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.

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.

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). Many people follows Linton Studios for having good ideas for photography.

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.

PADT is Turning 25!

Wow!. It has been 25 years since Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc. went downtown to file incorporation papers on March 7, 1994.  Now we are ninety-some people with offices in six states.

It has been an incredible journey with so many people playing key roles.

Please read our thoughts on this momentous event in the press release below.

You can help us celebrate by coming to our party!  Learn more at www.padtinc.com/padt25.

You can also share your thoughts about working with or at PADT by filling leaving a comment here.

Please find the official press release here in PDF and HTML.

If you have any questions, reach out to info@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884.

Press Release:

The Southwest’s Leader in Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing Products and Services, PADT, Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

PADT’s Anniversary Celebration to be Held March 21, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its ASU Research Park Headquarters in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz., March 7, 2019 ─ The employees and owners of PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, are proud to announce that today marks their twenty-fifth year in business.  In 1994, a group of engineers working at a large Aerospace company decided to try the entrepreneurial life and established Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT).  After two-and-a-half decades, the company has grown from those humble beginnings to employ over ninety-five people located across six states.

The original vision of the PADT co-founders was to take the advanced computer-aided engineering tools that were changing how turbine engines were designed, and apply them to other industries.  These tools, known today as numerical simulation, comprehensive product development, and 3D Printing, became the foundation of PADT’s business, and have only increased in sophistication and use.

PADT’s Employees, 2018

“A key to our long-term success has been our close relationship with ANSYS, Inc., the leader in engineering simulation software,” said Ward Rand, co-founder, PADT. “As the size of ANSYS and the capabilities of its tools have grown, we’ve increased our customer base and the type of simulation we can deliver to help our customers drive their product designs.”  Today, PADT is an ANSYS Elite Channel Partner selling and supporting ANSYS products across the Southwestern U.S., and providing engineering simulation consulting worldwide.

PADT’s First Company Pictures, 2000

When PADT Co-Owner Mark Johnson joined the company several years in, he grew the original vision of product design to include comprehensive services for product development, including research and testing.  The PADT family sadly lost Mark in 2015 to cancer, but the Product Development team he created continues to grow and thrive. PADT honors his memory by supporting a global customer base creating products from children’s toys to medical devices and aerospace subsystems.

PADT is perhaps best known locally as the leading regional provider of 3D Printing solutions, having earned the designation of being the oldest and largest 3D Printing service based in the Southwest.  “When we bought our first stereolithography machine in 1994, we couldn’t have imagined how widespread additive manufacturing would become,” said Rey Chu, PADT co-founder. “We continue to offer greater options to our customers through the sale of systems and materials, while also providing 3D Printing as a service.”

PADT’s Offices in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona

Key to PADT’s status as a leader in the rapidly growing area of 3D Printing is its partnership with the leading manufacturer of additive manufacturing systems, Stratasys and PADT’ status as a Stratasys Platinum Channel partner in the four-corner region. For over a decade, PADT has also been the primary supplier of FDM soluble support removal solutions.  The manufacturing department has also successfully teamed with overseas suppliers and partners to deliver millions of dollars in goods and services to customers.

Most of all, PADT credits its success to every past and current member of the PADT family that has contributed to what the company is today, from administration, to engineering, to manufacturing.

“When people ask us how we have thrived for so long, we have to step back and point to our employees,” said Eric Miller, co-founder PADT. “Since the very beginning, their dedication to the vision of the company has been inspirational.  PADT is a place where smart people like to come to work, largely because they get to take on challenging tasks for appreciative customers. It has been a true joy for all three of the company’s owners to grow with everyone. The past twenty-five years have been an amazing journey, and the next twenty-five are full of potential.”

The entire PADT family would like to thank everyone who has made the dream of helping other people innovate a reality by inviting the public to its 25th anniversary party. The event is being held on March 21st from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at PADT’s headquarters in ASU’s Research Park, in Tempe, Arizona. Details, including the address and required free registration, can be found at www.padtinc.com/padt25.

