3 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Making Videos

To support some new marketing efforts I had to make some different types of results output from models in Ansys Mechanical:

  • A 3D plot on a webpage
    Post 5
  • A physical printout on our 3D Printer
    Post 6

All of the posts are here.

This post is the third of six and it is an update on making videos of results animations with Ansys Mechanical. A lot of improvements have been made in recent releases and you can get good quality videos that are very useful for sharing results with others.

Getting a video of what you see on the screen

In most cases, you can get the video you need by using the animation tools built into Ansys Mechanical. By default, the animation tool shows up at the top of the animation window. If it is not there, go to Home > Layout > Reset Layout. Or add it with Home > Layout > Manage > Graph.

The key thing to know about making videos of results in Ansys Mechanical is that the “save to file” commands do a screengrab of what you see on the screen. So the size, orientation, and resolution are what is in front of you.

The Export Video File button is how you save the animation to a file.

As the tip in the image shows, the command supports AVI, MP4, WMV, and GIF formats. We will discuss the formats below and improving quality in the next section. Most of the time, you should pick MP4 and save the file.

But first, you should know that there are four things you can animate and save to a video file: modal results, static results, results over time, and motion of the camera (keyframe).

Plotting Mode Shapes

Modal results are the simplest. In our example impeller, you need to pick the mode you want to view, get the orientation you want, and then click the play button. When you are ready to make your video file, click the”Export Video File” button and save it.

Now is a good time to explore the different formats. For the sample model I’m using, the file size for the three video formats is pretty much the same:

MP41,139 KB
WMV1,320 KB
AVI1,120 KB
GIF29,072 KB

The Animated GIF is much larger, and it turns out, a much lower quality format. We will cover that in the next article, let’s just ignore GIF for now.

Taking a look at the 3 videos, I’m not sure I can tell a difference. Note, you need to download them and play them on your desktop to see any differences. If we upload to a streaming service then the format gets changed by the service.

And here it is embedded as a YouTube Video, which we will do for all the other examples. I used the MP4 format because I think it might look a little better.

Static Results

This one is very simple and is identical to mode shapes. It plots one result from initial conditions to the final result. Although in our example, it’s not so useful, for complex bending with lots of different loads, it can be handy.

Results Over Time/Steps

The most common use for animation is looking at results over time or over multiple load steps. I was too lazy to build a transient example, so I just put some strange acceleration loads on our impeller and varied them over 5 timesteps.

This gave some movement of the rotor (we will cover changing deflection exaggeration in the next section) so you can see what is going on.

To get your animation, select the result you want from the tree and orient things in a way that shows what you need to show. Push play to view. Tweak as needed then save as we did with modal results. This is what you get:

With the default settings, it creates the specified number of frames across the whole result set. This uses the “Distributed” setting, the green icon. If you watch the vertical line as it animates, you can see it linearly interpolating results between result steps.

If you don’t want this, then click the blue icon to get one frame per solution on the result file. This is a good idea, and even critical, for many transient runs or nonlinear runs where linear interpolation is not correct. Notice how the field for specifying frames is grayed out and set to 5. That is because we have 5 result sets.

To show the difference, including the graph at the bottom, I actually did a screen recording, which we will cover in the last section.

It really is simple. Get what you want going on your screen, then save it to a file.

Making it better

The default settings are great for most situations, but you can get better results with a few small changes.

Distortion

For any type of mechanical simulation, you are solving for deflection, and you usually want the distorted shape to show up in your animation. Most of the time the program calculated exaggeration is just fine. But if you need to change it, use Result > Display and the drop-down for the Deformation Scale Factor. Change it and see what happens.

Background

The first thing I always do is get rid of the blue gradient background. One reason for this is that the compression algorithms that various video formats use can cause the background gradient to shift slightly over the video. Or it might reduce the colors. Having a solid background gets rid of that. And, if you ask me, it just looks better.

You can set your preferences for images to always have a white background, but you can’t do that in Animation. So you need to change the Workbench background.

Go to Workbench > Tools> Options…

Then select Appearance. Set Background Style to Uniform and the first color to the color you want. I use White.

But a rich purple is kind of cool and makes the other colors stand out:

Remember to change this back when you are done making your animations. If you are working debugging a really tricky model, that purple will burn a hole in your head.

Size

Remember, Mechanical is just doing a screen capture in the background, so the size of your plot on your computer screen determines the output. Sometimes you may want a small video, sometimes a big one. Let’s look at getting the highest resolution possible.

The graphics window size is determined by everything around it. By default, the graphics window is embedded, but with a little trick, you can set it free.

Here is the default on my monitor, my rotor is 584 pixels tall. (my screen is 1080 pixels high.

  1. Go into full-screen mode by pressing F11 or clicking Home > Layout > Full Screen
  2. Then click the X Tabular data windows to remove it.
  3. Grab the blue strip on the Graph window and drag it to pull it out of the window. You need to keep that window to save your animation.
  4. Press CTRL-O to get rid of the outline
  5. Press CTRL-D to remove the details window.

That gives you a nice big window of your results. Now my impeller is 911 pixels tall. And I can zoom in a little to get it a bit bigger.

But you will notice the screen is wide. If I animate now, for my geometry, I’m wasting a lot of bits storing the background. Click on the “Restore Down” button in the upper right of your window to get it out of windows full screen. Then drag the edges to get the size and shape that are just big enough to show your results.

If you want another 20 pixels (now we are getting greedy) you can get rid of the toolbar at the top. Click on the tiny down arrow on the far right of the toolbar. Then click Add or Remove Buttons > Customize. Then uncheck “Graphics.”

Now run your animation. Then, when you are happy, save it. You can bring the outline back with CTRL+O if you need it. If you need more pixels, get a higher resolution monitor or stretch the graphics window over multiple monitors.

I’m working on a Microsoft Surface, and I’ve been doing my animations on my portable monitor, which is only 1080 pixels high. To get the best image, I moved over to the main screen, which is 1824 high.

So with all the tricks and on my highest resolution monitor, I get a video that is 1785 pixels high, and it looks pretty good, even after YouTube compresses it:

Here is the file to view on your own machine:

Important! To get back hit F11 then Home > Layout > Reset Layout. You may have to also do Home > Layout > Manage > Tabular Data to get that window back and Home > Layout > Manage > Graphics Toolbar to add that back to the top of the graphics window

Frames & Time

The last thing to play with is the number of frames and the length. A good rule of thumb is to not have less than 10 frames per second. And greater than 20 is good. Set it to 5 Frames and 5 Seconds to see blocky. Then 100 Frames and 5 Seconds (20 frames/sec) to see everything smooth.

Moving the object with Keyframe animation

If you want the object to move during an animation, you can use what is called Keyframe animation. To be honest, I am not sure I’m using it right in the program, but I got it to work somewhat, so I’ll share what I did. I’m also only going to cover the basics, see the documentation for more.

First, open the Keyframe Animation tool with Home > Tools > Keyframe Animation.

Orient your parts the way you want them, and click the add Keyframe button. The one with the green plus.

Now pick your second orientation, and add it to the list. Keep going till you have all your orientations in there. Set the time to somehting like 4 or 5 seconds, and hit play.

Now, getting a little fancy, you can add pauses at any Keyframe if you want. Do this by double-clickingon the Keyframe step to orient the part, then click the Insert Keyframe icon (top row, 4th from the left) to make a copy. You now how two keyframes at the same orientation so your part won’t move.

This window has a save animation button as well, so save it. When I used it, this is what I got:

This spins the final distorted shape, not the animated shape.

If you look at results that are not from a modal run, you will see that you can animate the results over time by clicking on the Keyframe icon in the animation bar:

The first icon, red circle, tells the program to change the orientation as defined in the Keyframe Animation Window while it animates your results. Click on the second icon, green circle, to use the frame counts you have specified in your Keyframe Animation Window.

