How-To: Creating Matching Faces on Touching Parts with ANSYS SpaceClaim

Sometimes you want to take two parts and and prepare them for meshing so that they either share a surface between them, or have identical but distinct surfaces on each part where they touch.  In this simple How-To, we share the steps for creating both of these situations so you can get a continuous mesh or create a matching contact surface in ANSYS Mechanical.

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How-To: Connecting Shells Elements in Surface Models with ANSYS SpaceClaim and ANSYS Mechanical

By using the power of ANSYS SpaceClaim to quickly modify geometry, you can set up your surface models in ANSYS Mechanical to easily be connected.  Take a look in this How-To slide deck to see how easy it is to extend geometry and intersect surfaces.

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Silicon Desert Insider: Self-driving cars are driving big changes in tech

Everywhere you drive in Phoenix you see autonomous cars being tested.  These are cool and all, but they also are a sign of a whole new boom in technological change. In “Self-driving cars are driving big changes in tech” I go over some of the key disruptive innovations that will be driven by these new vehicles.

Phoenix Business Journal: 3 keys to success for smart home devices

When Cox Communications asked us to be part of its local Smart Home Tour I said yes for one simple reason: I wanted to see a truly connected home. in “3 keys to success for smart home devices” I discuss some of the lessons I learned about IoT devices that actually work in the home.

Increase your throughput and reduce manufacturing costs

Fast, easy to use lightweighting for structural analysis is now only a few clicks away thanks to the introduction of Topology Optimization in ANSYS 18.

Engineers who use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) can reduce weight, materials, and cost without switching tools or environments. Along with this, Topology Optimization frees designers from constraints or preconceptions, helping to produce the best shape to fulfill their project’s requirements.

Topology Optimization also works hand-in-hand with Additive Manufacturing; a form of 3D printing where parts are designed, validated, and then produced by adding layers of material until the full piece is formed. Pairing the two simply allows users to carry out the trend of more efficient manufacturing through the entirety of their process.

Join PADT’s simulation support manager Ted Harris for a live presentation on the full
benefits of introducing Topology Optimization into your manufacturing process. This webinar will cover:

  • A brief introduction into the background of Topology Optimization and Additive Manufacturing, along with an overview of it’s capabilities

  • An explanation of the features available within this tool and a run through of it’s user interface and overall usage

  • An in-depth look at some of the intricacies involved with using the tool as well as the effectiveness of it’s design workflow

Thoughts from my day in a smart home – the importance of connecting right

When I was asked to take part in a demonstration put on by one of our local communication companies, Cox Communications, showing off what a “smart home” looks like, I of course said yes.  I love gadgets, and smart gadgets more.  On top of that it was another chance to evangelise on the power of 3D Printing.  And I got to hang out in a brand new luxury condo in Downtown Phoenix, a post kid lifestyle change that is very appealing.  Plus we deal with customers designing and improving Internet of Things (IoT) devices all the time, and this is the perfect chance to see such products in action.

So I packed up one of our Makerbots, none of our Fortus machines fits in the back of my Prius, and headed downtown.  The first thing that shocked me was that I had the printer, my iPhone, iPad, and laptop connected to their network in about one minute.  The printer showed up on the Makerbot Print app on my iPad and I was printing a part in about three minutes.

My station, showing off 3D Printing in the home.

The whole point of the demonstration was to show how the new high-speed Internet offering from Cox, Gigablast, can enable a true smart home.  So I was focused on the speed of the connection to the Internet, which was fast.  What I didn’t get till I connected was that the speed and bandwidth of the WiFi in the house was even more important.

When everything was connected, we had 55 devices on the local network talking to each other and the Internet. At one point I was downloading a large STL file to the printer while on a teleconference on my iPhone and my “roommate” was giving a violin lesson to one of his students in Canada.

Oh, and the roomba started to vacuum the floor. On the balcony someone was giving a golf lesson and a doctor was diagnosing a patient in the master bedroom.  That was on top of the smart kitchen gadgets.  And it all worked.  Yes, it all worked.

I’m trying to convey shock and surprise because the reality is that nine times out of ten when I show up for some event, at a customer, or at a friends house and we try and connect things to the internet… it doesn’t work.  If you are a technical guy you know that feeling when your vacation or visit for dinner turns into an IT house call.  All I could think of was how awesome it was that everything worked and it was fast.

So I went to work printing little plastic Arizona style houses with COX on the roof. And then a reporter showed up. “3D Printing, interesting.  Hmmmm…  they are cool and all but really, what does that have to do with a smart house?”  Damn reporters and their questions.  I was still reveling in the fact that everything worked so well, I hadn’t taken to time to think about the “so what.”

