your smile.”

He sat down next to her and handed her a wooden bowl. “Some would say it is a curse.  But I have to say, it does me well when I need to negotiate prices or wiggle some information from a local official.”

Ash let go of her sadness and let herself smile.  They ate for a while in silence.

“Are you going to tell me what is wrong?” Asked Duzi.

Ash thought about things before she answered. She had accepted the slaughter and even the questionable state of their relationship. Those were not what kept her depressed.

“I think all this moving around, this running from one danger to another, is really making me miss my home,” she said.

“I understand that.” Duzi leaned closer and put his arm around her shoulders, letting her rest her head under his chin on his chest. “Sometimes home pulls so hard on our hearts.  I think Baal wants us to remember them and our family, so we do not get too confident as we journey around this world.”

Ash let herself relax. The boat swayed gently, and Duzi’s chest went up and down as he took deep breaths.  They did not talk. They just looked at the stars and thought their own thoughts.  Ash was wondering what her friends at work and her parents were doing. 

It was warm, and the insects and frogs provided a broad and sometimes loud natural musical score for their thoughts.  Without realizing it, they both fell soundly to sleep in each other’s arms in the prow of a Phoenician trading ship anchored in the Nile Delta.


Ash felt Duzi stir underneath her and, through hazy eyes, could see Verhibitt standing over them, her hands on her hips.  She was trying to look stern and disapproving, but the broad smile on her face and the twinkle in her eye gave her away.

“Good morning, Verhibitt.” Said Ash as she leaned forward and stood up.  Sleep faced, and Ash realized she had spent the entire night in the arms of a man from an ancient, macho culture where women were considered possessions of men and where men were taught to take what they wanted. And he had not tried to make a move on her. She was not sure if she was pleased or offended.

Duzi said, “Well, that was relaxing. But I have to say I am a little offended that you did not make a pass at me.”

Without thinking, she lifted her arm and pushed Duzi over the ship’s railing.  She heard a splash and then laughter as she took Verhibitt by the arm and walked to the rear of the ship.

The journey would take over five days as they rowed along the coast. The wind was not favorable, and it was about twice as far as her first sea journey.  This fact made Ash happy, it would give her plenty of time to charge her phone and contact home.

She spent the first day improving design and squeezing baskets full of citrus to make juice. Occasionally Druzi would stop by her makeshift decktop workshop and check on her, not saying much but also linger longer than he needed to.  The combination of his interest and her absorption in her work made her sadness go away.

That night they pulled onto a beach and had a wonderful time around the campfire as Takaa and Mnihh’dm shared fanciful stories, trying to one-up each other as the night wore on.  Duzi kept catching her eye, and Verhibit kept whispering encouragement in Ash’s ear, making both of the women blush and Duzi’s smile even broader.

When the fire died, and everyone headed towards tents, Ash stayed to watch the new moon move across the sky. Before long, she heard footsteps in the sand and then felt a heavy blanket cover her.  She then felt Duzi slide under the blanket and take her into his arms.

“I need to pay you back for pushing me into the water.”

Ash said, “Yes, you do,” and kissed him.

Sometime in the early morning, they had said their goodbyes and went to their separate tents.  However, the way Verhibitt and the soldiers looked at her all; morning made it pretty clear that everyone knew what had happened.  If it was 2021, Ash would not care, but she really didn’t know how Ancient Phonecian’s felt about such things. 

She did not see Duzi until the ship was underway, when he walked up to her, kissed her, and then went to the tiller. 

Later, as the ship moved along the coast, Verhibitt stopped by Ash’s workshop and said, “So I assume you two are now together?”

“Verhibitt, is that acceptable? Where I am from, it is just fine for unmarried people to have… to have a relationship. How do Phonecians feel about it?” 

Verhibitt kissed Ash’s cheek and said, “Sweetie, it is not just acceptable, it is encouraged. Mariage is business and politics.  What you call relationships, that is about fun.”

Ash spent the rest of the morning working on her battery and smiling.  A silly, schoolgirl crush smile.

After lunch, her phone was at three percent, enough for a short conversation with Alex.

Aleks, you there.

I’m here, so glad to hear from you. We were starting to worry. So much going on here. Are you safe?

Well, I am now. Things are a lot more dangerous in this world than in ours. But I’ve made good friends and they have kept me safe.

Good. Let me give you an update. They are keeping me on as communication. They think they know how this happened, but of course, they won’t tell us. Something to do with string theory and temporal resonance at the quantum level. 

OK, I do remember that string theory is about vibrating quantum strings across dimensions or some such crap. And?

And they say that they can pull you back, but they need to know what interdimensional temporal frequency you exist in.

Ummmm. OK. How do we figure that out?

They say they can calculate it, but they need to know the exact date and time where you are. 

OK, let me check my GPS and my watch.  Oh wait, I don’t have either of those on me! That was sarcasm.

I know, I know. Your sarcasm penetrates time and space.  They do have a plan. You need to take some measurements of some stars and where the moon and sun are.

OK, let me get my sextant and telescope out.


OK, let me get my sextant and telescope out.

You need new material.

They say they are have figured out a way to make a device that will calculate the number they need if you enter the relative position of the celestial objects they identify.

I can do that. I’m getting good at building things here.

They are working on the design. Can you text back tomorrow?

Yes, we are at sea for a while I have enough juice, (literally, I’m using citrus juice as the electrolyte) for one more charge.

OK, let’s do that. For now, do you want to send messages to your parents?

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

Ash spent the rest of her battery charge writing a note to her parents.  She told them about everything that had happened. What she had seen, but leaving out the violent parts. She also left out Duzi.  

When she finished, all Aleks said was:

OMG. Unbelievable. I don’t know how much they will pass on. I’m worried they may never let me out of this basement.  But the part about you being safe will help them feel better.

Ash was composing a witty response in her head when the phone went black.

Being able to send a message to her parents lifted a weight off of Ash’s shoulders.  She found herself actually skipping around the deck as they made for shore at the end of the day.  The fact that she would be able to be alone with Duzi did not hurt either.

After dinner, some of the soldiers brought out musical instruments, and they all danced in the sand, showing Ash the steps as they went. As she whirled around the fire with Veribitt, she realized that she was in love, she had a way home, she was with friends, and she was safe. She felt good.

When the night was winding down, Alim came up to Ash and told her that all of her things had been moved to Duzi’s tent. 

The next morning, Ash raced to the boat as soon as the sun was up, and started charging her phone.

“I see that the magic jar is working well for you.” It was Alim.

“It is working. I can not thank you enough for helping me put it together.”

“The pleasure was all mine.  But you can repay me?” added Alim.


“Explain how your tablet works.”

That was a question that gave Ash pause. How does one explain a smartphone to a Phonecian scholar who was born millennia before Steve Jobs.

She said, “It is hard to explain.  Would you accept my word if I said that a demigod lives inside and uses his powers to talk with another demigod from back where I’m from?”


“Let’s see.”  Ash stood up, took one of the unsqueezed citrus fruits, and tossed it into the still water of the shallow cove where the ship had spent the night. “See how the water ripples out? The way this device works is by controlling waves in the air. Waves that are strong enough to travel long distances.  I write a letter or a number, and that is turned into a unique pattern of waves. Those waves travel back to where I’m from, and they send waves to me that the tablet reads and converts back to letters and numbers or me.”

Alim stood at the railing, watching the ripples spread out. “That is very clever. I think.”  He faced her and began to stroke his long white beard.  “However, your demigod explanation seems more probable.”

They both laughed.  Ash and Alim talked about the idea of sending waves and far more things that she could not find a way to explain while the ship left the cove and continued its journey to Tripoli. When the sun reached its zenith and Mnihh’dm brought them a lunch of dates and bread, all of the juice was gone, and the phone was at five percent.  

She said to both men, “That should be enough for Alex to send instructions.”

Taking a deep breath, Ash powered up the phone.

Alex, I’m back. Just have five percent.  Need more fruit juice.  Can you send the instructions?

Hi Ash, we have been waiting for you. And yes. But let me tell you, we had a dozen of our engineers helping these people form an unnamed government agency.  We had to convert everything into words. 

Oh no. I didn’t think about that. But yes, that makes sense. 

So here goes. The first bit will consist of a description of every part. The second chunk will be the assembly instructions. It is going to take a lot of copy and paste, but here goes.

Ash’s screen began to scroll as the messages came one after another. She could see a consistent description of each part – a number, name, material, and dimensions.  Her excitement turned to dread as she realized the complexity of the device they were asking her to make. Then panic when she realized that she could not print out all this information.

When the messages stopped coming, she texted Alex.

Is that all (sarcasm)

Hey, I’m the one moving the stuff from a text file to a text. My thumb may be permanently sprained.

I know, it’s a lot. How much battery do you have left?

It says 1%

OK, enough to send this from your parents

Dearest Asghleith, we miss you so much.  They won’t tell us where you are. They deleted most of your message. But we loved the part we got to read. We are glad you are safe, and we hope you are making “smart choices.”  We are so proud of you and hope that whatever you are facing, you are staying safe.  After getting your message, both of us slept through the night for the first time since you disappeared. They did tell us you are with strangers, and we worry that you can be so shy sometimes. Hopefully, you are making friends that will help you get home. We told them you are smart and stubborn and not afraid to work hard.  We know you will be OK.  We love you so much and can not wait for you to tell us everything.

Just as she read the last words, Ash’s phone went black. Then she began to cry.  Reading their message had brought home how much she missed her parents and made her face the fact that they must be worried sick.  She let go and had a good cry.

“Crying is good for the soul, or so they say,” consoled Mnihh’dm. “Is there anything we can do to help you?”

Ash wiped her eyes and said, “We are going to need some papyrus, a pen, and lots of ink. And more fruit, as much fruit as we can get. It’s going to take days to transcribe all of this.”

With her phone dead and no more citrus on the ship to power her makeshift charger, Ash found herself with nothing to do.  After watching the coast slowly go by, she joined Verihbitt, Takaa, Duzi, and Alim sitting in the tent. They were all silently lounging on pillows.  Ash found a spot next to Duzi and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.  All she could hear was the steady drumming that counted out the rowing and the matching splash of their oars.  As she relaxed, she could also hear the creaking of wood and the occasional seagull. 

The rest of that day and the following days were the most uneventful she had faced since she woke up on the beach.  No pirates, no Kings, no assassins posing as priests. They talked some, played music and sang, and mostly napped. Each beach they spent the night on was different, and the time she spent with Druzi was something that filled her heart.

That all ended late in the afternoon of their fifth day at sea when their napping was interrupted by the sound of a loud horn.

The travelers exited the decktop tent to a row of Phonecian warships. They each had two levels of oarsmen and large, brass reinforced prows that were obviously designed to sink other ships. Archers and spearmen crowded their decks. Further down the coast, they could just make out a walled city in the afternoon haze.

Duzi said to the group, “Welcome to Tripoli, and I would like to introduce you to the Phonecian royal fleet.”

Presently, three ships left the line and headed towards them in a pincer movement.  The ship in the middle stopped just short of ramming them. A soldier in a gleaming breastplate stood on the bow and shouted.

“This harbor is closed, turn around, or we will sink you.” 

Duzi shouted back, “We are a trading vessel with wares to sell and coin to buy a new cargo.”

The soldier answered, “This harbor is closed. Go back.”

Verihbitt stepped up next to Duzi and, in a surprisingly loud voice, said, “I’m Princess Verihbitt, daughter of Prince Batnoam. We are here at the behest of the King, my Uncle. Let us pass.”