This is what the multi-step results look like over the motion:

What about modal? Well in theory you can’t plot a mode shape with keyframe animation. But… if you set up a keyframe for a non-modal result, run it. Then move to a modal result, it works, sort of. The results animate if you have two keyframes that are the same next to each other. This is not a documented feature and may even be a bug. But here is how it looks:

When all else fails, make your own recording

Sometimes you can’t get what you need saved to a file, but you can see it on the screen. Including the Graph window is a good example. Rotating a modal result, since Keyframe really doesn’t work with modal, is another good example. Now that we all have learned to use online meeting software through COVID-19, we know how to do a screen capture of the animation. I use MS Teams and it works just fine.

But, the quality is OK and you get artifacts from the meeting, like my icon on the bottom for attendees. Those can be edited out, but not ideal. Here is a sample:

If you need better quality, a dedicated screen capture program may be better.

And it turns out that Windows 10 had a built-in screen recorder. It’s called XBOX Game Bar, and it works pretty well. Here is a link on how to use it.

And I get a nice full screen video:

Play, but not too much, and RTM.

The last bit of advice we can give on animating in Ansys Mechanical is that if you want something beyond the defaults, set aside some time to play. There are a lot of options, many we have not even looked at. But at the same time, in your quest for an Oscar, you may be spending time on something that is not going to make a difference. So use your time wisely.

And as always, Read the Manual. There is a wealth of detailed information there.

Getting the right Animated GIF

Now that we have covered creating various video formats, what about making an animation that doesn’t need some sort of player? The next post, “4 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Animated GIFs” explains how to do that.

2 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Taking it to the Next Level with Ansys EnSight

To support some new marketing efforts I had to make some different types of results output from models in Ansys Mechanical:

  • A 3D plot on a webpage
    Post 5
  • A physical printout on our 3D Printer
    Post 6

All of the posts are here.

This post is the second of six on what I’ve learned after fiddling around for a while. It is looking at a post-processing tool that Ansys acquired a few years back called Ansys EnSight. It takes making output to the next level in functionality and quality.

More options and ray tracing with Ansys EnSight

Back in 2017, 3 years ago, if you don’t account for COVID-19 time dilation, Ansys, Inc. acquired a company called Computational Engineering International. They had a product called EnSight, which was the best post-processing tool on the market. Many FLUENT, CFX, and LS-DYNA users would use EnSight to do advanced result interrogation and output. Its capabilities focus on doing complex visualization and automation. Along with real engineering tools and support for an extensive range of tools, it also makes really nice plots. For this post, we will focus on that part. This is an amazingly capable tool, and I’ll only cover the bare minimum that you need to know to get a result from Ansys Mechanical in and plotted. See the help or online training for more on this fantastic tool.

Ansys EnSight is its own stand-alone program. It can be licensed on its own or as part of various CFD bundles. If you are a larger company that does CFD, you probably have one or more seats.

The program reads Ansys Mechanical APDL result files. These are created when you run Ansys Mechanical and are stored in your project directory under dp0/SYS/MECH and is called file.rst or file.rth. I like to copy the result file from that directory to a folder where I’m going to store my plots and also rename it so I know what it is. For our impeller model, I called it impeller-thin-modal-1.rst.

Once you have your rst file, go ahead and launch EnSight.

Setting up images in Ansys Ensight

That brings up a blank sessions. To get started click File > Open

This will bring up a dialog box for specifying a results file. If you click on the “File type:” dropdown you will see the long list of supported files it can work with. Take a look while you are there and see if any other tools you use are listed. Of course, Ansys FLUENT and CFX are listed. This is first and foremost a CVD post-processor.

But the one we want is Ansys Results (*.rst *.rth *.rfl *.rmg). Chose that then go to the directory where you put your Ansys result file.

EnSight will read the file and put it in a Case. It will list the results as Part 0 under Case 1.

The left part of the screen shows what you have to work with, and the right shows your model. The “Time” control, circled in green, is where you specify what time, substep, or mode you want. The “Parts” control lets you deal with parts, which we really won’t use. And the “Variables” control, circled in orange, is how you specify what result you want to view.

We want to plot deflection, which is a vector. Click on the + sign next to Vectors, and you get a list of what values you can show. The only supported result for model analysis is Displacement__Vibration_mode. Click on that. Then hold down the right mouse button and select “Color Part” > All.

This tells the program to use that result to shade the part. You should now see your contour.

Our example is a modal result. If you use a structural result file, you will be able to plot the displacement vector, as well as many stress results under “Scalars”

Next, you will want to clean things up. Go to View and turn things on and off as you see fit. I like to turn off perspective, the Axis triad, and sometimes the legend.

You may notice the “Lighting…” option. If you really want to get fancy, you can specify various lights to get shadows and such. I like to add a spotlight above and slightly off-center from the part. You can waste a lot of time playing with lights, so try to avoid it if you can.

To pick which mode or timestep you want, use the “Time” control. Clicking on the step forward or step back buttons (triangle with a small rectangle at the base) steps you through the results on your file. Or you can drag the slider.

By default, EnSight shows an undeformed object. If you want to see the deflected shape, click on the part then on the “Displacement” icon above the graphics window. Select the vector result you want to use, displacement in this case.

Note, the default displacement factor may not be a good guess, change that till you get the amount of deflection you want.

These are only a few of the dozens of options available. But we can get most of what we need with these, so let’s look at saving the plot.

Saving your image

Now its time to get a rendered plot. Go to File > Export > Image

There is a lot to do in the “Save image” dialog. First, set the format (red circle.) I always use PNG. Then set the filename and path.

Expand the Advanced area and click “RayTrace the scene” (orange circle). Then you need to tell it how many pixels you want. Go big. You can always shrink it later.

Click OK and generate your plot. Check it out, things may be fine.

Leveraging Ray Tracing in Ansys EnSight

If you want to make the plot even better, go back to the Save image dialog and click “Raytrace settings…” and move the Quality slider all the way to the right. Do know that it can take a while to ray trace a large image with lots of surfaces.

And this is what you get. Click on the image to see it larger.

There is are many more options in this tool. Spend some time exploring these features to get even better plots:

  • You can change the shading of the surface by double-clicking on the part in the “Parts” control and then setting the surface lighting parameters. To get there, click on advanced, scroll down, and expand General. I like to up shininess. Play with these to see what works best.
  • You can also create multiple views in the same window. Right mouse clock in the graphics window and select “Viewports” and pick what you want. You can’t ray trace but you can still get output of multiple windows.

Here is what the output looks like, whithot ray tracing. Not bad.

  • Sometimes you may want to make your part transparent. You can set that in the controls under General, where you can change the lighting.

And you get a very cool plot. I’m not sure when you would use it, but if you need it, it is handy. CFD users need this all the time.

The problem with this tool is that it has so many great features, you could burn a lot of time just changing things. But if you stick to the basics, you can take your plot to that next level for your website or brochure.

Plotting a single part in a multi-part file

There is one last detail to mention. What do you do if your model is an assembly but you only want to plot one part. EnSight treats a given RST file as one part. So you can’t really scope to just the part you want.

The solution is to open your RST file in Mechanical APDL and save out the parts you want to plot in a seperate result file. You do this with the APDL command: rsplit

Here are the steps:

  1. Get into APDL
  2. Use “set” to read the results file
  3. Select the elements you want as separate parts for plotting using standard APDL commands or the GUI.
  4. Create element components for them (cm,name,elem, or the GUI)
  5. Use rsplit to write an RST for each part: rsplit,all,all,cmname where cmname is the component name you created in step 4.
  6. This makes an rst file called cmname.rst. Now use this rst file for the above process

Let’s make a movie next

This post and the previous one focused on high-quality 2D plots. What if you want to show motion? Read on to the third post in the series to learn how to create outstanding videos in Ansys Mechanical – “3 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Making Videos

1 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Making High-Resolution Images

To support some new marketing efforts I had to make some different types of results output from models in Ansys Mechanical:

  • A 3D plot on a webpage
    Post 5
  • A physical printout on our 3D Printer
    Post 6

All of the posts are here.

