Arizona GCOI, Another Enjoyable Evening of Tech

PADT was pleased to be a participant in the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (#GCOI) for the third time last night. GCOI is an awards ceremony and a gathering to celebrate all things tech in Arizona.  This year it was up on the third floor of the West Building of the Phoenix Convention Center, affording great views of downtown.

PADT had a booth:

GCOI-2013-PADT-Booth

And we also made the awards again this year. But as usually, we forgot to take any pictures… so here is one of the host, Robin Sewell, gave PADT a great shout out, and even got our name right:

GCOI-2013-Robin-Sewel-Mentions-PADT

As always, we were very pleased to see one of PADT’s customers, and a company that PADT is an Angel investor in, receive an award:

Innovator of the Year – Small Company: Strongwatch Corporation, of Tucson, which focuses on the tactical mobile surveillance and continuous autonomous surveillance segments of the video surveillance market.

Sponsorship was once again very strong, and PADT was honored to be listed with so many great companies:

GCOI-2013-Sponsors

 

AZTechBeat.com has a great slideshow that you should check out to see who was there, and see happy winners holding their PADT made trophy in their hands.

It was great to see old friends a make a few new ones.  The Arizona technology community is full of smart, creative, motivated people who are making a difference in the state, and around the world. The co-sponsors, the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority, have really done a great job on this event and growing a stronger and more vibrant technology community.

GCOI-2013-Eric-PADT-Booth

 

Press Release: Free Thermal-Fluid Simulation Training Offered to Mark Growing Usage in the US and Demonstrate Advantages of Flownex Simulation Environment

987786-flownex_simulation_environment-11_12_13PADT is getting the word out about growing usage of the Flownex Simulation Environment in the US, and marking that growth with some free training in January. If our previous avalanche of marketing did not embed it in your memory, Flownex is a simulation tool used to model thermal-fluid systems.  PADT is the distributor for Flownex in the US and we really like this tool.  It is powerful, easy to use, and easily integrates with other tools like ANSYS, FLUENT, Excel, Matlab/Simulink, etc…

As part of a real marketing effort (I was being sarcastic about the avalanche), we have sent out the following press release:

PressRelease-Screen

We also created a new video that gives a brief introduction to Flownex. If you are still wondering what exactly Flownex is, this is a great place to start:

987786-flownex_multistage_compressor-11_12_13As is mentioned in the release, we are offering two free training classes as part of this effort.  These two day classes are a bit different than the standard Flownex introduction training in that they are more focused on giving you the skills you need to understand and try the Flownex out on your own – so a little more breadth and a little less depth.  After completing the class you will receive a 45 day licence. Our technical support team will also be available to help you as you try the tool out on your real problem.

The first class is being held in our Littleton, Colorado office on January 13 and 14, 2014 (REGISTER) and the second is at our main office in Tempe, Arizona on January 23 and 24, 2014 (REGISTER).   Space is limited so make sure you sign up early.

987786-flownex_powerplant_thermal-fluid-model-1-11_12_13We can honestly say that everyone that has seriously looked at Flownex has been pleased and has quickly learned that this tool is easy to learn, easy to use, and very capable.

987786-flownex_two_phase_flow-11_12_13Contact Roy Haynie (roy.haynie@padtinc.com) to learn more.

New Case Study: Product Development for Satellite GPS Messenger

Spot-Gen3-FrontOnPADT recently added a new case study to our website that is worth sharing.  Our involvement in the development of the new SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger was a fantastic example of PADT bringing a wide range of engineering resources to a single project: Industrial Design, Mechanical Design, Simulation, Testing, Vendor Management, Rapid Prototyping, and Manufacturing Consulting.

Download the Case Study

In the words of the customer:

“PADT has been like an extension of our own design team and totally understood our unique product design constraints from the get go.  Despite ever evolving product requirements and short design cycles, they managed to stick to their original schedule and provide a successful product design.  Additionally, their ability to coordinate with our overseas manufacturing partner has proved invaluable for getting through the difficult last stages of high volume mass production.”

– Eric Blanchard, Senior Design Engineer, Globalstar Inc.” 