PADT’s Four Co-Owners. L-R: Eric Miller, Rey Chu, Ward Rand, Mark Johnson

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.

# # #

Media Contact
Alec Robertson
TechTHiNQ on behalf of PADT
585-281-6399
alec.robertson@techthinq.com
PADT Contact
Eric Miller
PADT, Inc.
Principal & Co-Owner
480.813.4884
eric.miller@padtinc.com

Our Parking Lot Gets Cool for PADT Motorsport Day

There were Chevys and Fords, Porches and Harleys, Teslas and Acuras. Big trucks and little sports cars. And of course, there was pizza. Our first ever Motorsport Day was a blast. Mechanical engineers have a special relationship with cars. For those of us who studied machine design, statics, dynamics, thermo, and CAD, various forms of motor driven transportation often represent the pinnacle of our trade during a given era. So having a parking lot full of wheeled vehicles tickled our brains.

Employees, as well as family and friends of employees, brought their rides. The best part was to see the love and passion that the owners put into their vehicles, since car racing is a really popular sport and some people even bet on in, although for those looking to gamble online they can also go to sites to find an slot online for this. These are far more than just a way to get to and from work. One thing we can’t share in words is the sound of each machine. From the purr of the Porche to the throaty roar of the two drag cars to the rumble of the Harley, each one had its own unique and special sound. And the Tesla, not wanting to be left out in the sound department, cranked up its stereo did a dance for us.

This was our first attempt at this type of an event, a practice run to see if anyone was interested. Duh. It was a huge success. So, watch your email and this blog for an announcement of our 2020 Motorsport Day when we will open it up to customers and vendors who are interested in sharing their ride or taking a look.

Words don’t do these marvelous machines justice, so here is a gallery with this year’s entries. And for the car fans, a table after that gives specifics on each vehicle.


—-Owner—-

—-Year—-

———-Make———-

———-Model———-
Rob R1935ChevyStandard Three Window Coupe
Tom S1950Chevy3100 – Resto Mod Patina Truck
Ralph G1964ChevyNova SS (Chevy II)
Steve G1968FordMustang Cobra Covertible
Vince E1969ChevyNova SS
Dwaine R1973ChevyCorvette
Scott R1983Datsun 280ZX
Mark M2001DodgeRAM 2500
Ted H2003AcuraCL Type S
Tom B2011ChevyCamaro SS
Teri S2015Harley DavidsonDyna Lowrider
Tim M2015Porsche911 Carrera S
Roger S2018TeslaX

Gone Skiing: Aerodynamics – Does It Matter Which Way Your Skis Are Pointing On Your Roof Rack?

I was on the gondola up at Keystone for night-skiing a week ago, after a long day at Beaver Creek, because the last thing I am going to do at 3:00 pm is try to make it back to Denver, as everyone knows it’s hardly more than a parking lot at that point. As it gets later, there’s nothing like a solo gondola ride, however, a solo ride would stop this story right about now.

On the gondola, I overheard a conversation where one gentleman was discussing how he was unable to open the hatch of his vehicle when his skis are in his roof rack. That’s fair, I know older WRX wagons with the spoiler would not be able to open with skis on the roof no matter what, so I figured that was the case. It turns out, that was NOT the case. The reason his hatch would not open was that he orients the skis with the tails forward because it is ‘more aerodynamic’ that way… I was skeptical, but held my tongue, knowing that I had the tools at my disposal to investigate!