This post is the first of six on what I’ve learned after fiddling around for a while. It is an update to an article I did back in 2009 on the same topic, as well as plotting well in Mechanical APDL

Getting high-quality Pixels in Ansys Mechanical

To get started, let’s meet our sample model, an impeller we were working with a while ago for some Additive Manufacturing simulation. The modal results are good for exploring plotting:

Getting an image file in Ansys Mechanical is pretty simple. You click on the object you want a plot of, then select Home > Insert > Images > “Image to File …”

The default preferences are good for most plots. You basically get what you see on the screen.

This is the dialog where we can start making some simple modifications to increase the quality. here is how it comes out. Click to see full size:

I’m not a big fan of that. It is OK for sticking in an email or small on a PowerPoint. But I like better resolution, not just for marketing, but also to allow zooming.

The simplest change is to up the resolution – the number of dots per inch. First, you have to unclick the “Current Graphics Display.”

Playing with the resolution, here is the same image at the three different resolutions (1:1, 2:1, 4:1) (click to see it full size or look at the zoomed views below)

For most uses, the middle image, 2:1 is good enough. Image quality is driven by the number of color dots, or pixels. The base size is determined by how big the window is on your monitor. For this part the images are:

ScalePixel SizeFile Size
1:1939 x 621140 KB
2:1878 x 1242349 KB
4:13756 x 2484884 KB

But if we zoom in we can see the difference. You really only need the 4:1 for printing, or as we needed, the ability to blow it up for a booth or banner.

1:1
2:1
4:1

The blue-to-white gradient looks good on the screen and cuts down on eye fatigue, but can be a pain for images, especially if you are removing backgrounds or pasting into other documents. So the next thing I always do is change the background to white:

And you get a great picture, here it is 2:1, white background:

With the white background, it is easy to remove it, so you can place things behind it. That is very handy in PowerPoint.

If you are not familiar with that feature in Microsft Office applications, it is under: Picture Format > Adjust > Color > Set Transparent Color. Then click on a white pixel in your image.

This example shows a gray background, but it works with much fancier backgrounds. Here is the impeller in Sedona, Arizona.

I deleted the white background, the key, and the triad in Photoshop. I usally turn off the scale and triad in Ansys Mechanical: Display > Show then pick what you want on your plot.

These plots all use solid colors for each contour band, which is easier to read if you are doing actuall engineer. But if we are making marketing plots, I swap to smouth contours: Result > Display > Contours > Smooth Contours.

With a little Photoshop work you can get somethign pretty snazzy:

The last thing to talk about is what format to save in. This used to make a big difference because some of the formats traded quality for file size. But now the quality of the more efficient files is good.

You chose the format when you specify the file name. The choices are PNG, JPEG, TIFF, Windows Bitmap, and EPS.

As you can see in the closeup below, the different format really don’t lose quality, but their size varies a lot. Take a look at the next image, I can’t spot the difference. I recommend PNG because it is small but doesn’t lose any quality. But if you have a lot of plots and size is an issue, use JPEG. I have no idea why TIFF and especially Windows Bitmap or so large, but unless someone asks you for those formats, I’d avoid them.

Which leads us to the EPS or Encapsulated Postscript format. This is the last option. Now, EPS is usually what we call a vector format – not pixels but actual shaded polygons. The advantage of vector is that you can scale it up and down all you want and nothing is lost. The image is always sharp.

So you may get excited when you see EPS. In Ansys Mechanical APDL it does create a vector file (a way to get vector graphics of your results if you need them. Use /show,PSCR,,,8) But Ansys Mechanical just creates a bitmap image and puts it into Postscript format. It is not vector. You can see this if you open it in Adobe Illustrator. Bummer.

I hope this helps, and for 90% of your plotting needs, these tips should get the job done. But if you want to go further, read on to the next post in the series: “2 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: Taking it to the Next Level with Ansys EnSight

Managing a Subscription List with a Flow in Microsoft Power Automate

This is an unusual HOW-TO post for our blog. Most of the time, we post useful technical content about Ansys, Flownex, 3D Printing, Scanning, and product development. But I’ve been on a no-code kick using Microsoft Power Automate and the flows you can create there. But as I’ve learned the tool, I’ve found a lack of good resources that are similar to the type of content we like to do for our Ansys users, so I thought I’d break the mold and post about a simple flow I did that shows how to add and modify data in Microsoft Excel from the results from a Microsoft form.

It all started with a virtual happy hour I started back at the beginning of the pandemic. I invited a handful of people that I’m used to seeing at Arizona tech community events. Over time, I invited more people, and the regulars invited their friends. The invite list got long. Also, I found that no-one was being asked to be taken off the list, but many people have never shown up.

I needed a subscribe and unsubscribe form that updated my list.

Rather than using a perfectly good and free online tool to manage the list, I decided to use this need as a reason to learn more about flows in MS Power Automate.

Here is what I wanted:

  • Subscribe
    • Person goes to form, enters their email
    • Email is checked against list
    • If the email was on the list:
      • If the email is flagged as unsubscribed
        • Flip flag to subscribed
        • Send a success email
      • If the email was flagged as subscribed
        • Send an email to the person letting them know they are already subscribed
    • If the email was not on the list:
      • Add them to the bottom of the list
      • Send an email letting them know they were added
  • Unsubscribe
    • Person goes to form, enters their email
    • Email is located in list
    • If the email was on the list
      • The email is flagged as Unsubscribed (TRUE in second column)
    • If it was not on the list
      • Send an email letting them know that their email was not found.

So how do we do this in MS Flow? It is actually pretty simple. The basic concept behind flows is that you have some sort of an event on a document or a form that you set a watch on. Then you take the information from that event and do something with other Microsoft tools, and some 3rd party tools. All with no writing of code! You set up a flow chart and fill in forms.

The other thing I like about this example is it shows how to deal with errors and branch when something doesn’t go right.

I’m going to assume if you are reading this, you have a basic familiarity with the tool. If not, run through some basic tutorials and come back.

Before you start doing the flow, you need to create a subscribe form, an unsubscribe form, and an Excel spreadsheet. The forms just ask for an email.

The Subscribe Microsoft Form
The Unsubscribe Microsoft Form

Because flows work on tables, create a table with two columns. The first is for emails, and the second is for a flag on if they have asked to unsubscribe. You can have other fields on your forms and other columns in your table if you want more information, like company or names. For my happy hour, I just want emails. You can start with dummy emails or just your own. Save the file to a SharePoint site that you are part of.

The Table in Microsoft Excel

Unsubscribe

The unsubscribe is simpler, so let’s start there. My flow looks like this:

Let’s look at each block to understand how things work:

I start the flow when my Unsubscribe form is submitted. (If you have Office365 and you are using a different form tool, stop and check out MS Forms. We have been very happy with it. ) All you need to do is pick the form you want. Note, I changed to the title with … > Rename so when I come back in 6 months, I can remember what is going on.

Each block creates output that can go to the next block. All that the form trigger does is return the ID for the response. So we need to now get the information that was submitted with a “Get response details” block:

Notice that you have to re-identify the form. It does not assume that the previous block is where the information is. So select the form again.

For the Response ID value, we will use the results from the trigger block. Any time you fill in a field that is not a dropdown, you get a popup that shows you information passed down from previous blocks. At this point, all we have is the response ID. Click on that to fill the form out. These chunks of information are called Dynamic Content and will have an icon next to their label that reflects the application the information came from.

Now that we have the email address to add, we need to try to add it to a table in Excel. We use an Update a row block for that. Our goal is to set the value to TRUE for the unsubscribe flag.

