One of the most dramatic impacts of 3D printing on design and manufacturing is with injection molding. Companies such as Seuffer, Unilever, Arad Group and Whale report significant savings in molding costs and production time by 3D printing injection molds to test designs before mass production and produce small quantities of custom parts.
Learn more by viewing this 60-minute webinar as Gil Robinson, Stratasys senior application engineer, explains the what, why and how of 3D printed injection molding.
“Why are there so many different software solutions in Additive Manufacturing and which ones do I really need?“
This was a question I was asked at lunch during the recently concluded RAPID 3D printing conference by a manager at an aerospace company. I gave her my thoughts as I was stuffing down my very average panini, but the question lingered on long after the conference was over – several weeks later, I decided to expand on my response in this blog post.
There are over 25 software solutions available (scheduling software for service technicians, etc.) and being used for different aspects of Additive Manufacturing (AM). To answer the question above, I found it best to classify these solutions into four main categories based on their purpose, and allow sub-categories to emerge as appropriate. This classification is shown in Figure 1 below – and each of the 7 sub-categories are discussed in more detail in this post.
1. Design Modeler
You need this if you intend to create or modify designs
Most designs are created in CAD software such as SOLIDWorks, CATIA and SpaceClaim (now ANSYS SpaceClaim). These have been in use long before the more recent rise in interest in AM and most companies have access to some CAD software internally already. Wikipedia has a comparison of different CAD software that is a good starting point to get a sense of the wide range of CAD solutions out there.
2. Build Preparation
You need this if you plan on using any AM technology yourself (as opposed to sending your designs outside for manufacturing)
Once you have a CAD file, you need to ensure you get the best print possible with the printer you have available. Most equipment suppliers will provide associated software with their machines that enable this. Stand-alone software packages do exist, such as the one developed by Materialise called Magics, which is a preferred solution for Stereolithography (SLA) and metal powder bed fusion in particular – some of the features of Magics are shown in the video below.
Scanning & File Transfer
3. Geometry Repair
You need this if you deal with low-quality geometries – either from scans or since you work with customers with poor CAD generation capabilities
Geomagic Design X is arguably the industry’s most comprehensive reverse engineering software which combines history-based CAD with 3D scan data processing so you can create feature-based, editable solid models compatible with your existing CAD software. If you are using ANSYS, their SpaceClaim has a powerful repair solution as well, as demonstrated in the video below.
Improving Performance Through Analysis
4. Topology Optimization
You need this if you stand to benefit from designing towards a specific objective like reducing mass, increasing stiffness etc. such as the control-arm shown in Figure 2
Of all the ways design freedom can be meaningfully exploited, topology optimization is arguably the most promising. The ability to now bring analysis up-front in the design cycle and design towards a certain objective (such as maximizing stiffness-to-weight) is compelling, particularly for high performance, material usage sensitive applications like aerospace. The most visible commercial solutions in the AM space come from Altair: with their Optistruct solution (for advanced users) and SolidThinking Inspire (which is a more user-friendly solution that uses Altair’s solver). ANSYS and Autodesk 360 Inventor also offer optimization solutions. A complete list, including freeware, can be availed of at this link.
5. Lattice Generation
You need this if you wish to take advantage of cellular/lattice structure properties for applications like such as lightweight structural panels, energy absorption devices, thermal insulation as well as medical applications like porous implants with optimum bone integration and stiffness and scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 different approaches that have been taken to lattice design software:
I will cover the differences between these approaches in detail in a future blog post. A general guideline is that the generative design approach taken by Autodesk’s Within is well suited to medical applications, while Lattice generation through topology optimization seems to be a sensible next step for those that are already performing topology optimization, as is the case with most aerospace companies pursuing AM technology. The infill/conformal approach is limiting in that it does not enable optimization of lattice structures in response to an objective function and typically involves a-priori definition of a lattice density and type which cannot then be modified locally. This is a fast evolving field – between new software and updates to existing ones, there is a new release on an almost quarterly, if not monthly basis – some recent examples are nTopology and the open source IntraLattice.