I decided to make a model that would allow me to simulate various conditions to get to the bottom of this. My initial hypothesis is that the addition of the ski rack and crossbars is what has the largest effect on aerodynamics, and orientation of the skis probably has a negligible effect after that. As a side note, I am solely concerned with aerodynamics in this case, and am not worrying about the amount of the ski’s base material that is exposed for a given orientation. I am of the mindset that tree trunks and hidden rocks on the mountain are more of a danger to your bases than small rocks on the highway anyway. If you are waiting to comment, “Just get a roof box!”, I understand as I own both a box and a rack at this point, and they both have their advantages, and I will not be exploring the aerodynamics of a box…

…yet…

I was able to start by finding some faceted geometry of a Subaru Forester online (I’m from Colorado, can you tell?) and was able to import that into ANSYS Spaceclaim. Once in Spaceclaim, I was able to edit the faceted geometry to get nice exterior panel surfaces, which I then combined to get a single clean faceted exterior for the car.


Faceted Forester Geometry (Equipped with factory side rails)

After that, I used Spaceclaim to generate the remainder of the rack and skis, including crossbars, a ski rack, and a pair of skis (Complete with the most detailed bindings you have ever seen!). I made a combined part of the crossbars, rack, and skis for each one of my orientations, as this allows me to report the forces on each combined part during the simulation.


Added CAD geometry for the crossbars, ski rack, and a pair of skis

For the simulation, I used ANSYS Discovery Live, the newest tool from ANSYS that allows for instant and interactive design exploration. This tool lets me actively add my CAD geometry and shows results in realtime. I was able to start with just the car and then add and swap my ski/rack geometry with simple button clicks. With traditional simulation tools, I would have needed to create a mesh for each one of these cases, analyze them one at a time, and the post-process and compare results after the fact. After launching Discover Live, it’s as easy as selecting the type on analysis I want to run.

The various types of solutions that can be done in ANSYS Discovery Live. For the purpose of this blog, I am using ‘Wind Tunnel’

Once I have selected ‘Wind Tunnel’ for my solution, I can select my geometry, and then am prompted for the direction of flow, as well as selecting the ‘floor’ of my domain. Once that is done, results show up on the screen instantly. I only needed to modify the flow velocity to ~65 mph. I am most interested in the force on the faces of the combined crossbars, rack, and skis in each orientation, so I created Calculations for each one, which is done by simply selecting the part and using the popup toolbar to create the graph.

Popup toolbar allows for the quick creation of solution calculations

I was already off and running. I ran each one of the cases until the force plot had become steady.

Car Only
Skis Tips Forward Orientation

Skis Tails Forward Orientation

Seeing that the force results for the Tips Forward vs. Tails Forward cases were very similar, I decided I should also run a ‘Bases Up’ Orientation, even though I STRONGLY advise against this, as UV wrecks the base material of your skis/snowboard.

Ski Bases Up and Tips Forward Orientation

In addition to the contour plot shown in the images above, you can also use emitters to show streamlines and particle flow, which also give some pretty neat visualizations.

Streamlines shown on the Tips Forward orientation

Particle Emitter shown on the Tips Forward orientation

The graph plots show values for the Total Y Force for Tips Foward, Tails Forward, and Bases Up orientations to be 37.7 N, 39.1 N, and 37.1 N, respectively. Using Discovery Live, I was able to quickly run all 3 of these simulations, showing that there is not a major difference in the forces on the ski rack between the three orientations. So, put the skis on the roof in the direction that makes life easiest for you, and keep those bad boys paired to protect your bases from the sun, because splitting them isn’t going to help with aerodynamics anyway!

Next steps would be taking a specific case and running in 2D, then 3D, in ANSYS Fluent.

Christmas Right-Left Gift Exchange Story: Trouble in Elftown

For our Christmas parties at PADT, we generally have over 40 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 Christmas party involved sorting employees into Elf Families for some www.666casino.com/fi/games/slots games we played. Dafabet Poker is also preferred for playing and enjoying casino games by many people. That made it kind of obvious that we should make the story Elf Family-related as well.