The soldier didn’t respond. He turned and walked to the aft of his boat. Everyone waited with nervous anticipation. Before long, a short, muscular man in a purple tunic came forward and surveyed the traveler’s ship. He climbed out to stand on a small platform secured to his ship’s ram and shouted, “Welcome to Tripoli, Cousin.”

Ash heard Verihbitt say under her breath, “Oh shit. It is Ahinadab.”

– To Be Continued –

lease subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Trapped and Tested,” wherein, the travelers stuck in the siege of Tripoli, Ash buys up all the citrus in the city to run her phone, and she and her friends learn more about the mysterious king, his cult, and the superweapon he is using to burn cities to the ground. All while battling Verihbitt’s annoying relative.

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.


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.

# # #

PADT Announces Leadership Team Expansion to Support the Growth of 3D Printing and Simulation Business Units

Additions to the Executive Team and Staff Allow PADT to Better Serve Customers Across New and Existing Business Units

Our sales and support team is the part of PADT that the largest number of customers interact with. Over two decades we have grown our offering from the core Ansys product in Arizona to representing half a dozen different simulations, 3D Printing, and scanning solutions across the US. that is why we decided to step back and take a look at the leadership and structure of our team and create three new positions that allow our sales professionals and engineers to better serve our customers.

You can read the details below in the press release. The primary changes are the promotion of two leaders, Kathryn Pesta and Ted Harris to the Director level where they will oversee expanded teams in sales operations and simulation technical support. We have also created a new team, Enterprise Solutions & Alliances, and appointed Alan McNeil as Director. Under the restructuring, Doug Oatis is taking over our Simulation application engineering team.

These changes are on top of the addition of Jim Sanford as VP of Sales and Support at the beginning of the year and new agreements with EOS to distribute and support their metal 3D Printers and #handsOnMetrology for their scanning solutions.

Our longstanding partners, Ansys, Stratasys, and Flownex, and users of their tools will also benefit from these developments. At the same time, we continue to add experienced engineers to our award-winning support team and seasoned professionals to our respected sales teams. Read below to learn more about these new staff members, and visit our careers page if you or someone you know wants to join our growing family. You can view a quick update on the nine new employees who joined PADT in the first half of 2021 at the bottom of our July newsletter.

You can also view the official press release in HTML or PDF.

As always, If you have any questions about these changes or want to learn more about the amazing products, contact us.

Press Release:

PADT Announces Leadership Team Expansion to Support the Growth of 3D Printing and Simulation Business Units

Additions to the Executive Team and Staff Allow PADT
to Better Serve Customers Across New and Existing Business Units

TEMPE, Ariz., August 3, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced the expansion of its 3D printing and simulation sales and support team with the addition of new members and management. The executive growth includes a new hire and two promotions. Alan McNiel joined as the director of Enterprise Solutions & Alliances, Ted Harris has been promoted to director of Simulation Support and Kathryn Pesta has been promoted to director of Sales Operations. The additions to the executive team are necessary to support the overall rise in demand for PADT’s sales and support offerings.

“As the U.S. begins to recover from the pandemic and gets back to business, we’re seeing significant demand for simulation tools and advanced 3D printing systems and materials,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “To meet this demand and serve our customers, PADT is bolstering our executive teams with the hiring of an industry-leader in Alan McNiel and the promotion of two of our most tenured and capable employees, Ted Harris and Kathryn Pesta.”

The newly appointed directors’ responsibilities include:

  • McNiel is now leading the newly created Enterprise Solutions and Alliances team. He is focused on the sale of Ansys, Stratasys, and EOS products to enterprise customers, growing Flownex in North America, as well as expanding new industry alliances.
  • Harris will restructure the company’s award-winning software support team to be aligned with expanded product offerings and drive optimal customer outcomes.
  • Pesta is leading a reengineering of PADT’s sales and support operations to meet the changing demands and increasing size of the company’s customer base.

Along with these management changes, PADT has recently added experienced salespeople to the Ansys and Stratasys sales team. The hiring of Mike Borsum in California, Brandyn Small in Texas and Brian Basiliere in Arizona as account managers will bolster PADT’s growing presence in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona, respectively. Additionally, Shane Stahl has joined PADT to represent EOS for the western U.S. Multiple additional sales positions will be filled across the country in the second half of 2021.

PADT’s Expanding Sales Territories

Bolstering PADT’s technical staff, electrical engineers Kang Li, PhD and Akimun Alvina have recently been added.  Li, located in Arizona, specializes in motors and electrification, while Alvina, located in Colorado, is a high frequency antenna specialist. As part of the transformation, former PADT team lead Doug Oatis has been promoted to engineering manager over the customer facing simulation application engineer team, while Harris assumes the role of acting manager over the simulation engineering support team. The 3D Printing technical team also increased its capability with the addition of Chase Wallace as an additive manufacturing application engineer.

“To support our customers across the U.S., PADT has worked hard to add talent in new and existing regions, as well as new products and capabilities, as quickly as possible,” said Jim Sanford, vice president, Sales and Support, PADT. “Our continued growth is truly a testament to our people and the technical excellence they’ve displayed despite the challenges of the last year and a half.”

PADT experienced significant growth in 2021, which began in April when it partnered with EOS to improve its additive manufacturing product offerings, resulting in the immediate addition of five advanced EOS metal 3D printing systems to its portfolio. The company also partnered with GOM and the #HandOnMetrology Network in May to add new products and capabilities in 3D scanning. The additions to the management team and new partnerships exemplify PADT’s commitment to growth based on long-term success providing customers with the technical and business solutions they need to design and improve their products. 

To learn more about PADT’s growth story please visit www.padtinc.com.

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.

# # #

A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 6

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 6
Temple of Spies

Even though it was hard for Ash to break away from the spectacle of Giza, Alim and Ash headed to where the battery had been before the pirate attack, dodging the crewman as they readied the ship. It was not on the workbench where they had left it.

Ash’s biggest fear had come true – during the battle, the ship had made some abrupt turns, tilting the deck almost verticle to the water.

“I hope it didn’t fall overboard. You search that side,” she told Alim. “I’ll look over here.” Her heart sank as she looked in the stacked sails and supplies that surrounded the work area. She was frantic because her charging cable, and the only iPhone lightning connector that existed in the past, was attached to the clay jar.

She found no trace, not even some broken pottery. When she looked over her shoulder, Alim stood at the workbench, empty-handed.

The boat thudded against the dock, and for the first time on her journey, Ash felt hopeless. The majesty of Egypt stood before her in all its glory. But all she could think of was how she had lost touch with home.

“Well,” she said to herself in English, “I guess I am really stuck now.” She felt Alim’s hand on her shoulder, comforting her the only way he knew how.

“Who is your favorite trader? The master of the sea?” It was Duzi shouting from the far end of the ship.

Ash said to Alim, “I am in no mood for his bragging.”

Duzi kept on as he walked towards them. “Defeater of pirates, procurer of exotic spices, exporter of the greatest olive oil in the east, and importer of the finest rugs from the far west?”

He stopped behind them, and Ash said, “not now, Duzi.”

“But, I have one more claim to fame.”

Ash sighed. “Go ahead, what is it? Purveyor of succulent goat eyes? Seller of ice to Eskimos?”

“The first one is disgusting. And the second, I have no idea what ize or an esk-kee-mo is.”

“What then?”

“I, my skilled, beautiful, and mysterious foreign artificer, am also the finder of lost lightning jars.”

Ash spun around to look at him. He was standing next to the bench, with a toothy grin spread across his face. His arms were wrapped around the battery jar, the charging cable still attached to the two copper contacts. Relief surged through her. But at the same time, she could not look away from his infectious smile or stop thinking about how he had called her “HIS skilled, beautiful, and mysterious foreign artificer.”

She walked up to him, gently took the jar from his arms to place it on the bench, threw her arms around his neck, and kissed him all over his face. She found herself lingering a bit on his lips as he started to kiss her back. She lost herself in the feel of his strong body holding her.

The sounds of the dock, the crew moving about, and the blood rushing in her ears blocked out Verihbitt’s not-so-subtle vocal cues to get Duzi and Ash’s attention.

Frustrated with trying to be subtle, she yelled, “Duzi! The customs agent is waiting at the plank to speak to the shipmaster. I informed him that our captain fell overboard, and instead, we have an infatuated boy who is supposed to be in charge.”

The couple broke their embrace and flushed with embarrassment.

Ash said, “Um, thank you, Duzi, for finding my jar. It was very important to me.”

“We can all see how important it was to both of you,” said Verihbitt.

Duzi collected himself, flashed Ash that same smile, and said, “I should find your lost things more often.” Then he went in search of the customs agent.

Placing her backpack over one shoulder and gathering the battery in her arms, Ash followed Verihbitt and Alim off the ship in a daze. They stepped off the plank and onto the stone streets of Giza.

She took in the sites and sounds of the city and said, “I really do not know what came over me.”

Verihbitt laughed and tossed her long hair over her shoulder, “I know exactly what came over you. You need to build up resistance to the smile. He wields it as deftly as he does a spear.”

The oarsmen split into three groups. One in front of and another behind the travelers. A third group stayed on the ship. Duzi and Alim continued to talk to an official in long robes and a faded headdress. Ash saw a knowing look pass between the three men, followed by Alim passing a leather pouch to a slave next to the official. Once the bag was stashed away into the slave’s robes, they all bowed slightly to one another and parted. Duzi shouted an order to his men and joined the rest of the group to begin walking into the city.

The brightness of the painted walls and statues was almost overwhelming to Ash. Raised on pictures and video ruins with weathered stone, she had always pictured ancient cities as brown and gray. Although most of the homes and shops were made of mud bricks, plenty of markets and temples along their path assaulted the eyes with vivid coloring.

They walked up a small hill and turned into a courtyard to find a cluster of buildings that stood out because they were so different. Ash recognized the Phonecian architecture and the image of Baal over the entrance to the temple that stood in the center of the courtyard. A lush, green garden filled the space between the temple and the covered walkway that ran along the edges. Doorways to dark, and cooler rooms, peaked between the plants and columns. A single fountain gurgled off to one side.

Mnihh’dm climbed up on the low wall around the base of the fountain, filled his hands with water, and splashed his face.

He turned to the group and, with a flourish of his hand, pronounced, “welcome to this most sacred shrine to Baal, Lord of the Heavens, the southernmost home to the most divine and magnificent King Attiball, and his most trusted and loyal embassy to the mighty Pharos of Egypt. In that it is also very empty, I suspect that the King’s most honored caretaker is once again taking care of our most trustworthy ambassador, the King’s eighth son, at the most luxurious, discriminating, and expensive brothel in all of Giza. “

The group laughed a little nervously at Mnihh’dm’s irreverence.

“Come, Verihbitt, let us find and purify the women’s quarters for you and our foreign guest while Alim sweeps out the King’s suites and Takaa chases that rats from the barracks.”

Things were not as bad as the Mnihh’dm had implied. They had also found a group of Temple servants sleeping the afternoon away behind the altar. With their help, the quarters were squared away just before the sun began to set. Ash had even found a small workshop in the back corner that she commandeered. The battery was stored in a safe place, and she dispatched two of the temple servants to get her two baskets of whatever citrus they could find.

Ash kept looking for Duzi as they all hurried around the complex. He occasionally popped out into the courtyard to bark orders at his men. But he never glanced towards her. Doubt started to set in as she wondered if he had only responded to her affection out of reflex. And worse, that he now regretted his response.

When she ran out of things to do, she went looking for her friends. She found Verhibitt, Takaa, and Mnihh’dm sitting under a tree in the garden, drinking watered wine and snacking. Ash hesitated. She remembered what had happened that last time she had joined them in a courtyard, under a tree, for a light afternoon snack.