Then I thought about it.  3D Printing in the home is just now starting to take off, and the reason why is actually high-speed internet connections. If you wanted a 3D Printer in your home in the past you needed the printer, a high end computer, and some good 3D modeling software on that computer.  Basically you had to create whatever you wanted to make.  Unless you are a trained engineer, that may not be so easy.

My “house” that I was printing at the invent sits on the cloud in my Thingiverse account.

But with a well connected home you have access to places like Thingiverse and Grabcad to download stuff you want to print.  And if you do want to create your own, you can go to Tinkercad or Onshape and use a free online 3D modeler to create your geometry.  All over the web, even on a pad, phone (I don’t recommend trying to do modeling on a phone, but it does work), or on a basic computer.  The files are stored in the cloud and downloaded directly to your printer.  No muss, no fuss.  All you need is a reliable and fast connection to the internet and in your home.

High speed internet and a smart 3D printer makes anyone a maker.

And when we had a three hour break, I went downstairs to a coffee shop on the ground floor of the condo and worked, while monitoring my builds using the camera in the smart 3D Printer.

Pretty cool when you step back and think about how far we have come from that first Stereolithography machine that PADT bought in 1994.  We had to use floppy disks to get the data from our high-end Unix workstation to the machine.  Now it sits on the web and can be monitored.

This may be what we have been waiting for when it comes to 3D Printers in the home moving beyond that technologists and makers.

I’ve been focused on my experience with the 3D printing in the smart home, but there was a lot more to look at.  Check out these stories to learn more:

Phoenix Business Journal: Cox shows off a smart home with 55 connected devices and fast gigabyte internet

The Arizona Republic: Cox ‘smart home’ in Phoenix displays future at the push of a button

I also did a piece for the Phoenix Business Journal while I was at the event on “3 keys to success for smart home devices” based on what I learned while playing with the other devices in the smart home.

All and all a good day.  Oh, and being a 10 minute walk from my favorite pub made the idea of living downtown not such a bad idea, which doesn’t have much to do with high speed internet, connected devices, or 3D Printing.  But one of my goals was to check out post-child urban living…

 

 

Phoenix Business Journal: 6 ways to adapt your business model to disruptive technology

Technology is always changing, and it is changing faster and in more ways. Even if your business is not a “technology” business, new ways of doing things, new business models, and new ways of communicating will impact your business. In “6 ways to adapt your business model to disruptive technology” I explore six simple things that you can do to not just avoid harm by, but to take advantage of disruptive technologies.

Introducing our new Newsletter: The PADT Pulse

We are very pleased to announce our new newsletter, the PADT Pulse.  For a while now customers have been asking for a monthly update on what is going on without having to go through our blog. So we are taking the best of what we did in a given month and sharing it in this newsletter.

Not only does it have a recap of important activities, it summarizes our most popular blog posts, shares some outside news of interest, and keeps you up to date on our upcoming events. We hope you enjoy it.

Here is a link to the online version.

And you can subscribe here.

ASU Polytechnique Deploys Robots in Project for 3D Printing Automation for Orbital ATK

Sometimes we run across some great exampls of industry and academia working together and like to share them as examples of win-win partnerships that can move technology forward and give studends a great oportunity.   A current Capstone Design Project by students at ASU Polytechnique is a great example.  It is also an early exmple of what can be done at the brand new Additive Manufacturing Center that was recently opened at the campus.

I’ll let ASU Mecanical Enginering Systems student Dean McBride tell you in his own words:

Orbital ATK in Chandler currently utilizes two Stratasys Dimension SST 1200es printers to prototype various parts with.  These printers print on parts trays, which must be removed and re-inserted into the printer to start new prints.  Wanting to increase process efficiency, Orbital had the desire of automating this 3D printing process during times when employees are not present to run the printers.  After the idea was born, Orbital presented this project to ASU Polytechnic as a potential senior capstone design project.  Shortly after, an ambitious team was assembled to take on the project.

 Numerous iterations of the engineering design process took place, and the team finally arrived at a final solution.  This solution is a Cartesian style robot, meaning the robot moves in linear motions, similar to the 1200es printer itself.  The mechanical frame and structure of the robot have been mostly assembled at this point.  Once assembly is achieved, the team will focus their efforts on the electrical system of the robot, as well as software coding of the micro-controller control system.  The team will be working to fine tune all aspects of the system until early May when the school semester ends.  The final goal of this project is to automate at least two complete print cycles without human interaction.

Here is a picture of the team with the robot they are building along side the Stratasys FDM printer they are automating.