Flows use files stored in SharePoint. So you need to find first specify the site you stored your Excel file on. Then the folder, then the file. All of these self-populate as you go.

Now, pick the table you want to update. The way this works is you specify a “key column” and a value to look for. The first row that has the supplied value in it gets updated. So we need to specify our “email” column and then the submitted email from the dynamic content.

It auto-populates with the columns in the table, so we can see our two columns that can be updated. We will leave email alone and set Unsubscribe to TRUE.

Now, if that all works just fine, we want to send a confirmation email. If it doesn’t, because the flow could not find the email given, we want to send an email letting the person know if it didn’t work.

We use the failure of the “update a row” block as a way to decide which way to branch. First, we need to make the branch. Add the success email:

Put the submitted email in the To: box and put in a descriptive subject. I then explain what is going on in the body and include the email so they can see what they submitted. I also put a link to the subscribe form if they want to get back at some point.

So that is great; if all goes well, they are marked as unsubscribed and get an email. But if their email was not on the list already, we need to let them know. To do this, you create a parallel branch and set “Configure Run After” to branch for an error.

Click on the + and chose add a parallel branch:

Do another email for that second option. I add in the body that they should use the email address that was in the last invite they got.

Now is the branching part. If you leave it like it is, the flow will send both emails if the update is successful and nothing if it fails. We need to tell the “fail email” to only send on a failure.

Do this by clicking on the … then chose “Configure run after.”

That brings up a form that lets you specify when the block should be run based on the exit status of the previous block. Check only “has failed” and Done.

Notice how the down arrow leading to the block is reddish. This tells you that it only runs if the previous block did not run successfully.

And that is a simple unsubscribe flow! I tried it out by unsubscribing myself and then using an email that is not in the list.

Subscribe: More logic and branching

For subscribing, we are going to add a row to our table, and we also need to check and make sure that the email was not already on the list, which lets us use some “has failed” branching, but we also want to change them from Unsubscribed = TRUE if they are already in the list but want to re-subscribe.

Here is the flow:

The first two blocks are the same. But the third block is a get a row block. It grabs the contents of the first row that matches the supplied Key Value for the Key Column. Some input, but the output is a list of the row values rather than letting them update the row. So we supply the Email column and the email address given.

For the case where it finds the row (we will come back and branch on the failure), we need to first check to see if the Unsubscribe flag is TRUE. So we insert a Condition Block. We put the returned value for Unsubscribe in the first field, set the condition to “is equal to,” and set the third field to true. See in the Dynamic Content dialog how the row results show up?

Note: Excel returns all lower case “true” or “false.” That tripped me up. So use all lower case.

That block generates an If yes and an If no branch.

For the If yes branch, we need to change the value of the row to FALSE and then send an email saying that the person has been resubscribed. So in the If yes block, we first add an Update Row block:

We do everything just like the unsubscribe changing of the row, except the value is now FALSE.

Then we add a new email, letting them know they were turned back on:

Now, if someone tried to subscribe and was already on the list and was subscribed, we should let them know with an email. So we add another email block into the If no Block

Next, we need to go back to handle the case when looking for the row of data showed that they were not already in the list.

We add a parallel Branch that points to an “Add a Row into a Table” block.

The block looks a lot like the other two blocks we have used for excel, except there is no Key Column or Value. You point to the table, then supply the value you want added. For our flow, the email and FALSE for Unsubscribe.

Remember, we add the row when it was not already there, the “get the row” block failed. So use “… > configure run after” and set it to “has failed” only.

Then add a success email after that block:

I have also added an email to me if the attempt to add a row failed. That is not necessary; if a flow fails, you get an email. But I thought it was the right thing to do. So I added one more email block parallel to the success email:

Remember to set its “configure after run” to only execute on a failure.

And it all works! Or seems to so far. And not one line of code.

Final Thoughts

One thing I didn’t do was BCC or CC myself on the emails. If you click “Show advanced options” at the bottom of the email blocks, they let you do a lot more, including BCC and CC addresses.

I could have also created a single form and had a check box for subscribing or unsubscribing. Then added a Condition block to branch based on that value.

As mentioned above, I could have done this with a dozen different free or paid tools. But this was a great way to up my Flow skills for something more serious, like the tool we are building to manage NDA agreements or our project numbers. Powerful stuff.

Or you can build your own list as an excuse to start your own Happy Hour.

PADT has developed expertise in many areas since our founding in 1994, and automating processes and integrating different tools are two areas demonstrated in this example. Please reach out if you need to make your workflows more efficient or need simulation, design, or 3D Printing tools, training, consulting, or services.

Cheers!

Good Times and Bad Times – 2020 has been a year to remember.

Here we are, the second week of December in the year 2020. This is the time of year when we usually look back on the year and see what went right and what didn’t. In a normal year, it’s a fun exercise. You can conduct the review two ways, something like a global pandemic that completely disrupts supply chains, decimated key industries, disrupts how we do our jobs, eliminates almost all travel, and brings real death and injury to people we know and care about. The first is focusing on the negatives, and the second is to acknowledge the challenges and then point out the bright spots. Let’s go with that second option.

Responding to the Challenge

We got wind of what was coming early. One of PADT’s owners was visiting Taiwan when it started to spread in China. He saw how seriously the Taiwanese government was taking it and let us know. At first, it didn’t impact business, but as the global supply chain started to show weakness, our customers started to let us know that they needed to make changes. As working from home became more common, our team helped where we could to get their users set up for Ansys usage at home. We moved meetings to online, and we helped users do their own 3D Printer repair over the phone when we couldn’t enter their facilities.

New ways of using 3D Printing & Simulation

As a longtime leader in 3D Printing, a big part of our adaption was to lend our connections and machines to the effort to use additive manufacturing to get protective equipment into the hands of those who needed them. By the time the supply chain was back working, we had manufactured thousands of face masks, consulted with dozens of people seeking our advice, and helped get material into the hands of those who needed it.

We also established a couple of panels on how our customers stepped up with both 3D Printing and Simulation to battle the virus’s spread. Take a listen to the recordings to learn more about some very clever applications of these two key technologies.

Even nine months into this pandemic, we are working with several companies on products or processes related to dealing with the virus.

New ways of doing work

We got a head start on cleaning and social distancing because we saw what was going on in Taiwan, and we started prepping our infrastructure for work from home (WFH). When things started to worsen in the US, our employees stepped up and made the changes they needed.

For us, Microsoft Office365, Teams, and OneDrive have been a wonderful toolset for collaboration and communication. We even got our ancient, over 20-year-old phone system swapped over quickly to forward to cell phones and email. Thanks to our amazing IT team, we were soon meeting with customers and vendors worldwide, collaborating, and pretty much back on track.

Essential employees adjusted their schedules to reduce the potential of contamination, and we doubled-downed on social distancing. All the machines kept running, our IT infrastructure stayed solid, and we really didn’t see much of a disruption to making deadlines.

Without travel or meetings, interacting with our customers and the community was a challenge. PADT has hosted nine networking events for the Arizona technology business community since late spring and also hosted three panels for tech company executives and owners to discuss how to deal with COVID-19.

New and improved offerings and territories

We started the year by announcing our new community resource in March, 3dprinting-glossary.com. This free reference site offers definitions for over 250 terms used in Additive Manufacturing. It is slowly making its way up the list on Google search, and every month we see more and more users. As the industry grows, we will continue to keep it up to date.

Speaking of 3D Printing, our next big milestone was our expansion into Texas for Stratasys sales and support. We have been selling Ansys in the Lone Star state for several years and were pleased when, as a Stratasys Elite Channel Partner, we were asked to add Texas to our existing territory of Ansys, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

We kept the ball rolling when Art Newcomer relocated to New Mexico to support our growing customer base in that state. Art is one of our field service engineers and is an expert in maintaining and getting the most out of Stratasys AM systems.