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)

Trouble in Elftown

Way up on near the North Pole, just to the left of Santa’s workshop and right down the road from the Reindeer farms there sits a little village called Elftown. On the outside, it looked like the front of a Christmas card. Picturesque houses on the right and left side of the main street, and a giant Christmas tree right in the middle of town. But right under the surface things were not right. There was a tension in the town that left on its own, might not just tear apart the community, if left on its own it might destroy Christmas itself.

The problem was that there was a war of sorts going on between the elf Clans. Specifically, the Toe clan and the Sweet clan were furious with each other. No one really knew who was right and who was wrong, but everyone was stuck right in the middle of the conflict, and many felt they were left with no option other than violence.

It started at the last reindeer games when the Rightly Clan had decided to take the seats that belonged to the Leftover Clan. Now the members of the Leftover Clan were used to being left out of things. They lived right next to the Santa Express train tracks, but on the wrong side. So they were used to not being treated right. The only thing they had going for them was that their Reindeer Game seats were right on the track on the right side of the finish line. The Rightly Clan were on the left side, but they wanted the right side. So they marched right up and sat down, right there in the middle of the opening ceremonies. It would not be a big deal, the Rightly and Leftover clan fought all the time. The problem was that the Toe Clan had signed a contract right before the games with the Leftover Clan to outsource their toy assembly quota to them. That left the Sweet Clan out in the cold in terms of making their quota, right there two weeks before Christmas without either working-class clan to do the work for them. Right now, they were panicked. And the Toe Clan was mad that the Sweet clan had left negotiations and complained to Santa.

So right there with Mr. and Mrs. Clause sitting on their thrones right in front of the crowd, the Toe and Sweet Clans felt it was right to make the seating controversy about so much more. Harsh words, for elves, were exchanged back and forth. Then a snowball was thrown right at a crowd and it hit Santa right in the face. He stood right up and said “I’m am left with no option but to cancel these Reindeer Games right now! All of you need to leave now, right now! I said Right now I Say… ho ho hooooo!”

Everyone left the stadium, but they left with a burning hate for each other. And right before Christmas, it reached a fevered pitch. Each clan was going through their store of toys and weaponizing what they could. Spikes were put right into baseball bats. Toy Nerf guns were modified to file nails right out of their barrels. The social-economic stratification of Elftown, based on Santa’s distribution of responsibility to families that was based on payments of “left over” egg nog made right out in the open was the real cause. It was obvious regardless of if you were on the left or right of the political spectrum. As the moon passed right over the North Pole, because it was winter and the sun had left for the season, the families gathered in the main square. The Toes and the Rightly’s on the right, and the Sweets and… their allies, … other side

They brandished their vicious modified toys and hurled insults back and forth. On that Christmas Eve, right in the heart of the north pole, right where the spirit of Christmas was born and nurtured, Elftown was about to explode. And right before that fuse was lit, a small voice could be heard. “Riliburt? Riliburt ? Is that you holding a tennis racket with a spike right in the middle?” And then an even tinier, sweeter voice answered “Annibell? Why yes, I have to support my family, my clan I’m left with no choice” “Riliburt, I need to tell you something right now, right here in front of everyone, it can’t be left unsaid.Riliburt, I love you! That is right. I. Love. You!. “Oh, Annibell, I love you as well! But you are from the Toe Clan and I am a lowly Leftover, our love is not right.”

At that point, every elf heart, in the left of every elf chest, skipped a beat. All of the anger stopped, just for a second, as they all contemplated love. Because stripped of the presents, and trees, and eggnog, Christmas was really about love. On the right side of the square, and on… the other side, everyone knew what the right thing was to do. They dropped their weapons right there and merged into a giant pointy-eared mass of hugging elves. And right in the middle was the couple that reminded everyone that what they were all about to do was not right. That the Toes, the Sweets, the Rightly’s, and the Leftovers could all get along if they just remember that the right thing to feel was love and that they left hate and anger outside of Elftown.

Peace on earth, goodwill towards men was the message they remembered, right there, at the top of the world, in a place called Elftown, just to the left of Santa’s workshop and right down the road from the Reindeer farms.