It is always rewarding to see a product we worked on for sale to the general public:

Globalstar-WebPageSPOT-Gen3-Amazon-Page

The following for images show some of the contributions we were able to make:

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First are the Industrial Design rendering along with an initial sketch. PADT worked with an Industrial Designer to realize the customer’s ergonomic and style needs.

Next is a view of the CAD model used. The entire product assembly was designed as an accurate 3D CAD model to enable faster downstream processes and meet stringent assembly and packaging demands.

The third image shows results from one of the FEA simulations done on a key component. Simulation was used to drive the design of critical components, avoiding testing and redesign further in the product development process.

And finally we share an image of one of the prototype models PADT made in house as part of this project. PADT’s in-house Rapid Prototyping capabilities were used to create multiple product models for fit, form, function, and style evaluation.

PADT can bring these capabilities, and many more, to help you bring your product to market. We can assist on the whole project or just provide resources where they are needed.

PADT can bring these capabilities, and many more, to help you bring your product to market. We can assist on the whole project or just provide resources where they are needed.

Contact us to Learn More

Recommendations to Avoid ANSYS Mechanical Database Corruption

It’s late. The report for the project that you have spent over 140 hours on in the past two weeks is due in the morning. It is crunch time. Your computer resources are maxed out while you are running a final test scenario, post-processing another Workbench Mechanical module, and grabbing screenshots while you finish up your report formatting. Then, the unutterable occurs, ok, well maybe isn’t utter-able since I’m writing it, but, in short, your run is complete, you hit save, your computer locks up, you have to force quit, but you are sure that your save was successful. And it was…mostly.

Upon re-opening your project you find that all but one of your Mechanical databases are healthy and happy. But that one, the one that you needed a final image from, is corrupted. You know this because of the error messages that pop up with the slew of text that might look something like this:

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Your frustration is building. You have already used results from that Mechanical model and reflected it in your report, so you do not want to lose it. I feel your pain.

Since this error message pin-points the SYS.mechdb file as the problem, it is unlikely that you can recover it. I know, not what you wanted to hear. But there is a chance that the database is not corrupt. To verify that, follow the steps Ted Harris outlined in a post he made earlier this year here.

If your Mechanical model is, indeed, corrupt and you were not able to recover it from steps outlined by Ted, make note of the following list of guidelines to help avoid database corruption in the future. I received this list of recommendations from ANSYS Inc. after one of our customers experienced a similar scenario as described above.

  1. Open your project from a Local mounted disk drive
  2. Do not work off of a network drive. It is OK to save to it after you are done
  3. Do not work off of a portable USB flash drive. It is OK to save to it after you are done
  4. Software backup programs can often lock a file and prevent WB from writing to the file
  5. Virus scan programs can also lock the file, and prevent WB from writing to the file
  6. Virus scan program can sometimes find a false positive in the file, and “disinfect” it, causing corruption
  7. Determine if the problem is related to the particular computer. ANSYS has seen bad memory or failing disk drives cause problems with saving files
  8. Use Windows Update regularly
  9. Update graphics drivers as needed

Bullet points 4, 5, and 6 are items that can possibly cause corruption while running, so be aware of the times they are generally run. In addition, ANSYS has recommended that disabling the Pre-Load of the Mechanical (and Meshing) editors can reduce the risk of database corruption. Here are the steps to do that:

  1. Reboot the computer (or Close/kill all AnsysFWW.exe and AnsysWBU.exe processes)
  2. Start a new instance of Workbench to change the settings:
    Tools > Options > Mechanical > Pre-Load the Mechanical Editor (disable)
    Tools > Options > Meshing > Pre-Load the Meshing Editor
    (disable)
  3. Exit Workbench
  4. Start a new instance of Workbench and work normally

As a disclaimer, even if you follow the above guidelines, there is still the chance of losing data. To avoid losing all of your data, follow the motto: save early, save often, and with backups! You can create backups by archiving your project as you make progress so that there is always a version to fall back on. Or, if you have the disk space to handle it, you can simply “Save As.” We hope following these recommendations will save you from headache down the road.