Then just last month, we officially announced a new EOS M 290 system at PADT, greatly increasing our ability to provide Metal 3D Printing Services. The new system will be used to manufacture components for customers and conduct R&D projects.

Simulation also saw some new offerings. As Ansys, Inc. continues to add new simulation tools to their portfolio, our team works to understand what they offer and introduces them to and supports them for our customers. In 2020 we saw noticeable growth in new users and consulting around LS-Dyna, Sherlock, and SPEOS. Ansys also added some new acquisitions in 2020 that we see great interest in: AGI for mission-level aerospace simulation and Lumerical for the modeling of photonics components.

New team members

This year also saw new employees joining the team. Over the year, we have added 5 engineers and 4 salespeople. That is good growth in any year but fantastic in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

On top of these new team members spread across simulation, product development, and 3D Printing, we added two critical senior staff members to help us grow to the next level.

  • Dr. Keng Hsu, a recognized expert on Metal 3D Printing who joined us as Principal R&D Engineer, Additive Manufacturing.
  • Dr. Tyler Shaw also came on board in the second half of the year as our new Director of Engineering, leading our consulting team.
Dr Keng Hsu and Dr Tyler Shaw

New challenges in 2021

Which brings us to 2021. Like most people, we will be working under #covidrules through the first quarter and maybe even a bit into April or May. With this schedule in mind, here is what we plan to do while still dealing with the pandemic and after:

  • Pandemic-mode
    • Keep our employees safe
    • Add some new and exciting 3D Printing technologies.
    • Grow our recent expansion in California and Texas with additional staff and activities
    • Listen to our customers and deliver what they need to be successful.
    • Find new and interesting ways to get information into the hands of our customers. We are all a bit “zoomed-out.”
    • Upgrade our compute infrastructure and continue to explore cloud solutions for business and engineering applications.
    • Host more events for the community
    • Remember to unmute at least 75% of the time.
  • Post-Pandemic-Mode
    • Look back on what worked and didn’t work, and modify how we travel, meet, and communicate to take advantage of what we learned.
    • Get out and see as many of our customers as possible face-to-face.
    • Make further investments in people and resources in Texas and California, building on our growth in both states in 2020.
    • Go to lunch with our co-workers.
    • Have an Arizona Tech Business Networking event in person.
    • Throw our annual Nerdtoberfest Open House at PADT’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona
    • Have a 3D Printing Users Meeting in Colorado, outside, at a brewery.

Thank you!

This post has been purposefully upbeat. Although the business side of things has gone well, all things considered, it has been a stressful year, and many in the PADT extended family have struggled and dealt with serious health issues because of this virus.

As we close out 2020, a truly memorable year, we simply want to thank everyone who joined us on this journey for both helping us along the way and for letting us help you get through it.

Christmas Right-Left Gift Exchange Story: Sinatra Saves Christmas

For our Christmas parties at PADT, we generally have over 50 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes too long. At some point, we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. When we ran out of stories on the internet, we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style. This year’s theme was “Vegas, Baby.” So our story is a never-before-revealed true story (not) of how the Rat Back kept Santa from losing it all.

Here is how it works:

Everyone gets their gift and forms a big circle in the middle of the room.  Someone with a strong voice reads the story, and every time the word LEFT is read, everyone passes the package they have to the left. Every time the world RIGHT is read, everyone passes the package they have to their right.  You should pause a bit at each LEFT/RIGHT to give people a chance to pass.

You can find previous years stories here

– Vegas Christmas (2019)
– Hollywood Golden Age Christmas (2018)
– Elf Family Christmas (2017)
– Western Christmas (2016)
– Star Wars Christmas (2015)
– Fairy Tale Christmas (2014)
– Science Fiction Christmas (2013)
– Romance Christmas (2012)
– Film Noir Christmas (2011)


How the Chairman of the Board Saved Christmas

Let me tell you, young people, a story.  I got lots of stories.  But RIGHT now, I want to tell a story about the night in Vegas when Frank Sinatra saved Christmas.

I was RIGHT there. 1958. Working as a dealer in the casino at the Sands.  Back then, the Sands was RIGHT in the middle of everything.  It’s where the high-roller came, and the best entertainers in the world performed RIGHT there on the stage in the showroom.

That night, morning really, most everyone had LEFT.  The Rat Pack, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, and Frank Sinatra had performed a great show. I caught it from the service door LEFT of the stage.  But RIGHT after it finished, most people LEFT, going to other casinos or back to their hotels.  After grabbing drinks and some steaks in the restaurant, Sammy, Dean, and Frank decided to gamble.  And that is when it happened.

My poker table was on the RIGHT side of the room.  I was LEFT speechless when all three of my idols walked in, looked RIGHT, looked LEFT, and then sat… down at my table. After a few seconds, Dean asked, “You all RIGHT, kid?  You look kind of pale, like you seen a ghost or some’ting.” Frank added, “Yah kid, your jaw is hanging down RIGHT on the table. Pull it closed and deal us a hand.”

And with that, I starting dealing the most exciting evening of poker in my life.

The three icons, sitting RIGHT in front of me, played for about an hour.  A small crowd started gathering, and soon there was no room LEFT around my table.  It was magical. I tell you, those guys sure could sing. But they were also funny as hell. The way they ribbed each other. It LEFT me in tears.

About an hour in, things went from strange to surreal.  A large tall man was pushing people to the LEFT and to the RIGHT as he made his way to the table.  He had long white hair and a long white beard that covered his ample belly.  He came up and sat RIGHT next to Sammy, on his LEFT.  Sammy looked at his cards and then to his LEFT and said. “Hey, you.  I promise I’ve been nice this year.  These other two, there is no nice LEFT in them. Definitely need to be on your naughty list.”

The old man laughed and winked at all three men.  I heard Dean say, as he sipped from his whiskey glass, “Santa, how’s tricks. Don’t you have any gift wrapping LEFT to do? ”

It was Santa Clause. At my table, from LEFT to RIGHT, I had Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, and RIGHT at the end, Santa Clause. Only in Vegas.

I won’t bore you with details. I’ll just jump RIGHT to the end.  They played poker for ninety-minute or so, and Santa was losing badly.  When he had no chips LEFT, he bet the gold watch he kept in his RIGHT hip pocket.  When he lost that he reached into the inside RIGHT pocket of jacket and put a piece of paper on the table, saying, “This is all I got LEFT, boys.”

Across the top of the paper, I could read “Deed, North Pole Christmas Factory.”

Sammy blinked and said, “Man, Santa, Man, that ain’t so cool. If one of us wins RIGHT now, what are we gonna do with the north pole?  Dean here is too fat to fit in a chimney, and Frank is too stingy to hand out gifts. Man, take it RIGHT back.”

Santa shook his head.  “No boys, I’m betting the figurative farm. My hand is that good. I’m LEFT with no choice.”

Dean and Sammy folded, but Frank stayed in.  Pushing his chips RIGHT into the middle of the table.  “One card LEFT Santa.” Frank said, “And the fate of Christmas is decided. You win, you have enough money to buy a new, bigger sled for that fat ass of yours to fit into.  You lose, and RIGHT here, RIGHT now, I become the big guy, and I run Christmas.”

I dealt the last cards.

 Frank looked at his and winked RIGHT at me.  I still remember that wink and his blue-blue eyes.  He muttered a cuss word, hit Sammy in the back of the head, and tossed his cards in. “I fold.” He said. 

Santa took the chips and the deed and LEFT without a word.  No ho ho ho. No jolly.  He just LEFT.  So did the Rat pack, slapping each other on the back and headed to their next adventure.  Frank must have LEFT forty thousand dollars in chips in that pot. What a guy.