PADT Halloween Party, 2017

The only day available for our company meeting was October 31st, so we combined the meeting with a Halloween celebration.  We are an engineering company, so not everyone wore a costume.. but we did all have fun.  Check out the slide show:

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Why I keep toys on my desk, Phoenix Business Journal

I have a lot of toys in my office and on my desk.  Some might consider it unprofessional or even childish.  I don’t disagree. What they are missing is the power of toys and the power of play.  I explore this idea in “Why I keep toys on my desk.”  Also for those of you who are readers of the PADT blog, I’ve included below some images of my favorite ones.

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Standard Roof Rack Fairing Mount Getting In Your Way?! Engineer it better and 3D Print it!

It is no mystery that I love my Subaru. I bought it with the intention of using it and I have continually made modifications with a focus on functionality.

When I bought my roof crossbars in order to mount ski and/or bike racks, I quickly realized I needed to get a fairing in order to reduce drag and wind noise. The fairing functions as designed, and looks great as well. However, when I went to install my bike rack, I noticed that the fairing mount was in the way of mounting at the tower. As a result, I had to mount the rack inboard of the tower by a few inches. This mounting position had a few negative results:

  • The bike was slightly harder to load/unload
  • The additional distance from the tower resulted in additional crossbar flex and bike movement
  • Additional interference between bikes when two racks are installed

These issues could all be solved if the fairing mount was simply inboard a few more inches. If only I had access to the resources to make such a concept a reality…. oh wait, PADT has all the capabilities needed to take this from concept to reality, what a happy coincidence!

First, we used our in-house ZEISS Comet L3D scanner to get a digital version of the standard left fairing mount bracket. The original bracket is coated with Talcum powder to aid in the scanning process.

The output from the scanning software is a faceted model in *.STL format. I imported this faceted CAD into ANSYS SpaceClaim in order to use it as a template to create editable CAD geometry to use as a basis to create my revised design. The standard mounting bracket is an injection molded part and is hollow with the exception of a couple of ribs. I made sure to capture all this geometry to carry forward into my redesigned parts, which would make the move to scaled manufacturing of this design easy.

Continuing in ANSYS SpaceClaim, as it is a direct modeling software instead of traditional feature-based modeling, I was able to split the bracket’s two function ends, the crossbar end and fairing end, and offset them by 4.5 inches, in order to allow the bike rack to mount right at the crossbar tower. I used the geometry from the center section CAD to create my offset structure. A mirrored version allows both the driver and passenger side fairing mount to be moved inboard to enable mounting of two bike racks in optimal positions. The next step is to turn my CAD geometry back into faceted *.STL format for printing, which can be done directly within ANSYS SpaceClaim.

 

After the design has been completed, I spoke with our 3D printing group to discuss what technology and material would be good for these brackets, as the parts will be installed on the car during the Colorado summer and winter. For this application, we decided on our in-house Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) SINTERSTATION 2500 PLUS and glass filled nylon material. As this process uses a powder bed when building the parts, no support is needed for overhanging geometry, so the part can be built fully featured. Find out more about the 3D printing technologies available at PADT here.

Finally, it was time to see the results. The new fairing mount offset brackets installed just like the factory pieces, but allowed the installation of the bike rack right at the tower, reducing the movement that was present when mounted inboard, as well as making it easier to load and unload bikes!!

I am very happy with the end result. The new parts assembled perfectly, just as the factory pieces did, and I have increased the functionality of my vehicle yet again. Stay tuned for some additional work featuring these brackets, and I’m sure the next thing I find that can be engineered better! You can find the files on GrabCAD here.

 

Metal 3D Printed Shift Knob: Is It Cool(er)?

I had a really great time designing the Metal 3D printed shift knob from my previous blog post. I was curious what the other benefits of the knob may be besides being cool to look at and show off. What better way than to use the simulation software that we use here at PADT every day!