PADT Part of “Made in Tempe” Exhibit at Tempe History Museum

Museum6

When you are a small company, there are a lot of things you expect to happen. Being in a history museum is not one of them.  This past November 8th  PADT was featured in the latest exhibition at the Tempe History Museum: Made in Tempe.

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It is a strange thing to stroll through a museum, chatting with a docent, and turn the corner and see something you worked on sitting inside a display case. Then, looking up seeing a display describing who PADT is and what we do was a bit emotional.  But the best part was when a visitor comes up and start reading next to you, and then asks out loud “what is that white thing in the middle, are those gears, was that made on a 3D Printer?” And with a bit of a lump in your throat, replying “Why yes, yes it was.” That very moment was capture by someone from the museum in this image:

Museum2

As the museum points out on their website:

“Most people think of Tempe as the home of Arizona State University, Tempe Town Lake and Mill Avenue, but Tempe is also the location for hundreds of manufacturing companies, ranging from hot sauce to heart defibrillators and the Tempe History Museum wants to honor their role in the progress of this city.”

And don’t forget Four Peaks Brewing… definitely some great company to keep.

The attendance was very strong, with many people involved in the Museum, the City of Tempe, and technology spending their Friday night mingling and learning about all of the companies.

Here we see Josh mingling with the other guests:

Museum5

 

The highlight of the evening was to cut the ribbon and officially open the “Made in Tempe” Exhibition, standing with fellow Tempe business owners and executives:

Museum1We are very pleased to be based here in Tempe, Arizona.  It is a great home for companies of all types, but especially technology companies who want a city government that actually gets high-tech, gets the need to have good infrastructure and strong schools, supports a world class university, and makes the type of investments that result in a great environment for long term growth.

PADT is proud to now be part of the city’s official history and especially proud to be “Made in Tempe.”

 

Making Charts and Tables in ANSYS Mechanical

imageOne of the nicer features in ANSYS Mechanical is the fact that when you enter in any type of tabular data, or look at any type of tabular results, you can view it as a table or as a graph.  But what if you want to make your own graph, maybe even viewing values from two different solutions?  ANSYS Mechanical has a little used feature called “New Chart and Table” that will allow you to make a table or a graph (chart) of quantities in your model tree that make sense when displayed as a graph or table: Time, loads applied over time, and results over time.

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I have found myself exporting data to excel and making graphs all the time. And this is OK if you just do it once. But if you make a change to the model, you need to export again and redo your graph.  The Chart and Table function makes this an automatic step, right there in your model tree.

For this posting, we will just use a simple plasticity bending example. We hold the bottom of a round bar with a grove cut in the bottom part and push on the top with forces.

In its simplest form the “Chart and Table” duplicates what you see in the graph and Tabular Data windows when you click on a load or a result. Here is what you get when you click on a displacement:

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And if you select the probe in the tree and click on the “New Chart and Table” icon you get:

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No woop.  But even if I want to just plot one value, I can now customize the look of the graph a bit.  Take a look at the Details for the Chart:

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With the Chart Controls you can define what is shown on the X axis; if you want lines, points or both with Plot Style, log or linear scale, and if you want horizontal, vertical, neither, or both gridlines.

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This is what it looks like if I turn on both gridlines and use a log scale for the Y Axis.

Next, we can add axis labels with “Axis Labels:”

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The “Report” Section tells the program what to do when a report is generated. By Default you get a table and a graph.  But you can do either, both, or you can suppress it in the report.  You can give the plot and/or table in the report a caption by filling in the Caption field.  It comes out nice:

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Note that it actually includes a legend in the report. If you want the legend when you are looking at a graph interacively, just Right Mouse Button on the graph and choose “Show Legend” to turn it on:

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Note that the legend shows the name of the branch in the tree. That is not very informative. So I change it to something useful and now the legend is useful:

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So even with a basic graph, we can do a lot. But the real power is when you want to look at more. Let’s say I want to plot the force and the stress over time. I create a new chart with the icon then select the force and the stress results as my “Outline Selection”

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I get a lot of stuff on my graph. That is because the program starts by plotting all the components for the load, and all max and min stress over time for the result. I simply change the ones I don’t want from “Display” to “Omit.”  Then I get:

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Much more useful.  Note that it does not create two separate Y axis. Instead it normalizes the values between the min and max for each. This is not ideal, and hopefully in the future they will support multiple axis, but it still works for most cases when you want to compare things. Note that I renamed the branches in my tree so they show up in the legend correctly.  Next I will add some labels and turn on gridlines.