Takaa noticed her and the look of fear on her face. “Ash, please join us. Duzi’s soldiers are guarding the entrance and patrolling the walls. This meal will not be as exciting as the last one we had in a garden.”

Mnihh’dm held out a bowl of wine, and Verihbitt motioned to a spot on the bench next to her. Soon she was laughing with her friends and discussing their adventures since they had met. A witch trial, saving the King’s life, rescuing Verhibitt’s father, and escaping pirates. That was enough to put Duzi and his ignoring her out of her mind. The warmth of the food and wine mixed with the cool breeze blowing down the Nile, and she caught herself yawning.

Excusing herself, she headed off to her new bed. Laying there, she could hear both her friends and the oarsmen talking. She wondered if Duzi was with his troops, but she could not make out his voice across the courtyard. She fell asleep arguing with herself about what she should do first in the morning – talk to Duzi and figure out what was going on with them or charge up the battery and try and talk to Alex.

In the clear morning, contacting the future won out. As soon as Ash was washed, she headed to the workshop and rounded up a couple of the temple servants to squeeze the fruit their compatriots had scrounged up the previous night. Before long, she had a full pot of yellowish liquid. Ash sent them away and then slowly poured the juice into the battery. She then replaced the cloth around the copper contacts.

After testing the current with her tongue, she took a deep breath and plugged the connector into her phone.

She felt the phone vibrate in her hand. Ash was so excited she gave out a small squeak of joy. Then, a simple icon appeared on the screen showing an empty battery with a lightning bolt.

“Yes! It worked.”

She was not sure how long she paced back in forth in that small room. It seemed like hours, but the sun was still low in the sky when she tried to turn the phone on. The screen showed a time and five-percent battery.

Ash was so nervous it took her four times to put her PIN in. The warning about locking the phone terrified her, so she took her time on the fourth try and was rewarded with her home screen. One bar of signal showed in the upper right corner.

The messaging icon soon displayed the number five in its small red circle. Ash opened up the app and read messages from Alex.

Ash, are you there?


Checking in again, I hope your battery is not dead.

“Long one, just in case you get signa .Just to let you know, the FBI is involved now, as well as some other government people who don’t talk a lot. Like men-in-black looking government people. I’ve been “isolated” in the basement. They gave me a cot and bring food. I have some new friends that watch everything I do. Texting now from the bathroom stall. Sorry TMI. Oh, I can only send to you if I’m down in the basement near the fancy secret computer. I didn’t tell them what you told me. Let me know if that is OK. I did tell Harriet. She says time travel is not covered by short-term disability. And that she misses you and is very worried. They have told us to not shut down the quantum temporal server. I think they know it was involved in your disappearance, but they are telling me nothing. Your bossman Doug actually asked if your batch job was still running and if someone could take a look and try and get results from it. Yes, I know. I could not believe it either.”

“Nothing? It’s been another day here. We hope you are OK. Try and let us know how you are and if we should tell the g’ment.”

Ash stood looking at her phone for a long time. So much to take in. She started to type:

I’m still here. Had to build a battery from scratch. It worked! Don’t have much juice, fig n lit 😊 I’m safe. Won’t lie, it’s been dangerous. The ancient world is a ruthless place. I’ve made friends and we are helping each other. Ask H if I have enough vacation left to cover this? Lol. Seriously, tell her I miss her and have her tell my parents everything but to keep it to themselves. Until we figure out what happened, I don’t trust them. I watched too much x-files. Does that make me Skully and you Moulder? 😊 Battery going down, will try again tomorrow with more charge.

Ash reread the message and wanted to make some corrections but was worried her small charge would be gone. She pushed send. The phone made a whooshing sound and said sent.

She leaned her back against the bench and waited. Soon, three little dots appeared next to the “Alexes.”

So glad to hear from you!!!!! wOOt. Will do as you say. Please send any clues to help. Harriet is nice, but no hacker.

The real-time connection with the future sent adrenalin through Ash’s body. Her hands shook as she typed a response.

“Thx! Please send any info you have as text.”


Before she could add more, the phone’s screen went black.

She went to find Alim and asked him to organize a steady stream of citrus fruit and squeezed juice, asking him to have the filled jugs left at the door to the workshop. Once the pitchers started showing up, she replenished the liquid in the battery. It seemed to her that the charging lasted about fifteen minutes. She resisted the temptation to send another message and instead left the phone off and concentrated on building up a full charge on her phone. Her brief time in the past had taught her that she might have to grab everything and run. She could not risk not having a full charge.

She worked like this, alone, taking solo walks around the courtyard between draining and filling the battery. The rest of her group seemed to be out doing other things, except Alim, who occasionally stopped in to check on her and offer help. When the sun set, he brought her an oil lamp and some dinner so she could keep going into the night.

“Ash, wake up. Ash.” Verihbitt was gently shaking her. “It is almost mid-day.”

Ash opened her eyes and saw wood. She had fallen asleep on the bench. She groaned in pain as she straightened her stiff back. With a start she remembered her phone and turned it on. While she waited for it to boot, she thanking Verihbitt and apologizing to her while she waited to see what charge she had.

The phone turned on and showed 97%. There were no new messages from Alex, so she turned it off and put the phone into her backpack’s pocket.

“Your magic clay tablet is working again?”

Ash said, “Yes, thanks to all of your help. It will be useful. I was so focused on fixing it that I let the day get away. Did I miss anything yesterday?”

“Let’s take a walk around the garden, and I’ll fill you in.”

A short time later, Verihbitt and Ash shared a sedan chair while Takaa and Mnihh’dm trotted behind the oarsmen who carried them. They were headed to the Temple of Montu, the Egyptian falcon god of war. While Ash had been charging batteries, the rest of the group had been out trying to find out more about the mysterious king that was terrorizing the eastern part of the sea. An Egyptian, recently returned from that part of the world, agreed to meet them there and fill them in on what he had seen.

When they arrived at the temple, Ash was once again so awed by what she saw that she was speechless. The tall, thin building had giant carved pillars at the entrance that depicted Montu’s consorts. Every wall was covered with colorful hieroglyphics. Ash wanted to stop one of the priests who scurried around the entrance and ask them to read the passages.

Verihbitt pulled on her arm and said, “Close your mouth and come inside.”

The massive interior was dimly lit by torches and a single shaft of light that came through the ceiling. More carved columns stretched on either side of the space. A huge statue of a falcon-headed man sat at the far end of the chamber. The three Phoenicians walked purposefully towards an altar at the base of the statue. Remembering to close her mouth, Ash scurried after.

A man in elaborate robes stood to the side of the altar, gazing up at the statue. When the group got close, he turned towards them and asked, “did you bring the sacrifice?”

Mnihh’dm stepped forward and deposited a wrapped bundle on the altar.

“We have brought a sacred cat to honor the god Montu.”

The package was bigger than any cat Ash had seen, and she thought she heard the sound of clinking coins when Mnihh’dm placed it on the altar. The robed man picked it up to gauge its weight, and Ash clearly heard the coins. Once her eyes adjusted to the gloomy interior, Ash noticed more robed men milling about all around them, their faces hidden in large hoods.

The man bowed and said, “The god will be pleased.” He spoke something in what must have been Egyptian towards a dark alcove in the side of the chamber, and a thin man in a tattered tunic stumbled forward.

The man fell to his knees and began to mumble a sing-song chant towards the statue.

“You can pray later.” Said the robed man, who Ash assumed must be a priest. “Now, you need to tell these people what you saw. In the language of the traders.”

The prostrate man rose to his feet, and in broken Phoenician, began to talk.

“We were five weeks in voyage, traveling with a wealthy tax collector. He wanted to show his wife the west. Past Tripoli, we were. We see the black towns.”

He stopped and dropped to his knees again, and began to pray. Ash could sense the terror in his voice, even though she did not know the language he spoke.

The priest pulled the man back to his feet and shook him.

“After many places we find black, we turn back to Tripoli. We see it there and then the thunder brought the sun to us and flames. Death. I jump in the sea. Grab piece of wood. Wake up on shore near Tripoli. Our ship gone.”

Verihbitt stood in front of the man and gently grabbed his shoulders. She asked, “What did you see before the thunder, before the sun came?”

The man looked away. He began to shake and cry. Finally, he said, “We see the largest ship we ever see. It long and –“

One of the hooded priests was running towards the man, a large club raised above his head. Before Ash or any of her companions could gather what was going on, he brought the club down and the man’s head. Brains and blood spattered over the altar and the base of the statue.

Ash heard a loud banging and turned just in time to see the large bronze doors at the entrance to the chamber slam shut. Several groups of hooded priests slowly moved towards them.

Takaa shouted, “Behind me.”

Ash muttered, “not again” in English, and dashed to get behind the bodyguard. Both he and Mnihh’dm pulled long bronze knives from beneath their cloaks. Verihbitt leaped up onto the statue and pulled a spear from the stone hands of the god.

They slowly backed to the side of the statue, a hieroglyphics-covered wall behind them. The priests continued to move forward. Each one carried a large club like the one used to murder the man they had been questioning.

Their guards were outside, locked outside of the bronze doors. Ash realized, with a cold hard shiver, that they were trapped.

Her three friends took a defensive stance in front of her as she tried to reason out some solution. She thought about taking her phone out to text a message to Alex and her parents. Then she remembered the flash on the phone and how the people in the market had been terrified by the bright light. She quickly took the phone from her backpack pocket and turned it on. The priests got closer, forming a semicircle of at least a dozen men.

The phone turned on and she hit the photo icon, turned the flash on, and snapped a picture of the men approaching them.

They shouted in fear and covered their eyes, shouting the Phoenician word for bright lightening. Noticing their distraction, Verihbitt stepped forward and smashed an oil torch hanging from the wall, sending flames towards the priests. That stopped enough for them for Mnihh’dm and Takaa to jump forward, slicing and stabbing their long knives. Ash flashed the camera again, and Verihbitt joined the two men to hack and slash at their foes. Before she could push the button for a third flash, all of the priests were fleeing, bleeding on the floor, or screaming in agony from the burning oil that covered them.

Verihbitt leaned on the sacred spear she had borrowed from the god and said, “These are no Egyptian priests of Montu. They were speaking fluent Phoenician.”

Takaa said, “You are right, and look.” He bent to pull the robes off the chest of one of the dead priests. She reached down and pulled a necklace of the corpse. “They are all wearing these.”

The necklace had a large bronze disk that was clearly a stylized sun. Below the shiny disk, a half-dozen lightning bots shot from the sun in different directions. Ash had never seen anything like it in any of the Phoenecian jewelry she had studied.

Verihbitt took the necklace and looked at it more closely. She turned it over, looking for writing or any additional marks. She handed it back to Takaa. Then she walked to the base of the statue of Montu and gently placed the spear in its lap.

“Most honored Montu,” she said, “I am sorry we desecrated your shrine. But these men are not your priests. They are adherents to a cult that worships Reshef and Shapash. A cult that I thought my uncle had exterminated. Thank you for protecting us here in your shrine and for the use of your spear. We ask for your protection and guidance as we travel further west.” She then backed away from the statue, head bowed.

Verihbitt turned around when she reached the altar, grabbed the oversized coin-filled cat, and said to the group, “I think we should take this sacrifice with us to Tripoli. It might come in handy.”

– To Be Continued –

Please subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Journey to Tripoli,” is released, wherein, after a brief stay in Egypt to gather supplies, Ash and friends sail westward again to the ancient Phoenician city of Tripoli (well, it ended up being called Tripoli later) and Ash learns of a plan to get her home and learns how Duzi feels about her.