Below is a short video demo of Autodesk’s Within:
You need this if you do either topology optimization or lattice design, or need it for part performance simulation
Basic mechanical FE analysis solvers are integrated into most topology optimization and lattice generation software. For topology optimization, the digitally represented part at the end of the optimization typically has jarring surfaces that are smoothed and then need to be reanalyzed to ensure that the design changes have not shifted the part’s performance outside the required window. Beyond topology optimization & lattice design, analysis has a major role to play in simulating performance – this is also true for those seeking to compare performance between traditionally manufactured and 3D printed parts. The key challenge is the availability of valid constitutive and failure material models for AM, which needs to be sourced through independent testing, from the Senvol database or from publications.
7. Process Simulation
You need this if you would like to simulate the actual process to allow for improved part and process parameter selection, or to assess how changes in parameters influence part behavior
The real benefit for process simulation has been seen for metal AM. In this space, there are broadly speaking two approaches: simulating at the level of the part, or at the level of the powder.
Part Level Simulation: This involves either the use of stand-alone AM-specific solutions like 3DSIM and Pan Computing (acquired by Autodesk in March 2016), or the use of commercially available FE software such as ANSYS & ABAQUS. The focus of these efforts is on intelligent support design, accounting for residual stresses and part distortion, and simulating thermal gradients in the part during the process. ANSYS recently announced a new effort with the University of Pittsburgh in this regard.
Powder Level Simulation: R&D efforts in this space are led by Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) and the focus here is on fundamental understanding to explain observed defects and also to enable process optimization to accelerate new materials and process research
Part level simulation is of great interest for companies seeking to go down a production route with metal AM. In particular there is a need to predict part distortion and correct for it in the design – this distortion can be unacceptable in many geometries – one such example is shown in the Pan Computing (now Autodesk) video below.
A Note on Convergence
Some companies have ownership of more than one aspect of the 7 categories represented above, and are seeking to converge them either through enabling smooth handshakes or truly integrate them into one platform. In fact, Stratasys announced their GrabCAD solution at the RAPID conference, which aims to do some of this (minus the analysis aspects, and only limited to their printers at the moment – all of which are for polymers only). Companies like Autodesk, Dassault Systemes and ANSYS have many elements of the 7 software solutions listed above and while it is not clear what level of convergence they have in mind, all have recognized the potential for a solution that can address the AM design community’s needs. Autodesk for example, has in the past 2 years acquired Within (for lattice generation), netfabb (for build preparation) and Pan Computing (for simulation), to go with their existing design suite.
Conclusion: So what do I need again?
What you need depends primarily on what you are using AM technologies for. I recommend the following approach:
Identify which of the 4 main categories apply to you
Enumerate existing capabilities: This is a simple task of listing the software you have access to already that have capabilities described in the sub-categories
Assess gaps in software relative to meeting requirements
Develop an efficient road-map to get there: be aware that some software only make sense (or are available) for certain processes
In the end, one of the things AM enables is design freedom, and to quote the novelist Toni Morrison: “Freedom is not having no responsibilities; it is choosing the ones you want.” AT PADT, we work with design and analysis software as well as AM machines on a daily basis and would love to discuss choosing the appropriate software solutions for your needs in greater detail. Send us a note at email@example.com and cite this blog post, or contact me directly on LinkedIn. .
Western Technology is a manufacturer of specialty lighting solutions that cater to a variety of highly specialized industries such as aviation, oil and gas, and maritime. Their products are used in a variety of environments making it important that the design is both versatile and functional.
In their Utah office, they have been successfully utilizing a Stratasys PolyJet 3D Printer to create polyurethane molds. By using 3D printed molds, they have been able to save both time and money over traditional manufacturing methods.
Western Technology’s 3D Printed Toggle Mold
“Below is a pictorial of how we’ve used our new 3D printer to develop and create polyurethane parts. The parts we are producing in this mold are used to trigger a magnetic sensor inside a sealed aluminum box. Each part has a magnet and aluminum insert cast inside.” Lyal Christensen at Western Technology
The mold was printed using a Stratasys Objet 500 Connex 1 printer in a Vero Blue material (standard plastic). This is the final result after support material has been removed.
The mold is comprised of two halves that each have 3 different parts to create this Polyurethane mold. Below one side is shown in an un-assembled view.
Steel pins are press fit into the 3D printed part with ease to help with locating the magnets in the correct location. Also you can see that the part has a gloss finish to it. The parts were printed in the glossy mode which helps in minimizing the amount of support material needed to print the parts.