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We have been neglecting the table. It also gets created:

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As with any table in ANSYS Mechanical, it can be exported to Excel. So if you find yourself grabbing data from multiple input or result tables and pasted them into Excel, make a Chart and Table item to grab all the data you want in one place, then export it once.  To be honest, the quality of the graphs that are made are good enough for engineering, but maybe not good enough for a presentation. By making a Chart & Table of what you need, then exporting to Excel or some other graphing tool, you can still save a lot of time.

Next, let us look at plotting values from multiple simulations.  If you look at the tree, you will notice that the charts are a child of the model, not the simulations.  This signals that we can show data form the same model, but different simulations:

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In our example I’ve simply made one with a tip force in the Y direction, and one with a tip force in the X direction. And I can show that by making a chart:

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And I get a table:

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HINT: If you want to make a single table or chart that shows all your input loads over time, in a single simulation or across multiple simulations, this is the way to do it.  If I add a third simulation where I vary the load in all three directions, I can capture all three cases in one table:

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These examples show loads. Here is what it looks like if we review the deflection on the tip probe over time for two simulations:

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Or mash it all up, and show stress and deflection for both cases:

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In every case so far we have used time (Load Step for static) as our X axis. But you can put any value you want on the X axis.  Here is Force applied vs Tip Deflection:

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Make sure you turn off Time and loads you don’t want to see.  This is a great way to plot hysteresis effects.

You may notice the plots in this posting are nice and big and have a good aspect ratio. And your screen looks like this:

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Every window in ANSYS Mechanical can be dragged out of the frame and positioned/sized however you want. So I pull off the Graph window by itself and resize it to the aspect ratio I want. Now when I want to save the image all I have to do is select that window and hit Alt-Print Screen. The image is now stored in the clipboard and I can past it where I want.

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To get the normal window configuration back, click View>Windows>Reset Layout.

As always, play with it to figure more out. I’ve included my simple test case in case you want to play with it first:

Three Open Jobs at PADT – CFD Engineer, BusOps, QA Engineer

PADT-Company-2013-04-30-4As all aspects of our business continue to thrive, we find ourselves in need of three new employees to join the PADT team in our Tempe, Arizona headquarters.  Two are brand new postings and the third is a position we have been looking to fill for some time. Please feel free to forward this information on to anyone you think might be interested in helping us “… Make Innovation Work.”

Part Time Medical Device Quality Engineer: Part-time and/or contract Quality Engineer to support our  quality management system (QMS) in our Medical Device Group.

Product Support Business Operations Administrator: This position manages the business logistics required for PADT’s 3D Printer customer support and service team.

Experienced CFD Analysis Engineer: Engineer with 8-25 years of experience in the area of CFD simulation to join our Simulation Services team providing analysis services, technical support, training, and mentoring to our customers around the world. Must be a US Citizen or Legal Resident and have turbomachinery experience.

 

PADT Shows Golf “Participation” at Annual Phoenix Society of Manufacturing Engineers Tournament

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PADT has a great reputation for a lot of things: ANSYS expertise, the people solve those tough engineering problems in product development, outstanding knowledge and quality in rapid prototyping, the knowledge and enthusiasm of our employees. Notice that golf is not listed in there. It is still not listed.

This last Saturday was the annual Phoenix Chapter 067 Society of Manufacturing Engineers Golf Tournament. This well attended event is held to raise money towards scholarships for Manufacturing Engineering students at Arizona State University.  A great cause and the turnout was awesome with eighteen foursomes hitting the fairways at the Arizona Grand Resort. The picture above shows John, Brad, and Eric posing at the hole that PADT sponsored.  Our fourth player prefers to remain anonymous.