A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 5

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 5
City on the Nile

Sailing in a Phoenician trading ship was nothing like a Disney Cruise. Ash quickly found a spot in the rear where she could wrap her arms around a piece of railing to keep herself from being launched over the side while she emptied what little was left in her stomach into the blue Mediterranean.  At first, the oarsmen had laughed when they heard her retching. Then, after several hours of obvious misery, they shouted out suggested remedies and appeals to various gods, many Ash had never heard of. 

Eventually, the sun began to dip closer to the horizon, and Duzi gave the order to head back towards shore.  Verihbitt had been sitting in silence with Ash for some time, occasionally offering honeyed water or a wet rag to put on her forehead. 

She said, “Tomorrow, you will feel better. And in a day or two, you will be walking about the deck like an old trader.” She gently stroked Ash’s hair and asked, “do you usually get sick when you sail? When you came to Sur from your land, that must have been a very long journey and on rougher seas than this?”

Ash was startled by the question. The answer she wanted to give was, “the quantum temporal thinga-ma-jigger that tossed me across the time-space continuum does not seem to cause motion sickness.”  Then she realized coming up with a Phoenician word for quantum was the least troubling aspect of that statement.

Instead, she said, “I am better at traveling by land. But will get used to it.”

Verihbitt looked at Ash for some time and said, “I can tell there is much you chose not to tell me.  I understand that.  However, when you agreed to come on this mission, you agreed to share our danger. And if we are all going to survive, let alone succeed, we have to be honest with each other.”

The coastline was getting nearer, and Ash searched it for the correct response. Her heart told her that Verihbitt was right.  Hiding so much about who she was could be dangerous for everyone. The growing trust between the two women was also something that Ash was beginning to cherish. Alone in the past, the connection was becoming critical to her sanity.

Weighing her options, she decided to try and shade the truth with what she understood of the world she found herself in.

Ash asked, “What are your thoughts on the gods?”

“Oh, them. We have a difficult relationship.” She laughed. “I do my part. I leave the building of temples and most of the sacrifices to my father and uncle. Most of the gods seem to stay out of my business, and I try to stay out of theirs. Now and then, I think a few play with me.”

She stopped, turned to look at the setting sun, and added, “especially when it comes to men. Maybe I should make some of my own sacrifices.” 

This hint at Verihbit’s personal life was fascinating, and Ash wondered if it involved Takaa. She avoided the temptation to go down that road and instead contemplated how to describe her journey in a way that Verihbit would understand.

“The truth is, this is my first voyage by ship.  I did not sail or travel on land to get here. I am still unsure what exactly happened. In my land, I made a request to what I thought was one of our minor gods, who we call FLUENT. It seems that two other far more powerful gods saw my request and decided to send me here.”

“I do not know the gods of your land, but they sound like ours.  They like to meddle and mix things up. Sometimes I think they are simply bored and do such things for entertainment. Which gods were they? Maybe we have a name for them.”

Ash was relieved.  So she continued, embracing the mental translation of physics to mythology.   “Yes, I think you are right. One of these gods is Quanta. She controls how very, very small things behave.  She is the queen of randomness, and you can never get a yes or no answer from her. And you never know what she has decided till you look closely at what she has done. Before that, she often appears to be doing two different things at the same time”

“This sounds like Hadad, our god of storms and chaos?”

“I think that is different. We call Hadad Entropy. But you will recognize the other god that sent me here, Aion. We call him Temporal. The god of time.”

She stopped and looked at Verhibitt.  This complicated woman had taken her, a stranger, into her life.  Ash was not sure what she was afraid of. Maybe it was being called a witch and having a crowd call for her to be burned. Perhaps everything was happening too fast.

Veribitt smiled at Ash, and it was not that different from the beauty of the sun setting over her shoulder.

This mythical version of events was starting to make sense to Ash as well. Attempting to understand how a computer system coupled to a virtual reality room sent her through time and space hurt her head. Blaming it on a cable of temperamental gods had its appeal.  Ash decided to keep going.

 “You see, these gods did not just move me across the world. They moved me across time.” She paused to let it settle. “Verhibitt, I come from the future. And not just tomorrow or next harvest season. I journeyed here from thousands of years in the future.”

Ash waited to hear her friend’s response, watching the white beach move closer as the oarsmen continued their steady rowing, their rhythmic splashes meshing with the sound of waves to form a soothing song that helped settle Ash’s anxiety.

Eventually, Verihbitt stood and shrugged her shoulders.  “That makes no sense to me, but who am I to question the gods. I am just thankful they brought you to us. And I chose to believe they did it in answer to the sacrifices and prayers from all those priests the King pays for.  Yes, that does make sense. You were sent here to help us.”

She leaned down and gently kissed the top of Ash’s head.  “When we arrive in Egypt, we will find a temple for each of your two gods and make a sacrifice of thanksgiving. No harm in bribing them. But that is days away. Now it is time to prepare to beach the ship and make camp.”

Behind Ash, the crew and passengers rushed around the deck. The wind was now behind them, and several of the oarsmen opened the sail. Others stowed the oars. The ship surged forward, riding the wind and waves. 

In a rush that threatened to turn Ash’s stomach inside out once again, a gust pushed the ship forward and onto the beach. Ash felt the ship slide across the sand and settle with a pronounced tilt toward the side she still clung to. Without hesitation, she climbed over the railing and jumped down into the sand.  She wasn’t sure if the overwhelming relief she felt was because the constant rocking had stopped or because she was no longer hiding her secret from Verihbitt. 

Drained from a day of sea sicknesses, Ash found a place to sit in the sand as the crew set up around an existing fire pit.  Some of the oarsmen went into the scrubby forest that started just past the beach, while others set up tents and camp tables in the setting sun.

The night was Ash’s most enjoyable since arriving.  She didn’t know what she was eating or where it had come from on the small ship. She only knew it tasted good. Alim insisted she drink two bowls of wine that were not watered down. As the others talked and laughed, Ash felt herself drift off to sleep.

The following morning Ash stalled as long as possible before boarding the ship, finally walking up the thin plank onto the deck as the tide was starting to lift the keel off the sand. Fearful of another day of seasickness, she took up her position at the railing.  Thankfully, nausea never came, and she soon joined the other passengers on the forward deck under a striped tent that kept both the sun and the wind away.

Duzi, Verihbitt, and Mnihh’dm were huddled together, whispering and planning.  So Ash found a pillow next to Alim.

He looked up from the papyrus scroll he was reading and said, “Good morning, my lady. I see you have your sea legs today. That is good.  We were worried that this would be a long voyage for you.”

“Thank you, Alim. Yesterday was difficult, but today I feel almost normal. As long as there are no storms and the swells stay small.”

“Duzi had the men capture some birds when we landed, and he sacrificed them to this morning, asking for smooth sailing.  There is not much else we can do.”  He went back to reading his scroll.

Before too long, Ash became incredibly bored.  Since middle school, she had had a phone in her hand. A tool that connected her to everyone she knew and an endless stream of videos, social media posts, and articles. Until now, Ash had been dealing with one crisis after another. Now, under this tent as the ship slowly made its way south, she began to panic. She saw her backpack on a pile of supplies in the corner of the tent. She walked over, removed her phone from the front pocket, and held it to her chest.

In English, she said, “This is just stupid. Maybe gramma was right. Maybe I am too attached to this thing.” 

Under her backpack were the supplies she had hastily gathered from the market before they departed. 

She felt a zing in her brain as she called across the tent, “Alim! Want to help me build a –“ there was really no good word in ancient Phoenician for battery –  “a lightning jar?”

The idea of building anything intrigued Alim.  Something as magical as a jar full of lightning had the older man behaving like an eager schoolchild.  He was full of questions while they gathered the raw materials on the deck before them. 

Ash said, “Maybe I should draw a picture. Do you have something I can draw on?” 

Alim dashed up and ran to his supplies, returning with a wooden plank and sharpened pieces of charcoal.  “I have not clay or papyrus.” He said. “I use this board to make my notes, and then I have a scribe put it down on something that lasts longer.”

“This will do just fine,” Ash said.

She placed the flat board on her lap and picked up a piece of charcoal, saying, “This is the clay pot.”

She drew a cross-section of the clay jar, with a neck and an opening on the top.

“And this is the iron rod in the center.”

She sketched a thick line in sticking out the top and down to almost touching the bottom. 

“Next is the copper cylinder,” she said. She rummaged through the charcoal pieces till she found a gray one. 

“And this is this is the linen we will use to keep the copper from touching the iron and hold it up at the bottom.”

She then picked up the black charcoal again and drew a wavy line across the top. Two lines for the wires attached to the copper and iron, and a + and – on each wire.

“Then we will fill it with the fruit juice.”

She showed it to Alim, and he studied it closely.  He then asked, “You want to keep the fruit juice away from the space between the copper and the iron?”

Ash looked at the sketch. The linen at the bottom would keep the liquid from moving freely between the two electrodes.

“You are right, “ she said, and used her thumb to smudge away the linen at the bottom. Then in English, “this is why we do design reviews.”

For the rest of that day, they huddled around the small stone anvil at the bow of the ship, trying to make the copper blocks they had into a sheet they could turn into a cylinder.  It did not go well.  As soon as they pounded it thin enough, it would tear.  Or when they thought they had a good enough sheet, it ripped when they tried to roll it around a broken piece of oar they were using as a pattern.

The elderly scholar and the young engineer were so engrossed by their task that they were shocked when the ship slid onto a beach.  Duzi and Verihbitt were standing next to the pair, laughter in their eyes.

Duzi said, “We are putting in early today. The coast between here and the Nile delta is not safe. You two can continue your attempt to be artisans once we set up camp.”

As he talked, he picked up another piece of rounded wood from the broken oar and jabbed it into a pot of sand sitting next to the anvil.

Ash rushed towards him, put her arms around his neck, and kissed him on the cheek

Ash said, “You are brilliant, Duzi. I was trying to form the copper cylinder. I should have been casting it.”

She pecked him on the cheek again before realizing that Duzi’s face was bright red and everyone around them was utterly silent. She also became aware of how warm his body was and how firm his shoulder and neck muscles were.  Reluctantly, she let go and took a few steps back from him.

“I am sorry.  When I figure something out, I get very excited.”  In English, she added, “I’m glad there is no HR here.”

Once camp was set up, Ash and Alim built a small fire and placed copper in a stone crucible which they set above the growing flames. They also dug a deep, round hole and placed the wooden rod in the middle.  While the copper melted, Verihbitt, Mnihh’dm, Takaa, and Duzi formed a circle around the improvised casting facility. One of the oarsmen also joined them.

When the copper looked fully melted, Alim used long iron tongs to lift the cup from the fire and pull the molten copper into the hole around the wood. Flames leaped up from the wood. Everyone gasped and took a step back. Once the cup was empty, the oarsman stepped forward and tossed sand on the burning wood.

He took the tongs from Alim and said, “You know, old man, I am the ship’s maker. All you had to do was ask, and I can build anything from wood or metal. Go have your meal.  I’ll pull it out when it cools.”

Ash felt embarrassed.  Of course, the ship would have someone on the crew who could make new tools and repair broken ones on their journey. At the same time, she was glad she had not known.  Making this part had been so much fun.

The group walked to the tents and the smell of dinner.  Ash realized Alim was shuffling his feet in the sand, his head bowed.  She stopped and waited for him to catch up.

“It is just fine,” she said. “I always wanted to make something that way. I really enjoyed our day.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek before dashing ahead to join the group.