When they were all gone, you know what I did? I flipped those cards RIGHT over.  First Santa, on my RIGHT.  Three duces and to the RIGHT of those an Ace and a King.  Frank’s hand? Your RIGHT to ask me what is in Frank’s hand.  RIGHT there in front of his chair, I saw all hearts, Ten- Jack-Queen-King and yes, Ace.  He had folded with a royal flush and LEFT his money for Santa to take.

That night in Vegas, RIGHT there at the Sands Hotel. Frank Sinatra sang, he drank, he played poker, and he paid forty-thousand dollars to save Christmas. There are not a lot of people LEFT like Frank.  Guys that have the world RIGHT there in their hands.  And when they are LEFT with making a call about giving something up and doing what is RIGHT. They decide to do what is RIGHT.

Thanks, Frank. Thank you for doing it your way.

Press Release: Expanding its Product Development Expertise, PADT Adds Dr. Tyler Shaw, Former Head of Advanced Manufacturing at PING, as Director of Engineering

Change is an important part of growth. Our mission within the Engineering Services team at PADT is:

Delivering Premier Engineering Services to Enable World-Changing Product Development.

To do that, we need a world class leader. And when our long-time Director of Engineering decided to move to something different, we searched high and low for a new person. The ability and experience of the applicants was amazing and making a decision was difficult. In the end we were fortunate to have Dr. Tyler Shaw join PADT.

Read the official press release below to learn more. We are excited about this new phase for our consulting offering. Tyler’s background and knowlede open new and excited doors.

If you would like to explore how PADT can provide product development or simulation assistance to your organization, contact us, and Tyler along with the rest of the team will be eager to learn more.


Expanding its Product Development Expertise, PADT Adds Dr. Tyler Shaw, Former Head of Advanced Manufacturing at PING, as Director of Engineering

Shaw Tapped to Lead PADT’s Simulation and Product Development Team Who Provide Services Across Industries Worldwide

TEMPE, Ariz., December 3, 2020 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has hired Dr. Tyler Shaw as its Director of Engineering to oversee the company’s simulation and product development consulting team effective immediately. Shaw most recently served as the head of Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation at PING golf, and has worked as an engineer, product manager, and educator across a diverse range of industries for more than 20 years.

“PADT’s ability to help our customers solve tough problems is a key industry differentiator, and we’re thrilled to welcome Tyler as a leader to oversee our team of simulation and design experts,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal of PADT. “His experience and impressive technical background will enable us to continue our high-quality service while providing fresh, innovative ideas for developing products to their full potential.”

Dr. Shaw replaces Rob Rowan as the director of Engineering. Rowan spent nearly 20 years with PADT and is credited for driving the growth of PADT’s engineering services and capabilities. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Rob for his dedication and leadership,” said Miller. “He was greatly admired for his broad engineering knowledge and business acumen and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

After a comprehensive search, Dr. Shaw emerged as the most technically advanced, skilled, and capable candidate to assume the role as PADT’s engineering leader. Dr. Shaw will focus on setting strategy, managing resources, and providing technical expertise to solve customer challenges. Prior to working at PADT and PING, Dr. Shaw served as a product manager for Vestas where he led customer-specific technical and commercial solutions for wind turbine sales across North, Central, and South America. He was also a principal systems engineer for Orbital Sciences Corporation, now Northrop Grumman, where he managed projects related to the development of world-class rockets, satellites, and other space systems.

“I am thrilled to join PADT and am ready for the challenge of taking its engineering services to the next level,” said Dr. Shaw. “I’ve worked with PADT in my previous post and was impressed with their capabilities and portfolio of clients, which covers a diverse set of industries. My background and technical knowledge across many of these sectors will serve PADT’s customers well.”

To learn more about Dr. Shaw and PADT’s simulation and product development services, 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.

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More formal versions of this Press Release are available here in PDF and here in HTML.

Christmas Right-Left Gift Exchange Story: Brock’s Star-Studded Christmas Adventure

For our Christmas parties at PADT, we generally have over 50 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes too long. At some point, we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. When we ran out of stories on the internet, we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style. This year’s theme was “a Hollywood Party,” red carpet and all. So our story takes a look back at the golden age in Tinseltown.

Here is how it works:

Everyone gets their gift and forms a big circle in the middle of the room.  Someone with a strong voice reads the story and every time the word LEFT is read, everyone passes the package they have to the left. Every time the world RIGHT is read, everyone passes the package they have to their right.  You should pause a bit at each LEFT/RIGHT to give people a chance to pass.

You can find previous years stories here

– Vegas Christmas (2019)
– Hollywood Golden Age Christmas (2018)
– Elf Family Christmas (2017)
– Western Christmas (2016)
– Star Wars Christmas (2015)
– Fairy Tale Christmas (2014)
– Science Fiction Christmas (2013)
– Romance Christmas (2012)
– Film Noir Christmas (2011)


Brock’s Star-Studded Christmas Adventure

The Hollywood sign showed brightly in the rearview mirror of Brock “Lefty” Johnsons’ 45 Cadillac convertible on that fateful Christmas Eve. Right now, he needed to focus. He was nervous because two of the biggest stars in the world were in the back seat. On the left was Catherine Hepburn. On the right, Jimmy Stewart. And to top it off, in the front seat to his right was Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart’s co-star in the soon to be released “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Brock was a mid-level producer for the studio who was at the right place at the wrong, or maybe the right time. The studio boss, Robby Leftensteen had picked him to drive the stars to a Christmas Party right smack dab in the middle of Palm Springs.

They left the studio at four PM, right after Miss Hepburn had finished filming for the day. They were late, so Brock stayed in the left lane once they got on the freeway. Mrs. Read turned and talked to her friends over her left shoulder as they sped out of town and climbed right up the hill to the desert.

About an hour into the drive Brock heard Jimmy Stewart say, “Ah, l-l-Lefty, I think you should slow down. Um, Ah, over there. On the right side of the road. Looks like someone had a bit of a spill.” Brock looked out the right side of the car as he slowed and he could just make out the bottom of a big red vehicle. Strangely, on the right and left of the wreck, a group of deer stood chewing on the desert shrubs. He turned on his right turn signal and crossed to the opposite side of the road and drove slowly off the pavement to towards the wreck.

In his panic, he parked right next to some cactus, so they all had to exit from the right side of the car. He and Jimmy Stewart walked to the right side of the large red vehicle, noticing that it had no wheels. It was a slay. When they got to the other side, he could not believe what he saw.

Right there, right in the middle of the desert, right in front of him was Santa Clause laying with his legs pinned right of a giant bag of gifts. And he was obviously unconscious.

Kathrine Hepburn let out a scream and ran right to Santa’s left side, and Donna Read crouched on his right side. They gently slapped his face till he woke up.

“Ho Ho Ho! That was the biggest goose I’ve ever seen!” said Santa Clause as he shook his head left and right. “I thought I was left for dead! Ho Ho Ho!”

“W-W-We are right here to help. You lay right here while we get this bag off of you.”

With much grunting and struggling, Jimmy Stewart and Brock pulled the bag off, which left Santa’s legs free. The big jolly man rolled onto his left side then slowly stood up.

“Ho Ho Ho! That goose left me knocked out.  Right now I want to focus on righting my slay and deliver all the presents I have left.

That is when Brock “Lefty” Johnson found himself pushing on the right end of a giant red slay with Jimmy Steward, Kathrine Hepburn, Donna Read, AND Santa Clause. They rocked the sled left and back until it rolled right over onto its runners. Santa let out a whistle and the reindeer lined up right in front of the sleigh.

While they all stood lined up right along the side of the road, the sound of jingling bells filled the air around them as the sled leaped straight up in the air and moved in a slow right-hand turn above them.

“Ho Ho Ho! Jimmy and Kathrine, Donna and Lefty! Thank you for always doing the right thing and for making movies that have left me crying and laughing!”

Brock felt Miss Hepburn lean against his left shoulder as she whispered “Merry Christmas Santa” into the cool desert night as the giant red sleigh left their sight.