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John-GolfPADT hired the bulk of our manufacturing team from the ASU program and we support their efforts to educate future leaders in manufacturing technology. In fact, the picture to the right is of John taking a swing – he is a graduate of this program. Some of the things we do  include internships, onsite tours of our rapid manufacturing facility, lecturing, and donating items to and sponsoring their fundraising auctions.  We also sponsor breakfast and a hole at this event each year.  What we do not do is strike fear and trepidation in the hearts of the other golfers.

PADT-Last-Place-Golf

Sigh… 18th out of 18.  Note how they used a different color of ink to make sure everyone noticed we were last. We did get a consolation prize of a large box of golf balls, a not so subtle hint to get out there and practice more.

However, it was a very nice day and we had a great time out there.

 

Annual Halloween Pumpkin Fest Time at PADT

PADT-2013-Halloween-feastWe kicked off the first official event of the holiday season today with our Halloween Pumpkin Fest.  BBQ and “Pumpkin Inspired Dessert” were on the menu as we celebrate the return of awesome weather to Arizona when we can all leave our air-conditioned cubicles and venture outside and sit in the sun without melting.  Very nice.

For those that follow us, we are sad to report that there was no pumpkin launch this year. We have been swamped with work recently and our team of pumpkin projecting professionals just did not have the time to prepare the equipment this year.

We wish all of you a Happy Halloween and we look forward to Thanksgivukkah, Christmas, and the New Year and enjoying a strong end to a great 2013!

 

 

What is Going on with MakerBot’s Acquisition by Stratasys?

Back in June it was announced that Stratasys was acquiring MakerBot. Many of you have been asking about the acquisition and how it impacts Stratasys and PADT. We now have some answers so we thought we would share them with you.

PADT has been involved in what is now called 3D Printing since our founding in 1994. We have seen the technology grow in popularity beyond our core engineering customer base to become a mainstream technology. The addition of MakerBot to the Stratasys family allows us to become more involved in those mainstream applications. Exciting times.

First off, the deal was a stock only transaction worth about $400,000,000, so it does not impact the ability of Stratasys to continue to invest in product growth and improvement. That was great news.

Second, it looks like for now MakerBot will be run as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys, Ltd. At first we were a bit worried about that because we wanted to interact more with the whole MakerBot universe. We soon found out that Stratasys understood this and although marketing, sales, and support are separate, there is some great cross-pollination going on.

PADT received a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer a few weeks ago and we have been playing around with it in our Colorado office. Our sales people and engineers are learning as much as they can about the system so we can better explain it to everyone we meet out there who are interested in 3D Printing.

Although we do not sell or support MakerBot products directly, we can now offer access to the MakerBot online store through a PADT link. When you purchase a printer, scanner, material, or parts after using the link, everyone knows you are a friend of PADT and we receive a small commission. We plan on using those funds to help support local 3D printer networking and education activities. And you do not have to be an existing PADT customer or located in our Stratasys sales and support territory. Anyone can purchase through the PADT link.

We will announce events, videos, and articles about MakerBot through our social media outlets and email as they get scheduled.

2013 Cleantech Open Finalists Announced for Rocky Mountain Region

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Last week the Rocky Mountain Region of the Cleantech Open announced the three finalists and sustainability award winner that they will be sending to the Cleantech Open Global Forum in San Jose, CA this November to compete for the $200,000 award package. The finalists worked through the regional accelerator with twenty other companies and then competed to come out on top and travel to the national finals.

Read the press release here.

As a sponsor, PADT was honored to be in attendance at Denver’s Cable Center for the 5th Anniversary event.  The best part was that two of the three finalists were companies from Tucson Arizona.  The three winners were:

  • Grannus (Tucson, AZ) as a finalist and sustainability award winner for their zero-emissions process for making nitrogen fertilizer.
  • HJ3 Composite Technologies (Tucson, AZ) as a finalist for their composite infrastructure repair system.
  • OptiEnz Sensors (Ft. Colins, CO) as a Finalist for their in-situ organic chemical sensors.