Ash slept well that night.  The next morning, as soon as the oars touched the water, she and Alim were at their shipboard workbench assembling her battery. The rest of the passengers joined in when it was time to squeeze the citrus.  Working as a team, the steady rowing marking their time, the morning past swiftly.

After a brief break for lunch, she returned to their invention to try it out. Taking her spare charging cable from her backpack, she cut off the large USB connector and pulled the wires out of the insulation.  Trying to remember which ones were the power lines, she wrapped one around the rod and one in a hole she punched in the cast copper.  She then carefully poured the juice in, then lowered the copper cylinder and iron rod assembly down, pushing till the linen wrapped around the top of the copper part wedged into place.

Not knowing how else to test it, she placed the lightning connector in her mount. 

“Ouch!” she yelled.  And then began to laugh. “My friends, with your help, we have lightning in a jar.”

Everyone wanted to try the device, delighted in the shock it delivered to their mouth.

Once everyone had given it a try, she said, “Thank you all for your help. Now I need to see if it works with my –,“ she had to come up with a name for her phone.  “My special tablet.” That sounded good to her. She went on. “Given to me by one of our minor gods, Stevejobs.”

Pleased with her inside joke, Ash headed to her backpack to get her phone. Halfway there, she heard the lookout yell, and what he said stopped her dead in her tracks.


She looked aft and saw the lookout pointing into the wind.  Turning to see what he was pointing at, Ash could see two ships upwind from them, large sales open to catch the wind. 

Duzi yelled, “Turn to put the wind behind us, drop the sail.” The crew leaped into action.  Ash had to sit when the tiller was thrown to the side, and the deck leaned so far that the railing touched the water.  She heard the sail drop and felt the ship leap forward as the wind pushed to ship ahead.

The two ships behind them were thinner and had more oars and larger sails. The oarsman rowed in two teams.  One keeping a steady pace while the other group rested and drank water.  Even with their strenuous effort, the two perusing ships continued to grow in size as they came closer.

With worry on his face, Duzi told the passengers, who had all moved to the bow of the ship, “We won’t be able to outrun them.  We will have to turn and fight.”

He gave a single command, “four!” to the oarsmen.  As one, they lifted their oars from the water and started to count with the same rhythm they had used to row. 

One, two, three, four.” On four, they all stowed their oars.

With the next four, they stood and faced their benches. At the end of every count, as one, they made what was obviously a well-rehearsed move.  First, they lifted the top of the benches, Then they removed shining armor.  In three counts, they had all put the armor on and lifted bright helms onto their heads.  Next, they remove spears and bows from the storage area beneath the benches.

They counted to four one last time, then turned to face the left side of the boat, bows raised. 

Ash heard Takaa say, “I actually feel sorry for those pirates. They have no idea who they are attacking.”

Duzi shouted, “One!”

The helmsman pushed the tiller arm slightly to the right, veering the ship at an angle slightly away from the pirate vessels that were now close enough for Ash to see faces.


Ash lost her balance as the ship turned sharply to the left. The wind was no longer behind them, and their forward momentum was spent. They sat dead in the water, their left side facing the attackers.


A loud twang of bows preceded a rain of arrows that fell on each ship. Ash could tell that some had landed because many of the oars had stopped moving.


The two black ships were now close, and those aboard who had not been hit by arrows fell to well-aimed spears. 

The next five minutes were complete chaos.  When the ships were close enough, the remaining pirates boarded. But none of them made it very far. They were dropped by arrow, spear, or short sword if they did get close enough.  Ash was no expert, but she could tell that the muscular men who had rowed their ship for three days were no galley slaves. They were well-trained and seasoned soldiers who dealt death with casual professionalism.

Through the entire battle, Takaa guarded the passengers with his sword drawn. But they were never in any real danger.  Duzi had joined the fray, directing the soldiers as they pushed forward. Eventually, they jumped over to the pirate ships. 

When the sound of battle stopped, Ash heard Duzi yell, “One!”

In answer, the soldiers responded with vigor and abandon that can only come from realizing that they had survived another battle. “two, three, FOUR!”

Ash felt Alim’s thin hand rest on her shoulder and squeeze.  He said, “It can be overwhelming, no matter how many times you see it.”

The world was spinning for Ash. She had certainly seen war in movies, even played at it with her friends. But CGI effects, video game gore, and foam-covered wooden swords did not prepare her for the amount of blood, the sounds of flesh being sliced, or the pitiful crying of the dying.  The encounter in Verihbitt’s garden, her first experience with the brutality of hand-to-hand contact, did not soften the mental blow of seeing the compliment of two ships methodically slaughtered in front of her.

Alim said, “Come, let us retire to the tent.”

Ash was asleep, collapsed into the fetal position on a large pillow before the soldiers had returned to their benches to row them on to Egypt.

They spent the next night on the ship, anchored in one of the many small rivers in the Nile delta.  Ash stayed in the tent the next day as they rowed through the maze of the delta.  She could only see green reeds and muddy water through the opening of the tent. 

When her friends gathered for the mid-day meal, she joined them around dried fish and olive platters.  Their simple chatter about things that were not important brought her out of her shock. By the end of the meal, she was laughing and talking with them. However, inside she was still dazed.

When the meal was done, Duzi asked, “Would you like to see something amazing?”

“Yes, I could use that.”

“Good, come with me. You will only see this for the first time, once in your life.”

He led her out of the tent and to the very front of the ship.  The channel there were in was wider and full of small boats and a few merchant ships.  Low hills blocked the view in front of them.  To the sides, green fields lined both sides of what, Ash realized, must be the Nile river itself.

Ash said, “It is beautiful.”

“Wait, this is nothing.” Said Verihbitt

The rest of the group had joined them. A strong breeze pushed up the river, and she could hear the oarsmen strain against the current and the wind. The ship dodged a group of fishermen who were casting large nets into the water and hauling them back onto their small boats, bursting with wriggling fish.

They rounded a gentle bend in the river, and Ash gasped in amazement.

In front of the ship, amongst a vast complex of colorful buildings, a gleaming white pyramid rose up towards the sky.  It was the Great Pyramid of Giza. Not the brown, crumbling structure surrounded by sand and tourists that Ash had seen her whole life on TV.  The structure was covered in white limestone sheeting and gleamed in the sun.  The top was painted and inlaid with gold and silver. Temples, obelisks, and statues crowded around the base.

Alim said, “It is hard to find words, is it not?”

All Ash could say was, “Yes.”

The ship made its way up the Nile, and the two smaller pyramids came into view, initially blocked by the great pyramid. Ash said in English, “I can not believe I am on a Phoenician trader, rowing into the harbor at Giza, and the pyramids are there, right in front of me.”

Being a person from the 21st century, her impulse was to pull out her phone, take a picture, and post it on social media. With a physical jump, she remembered the project she had been working on before the pirate attack.

Ash turned to Alim, grabbed him by the shoulders, and shouted in his face, “Alim, the lightning jar! Was it damaged in the attack?”

– To Be Continued –

Please subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Temple of Spies,” is released, wherein Ash and friends seak information and allies in Giza, but find danger as well.

Ancient Egypt: 2,500-year-old shipwreck PROVES Herodotus' Nile cargo boat  DID exist | World | News | Express.co.uk

A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 4

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 4
Off to Sea

Ash could not believe what she was seeing. Somehow her phone was getting a signal, and she was able to text with Alex.  After starting to text him, she realized talking would be much faster. So she clicked on his name at the top of the screen and then the telephone icon.  A message popped up informing her that there was no voice service.

She said, “then I guess we will text,” to herself and began to type with her thumbs.

ASH: “I know this will sound strange. “

ASH: “But I woke up in ancient Phonecia.”

ALEX A: “You mean at that camp you were going to? The cops said you never showed up.”

ASH: “No.  I mean ancient Phonecia.  Somehow your augmented reality contraption shifted me back in time!!!”

ALEX A: “That makes no sense.  I know that room had some wacky fancy sensors and emitters that projected directly into your visual and audio nerves. But time travel ?!?!!?!?!”

ASH: “Well, they projected me right back into the past.”

ALEX A: “I need to check something. Hold please”

ASH: “I have millennia or three.  No hurry.”

ALEX A: “Well… hmmm… I looked at the log file.  You told the system to start your job at 2022 BC and gave phoenicia as the server name.  The feedback from the job controller said:”

ALEX A: “Batch Job Submitted.  Engaging Quantum Temporal Solver.”

ASH: “What is a quantum temporal solver?”

ALEX A: “Well, there is a quantum computing project in the back of the basement. Some government project.  They paid for the AR interface you were using. It’s connected to the compute cluster too.”

ASH: “What does that have to do with time travel.”

Alex A: “Hmm… It’s all classified. But I wonder…”

Ash started to type “I wonder what” when her screen went dark, replaced by an empty battery icon. She looked at the moon outside her window. So bright and clear in the sky, and she yelled a four-letter word that would not exist for four-thousand years.

Moments later, Takaa burst into her room and asked, “My lady, are you safe?” while he scanned the room, spear in hand.

Verihbitt and then Mnihh’dm soon followed. The room was suddenly crowded.

Ash took a deep breath, looked at her now blank phone, and said, “I’m fine. I had a bad dream. I must have yelled in my sleep.”

Verihbitt looked at Ash. “I can hear the fear and frustration in your voice.” She then walked to Ash and enveloped her in her arms. The unexpected empathy broke Ash, and she began to sob in her new friend’s arms. 

That night, Ash slept well.  When a servant came into her small room and woke her, the sun was already high in the sky.

“My lady, I have been asked by the Princess to bathe and dress you.”

Ash sat up in the bed while a half dozen girls and women streamed in with pots of steaming water, containers of oil, and piles of clothes.  Before she could say no, they pulled her to her feet and removed the robe she had been wearing.

Ash said, “be careful. I made that myself…”

One of the older serving women looked at the robe then at Ash, and said, “My lady should leave the sewing to her slaves.” She then casually tossed the robes onto the brazier burning in the corner of the room.

Ash’s protests were stifled as more women lead her to a couch and began to smear scented olive oil over her body.  She was not used to be naked in front of a group of women. She had always avoided PE classes for that very reason.  However, she hat to admit it felt excellent.

When they started to scrape the oil from her skin with long bronze scrapers, she relaxed and said, in English, “When in Phoenicia.”

Over an hour later, she exited into the courtyard dressed in flowing red and brown robes, her hair stacked upon her head with bone pins and a heavy, blue lapis lazuli necklace around her neck. She had to admit to herself, she felt pretty good.

A servant guided her across the courtyard into a larger room where her friends, the King, and other court members sat or lounged on couches arranged in a circle.  Verihbitt’s father was there lying next to Verihbitt. His exposed legs were bruised and scraped. When he saw Ash, he smiled and moved to get up.  

“Father, no. You stay where you are.  She can come to you,” Verhibitt said as she stood and greeted Ash with a hug.  She then looked Ash up and down at arm’s length and said, “You look much more presentable.”

Another servant appeared out of nowhere and lead Ash to an empty couch and put a table covered in food in front of her.  When the smell of the fresh fruit hit her, Ash suddenly felt very hungry.

Ash was able to devour a pile of grapes before King Attiball sat up upon his couch and addressed the group. “Now that we are all here, I must ask more of all of you.”

Everyone stopped eating and chatting and gave the King their attention.

“A trader just returned from the western end of the sea with bad news.  Two of our colonies west of Carthage have been sacked and burned to the ground. I will not and can not stand for this.”

A large man dressed in armor stood up and said, “I will prepare an army. We can sail on the full moon.”