 

Engineering.com: Metal Additive Manufacturing Keeps Legend Flying

What do you do when you want to replace the exhaust on a 1944 P-51D Mustang warbird and you also happen to be a pioneer in additive manufacturing?  You work with Concept Laser and PADT to can and print a replacement stainless steel part.  In “Metal Additive Manufacturing Keeps Legend Flying” Engineering.com details the project that involved blue light scanning and 3D Printing of new metal part in modern Stainless Steel, replacing the three-piece weldment with a single part.

They also did a fantastic video about the effort:

If you would like to learn how PADT can help you reverse engineering your legacy geometry and recreate it using Additive Manufacturing, contact us.

ANSYS 18 Mechanical Ease of Use Webinar – Coming Soon

We here at PADT are proud to present the ease of use and productivity enhancements that have been added to ANSYS Mechanical in release 18.

With this new release, ANSYS Mechanical focuses on the introduction of a variety of improvements that help save the users time, such as smarter data organization and new hotkeys, along with additions that can help you to better visualize specific intricacies in your models.

This webinar is coming up soon

Join PADT’s Simulation Support & Application Engineer Doug Oatis for an overview of the current user friendly interfaces within ANSYS Mechanical, along with the numerous additions in this new release that help to improve efficiency tenfold, such as:

Pretension Beam Connection

A beam connection is a power idealization to connect parts without modeling the bolts. Now the beam connection can be pretensioned as well.

Register today to find out how you can use this highly requested feature and many others to improve your throughput and stay ahead of the curve!

Making Thermal Contact Conductance a Parameter in ANSYS Mechanical 18.0 and Earlier with an APDL Command Object

A support request from one of our customers recently was for the ability to make Thermal Contact Conductance, which is sort of a reciprocal of thermal resistance at the contact interface, a parameter so it can be varied in a parametric study.  Unfortunately, this property of contact regions is not exposed as a parameter in the ANSYS Mechanical window like many other quantities are.

Fortunately, with ANSYS there is almost always a way……in this case we use the capability of an APDL (ANSYS Parametric Design Language) command object within ANSYS Mechanical.  This allows us to access additional functionality that isn’t exposed in the Mechanical menus.  This is a rare occurrence in the recent versions of ANSYS, but I thought this was a good example to explain how it is done including verifying that it works.

A key capability is that user-defined parameters within a command object have a ‘magic’ set of parameter names.  These names are ARG1, ARG2, ARG3, etc.  Eric Miller of PADT explained their use in a good PADT Focus blog posting back in 2013

In this application, we want to be able to vary the value of thermal contact conductance.  A low value means less heat will flow across the boundary between parts, while a high value means more heat will flow.  The default value is a calculated high value of conductance, meaning there is little to no resistance to heat flow across the contact boundary.

In order to make this work, we need to know how the thermal contact conductance is applied.  In fact, it is a property of the contact elements.  A quick look at the ANSYS Help for the CONTA174 or similar contact elements shows that the 14th field in the Real Constants is the defined value of TCC, the thermal contact conductance.  Real Constants are properties of elements that may need to be defined or may be optional values that can be defined.  Knowing that TCC is the 14th field in the real constant set, we can now build our APDL command object.

This is what the command object looks like, including some explanatory comments.  Everything after a “!” is a comment:

! Command object to parameterize thermal contact conductance
! by Ted Harris, PADT, Inc., 3/31/2017
! Note: This is just an example. It is up to the user to create and verify
! the concept for their own application.

! From the ANSYS help, we can see that real constant TCC is the 14th real constant for
! the 17X contact elements. Therefore, we can define an APDL parameter with the desired
! TCC value and then assign that parameter to the 14th real constant value.
!
! We use ARG1 in the Details view for this command snippet to define and enable the
! parameter to be used for TCC.

r,cid ! tells ANSYS we are defining real constants for this contact pair
! any values left blank will not be overwritten from defaults or those
! assigned by Mechanical. R command is used for values 1-6 of the real constants
rmore,,,,,, ! values 7-12 for this real constant set
rmore,,arg1 ! This assigned value of arg1 to 14th field of real constant

! Now repeat for target side to cover symmetric contact case
r,tid ! tells ANSYS we are defining real constants for this contact pair
! any values left blank will not be overwritten from defaults or those
! assigned by Mechanical. R command is used for values 1-6 of the real constants
rmore,,,,,, ! values 7-12 for this real constant set
rmore,,arg1 ! This assigned value of arg1 to 14th field of real constant