Inserts and Magnets are added to the mold along with a Urethane mold release agent. The Aluminum inserts are held in the right place by screws that keep the inserts suspended so that the Urethane can engulf all sides of it.
The clamped mold then has the Urethane fed into it which is poured at room temperature. Once all of the cavities are filled, the mold is left to cure at room temperature for just under one hour. Using this technique, they are able to complete 6 or 7 sets per day.
The following morning the screws and the insert bridge are removed.
The mold is pried apart using a flathead screwdriver at specific cutout locations that were printed into the mold. With a simple turn of the wrist, this mold is easily separated.
There is a little bit of flash which can easily be removed. These parts are almost ready for the customer.
The parts are cut away and are ready for de-flashing and finishing.
At Western Technology, Lyal estimates this mold would have cost $2,000+ to manufacture in just man hours. They were able to get 400+ parts out of this mold and are still using it.
If you would like to learn more about how to implement 3D Printing into your processes to save time and money, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Mexico is a unique place in culture, beauty and art. It’s also very unique when it comes to the high-tech industry — both in good ways, and in bad. In “Viewpoint: 5 things that make high-tech business in NM unique (for better and worse)” I share some of my thoughts on what makes New Mexico special from a tech business standpoint. This is our first posting for the New Mexico cousin of the Phoenix Business Journal. We hope to do more.
Joining Two of PADT’s Favorite Things: Simulation and 3D Printing
Recent advances in Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) have removed barriers to manufacturing certain geometry because of constraints in traditional manufacturing methods. Although you can make almost any shape, how do you figure out what shape to make. Using ANSYS products you can apply topological optimization to come up with a free-form shape that best meets your needs, and that can be made with Additive Manufacturing.
A few months ago we presented some background information on how to drive the design of this type of part using ANSYS tools to a few of our customers. It was a well received so we cleaned it up a bit (no guarantee there all the typos are gone) and recorded the presentation. Here it is on YouTube
Let us know what you think and if you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Some of you have probably already noticed, but ANSYS Mechanical licenses have some changes at version 17. First, the license that for years has been known as ANSYS Mechanical is now known as ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise. Further, ANSYS, Inc. has enabled significantly more functionality with this license at version 17 than was available in prior versions. Note that the license task in the ANSYS license files, ‘ansys’ has not changed.
16.2 and Older (task)
ANSYS Mechanical (ansys)
ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise (ansys)
The 17.0 ANSYS License Manager unlocks additional capability with this license, in addition to the existing Mechanical structural/thermal abilities. Previously, each of these tools used to be an additional cost. The change includes other “Mechanical-” licenses: e.g. Mech-EMAG, Mech CFD. The new tools enabled with ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise licenses at version 17.0 are:
Rigid Body Dynamics
Composite PrepPost (ACP)
ANSYS Customization Suite
Additionally, at version 17.1 these tools are included as well:
These changes do not apply to the lower level licenses, such as ANSYS Structural and Professional. In fact, these licenses are moving to ‘legacy’ mode at version 17. Two newer products now slot below Mechanical Enterprise. These newer products are ANSYS Mechanical Premium and ANSYS Mechanical Pro. We won’t explain those products here, but your local ANSYS provider can give you more information on these two if needed.
Getting back to the additional capabilities with Mechanical Enterprise, these become available once the ANSYS 17.0 and/or the ANSYS 17.1 license manager is installed. This assumes you have a license file that is current on TECS (enhancements and support). Also, a new license task is needed to enable Simplorer Entry.
Ignoring Simplorer Entry for the moment, once the 17.0/17.1 license manager is installed, the single Mechanical Enterprise license task (ansys) now enables several different tools. Note that:
Multiple tool windows can be open at once
g. ANSYS Mechanical and SpaceClaim
Only one can be “active” at a time
If solving, can’t edit geometry in SpaceClaim
Capabilities are then available in older versions, where applicable, once the 17.0/17.1 license manager is installed
Here is a very brief summary of these newly available capabilities:
Runs in the Mechanical window
Can calculate fatigue lives for ‘simple’ products (linear static analysis)
Constant amplitude, proportional loading
Variable amplitude, proportional loading
Constant amplitude, non-proportional loading
Constant amplitude, proportional loading
Activated by inserting the Fatigue Tool in the Mechanical Solution branch
Postprocess fatigue lives as contour plots, etc.