“General, as much as I would like to strike out with our might, right now we don’t know where to strike. This was not the act of another prince. Nor was it the local slaves revolting.  The cities are gone.  There is no sign of an army or a rabble hiding nearby. You will get your time, and you should prepare the men and provisions and position them in Carthage. But, before we can strike, we must know who to strike.”

The King walked to Verihbitt’s couch and said, “Princess Verihbitt, I need you to go on a voyage. I am asking you to take whoever you need and join the trader on his return to the west. This will be a dangerous journey. But I fear staying here may be just as dangerous.”

Pacing back to the center of the room, the King continued. “We tortured the men who cut the ropes yesterday.  They would not say much before they died, but we discovered that they came from the far west, where our sea opens up to the endless sea. When they cried out in pain, they called to someone name Gula, and they called him the Master of Atlas. I don’t know if it is a western god or a Prince.”

Verhibitt kneeled before her uncle. “My King,” she said, “we will go west, and we will send word back on what we find. “

Soon after the King left, Verhibitt, Mnihh’dm, and Takaa huddled with Verhibitt’s father.  Ash tried to stay out of the discussion, but she soon found herself drawn in.  After they had planned their route to Egypt, Carthage, and then further west to what Ash assumed was the coast of Spain, she could no longer contain herself.

She asked Verhibitt, “I know you just met me, and I am a stranger here, but I would be honored if I could travel with you. I have never been to Egypt or Carthage, and I do think I might be helpful, even though I don’t know how to fight or spy.”

Verhibitt smiled and made a sound that Ash assumed was the ancient Phoenician equivalent of “Duh.”

An hour later, Ash and her companions were back on a chariot headed to the city. They were also accompanied by four war chariots with a driver and archer in each. The trip was uneventful and they went directly from the city gate to the port, stopping in front of a ship. It had a single mast in the center and a huge wooden rudder at the rear.  Ash could see rows of benches for oarsman. A carved figure of a woman with elaborately styled hair decorated the bow.

There was not much for Ash to do in the chaos of loading a ship for a long voyage. After noticing her standing on the pier, Mnihh’dm took her to a pile of cedar timbers piled next to the ship. She climbed up and sat on top of the pile to get a better view. The process was fascinating. A steady stream of people arrived with clay pots and woven baskets.  They moved in a coordinated way with no direction, doubtlessly having each done it hundreds of times before.

Over time her thoughts also turned to her phone. She started by pondering the physics of being able to communicate with the future. Then her mind turned to problem-solving.  She needed a way to recharge the device. Every idea she had seemed to be a non-starter.  She even thought about the potato battery she had made in elementary school. Then she remembered that potatoes came from South America.

Her reverie was interrupted by a loud crashing sound behind her.  She stood and turned around.  There she saw that a cart full of clay pots had run into a cart full of some sort of citrus fruit.  That reminded her of a project she had started during a LARP’ing week a few years ago. She and another engineer in the the group had made a Babylon Battery from a clay pot with an iron rod, a copper tube, and some orange juice.

She pivoted towards the ship, spotted Mnihh’dm, and yelled as loud as she could, “Friend!  I need your help!”

Sword drawn, Mnihh’dm rushed towards Ash. 

“No, I’m not in danger. I just need your help. I need to make something for our journey.  I can’t explain what it is, but it is very important to me. Can you lend me someone that knows the markets here?  I need supplies. And coin?”

Mnihh’dm relaxed. “Yes, my Lady.  And some soldiers to watch over you.” By the time Ash lowered herself off the stack of cedar logs, Mnihh’dm had returned with two soldiers and an older woman.

“These three will help you.” He then handed Ash a heavy leather bag, “And you will need this to pay for your supplies. But, please be careful. Do not do anything that might attract the attention of our brilliant magistrate.”

An hour later, Ash and her three helpers returned with baskets full of her supplies. Finding the copper sheeting and wire had been the hardest part. When they were about to give up their quest, they had found a jeweler who had both.

She led her group onto the ship and had them deposit their findings in a pile against the mast. 

Phoenician ships did not have cabins or a hold.  Cargo and supplies were piled between the rowers, and passengers could travel in tents erected on small decks at the front and back of the ship. Ash knew that they would row or, if the wind was favorable, sail during the day. They would have to pull onto shore at night to camp. Looking at the cramped area around her, she realized that the next few weeks would be long and difficult.  Working on her battery would help pass the time.

Her supplies safely secured, she thanked her helpers, then moved to the front of the ship where Verihbitt stood with some men she did not know.

Verihbitt said, “Ash, I am glad you are back. We are loaded and about to leave. And I would like you to meet our captain, guide, and owner of this fine vessel, Duzi.”

He was a tall man with a mane of long, flowing brown hair tied with a simple leather thong behind his head.  Ash could not help but notice that he wore a short, sleeveless tunic that showed off his muscular build.

Bowing slightly towards Ash, he said, “Princess, you mentioned that you would be bringing a foreign girl with you, but you did not mention that she was so beautiful.” And then he smiled at her.

Ash felt her face flush. She managed to say, “Thank you, um, we are pleased you could help us, on, um, our journey.” All she could do was look at her own feet.

Verihbitt laughed and gently grasped Ash’s arm, then whispered in her ear, “Careful, this one could sell eggs to a chicken farmer.”

The awkward moment was broken by an older man standing next to Duzi. “Since no one will introduce me, I shall do it myself. I am called Alim by this shark, although I have better names that are too long for his silly brain to remember.”

Duzi laughed and said, “My apologies, teacher. Indeed, this is Alim, and he is responsible for my silly brain. My father purchased him in Egypt to be my tutor when I was still a boy. Ignore his complaints. He wanted me to be a scribe, bent over clay tablets all day to count the corn as it goes in and out of a warehouse. He finds my current profession beneath him. And therefore beneath me. One of those long Egyptian names translates to angry old man.”

“Ignore most of what he says,” said Alim, “He was dropped on his head before he was given to my care, and I have not been able to do much with him. More importantly, the Princess tells us that you are a scholar yourself and a builder of tools?”

Ash felt an immediate connection with this older man that reminded her of so many of her favorite professors. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” she said. “I am not so much of a scholar, but I do enjoy making things.”

Duzi, playfully pushed the old man behind him. “We have a long journey before us, and you two will have plenty of time to discuss the stars or casting metal or whatever it is that interests this crazy old man.  However, that will have to wait.”  

He bowed to Verhibitt and Ash and said, “Everyone and everything seems to be on board. The tide has just started to head out.  If you will excuse me, it is time for us begin.” He reached down and untied a rope holding the front of the ship to the dock, signaling someone to do the same at the rear.

Then, In a loud, clear voice, Duzi gave the order to the oarsmen, “Off to sea.”

Ash felt the ship rock gently under her as the oarsmen bent to the task, and the ship left the port.

– To Be Continued –

Please subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “City on the Nile,” is released, wherein Ash has time to work on her battery and visits the ancient land of the Pharos. Oh, and there are pirates.

Press Release: Innovative GOM and ZEISS 3D Scanning Solutions Added to PADT Portfolio as it Joins the #HandsOnMetrology Digital Platform Global Network

The new combined offerings are being called #HandsOnMetrology. Someone must of let an engineer into the branding meeting because the new name is a perfect description of what the product line offers. Right now we are reselling three scanners and the outstanding software package that enables the unique advantages of each system:

When ZEISS and GOM joined forces, it was hard on our sales team here at PADT. We wanted to let our customers know about the significant advantages of the merger. After selling ZEISS Optical systems for many years, we knew that more and more customers wanted the flexibility of more handheld solutions along with laser scanning for larger objects. With the addition of the GOM line, we can now meet those needs.

GOM Scan 1: Compact, mobile, vesatile
T-SCAN hawk: Portable, versatile and handheld
T-SCAN: Fast, intuitive and highly precise
GOM Inspect Software: All-inclusive and user-centered

You can learn more about these tools on our new #HandsOnMetrology page or by contacting PADT today. Remember, we are more than a reseller, we use these same tools in our consulting business, so we have real-world experience on how to apply and leverage this technology. You might say that PADT even has “hands on” experience with these tools.

Access the offical press release here or as a PDF here, or you can read it below.

Press Release:

Innovative GOM and ZEISS 3D Scanning Solutions Added to PADT Portfolio as it Joins the #HandsOnMetrology Digital Platform Global Network

PADT is Now Selling the Three Leading GOM and ZEISS Optical and Laser Scanning Systems Throughout the Mountain and Southwest States

TEMPE, Ariz., May 11, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has joined #HandsOnMetrology, a digital platform dedicated to 3D metrology. Created after the merger of GOM and ZEISS, HandsOnMetrology consists of a unique, global network of companies selling leading 3D scanning products. As a part of this exclusive network, PADT now offers three high-end optical and laser 3D scanning systems, the T-SCAN, T-SCAN hawk, and GOM Scan 1.

“The HandsOnMetrology systems are the most precise and flexible scanners on the market,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We are pleased to be expanding our product offerings, as well as providing scanning services to our customers. Specifically, the systems enhance our simulation services by allowing us to scan existing parts that can be simulated, or scan parts after testing for verification of simulation. It also supports our additive manufacturing activities by providing a simple-to-use and cost-effective way to reverse engineer older parts and inspect 3D Printed parts.”

The portfolio of HandsOnMetrology systems focuses on new to market hand-held measuring systems. The scanners are characterized by their precise measuring results and allow for mobile and flexible use around the shop floor. The industry-standard software GOM Inspect Suite is pre-installed on all three systems and supports users during inspections and analyses. It also walks users through the entire workflow from 3D scanning to the evaluation, including the inspection report.

PADT is selling the scanners and accompanying software across Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The systems allow PADT and its customers to address a variety of 3D scanning processes including reverse engineering, art, architecture, inspection, quality, and control. The company is also providing support and training to help customers get real work done quickly and accurately.

“In addition to our ability to sell this innovative lineup of scanners, PADT and our customers will gain access to a network of resources through HandsOnMetrology,” said Jim Sanford, vice president, Sales and Support, PADT. “By teaming with these industry leaders, PADT can support our community of designers, technicians, engineers, scientists, and specialists with valuable knowledge to increase product quality, optimize processes and expand possibilities. It is the perfect complement to our long-term position as Ansys Elite, Stratasys Platinum  and EOS Channel Partners.”

To learn more about PADT and its new lineup of #HandsOnMetrology 3D scanning systems and software, please visit www.padtinc.com.

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.

About #HandsOnMetrology

#HandsOnMetrology is a new global 3D scanning network and provides a digital go-to for everything you always wanted to know about 3D scanning on the platform HandsOnMetrology.com. The platform is operated by GOM, a ZEISS company, that sets new standards in optical 3D metrology. From step-by-step setup instructions to more advanced tutorials and expert hacks: the platform is made for learning and for getting inspired. It gives users all the information they need to deliver 3D scanning excellence. HandsOnMetrology.com supports the community of designers, technicians, engineers, scientists and specialists with valuable knowledge to increase product quality, optimize processes and expand possibilities.