You may have noticed the ‘cid’ and ‘tid’ labels in the command object.  These identify the integer ‘pointers’ for the contact and target element types, respectively.  They also identify the contact and target real constant set number and material property number.  So how do we know what values of integers are used by ‘cid’ and ‘tid’ for a given contact region?  That’s part of the beauty of the command object: you don’t know the values of the cid and tid variables, but you alsp don’t need to know them.  ANSYS automatically plugs in the correct integer values for each contact pair simply by us putting the magic ‘cid’ and ‘tid’ labels in the command snippet.  The top of a command object within the contact branch will automatically contain these comments at the top, which explain it:

!   Commands inserted into this file will be executed just after the contact region definition.
!   The type number for the contact type is equal to the parameter “cid”.
!   The type number for the target type is equal to the parameter “tid”.
!   The real and mat number for the asymmetric contact pair is equal to the parameter “cid”.
!   The real and mat number for the symmetric contact pair(if it exists)
! is equal to the parameter “tid”.

Next, we need to know how to implement this in ANSYS Mechanical.  We start with a model of a ball valve assembly, using some simple geometry from one of our training classes.  The idea is that hot water passes through the valve represented by a constant temperature of 125 F.  There is a heat sink represented at the OD of the ends of the valve at a constant 74 degrees.  There is also some convection on most of the outer surfaces carrying some heat away.

The ball valve and the valve housing are separate parts and contact is used to allow heat to flow from the hotter ball valve into the cooler valve assembly:

Here is the command snippet associated with that contact region.  The ‘magic’ is the ARG1 parameter which is given an initial value in the Details view, BEFORE the P box is checked to make it a parameter.  Wherever we need to define the value of TCC in the command object, we use the ARG1 parameter name, as shown here:

Next, we verify that it actually works as expected.  Here I have setup a table of design points, with increasing values of TCC (ARG1).  The output parameter that is tracked is the minimum temperature on the inner surface of the valve housing, where it makes contact with the ball.  If conductance is low, little heat should flow so the housing remains cool.  If the conductance is high, more heat should flow into the housing making it hotter.  After solving all the design points in the Workbench window, we see that indeed that’s what happens:

And here is a log scale plot showing temperature rise with increasing TCC:

So, excluding the comments our command object is 6 lines long.  With those six lines of text as well as knowledge of how to use the ARG1 parameter, we now have thermal contact conductance which varies as a parameter.  This is a simple case and you will certainly want to test and verify for your own use.  Hopefully this helps with explaining the process and how it is done, including verification.

 

 

 

Phoenix Business Journal: How universities can be a needed catalyst and safe place for cooperation


How do competitors work together in a mutually beneficial way?  In “How universities can be a needed catalyst and safe place for cooperation” I take a look at the important role Universities can play in enabling this type of cooperation.  Based on our own experience in such partnerships, I talk about what Universities can do to take a leadership role in this area.

Phoenix Business Journal: The future of artificial intelligence – The machines are taking over

Artificial Intelligence is one of those technologies that you hear about a lot, but may not notice. In “The future of artificial intelligence: The machines are taking over” I look at what AI is an how it is impacting businesses today and what to look for in the near future for this important technolgy.

PADT Welcomes John Williams to Business Development Role

Please join Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies in welcoming our new engineering services business development manager, John Williams. John will be an integral part of our growth in helping customers turn their innovations into real products through our advanced engineering capabilities, flexible project management skills and careful vendor selection process.

“With John joining our team, we’ll be able to take our engineering services business to the next level and expand on our offerings,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal at PADT. “His sales and business development experience at the national and international level makes him ideal to handle our diverse client portfolio and position us as a major player in this category.”

To help PADT improve its market position in engineering services and product development, Williams will help define long-term organizational goals, build customer relationships, identify new business opportunities, and maintain extensive knowledge of market conditions.

“PADT is a diverse and innovative company that presents a number of exciting opportunities,” said Williams. “I look forward to using my experience and reach to raise awareness of the great engineering expertise the company can provide. Once companies realize how PADT can help them solve tough problems and implement their designs, the word will spread that PADT really does make innovation work.”

Williams brings more than 16 years of sales experience to the position. He joins PADT from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in South Asia where he was the director of business development. Prior to working at Bell Helicopter, John was Regional Sales Director for Textron Aviation for South Asia.  Prior to this, he was President of Williams Consulting Group (WCG) in Phoenix, AZ.

Before starting WCG, Williams spent 12 years with The Boeing Company where he was last responsible for implementing Boeing’s offset programs in India. He also played a key role in successfully winning several large orders for Boeing. Prior to this assignment, Williams was in International Contracts at Boeing Defense Systems where he successfully negotiated and closed several major Commercial and US FMS contracts with foreign governments.

Williams holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Northwestern College. He has numerous professional certifications including a Master’s Certificate in Global Leadership from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management; as well as certifications in various U.S. Federal Acquisition Programs.