Requires fatigue life data as material properties
Rigid Body Dynamics:
Runs in the Mechanical window
ANSYS, Inc.-developed solver using explicit time integration, energy conservation
Use when only concerned about motion due to joints and contacts
To determine forces and moments
Activated via Rigid Dynamics analysis system in the Workbench window
Runs in the Mechanical window
Utilizes the Autodyn solver
For highly nonlinear, short duration structural transient problems
Drop test simulations, e.g.
Activated via Explicit Dynamics analysis system in the Workbench window
Composite PrepPost (ACP):
Tools for preparing composites models and postprocessing composites solutions
Define composite layup
Fiber Directions and Orientations
Optimize composite design
Activated via ACP (Pre) and ACP (Post) component systems in the Workbench window
Everyone needs a vacation. After over 15 years of service our Sinterstation 2500Plus needed some facility upgrades and machine updates. That work is now done and our SLS system is back up and running and better than ever, producing parts for customers who have come to count on its unique capabilities.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a process that uses a high power laser to fuse a bed of powdered material together, sintering the loose powder into solid geometry. It is one of the more mature and robust 3D Printing processes available and is especially well suited for making large strong parts.
We currently run Nylon 11 and Glass Filled Nylon 12 in our machine which has a build volume of 13″ x 11″ x 16.5″ and a layer thickness of 0.004″
Few service providers have as much experience as PADT with this system, we have been using it for over 15 years. During that time we have upgraded almost every component and during the recent downtime, the system was fully calibrated and tuned for maximum precision and performance. We are also experts on how to post process the parts that come out of this machine, including painting and other coatings.
Just a Part of 3D Printing at PADT
PADT features 3D Printing services using Stratasys FDM and PolyJet technologies, making precision parts with a wide variety of materials and colors. We also offer Stereolithography (SLA) Additive Manufacturing services along with soft tooling and injection molding consulting.
If you are using a big impersonal 3D Printing “mill” or are not sure where to get your 3D Printing done, reach out to PADT. We have been doing it since 1994 and have hundreds of happy and loyal customers.
The year is almost halfway over and the pace of events that PADT is attending and holding is slackening a bit as we account for summer vacation and, in Phoenix, the blistering heat. Take a look below to see what we have planned, mostly webinars, and review what happened in a fun filled May below.
June 20: Utah Technology Council “Future of Technology in Utah “
PADT’s Anthony Wagner and James Barker will be attending this outstanding event featuring key members of the Utah technology community and the Governor or Utah, Gary Herbert.
June 28: Jefferson County Aerospace & Defense Small Business Industry Day
PADT’s Norman Stucker and James Barker will be manning a booth at this gathering of small but active Aerospace companies in the area to talk learn how everyone can contribute to Colorado’s dynamic Aerospace industry sector.
June 29: Twin Cities ANSYS User Meeting “HPC and Numerical Simulation deep dive”
Join David Mastel the IT Manager/Chief HPC Architect for PADT, Inc. and ANSYS users in the Twin Cities area for an ANSYS user meeting including technical presentation with handouts.
We have several great Webinars on tap for June. All PADT webinars are recorded, so even if you can’t make the specified time register and we will send you a link to the recording.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 – 1:00 PM (MST)
Engineering the Internet of Things Devices with ANSYS Simulation Register
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 – 11:00 AM (MST)
Modeling FDM Structure and Properties: The Key to Enabling Functional Part Production Register
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 – Multiple Times
Flownex SE providing systems simulation to the Oil and Gas industry
Part Production Register
May Events in Review
We attended a lot of events in May where we learned a ton, and continued to grow our network.
Patrick Barnett and Eric Miller ventured out to the heart of the Silicon Valley to attend Internet of Things World 2016. We learned a ton and met a couple of potential suppliers. Learn more about what we learned on our IoT page: www.padtinc.com/iot
The big, huge, important event for the month was RAPID in Orlando, FL. PADT’s Rey Chu and Dhruv Bhate attended, and Dhruv presented. The highlight of the show was seeing all the new products that were introduced, especially from Stratasys. We were also able to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
The most informative event of the month was the National SBIR/STTR Conference. PADT’s Rob Rowan flew to our nation’s capital and was able to meet with many of the people who are in charge of the SBIR projects we are bidding on. Rob felt that the best part was getting to better know what our customers are really looking for.