We enjoyed working with all of the applicants throughout the year and look forward to working with the finalists as they move forward.  We wish them the best of luck and are rooting for them to return to the region as one of the winners.

 

Video Tips: DesignXplorer – Single Objective Parameterization

This video gives an example of using DesignXplorer to automate the optimization of a tuning fork to achieve a particular desired frequency

ANSYS 14.5.7 Quick Install Instructions for Windows

ANSYS-14-5-7_Install-GuideAs part of our support for our existing ANSYS customers we prepare a quick install guide that we can send users when they get the new releases. The contents are based upon our own install experience, and what we have learned helping our customers install on a large number of different networks.  We just updated the 14.5.7 guide for Windows and thought we would share it with the community.

This particular release is fairly straight forward, so this is a short doc.

We hope you find it useful:

ANSYS 14 5 7_Install_Quick_Guide

Customers and Partners Win at AZBio Awards and Pittsburgh Tech 50 for 2013

It is awards season and PADT partners and customers are racking up the wins around the country.

AZBio-Awards-2013-Header-10-10

On October 10th we were fortunate enough to be at the 2013 AZBio Awards where we were pleased to see:

  • The founder of customer Ventana Medical Systems,  Thomas M. Grogan, M.D, win a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Customer W. L. Gore and Associates picked up the Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year Award.
  • Linda Hunt, the President and CEO of Dignity Health Arizona received the Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year award. The Barrow Neurological Institute, part of Dignity Health, is a PADT customer.

Not only were we pleased to see these winners, but once again PADT provided the trophies for these awards so they were able to take a little piece of PADT home with them.

AZ-Bio-Awards-2013

 

More images from the event can be found on their Facebook page.

Pittsburgh-tech-50-ANSYS-Alung-2013Then just today we received word that the Pittsburgh Technology Council announced the winners of their Tech 50 for 2013.  And once again, a PADT customer and one of our most important partner received an award.

  • Medical device customer ALung won the Life Sciences Company of the Year award.
  • ANSYS, Inc., a partner and customer, was awarded the Tech Titan Award for, well being a tech titan.

We offer our congratulations to all of the winners and hope to see more as the awards season continues.

If you want to win a few technology awards, maybe you should consider being a PADT customer… seems like a trend.

Final PADT Open House Held at Littleton Colorado Office

SONY DSCThis past Wednesday customers, vendors, and friends of PADT gathered at our new Littleton, Colorado office for the third and final open house for 2013.  It was definitely a little cold outside, but that did not keep people away from some good discussions, beverages, and a chance to meet other people in the area who are interested in the sort of things that PADT does: simulation, product development, and rapid prototyping.

We were fortunate to have Debbie Brinkman, the mayor of Littleton, and several council members in attendance along with representatives from the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Space Business Roundtable.

Besides the chance to socialize, the highlights of the evening were the ribbon cutting ceremony and the tour of PADT’s new office.  As always the 3D Printers were a big hit.

Here are some pictures of the event:

SONY DSC  When the sun was still out, it was a good time to share a beer and talk about engineering and technology in Colorado.

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The old county courthouse served as a great backdrop for the event.

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Since this is a new office for s, the city held a ribbon cutting ceremony.  From left to right were:  John Brackney (South Metro Denver Chamber), Ward Rand (PADT Co-Owner), Eric Miller (PADT Co-Owner), Mayor Debbie Brinkman (Littleton), Edgar Johansson (Colorado Space Business Roundtable), and Norman Stucker (PADT Colorado GM)SONY DSC

Clinton Smith, Patrick Barnett, and Stephen Theron from PADT were there to meet with customers and catch up.

SONY DSCMario Vargas, PADT’s Hardware Sales manager, spent much of the evening showing off PADT’s collection of 3D printers that are in the Littleton office.

When Colorado’s attendance of 125 is added to around 50 people at the Albuquerque, New Mexico open house, 300 in Tempe, Arizona we estimate that over 475 people came to one of our events this year.  We hope to see even more for our 20th anniversary celebrations in 2014.