About GOM GmbH

GOM, a company of the ZEISS Group, specializes in industrial 3D coordinate measuring technology, 3D computed tomography and 3D testing. From product development to production and worldwide distribution, GOM offers machines and systems for manual and automated 3D digitizing, evaluation software, training and professional support from a single source. In industries such as automotive, aerospace, energy and consumer goods, more than 17,000 GOM system installations are in use internationally. At more than 60 locations and with more than 1,200 metrology specialists, GOM guarantees profound advice and first-class service. Since mid-2019, GOM has been a part of the ZEISS Group and has formed the Center of Excellence for optical metrology. With more than 31,000 employees in 50 countries and annual revenue totaling more than 6.4 billion euros, ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. (Status: September 30, 2019)

# # #

Project Management for Non-Linear Dynamics Simulation with ANSYS LS-DYNA

We spend a lot of time writing articles about how to use the very capable tools that are available from Ansys, Inc., but tend to skip over the project management side of simulation. But, project management can be as important, especially for challenging simulations, as the technical aspects.  We recently completed a series of Non-Linear Dynamics simulations with ANSYS LS-DYNA and ended up learning a lesson or two about how to get such projects done on time and on budget.

What is Non-Linear Dynamics Simulation, and what makes it different?

When materials are deformed so fast that the rate of strain changes material properties, we refer to that as non-linear dynamics. In non-linear structural simulation, the material may be distorting in a non-linear way (usually plasticity), but the non-linear properties are dynamic. Because of this, time gets involved in the equation, as do non-linear material properties.  Think car crash, metal forming, drop, bird impact on windshields and jet engine blades, and bullets going through stuff. 

There are various software tools in the Ansys family that can do the non-linear dynamics, but our preferred program is Ansys LS-Dyna.  It is an explicit dynamics solver that solves structural, fluid, thermal, and other physics.  It is an amazing program that does many things. Still, for the class of problem we are talking about here, we only care about time-dependent material non-linearity for structural deformation.

Setting expectations

Before beginning a project of any type, it is important to establish goals.  Non-linear dynamics is no different. What is different is that you have to be realistic about what goals you can achieve.  The events you are modeling are, by their very nature are very, well, non-linear. The answers you calculate can change drastically with mesh, loads, material properties, and solver parameters.

If you need high accuracy, then you need to set the expectation that it will take longer to solve, and you have to be more careful with your model. If you don’t need accuracy and you may be looking for relative improvements, like seeing if one geometry option makes things better or worse in your design, then you can back off and be less detailed.  This difference can have a large impact on your schedule and overall cost.

So before you plan, before you start gathering information, decide what you expect to get out of your model.

Planning for the Job

Once you have set your expectations and goals, it’s time to map out the project. It is not that different from most structural or vibration jobs. You still have to get geometry, create a mesh, define loads and constraints, apply material models, run, and post processes.

However, each of those steps can be different for non-linear dynamics.  Here are some critical issues to be aware of when producing a schedule:

  • Geometry
    If you are working with thin, especially sheet metal, parts, you probably want to use shells. They are more efficient and can be more accurate in many situations. You need to not just have a CAD model, but also a model that has the mid-plane surface defined as well as thicknesses.

    You also want to look at removing tiny features that don’t impact the solution.  The run time in an explicit dynamic solver is driven by the smallest element size. If you have tiny features relative to your overall geometry, capturing them can drive up your run times.  So set aside time to remove or simplify them.
  • Meshing
    As mentioned above, small elements can drive up run time. Also, distorted elements or elements that become distorted can cause your solutions to diverge and fail. You may (probably) need to create a hexahedral (brick) mesh.  All of these things require more time to create the mesh, and from a project standpoint, you need to plan for that.
  • Contact
    Ansys LS-Dyan rocks at contact.  It is pretty much automatic in most cases. So here, you don’t have to set aside time to define and tweak your contacts to get convergence. But there are many options, including erosion and other fancy options. Understand your contact needs and track and manage them.
  • Loads
    Everything in LS-DYNA is time-dependent, and loads are no exception.  If you are lucky, your load or loads are constant over time. But if not, you need to set aside time to characterize those loads and get them specified in the right format.  In addition, loads can be calculated, say the results of an explosion or an airbag deployment. These use Equation of State models to calculate forces on the fly and are a major advantage of the tool.
  • Solving
    From a project management standpoint, it is very important to plan for relatively long solves, restarts, and if possible, solving several jobs at the same time.  Non-linear dynamics is computationally intense. Do some trade studies on computer resources vs. schedule time.  Is it worth investing in more cores to solve faster or just let it chug away on a smaller computer? Also, don’t assume a single run to get the answer you want. Often you need to run the model multiple times before you understand what is really going on.

  • Post-processing
    We are solving highly non-linear events, and understanding what the model is telling us is the whole point of the exercise.  Budget time for processing massive amounts of data over time and reducing it into something useful. Also, time is needed to create animations.  The analyst may also find themselves buried in the weeds at the post-processing stage, and project management should take on the role of reviewing the results from a big picture perspective and drive what tables, graphs, plots, and animations are created.

Keeping the project on the rails when things are literally blowing up and crashing

The dynamic nature of both the events being modeled and the process of creating and running the models make for a less predictable progression for the project.  A project manager needs to pay close attention to what is going on at all times and pull the engineers doing the work back up for air to find out where things are going. 

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Building a model that is more complex than needed
  • Making sure that the situation being simulated in the model is what the customer needs simulated
  • Too much time being spent to fit the model on a limited computer. Get a bigger computer.
  • The simulation engineer is fixated on details that don’t impact the solution much
  • Oversimplification of components, connections, and loads.
  • Science project mode – spending time trying to learn basic information or trying to get something new to work, and not solving a specific problem.

One of, if not the most important roles for the project manager is communication.  Constantly interacting with the engineers (without nagging) and with the customer (the person who will consume the results) is critical.  This is not a throw-it-over-the-wall type of project.  And the more you accomplish, often the more you have new questions.  It may take two weeks or nine months. But either way, the PM needs to be constantly talking to everyone involved.

And yes, here at PADT, we have actually modeled a train car going off the rails. The project, though, stayed on track because we kept a close watch and stayed focus on the specifications. Things did surprise us, and we had to change some of the model when we got the first results, but we planned for that, communicated with the customer, and kept our changes to what was needed to answer the customer’s questions.

Our cars have incredible crash safety, very few planes fail because of bird ingestion, and we create amazing components out of formed sheet metal because of this type of non-linear dynamic simulation, and in most cases, Ansys LS-Dyna. Proper project management that recognizes the challenges and differences for this type of project can make a massive variety of products even better.

A PADT Engineer in King Attiball’s Court – Chapter 3

There just is not enough engineer-focused fiction out there. Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, etc. They all do well, but they are rarely written for the engineers of the world.

Here at PADT, we are all about undoing such injustices. We decided to brainstorm a story about an engineer who does simulation and 3D Printing and ends up on an adventure. We hope they will find some mystery, some science fiction, and some horror. Maybe even a little romance. To develop the characters and the plot we all got on an MS Teams meeting and blocked it out. It was a lot of fun. That turned into an outline, that will turn into a chapter every month.

We hope you enjoy the result as much as we enjoyed dreaming the journey up.

It should be noted that every character in this story is completely made up. Sometimes we steal some names from real people as a shoutout to them, but that is about it. PADT does not have a basement or a fancy cluster in one. Everything is made up. Well, almost everything. We do have a stack of furniture in the back of shipping and receiving.

Chapter 3
Like an Owl

It was comforting for Ash to learn that food tastes had not changed so much over the millennia. Sitting in that courtyard under those trees, the marinated vegetables and stewed meats in the bowls Mnihh’dm had brought out tasted wonderful.  And the bowls of watered wine quenched her thirst and had just enough flavor to taste good and alcohol to kill the microbes living in the local water supply.

Verihbitt explained each dish and sampled them with Ash.

She then drained her bowl of wine and reached over to touch Ash’s leg. “You have eaten and drunk. Are you ready for questions?”

Ash was ready. “Sure, I guess now is as good a time as any.”

“Are you a witch?”

She was a little stunned by the question but had to remember that everything about Ash’s world was magic to this woman. It was best to address that head-on. How do you explain to an ancient Babylonian what an engineer is? She gave it a try.

 “No, I am not a witch. But I am a scholar and an artisan. I study the world around us, and I use what I learn to make things that make life better. Tools that people use.”

Verihbitt thought for a while. “Like the King’s architect?”

“In a way.” Ash pushed down some of the jokes about civil engineers that she had learned in college. “I get paid to solve problems but not to build structures.” She could not resist. “Nor do I design ditches.”

“It is normal for a woman to do such things where you are from?”

Ash laughed, remembering all the meetings where she was the only woman in the room. “Not as normal as it should be. But it is getting better.”

“Well, here it is good for a smart woman like yourself to speak through a man. Some will listen to a wo-“

The sound of shattering wood interrupted Verihbitt as the gate to the courtyard exploded and rained splinters down on the two women. It was quickly followed by the angry shouts of three men who rushed through the opening, spears in their hands. They stopped momentarily to scan the courtyard, then rushed towards Verihbitt.

Without thinking, Ash stood and kicked the low table, bowls and all, towards the approaching men. It slowed them down enough to give Verihbitt time to dart behind the nearest tree.  She reappeared with her own spear, and in one fluid motion,  launched it at the closest attacker.

Another spear flew by Ash’s head before it thudded into the chest of another attacker. She looked back as Takaa, who must have been sitting in the far corner of the courtyard behind a thick pillar, grabbed another spear. He sent it past her ear, and she heard another thunk as it landed.  She ran towards Takaa and dived behind the column.

“Fight or flight,” she said between gasping breaths. “I guess flight wins out today.”

The sounds of a struggle grew louder. There were grunts and cries of pain, but no screaming. After only a few seconds, the sound stopped, and she heard heavy boots approaching her.

“Are you harmed, my lady?” It was the voice of Takaa. Ash relaxed.

Ash stood and came out from behind the column. “I am just a little shaken. I didn’t help much.”

Verihbitt appeared behind Takaa and said, “Well, we know you are not a witch. You cast no spells. But kicking the table at them did slow them down.  Thank you.”

Minihh’dm came flying through the door into the house, short sword at the ready.

“My princess, Verihbitt, you are covered in blood. Are you injured?”

Stunned, Ash looked at Verihbitt and could only say, “Well, I may not be a witch, but you appear to be a princess?”

The next half hour was another blur of activity. Takaa ran outside and returned a few minutes later with a chariot let by a beautiful gray horse. All four of them clambered on, and Takaa steered them down a maze of narrow passages, knocking over stalls and more than a few people who could not get out of the way fast enough. At some point, Ash had to close her eyes and hold on as hard as she could to the two-wheeled cart’s railing.

She opened her eyes when Verihbitt told her that they had exited through the eastern gate. Farmland stretched out along the rolling hills. There was still some dodging around donkey carts, and it was too loud to talk. Which was good. Ash needed the journey to process all that had happened. She had never seen someone killed before.  And certainly never with a spear.

Takaa guided the cart off the main road up a dirt track that led up a small mountain. A large stone building stood on top. Mnihh’dm yelled over the din into her ear, “The King’s summer palace. We will be safe here. And no, to answer your next question, your hostess is not the King’s daughter, but she is his niece.”

Ash did not know what to expect as the chariot passed through the gate to the building. The outside was simple stone, and she had only seen artist’s guesses at what a Babylonian summer palace would look like.

The bright colors were stunning. There were statues and frescos everywhere. What Ash had seen in books and online was not even close to what she saw in front of her. The large courtyard was surrounded by two stories of buildings. And every surface she could see was covered with paintings or sculptures.

Ash got off the chariot when it stopped, and she was thankful for Verihbitt’s steadying hand.

She said, “that was some ride. I was not sure I would be able to hold on much longer.”

Verhibitt laughed. “In my line of work, you often have to make a quick escape on a chariot.”

“As a princess? I always thought that involved sitting on pillows and being fed by servants.”

“No.” Verhibitt looked at Ash sideways, smiled, said, “I am also a spy,” and ran across the courtyard towards a man in bright robes.