Press Release: With New Capabilities in Metal 3D Printing, PADT Expands its Presence in the AM Value Chain

The world of Additive Manufacturing continues to evolve, and PADT’s offerings grow with those changes. Our latest advance is in the addition of a new system and an experienced engineer – an EOS M 290 and Keng Hsu, former ASU and Univeristy of Lousville professor. Read below to learn more.

We also have a PDF and HTML version of the release.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us.


With New Capabilities in Metal 3D Printing, PADT Expands its Presence in the AM Value Chain

To Deepen its Investments in Metal Additive Manufacturing Research and Development, PADT Also Brought Onboard Veteran Engineer Keng Hsu as Principal AM R&D Engineer

TEMPE, Ariz., November 17, 2020 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has installed an advanced metal 3D printer from EOS, a global leader in the industrial metal 3D printing technologies, at its headquarters facility in Tempe, Arizona. With this increase in AM process and material capability, PADT can not only develop the highest quality end-use metal products, but also is well-positioned to address some of the current research and development challenges in additive manufacturing. PADT’s wide range of customers in highly demanding industries, most notably aerospace and defense, will see direct benefits of this new capability.

To lead metal additive manufacturing research and development (R&D), PADT also announced it has brought onboard Keng Hsu, engineer, researcher and associate professor at University of Louisville and formerly Arizona State University. Hsu brings more than 20 years of experience in equipment and facility operations, engineering R&D, engineering project execution and management in areas of advanced manufacturing of polymers, metals, and semiconductors. He has performed in-depth R&D contracts on 3D printing process and material development for some of the world’s largest technology organizations including Intel, Northrup Grumman, Salt River Project, the Department of Defense, and NASA.

“Metal 3D printing has reached a level of maturity that enables the production of end-use components and is now one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the world,” said Rey Chu, co-founder and principal, PADT. “The addition of the powerful EOS M290 printer to our portfolio expands the already extensive list of 3D printing capabilities and services we offer our customers. Our investments in technology and the addition of additive manufacturing veteran Keng Hsu also improves our ability to perform in-depth R&D on the potential of metal 3D printing.”

Dr. Keng Hsu

The EOS M 290 is a highly productive, and well-established mid-size AM system with a broad portfolio of metals for production of high-quality components, and for material and process R&D. PADT will initially run two of the machines most popular and versatile metals – stainless steel and nickel super alloy. The system also features a host of software tools, including its comprehensive monitoring suite, which enables quality assurance of all production- and quality-relevant data in real-time. Hsu will lead PADT’s R&D involved with the EOS machine and all other aspects of the company’s work in 3D printing R&D and consulting.

“The innovation made possible by metal 3D printing and in the technology itself is yet to be fully realized across many industries, namely aerospace,” said Hsu. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to join a leader in the industry and further my research on the subject to advance PADT’s presence in the field and services for our customers.”

PADT has been the Southwest’s premier additive manufacturing expert since it was founded in 1994 and continues to invest in innovative metal and polymer 3D printing systems, as well as talent, to better serve its customers. The company is ITAR registered and its quality system is also AS9100D (2016) and ISO9001:2015 certified to better serve the aerospace and defense industry. As an Ansys Elite Channel partner, PADT can also bring their extensive simulation experience to better design parts to take advantage of laser powder bed fusion and to optimize the build processes itself.

As 3D printing technology has advanced, PADT has seen an increase in the industry’s use of 3D scanning and printing for end-use parts. Metal 3D printing provides many benefits to aerospace and defense companies, including lighter, cheaper parts made much faster and with fewer constraints than with traditional manufacturing methods.

A full list of the EOS M 290’s specifications can be found on PADT’s website here. For more information on PADT and its capabilities in metal and plastic 3D printing, 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.

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Press Release: PADT Expands its Operations in New Mexico With the Addition of 3D Printing Talent and Services

New 3D Printing Field Service Engineer Brings Exceptional 3D Printing Tooling and End-Part Production Skills and Knowledge to the Region

We are very pleased to announce that one of our 3D Printer experts is relocating to our New Mexico facility. Art Newcomer has moved to Albuquerque and will continue to support our Colorado and New Mexico cusotmers from there instead of our Littleton Office.

Read more in the press release below or as a PDF or HTML.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us.


PADT Expands its Operations in New Mexico With the Addition of 3D Printing Talent and Services

New 3D Printing Field Service Engineer Brings Exceptional 3D Printing Tooling and End-Part Production Skills and Knowledge to the Region

TEMPE, Ariz., October XX, 2020 PADT, the Southwest’s leading provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced 3D printing expert Art Newcomer is relocating from the company’s Colorado office to its long-standing New Mexico facility, located in Sandia Science & Technology Park (SS&TP). The move comes on the heels of PADT’s expanded capabilities and services in 3D printing and numerical simulation in California and Texas. Combined, these recent moves bolster the company’s ability to serve the growing region.

“Art has done a fantastic job supporting our Colorado customers and has been a significant contributor to our growth in the state,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “As a member of the PADT support team, he will continue to serve Colorado customers. Art’s move to New Mexico simply expands his impact on a region that has seen a significant acceleration of 3D printing adoption, making his extensive knowledge and talents a real asset there moving forward.”

Newcomer has been serving PADT’s 3D printing customers for five years, and has nearly 20 years of experience as a field service engineer across different technologies and sectors. In his role at PADT, he applied his talents to help customers install, maintain, and repair their Stratasys additive manufacturing systems across a wide variety of industries including aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial.

PADT’s growing customer base in New Mexico has expanded the application of proven Stratasys 3D printing technologies to include more tooling and end-part production. The National Labs in New Mexico were pioneers in the application of 3D Printing and PADT has been proud to work with them over the years as they increase their efforts and find new applications for the technology.

“I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge in New Mexico where PADT has served for many years,” said Newcomer. “The growth of 3D printing investments in the region provides us with a great opportunity to use our hard-earned expertise to educate customers on how to best implement the technology and to keep their systems operating at peak performance”

To learn more about PADT’s services in New Mexico as well as its continued expansion throughout the Southwest, 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.

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Press Release: Stratasys Platinum Channel Partner PADT Expands 3D Printing System Sales Into Texas to Meet the Growing Demand for Prototyping and End-Use Products

Demand for 3D Printing Equipment and Services in Texas’ Key Technology Industries Including Aerospace, Electronics, and Medical Has Drastically Increased

As a Platinum Channel Partner with Stratasys, PADT is excited to announce that we are now able to offer these services in Texas. We have been working with this technology in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah for more than 15 years, and are eager to finally bring our expertise to customer in the great state of Texas. 
 


This expansion is reflective of PADT’s consistent growth and the increased demand for additive manufacturing systems across many of Texas’ largest technology industries. Today, the aerospace industry is using thousands of 3D printed parts on aircraft and even spacecraft.

With PADT’s knowledge and expertise, we are well-positioned to be a valuable partner to the growing tech community in Texas. 

Please find our official press release below, or here as a PDF or in HTML.


Stratasys Platinum Channel Partner PADT Expands 3D Printing System Sales Into Texas to Meet the Growing Demand for Prototyping and End-Use Products

Demand for 3D Printing Equipment and Services in Texas’ Key Technology Industries Including Aerospace, Electronics,
and Medical Has Drastically Increased

TEMPE, Ariz., August 12, 2020 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced its Stratasys sales territory is expanding to include Texas. PADT is a Stratasys Platinum Channel Partner that has sold additive manufacturing systems as a certified reseller in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah for more than 15 years. In 2018, PADT also expanded its presence to Austin, Texas as a reseller of Ansys simulation software.