As a parent I know that crayon management has always been a problem in our family, especially when we travel. We could have used the ReadyXO – a simple container that cleverly uses the lid to provide stability so it doesn’t tip over. Now is your chance to control your crayons and help fund a great entrepreneur, and PADT customer, through KickStarter.
This is a great idea, a simple solution, by an individual entrepreneur who applied good problem solving and engineering to develop a solution to something that most of us have dealt with when we were kids or as parents.
Scroll down and read “The Story.” If you didn’t want to get one out of simple necessity, when you hear about the inventor’s journey you will want to back this enterprise immediately.
One of the best parts of working at PADT is helping our customers make their ideas work. From a new valve actuator on the International Space Station to clever gadgets. Sometimes we see some great ideas from individual inventors that solve a day-to-day problem with a simple and elegant solution and get to help out just a little on their journey. This is a fantastic example of that.
Help us help them by pre-ordering your ReadyXO Crayon Box on KickStarter and spread the word through social media.
The May/June 2016 of AZ Business Magazine focuses on innovation and technology business in Arizona. This includes our contribution to the discussion “Large tech companies are critical to a startup community.” In this article I make a case for remembering the big guys out there that train, spawn, fund, and even buy the startups that are out there.
“It is not just a trend, it is a Tsunami. One day you will wake up and see a giant wave headed your way, and that wave will be the Internet of Things!”
This was the opening line from a presentation given by the VP of sales for a major engineering software company. It got my attention because it wasn’t hype or hyperbole. He was just pointing out the obvious. Over the past two years the signs have been there. Smart devices will connected to the internet, and older devices will be made smart and then connected. Those that don’t, will no longer be competitive.
It is not all about smart thermostats. Far from it. I went to IoT world in San Jose last week and saw a lot of people scrambling to find their solution. And a few that found them. The best example was an older letter stamping machine, you can guess at the manufacturer, that plugged a modular device from Electric Imp in to their controller and boom – they were connected. Some back end programming and they now had a competitive IoT device.
It is time to define and execute on your IoT strategy
When we visit customers, we will often ask them what their IoT Strategy is. The answers vary from “we don’t really think our products have an IoT play” to existing products on the market. The focus in the media is on consumer IoT products, but the bigger push right now is for industrial Internet, where machines used in manufacturing, energy generation, raw material extraction, and processing are smart and connected.
Customers from consumers to other companies will be requiring the benefits of IoT devices as they look to replace older hardware. That is why every company that makes physical products needs to develop an IoT strategy.
PADT Can Help
We have been helping our customers define and implement their approach to IoT well, since before it was called the Internet of Things. From assisting semiconductor companies that make MEMS sensors to making smart medical devices we are plugged in to what is needed to make IoT work.
There you can find some basic information about how PADT is a more comprehensive and technically capable solution then most design houses that claim to have IoT solutions. We are uniquely qualified to make sure the “Thing” in your IoT strategy is designed and manufactured right.
We also published a series of articles in the Phoenix Business Journal that provide some fundamental background information on the Internet of Things and how to deal with the challenges it presents:
Simulation can play a big role in almost every aspect of making your IoT device development faster and more productive. PADT uses ANSYS, Inc.’s comprehensive Multiphysics simulation tool set to model everything from the chip to the embedded system software.
Make sure you subscribe to PADT’s email list so you don’t miss future Events
Talking is the Best Approach
We hope that you find all of the material above, and the information we will provide in the coming months useful. But they are no substitute for giving us a call or sending us an email and setting up a face-to-face to talk about your IoT strategy and device development needs. If you are doing the work in-house, we have the hardware and software tools you need to be successful. If you need outside help, you won’t find engineers with more applicable experience.
Give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT or email email@example.com.
This is our final post in a series on The Internet of Things, or IoT. In “This is the biggest challenge for the Internet of Things” I take a look at the monster that keeps IoT companies up at night – Security. In the end, security is a big concern when designing your IoT device, but one that can be easily addressed with the right experts, systems, and planning.