Ash looked more closely at the far side of the courtyard as she walked towards it. The man stood with Verhibitt at the bottom of a large dirt ramp, and hundreds of shirtless men were pulling a stone slab up the ramp on large wooden rollers using two ropes. She could tell there was a carving of some kind of the top surface of the slab. The wall was covered with scaffolding, and it looked like they were going to hoist a giant stone carving up onto the top of the second story.

Verhibitt was waiting for her at the foot of the ramp, her right arm entwined with that of the older man in bright robes.

“This is my father, Prince Batnoam. One of the King’s brothers and, more importantly, the King’s Architect. He is one of those people who build walls and ditches.”

Feeling a little embarrassed, Ash bowed to Batnoam.

The prince nodded his head in acknowledgment and said, “welcome, my child. My darling Verhi has been breathlessly telling me about your adventures today. I have to admit I could not follow half of it, so I want to know more at dinner.”

He snapped his fingers, and two women in simple robes appeared as if from nowhere. “Please prepare rooms for my daughter and her friend.”

“While we wait for that, let me show you our latest project. This is a piece that shares the story of my glorious brother’s latest conquest in the East. It took almost a full year to carve and most of the summer season to bring up the hill on rollers. Today, we will pull it up to the top of the wall and secure it. We will then spend another week digging out the ramp under it to lower it down against the wall.”

“And you will spend even more of my money doing so.”

Ash turned to see a tall man dressed in shining brass armor taking purposeful steps up the ramp. A dozen soldiers and a cluster of men in robes struggled to climb behind him.

Everyone bowed to him, so Ash followed their motion.

Boatnoam said, “My brother, when you came back from the East you told me you wanted something grand to celebrate your victory. Nobles will flock to the summer palace just to see this story immortalized in stone.”

“Yes, yes. That is what you always say. Then you ask for more money, and it is always too late for me to back out.”

While listening to the Prince and King jest with one another, Ash looked up at the slab and how they were lifting it. Iron rings were attached to the top of the wall and, ropes went from the slab, through rings, and back down to the teams of men who were pulling. Up next to the rope, she could see two boys were slathering grease onto the rope to reduce friction.

The teams pulled, the King and prince argued, and the boys kept applying grease as the slab slowly moved on the wooden rollers. Ash soaked in the pure joy of seeing ancient engineering at work.

And then, for the third time that day, someone tried to kill Ash.  

Two men who had been walking next to the ropes on either side of the ramp pulled out large axes and, in unison, swung down on the taught rope. With a loud twang, the ropes split, and the slab began to roll down the hill. It headed right towards Ash, her new friends, and the King.

She screamed, “The slab is loose, run!”

She raced to the side as others ran down the ramp in front of the slab. The air was filled with dust, but she could see the stone crash onto the flat courtyard and stop. There were shouts and screams from a large crowd gathered around the slab. Ash ran down the ramp to find Prince Batnoam trapped. A split roller kept the slab from crushing the prince completely, but it was apparent that both of his legs were trapped.

The King screamed for everyone to come out and to fetch new ropes. But Batnoam saw the same thing Ash did. If they pulled the slab in any direction, it would come off the roller and crush him.

“Brother, I think we need to lift it.” In between gasps of pain, the architect described his latest scheme. “Put stakes in the dirt mound to keep the slab from moving. Then attach ropes to the far end up through the iron loops. Then pull to tilt it up and off of me.”

Ash looked at the geometry. The angle was too low. There was no way they could lift the slab. She decided to speak.

“Your highness, although this idea is close, I do not think it will be enough to lift the stone. In my land, we use a different method to lift large items. Might I try that?”

“No.” Said the King. “We will do as my brother’s asked, not the musings of a foreign girl.”

The next half hour was busy. The workers were able to wedge some more wood under the stone to relieve a little pressure. But no matter how many men or oxen they put on the ropes, they could not lift the stone.

As the sun started to set, Batnoam gestured for the King to come closer. “Brother, it is getting late, and we are losing light. And I do not want to miss dinner.” The King laughed at his brother’s bravado. “Bring torches and, maybe we should let the foreign girl try.”

The King reluctantly nodded towards her, and Ash sprang into action.

“Someone bring that scaffolding over here, the tall one there, and put it over the end of the slab.”

She walked to a group of men who had been pulling on the ropes and said, “You need to gather me two of thickest rollers you have. And more rope, lots of rope.” She shouted after their retreating backs, “And lots of grease.”

It had been years since Ash had studied how a simple tackle worked. But, while others had been attempting to lift the stone, she had been sketching her idea in the dirt. The top roller would be attached to the scaffolding. A rope would be attached to either end of the lower roller, looped up over the top roller, back down around the bottom roller, then over the top roller again. This configuration would provide four times the lifting force, minus all the drag from the ropes rubbing on the rollers.

It took close to an hour to build the rig. No one had spoken to Ash while it was being created and they followed her orders with obvious irritation. But, the King had sanctioned this approach, so they worked at it.

When the rig was ready, she had two teams of twelve men at the ends of each rope.

“You need to pull together so that it lifts the same on both sides.” She shouted to them. “At first, it will not move much. But it will move. Try now.”

Ash put her hands behind her back and crossed her fingers. In English, she whispered, “Freshman statics, don’t fail me now,”under her breath.

They pulled, and the scaffolding creaked. And then the ropes began to stretch. The slab didn’t move.

“Keep pulling!”

The men just stood and looked at her.

The King shouted, “Pull, you dogs, or I’ll toss all of you off the top of that wall.”

With the King’s orders, they pulled again, and the lower roller began to rise, pulling the slab with it.

“One more pace back!” shouted Ash.

They heaved one more time as one, and the slab lifted again. Other builders quickly placed wood blocks under the slab while a soldier pulled the King’s brother from under the stone.

Once clear of the stone they moved him to stretcher.  Batnoam took his daughter’s hand and says, “I do like this new friend. She is wise, like an owl.”

Everyone was focused on the prince and getting him to his rooms, and they stopped paying attention to Ash. So no one noticed when she lost consciousness and crumpled to the stone paving of the courtyard.

“bzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzz”

Ash wasn’t sure if she was dreaming or not. She opened her eyes to a dark room. The full moon was shining through open windows and a light sea breeze filled the room with humid, salty air.

“bzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzz”

Sitting up, Ash looked around the room. She was a little light-headed but felt better than she expected. The moonlight illuminated her backpack in the corner of the small room. She walked towards it, and the buzzing got louder. It was her phone.

Fumbling a bit, she found it in the outside pocket.

“bzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzzzzzz.” “bzzzzzz”

She turned it over in her hand and pressed the action button. The screen lit the room, showing her a single text message.

ALEX A: “Where did you go? One second you were here. Then you were gone. The system has locked me out. I thought you had gone on your vacation, but the police came looking for you just now. Are you OK?”

At first, Ash thought this must be a message that he had sent right after she had been tossed back into time. She checked the time. It said 5 min ago. The signal strength in the upper right corner showed one bar.

She quickly typed a message.

ASH: “I’m here. OK, all things considered. Let me know if you get this.”

She waited for a second, bathed in the moonlight that shined through an open window of a Babylonian King’s summer palace.

ALEX A: “Whew! 😊”

– To Be Continued –

Please subscribe to our newsletter, so you will know when the next installment, “Off to Sea,” is released, wherein our engineering hero finds out if she has sea legs and tries to communicate with the present.

Press Release: PADT Named EOS Metal 3D Printing Distribution Partner Across the Southwest, Expanding its Established Additive Manufacturing Products Offering

PADT’s model for over 27 years has been to become experts on the leading tool that engineers use, then become a reseller. We continue that model with our new partnership with EOS, the leader in Metal 3D Printing. We have been a user of several metal Additive Manufacturing solutions for some time, settling on EOS’ DMLS technology last year. We are now pleased to announce that that technical relationship has grown to include PADT as an EOS Distribution Partner for the Southwestern United States.

More details can be found in the press release below. You can see the official press release in PDF and HTML as well.

What does it mean for our customers? The same technology-driven win-win relationship you have come to count on for Ansys, Stratasys, and Flownex are now available if you need to add metal 3D Printing. And after your purchase, when you call for assistance you will talk to people that run the same machines you are.

Have questions? Why EOS or what machine would be best for you? More details on the metal systems can be found on our website. But the best way to learn more is to contact us at info@padtinc.com or 480.813.4884

If metal 3D Printing is part of how you make innovation work, PADT is ready to help.

PADT Named EOS Metal 3D Printing Distribution Partner Across the Southwest, Expanding its Established Additive Manufacturing Products Offering

Building on its Expertise in Metal 3D Printing Services and R&D, PADT Adds Metal Laser Powder Bed Fusion Systems to its Sales Portfolio

TEMPE, Ariz., April 13, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has been named Distribution Partner for EOS’s full lineup of industrial metal 3D printing systems. Founded in 1989, EOS is a leading technology provider for industrial additive manufacturing of metals and plastics. PADT will represent the company’s Direct Metal Laser Fusion (DMLS®) powder bed fusion systems across Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

“PADT is experiencing explosive growth,” said Jim Sanford, Vice President, Sales & Support, PADT. “Our new partnership with EOS helps us serve our customers and expand their 3D printing options with this impressive lineup of systems. Metal materials are the next major frontier in 3D printing innovation and PADT is an early adopter. We continue to explore new ways to apply the technology to meet our customer’s evolving needs.”

EOS’ metal 3D printing platforms use proprietary DMLS technology that meters and deposits ultra-fine layers of metal powders and then melts each layer – as defined by a 3D CAD model – using high-powered lasers. The applications produced with DMLS are highly accurate, highly dense, and allow for incredible functionality at a cost that can be less than traditional manufacturing. DMLS printers are considered the industry standard for oil and gas components, consolidated and lighter-weight aerospace applications, and custom medical solutions such as guides and implants that improve patient outcomes.

PADT will sell EOS’  metal 3D printing systems, including the company’s small and medium systems, EOS M 100 and EOS M 290; and its large production platforms, EOS M 300 Series, EOS M 400, and EOS M 400-4. PADT has installed an EOS M 290 machine onsite to develop high-quality end-use metal products for customers and expand its ongoing research and development of metal 3D printing.

“As 3D printing technology has advanced, PADT has seen an increase primarily in the aerospace and defense industry’s use of 3D printing for end-use parts,” said Rey Chu, co-founder and principal, PADT. “Metal 3D printing provides many benefits over traditional manufacturing, including lighter, cost-effective parts made much faster and with greater design freedom. The EOS machines provide PADT’s entire range of customers with a wide variety of options to produce metal parts quickly and effectively. Those same advantages will benefit any industry that has a need for low volume production of complex metal parts.”

“PADT is a long-time leader in 3D printing systems and services since the early 1990s with a proven track record of identifying advanced manufacturing trends and helping customers integrate 3D printing innovation into their manufacturing operations,” said Andrew Snow, senior vice president at EOS North America. “We look forward to deepening our reach across the Southwest, a leading hub for aerospace and defense customers, through our partnership with PADT.”

To learn more about PADT and its new lineup of EOS metal 3D printing products and accessories, please visit www.padtinc.com.

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.

About EOS

EOS is the world’s leading technology supplier in the field of industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers. Formed in 1989, the independent company is pioneer and innovator for comprehensive solutions in additive manufacturing. Its product portfolio of EOS systems, materials, and process parameters gives customers crucial competitive advantages in terms of product quality and the long-term economic sustainability of their manufacturing processes. Furthermore, customers benefit from deep technical expertise in global service, applications engineering and consultancy.