One of the clear differences between my solid spherical knob and the Metal 3D printed version is surface area. Being that PADT is based in Tempe, AZ, some may say that we have “warm” summers down here. Couple the 120F days with a black car, and the interior can get very hot, at some points feeling like the sun itself has taken up residence inside the back seat. With modern A/C, this heat can be mitigated fairly quickly, only to attempt to shift into gear to be scalded by the shift knob!

I wanted to see what the rate of cooling for the two knobs would be in a basic situation with some basic assumptions. Using ANSYS transient thermal, I initialized the knobs to 150F, temperatures that can be quickly reached in parked cars here in AZ. I added a convection heat transfer boundary condition on the outer surface of each shift knob, assuming a film coefficient of 50 W/m^2C, and that the ambient temp in the car is at a cool 70F.

 

I ran the simulations for 5 minutes, and the results were in line with what I expected. As the 3D printed knob has more surface area for cooling, it’s final temperature was ~84F, compared to the solid spherical knob at a final temperature of 115F!

 

Want to learn more, check out the article in “Additive Manufacturing Media.”

Reveling in Speed and Technology – Tesla Test Drive Day at PADT

We have great customers.  The kind of cusomers that call up and ask “Hey, what do you think about having a Tesla test drive event for PADt employees”  Duh.  Yes.  Please provide contact information.

Then we thought this was an event better shared with other techno-speed-nerds. The Tempe Tesla show room people liked the idea so we put together an event for our ANSYS and Stratasys customers. (Just another reason to buy from us)

The basic idea was simple, stop on by the PADT parking lot in Tempe and drive a Tesla Model S or Model X, or both.  The Tesla people brought along their technical person and the test drive people were also very knowledgable about all the features in the three vehicles they let us drive. The course left the PADT parking lot, drove up to Elliot, then entred to 101, and then get off at Warner or Rey and head back, while the brave Tesla employee tried to keep cool. Especially when Oren was driving.

For many of us, this was the first time we had driven one.  Let me just say that the common factor across employees and cusotmers is that everyone had an ear-to-ear grin on their face when they got back from their test drive.  These cars are not just fast (large numbers of electrons pushed through big motors equals lots of torque right away) but they are brilliantly engineered. From the user interface, to the seats to, to the suspension. Everything is done right.  As a group of engineers that was almost as exciting as the raw power and impecable styling of the cars.

It was a true nerdfest.  We spent 10 minutes discussing regenerative breaking schemes and the idea of using regeneration all the time when you lift off the accerator instead of putting your foot on the break to slow down slightly.  This is the type of paradigm shift that disrupts around one hundred years of automotive legacy.  Why does the accelrator pedal have to be an accelerator pedal. Why can’t it be an input for acceleration and deceleration based on position?  We also spent even more time (I’m embarassed to say how long) talking about charging.  And then the topic turned to autonomous driving and the sensors used.  Good times.  Good times.

PADT’s relationships with Tesla actually goes way back. When they were first starting out and were just a handfull of engineers, we provided some ANSYS training and did a consulting job for them on thermal management for an early battery system.  So we proudly count them as a happy PADT customer.  And of course PADT worked on the large Blink chargers and has supported many companies that are suppliers to tesla.

Look for similar events in the future. No sales or seminars, just smart-people-fun type of events. 

 

Phoenix Business Journal: ​Voice recognition, the new thing in computing

Let’s be honest, the mouse and keyboard are outdated interface methods that serve us well, but voice recognition is pretty dang awesome and efficient. In “​Voice recognition, the new thing in computing” I write an entire post using voice recognition about the pros and cons of voice recognition.  That is almost meta. Please enjoy, it was a fun one to do.

Christmas Left-Right Gift Exchange Story: Western

For our Christmas parties at PADT, we generally have over 40 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes too long. So a couple of years ago we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. We ran out of stories on the internet, so we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style.  This year, 2016, many of us had become addicted to West World, so a good old fashioned Western seemed appropriate.