“Additive manufacturing technology that was once exclusive to low-volume prototyping has evolved rapidly for both prototyping and end-use product development alongside innovation in Stratasys’ 3D production systems and printing materials,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We’ve made deep investments in Texas and have many years of experience working with organizations in the state’s technology industry. We’re now eager to bring our outstanding support and expertise in 3D printing to Texas and build on our success with Stratasys and Ansys across the Southwest.”

The expansion is reflective of PADT’s consistent growth and the increased demand for additive manufacturing systems across many of Texas’ largest technology industries. Today, the aerospace industry is using thousands of 3D printed parts on aircraft and even spacecraft. In the medical industry, 3D printing is being used to prototype biological structures to improve surgery and enhance our knowledge of the human body. Stratasys has been a driving force behind this innovation and relies on industry experts like PADT to help organizations integrate the technology into their engineering and manufacturing processes.

“PADT has been an outstanding partner to Stratasys for nearly 20 years,” said Brent Noonan, Vice president of Channel Sales – Americas. “They were one of the first engineering firms in the country to embrace 3D printing for complex product design and development. As a result, they’ve built an impressive team with a wealth of knowledge and expertise as it relates to 3D printing use and integration across industry sectors. PADT is well-positioned to be a valuable partner to Texas’ growing technology community.”

For more information on PADT and its 3D printing offering, 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.

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Sharing Nature While we Work From Home

The Winners From PADT’s 2020 Nature Photography Day Contest

Every month we try to do something fun at PADT, and before the evil spikey ball of death ruined everything we would usually do something food-related. Pi day = Pie. Chocolate Day = Chocolate. Anything = pizza. However, since most of us are working from home we could not all show up in the lunchroom at noon for team-building (chowing down).

So we have been looking at a few websites that list fun, often fake holidays, and found out that June 15th was “Nature Photography Day” After setting up some channels in Microsoft Teams we let everyone submit pictures. Then after a week of submitting, employees voted.

Some were downright stunning. All were beautiful.

We present the winners here for your viewing pleasure.

For those who are interested, here is how we did the contest:

  1. We created MS Teams channels for each of the categories we chose:
    Amature, Pro’ish, and Kids
  2. Within each category, there were five topics: Desert, Not Desert, Water, Plants & Flowers, Animals in Nature, Human Structures in Nature.
  3. Employees uploaded their images to the proper channel and shared a bit about each one.
  4. We used the emoticon capability in Teams to “vote” on each one. A heart was worth 3 points, a laughing face 2, and thumbs up 1.
  5. After the voting was done we added up the points for each category and that determined the winners.

5 questions we ask before preparing a CFD consulting quote

This post was created based on the expert advice of PADT CFD engineer and Project Lead, Nathan Huber.

Simulating the behavior of liquids and gases has become a standard part of product development in products where fluid behavior plays an important role.  Here at PADT, we have been using Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD, for years to model everything from combustion in turbine engines to cooling of electronics, to golf balls. With that experience, our estimates for a given project have become reasonably accurate.

However, we can only estimate accurately if we have complete and accurate information on what you need simulated and what you hope to gain from the simulation. To help everyone arrive at more accurate cost and schedule estimates, even if you are planning a project internally, we offer the following list of five questions we always ask:

1: Have we signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?

Before we can do anything, we need to have an agreement in place that clearly defines how both sides handle proprietary information.  When we have tried holding meetings to gather information for a quote before an NDA is in place, we almost always waste time. There is just too much that is proprietary in most products.

2. What does your CAD Geometry look like?

We also need to know the physical geometry of your system.  That is why we ask for an accurate and complete CAD model.  We take some time to poke through the files in our software to make sure we can use the geometry, it is accurate, and it has the level of detail required for CFD. Basically, we check to see if we can pull a fluid domain from your CAD models. Remember, we are not simulating the solid part of your product; we are modeling the inverse and therefore need to pull a negative volume from your geometry.

3. What are the Boundary Conditions and Material Properties?

Now that the geometric domain is understood, we need to know what is inside that domain, and what is acting upon it.  We will ask you for boundary conditions, and for the material properties of the fluid or fluids you are asking us to model.  The complexity, time variation, and severity of the loads drive the difficulty of setting up and running the simulation. And the material properties can also impact the sophistication of the model as well as its robustness.  Both, therefore, have a significant impact on cost.

4. What results do you want to see?

When a simulation finishes, it can be post-processed to get a vast array of plots, figures, animations, pretty pictures, etc.  Those take time to create, so we need to know what you want to see. Also, we set up some post-processing parameters before we start the simulation.

5. What do you want to learn from your CFD Simulation?

The whole point of doing a CFD simulation is to study the behavior of your system. We need to know what behavior you need to understand so we can make sure that the simulation we propose answers your questions and guides you in your design process. 


We hope you find this review useful when you are planning your internal CFD project as well as those you outsource. And speaking of outsourcing, please consider PADT as your resources for any future simulation projects of any type, not just CFD.  Now, you already know what questions we will ask.

Panel Discussion: Fighting COVID-19 with 3D Printing

When the virus that causes COVID-19 started to spread around the world, supply chains started to fail. The made access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, even more difficult. That is when Additive Manufacturing stepped up and said: “We can help.”

PADT held a panel discussion with three customers and our partner, Stratasys, to hear how each of them met the challenges posed by COVID-19 and responded with 3D Printing. It was a fantastic discussion and well worth a listen.

Update on PADT and COVID-19

UPDATED 6/24/2021:

We continue to take this global pandemic very seriously and strive to adapt and communicate in a timely and frank manner. We have recently updated our policies as shown below. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Dear Customers, Vendors, and Partners,

Here at PADT, we want to deal with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation in a timely and frank manner. We will ensure that the needs of our employees, customers, and suppliers are met to the best of our ability. We know that it is never too early to plan, and that how everyone in the supply chain reacts impacts every other participant in that network. 

The key to getting through this experience is frequent, open, and honest communication. We will make an effort to reach out to everyone in our ecosystem, but please do not hesitate to contact us with your concerns and needs.

The collective health and safety of everyone involved is our first priority.  We will also strive to continue to deliver the products and services you count on PADT to perform in the most effective and timely manner possible. The good news is that PADT is a technology-driven company with the established infrastructure already in place to keep consulting projects and transactions moving forward, provide critical support, and deliver your parts and products on time.

We have the following restrictions currently in place:

  1. Travel Restrictions
    PADT has stopped all travel until further notice.
    PADT is now allowing required business travel for our fully vaccinated employees and essential travel with proper safety protocols for others.
  2. Face-to-Face Meetings
    In addition to travel, PADT has canceled all face-to-face meetings with non-employees.
    We are conducting face-to-face meetings with CDC recommended safety and social distancing measures, including no mask or social distancing requirement for fully vaccinated.
  3. Events
    All PADT hosted or sponsored non-virtual events have been canceled.
    We are now attending and sponsoring key events, following the event safety protocols.
  4. Field Service
    Provided at customer request. Please contact us to arrange.

We have replaced all supplemented travel and face-to-face interactions with virtual or phone meetings. Every employee is available via video conferencing, email, or over the phone.

In addition, the following measures will be put into place as needed:

  1. Work from Home
    PADT has an existing and proven infrastructure in place that enables employees to work from home.  It is secure and follows our established cybersecurity policies. If we feel the need to assign employees to work from home, you will be able to contact them via email, and voice mails will be sent to them electronically. Every employee has access to Microsoft Teams and can also interact using your virtual meeting preferred tool. 

    We are currently allowing those employees who wish to work from home to do so but encourage our fully vaccinated employees to return to the office.
  2. Order Fulfillment
    There are currently no issues with order fulfillment
    We are working closely with our suppliers to identify any upstream supply chain disruptions as soon as possible.  We will quickly communicate any potential issues to all impacted parties.  

Please contact us immediately if you encounter any challenges or concerns. 

The key to getting through this situation with minimal disruption is focusing on the health and safety of everyone, adapting flexibly to an ever-changing situation, and communicating effectively.