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 our older 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)


Trixie and the Christmas Miracle

A train whistle echoed in the distance as US Marshal Dilan McRightland brought his horse Righty to a stop on the left side of the ridge. Down below, right in the middle of the valley was his destination, the place he had been headed right towards for three weeks. Wrightville Gulch. He’d seen a lot of dusty towns, not much more than a few buildings on the right and left side of a crooked street. Left to his own devices he would have left his job and gone right back to his family farm on left bank of the Ohio river, right below Louisville Kentucky. But he had sworn an oath to uphold justice, to make sure that wrongs were righted, and that no criminal was left free to cause more harm. It was the right thing to do.
He dug his heals into Righty and they headed right down the trial, towards an encounter that would have been best left alone.

As he entered the town from the… south, he surveyed both sides of the street. On the right was a bank, livery stable, and what looked like a hotel that may not be where the ‘right type of people’ stay. The other side of the street held a saloon, blacksmith, general store, and a Chinese restaurant: Right and Wrong Noodles. Dilan assumed that the fugitive he was seeking was in the saloon. So he tied up Righty, using a left hitch not, and went right in the swinging doors.

It took a while for his eyesight to adjust to the dim interior. A long mahogany bar filled the wall. On the… other side, there was a staircase that led to rooms on the second floor. Right in the middle of the room stood a giant Christmas tree. That was right, Dilan thought, today was Christmas Eve. It has been a long time since he had enjoyed a right proper Christmas. He began to daydream about snowy Christmas mornings when a shout brought him right back to reality.

“Hey! You looking for me, stranger?” A man dressed in head to toe in black leather stood on the left side of the Christmas tree. “If you are Lefty Peterson, then yes.” Replied Dilan. “I’m US Marshal Dilan McRightland and I’ve traveled all the way to Wrightville Gulch, right here in the middle of no-where, to bring you to justice.”

The two men stared at each other across the room, their right hands hovering over their six-shooters, which for now were left in their holsters. “I don’t think you have it right, Marshal. When I left the Stanton brothers for dead, right in the middle of Dodge City, I left that life behind me. I’m clean now, I’ve got a wife and kids. I started over. You know what I did was right, they deserved to die. So the right thing for you to do is get back on your horse and get right out of town.”

This left Marshall Dilan a bit baffled. What if Lefty was right? And then he stood up straight and looked Lefty in the eye. “The law is the law lefty, doesn’t matter if you think what you did was right, it is up to a jury to decide that.” Lefty looked right back, and snarled “The only way you are taking me back is as a corpse. If you don’t leave in a coffin yourself. Their right hands slowly moved to their guns.

Just when they were about to draw a girl dressed like a dancer the left bank of the Sein in Paris, dashed right between them. “Stop right now!” she shouted. “Gosh Nabit! It’s Christmas Eve. Have you any heart left, either of you?” She turned to Lefty “Lefty, darling, you don’t have to die. If you think what you did was… justified, go with the marshal, argue your case.” She spun to face Marshall McRightland “And you, you come riding in here on Christmas ever, where we was having ourselves a right nice party, and you threaten our friend Lefty, that just ain’t right either!”

Dilan stood. He could see the star on his chest reflected in the mirror behind the bar, and he could see the star right on top of the tree. And he looked right at the dancing girl, a small tear falling from her right eye. “Lefty” he said “you agree to let me handcuff you to that bar there, and we can have ourselves a right proper Christmas Eve and morning. And then we ride out of here and you get your day in court. Does that sound…. All right?” Lefty thought for a minute, then responded “I right reckon that is the right thing to do. Right here and right now on Christmas eve, maybe some peace on earth is what we need.”

And so on that Christmas Eve in a dusty town right in the middle of no-where, a little Christmas spirit, and a fiery dancing girl named… Trixie, brought a little peace on earth and goodwill towards men to a place called Wrightville Gulch.