How do you remove the dashboard from a car, intact? Very carefully – especially when the dashboard comes from one of only 19 ever-made vehicles. Here, Bogi Lateiner (at right) and volunteer Ally Abel work to disengage every electrical component, screw and snap-fit connector keeping the S60 T8 Polestar dashboard in place. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Girl Gang Garage Iron Maven Project: Taking Shape, Moving Ahead

The two cars have become one! The body of the 1961 Volvo PV544 is now welded to the chassis-frame of a new 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
The two cars have become one! The body of the 1961 Volvo PV544 is now welded to the chassis-frame of a new 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

If you’ve been following Girl Gang Garage on LinkedIn or Instagram, you know there’s been a ton of progress on the Iron Maven Volvo-rebuild project since PADT’s last post in July. Back then, most of the work had focused on gutting the 1961 Volvo PV544 body and interior, and PADT was able to capture much of the sheet metal shape and dimensions with its GOM Tscan Hawk 3D scanner. We also started brainstorming various 3D printed parts to enable new component designs produced on Stratasys 3D printers.

Since then, Bogi Lateiner, co-owner of Girl Gang Garage (and TV host of Motortrend’s All Girls Garage and Garage Squad), co-owner Shawnda Williams, and a rotating team of volunteer women have turned their efforts to disassembling the second vehicle: the new 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan (donated by corporate sponsor Volvo) and merging its chassis with the PV544 body.

Sounds simple, sort of? It might be if it weren’t for the facts that:

  • a) the wheelbase (front-tire center to rear-tire center) of the two cars differs: the PV544 clocks in at 102.5 inches but the S60 is quite a bit longer, at 113 inches.  Also,
  • b) the track width (axle length) differs – this time the PV544 is about 12 inches narrower at the front (51 inches versus 63 inches), which means the Girl Gang team needs to expand both of the front fenders by half that amount to accommodate everything in the engine compartment. And, lastly and conversely,
  • c) the S60 dashboard is so wide that it needs to be reconfigured from 56 inches down to about 50 inches or less, to fit the interior dimensions.

Growing Fenders, Redesigning a Grill

Original PV544 front bumper/grill housing and fenders. It all looks huge, right? But with the track-width difference between this design and that of the new Volvo S60 chassis, the Girl Gang Garage team needs to splice in about twelve more inches, probably incorporated in the fenders. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
Original PV544 front bumper/grill housing and fenders. It all looks huge, right? But with the track-width difference between this design and that of the new Volvo S60 chassis, the Girl Gang Garage team needs to splice in about twelve more inches, probably incorporated in the fenders. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

The old-school approach to reconstructing the front bumper-grill section and fenders would involve cutting the original sheet metal, shaping new metal splices by eye and tape-measure, and welding everything together with skilled handwork. This time, although the first and last steps still apply, that project becomes a much more precise, and predictable, task thanks to the digital workflow of 3D scanning -> data processing -> CAD design. These steps are now underway and will set the stage for a cool new grill and fenders that will act big but fool the eye just a bit to keep the overall lines intact.

3D scan of passenger-side fender of PV544, ready for conversion to CAD and creative expansion. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
3D scan of passenger-side fender of PV544, ready for conversion to CAD and creative expansion. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
PV544 front bumper/grill scan data acquired with a GOM Tscan Hawk handheld laser 3D scanner. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
PV544 front bumper/grill scan data acquired with a GOM Tscan Hawk handheld laser 3D scanner. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

It’s pretty clear that this front-end has seen better days, so the analysis and measurements of the existing surface needed to be carefully analyzed. Donated expertise for this task came from Chris Strong and Hayati Dirim of Rapid Scan 3D, who mapped the scanned mesh onto planes and surfaces that define the current grill-mount opening.

Surface data file created from the PV544 bumper/grill scanned mesh. Note the reference plane constructed along the left side. File conversion and measurements completed by Rapid Scan 3D. (Image courtesy Rapid Scan 3D.)
Surface data file created from the PV544 bumper/grill scanned mesh. Note the reference plane constructed along the left side. File conversion and measurements completed by Rapid Scan 3D. (Image courtesy Rapid Scan 3D.)

This information has been handed off to the CAD support team. Working hand-in-hand with the Girl Gang Garage experts, the team is using Fusion 360 CAD software, donated from Iron Maven sponsor Autodesk, to analyze these defining surfaces and design a new grill in CAD, which we expect will be 3D printed and painted to match the updated (not yet announced) body color from sponsor BASF.

Knowing both the fender and grill/frame exact dimensions also supports the team in defining the connections and shape of the widened fenders.

Critical surfaces and dimensions extracted from the bumper/grill scan, converted into CAD and brought into Autodesk Fusion 360. The four planes define the current limits of the opening for the grill. This information will guide the CAD-layout of the brand-new grill design and also serve as boundary layers that mate up to the expanded fenders. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
Critical surfaces and dimensions extracted from the bumper/grill scan, converted into CAD and brought into Autodesk Fusion 360. The four planes define the current limits of the opening for the grill. This information will guide the CAD-layout of the brand-new grill design and also serve as boundary layers that mate up to the expanded fenders. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Dashboard Surgery

cially when the dashboard comes from one of only 19 ever-made vehicles. Here, Bogi Lateiner (at right) and volunteer Ally Abel work to disengage every electrical component, screw and snap-fit connector keeping the S60 T8 Polestar dashboard in place. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
How do you remove the dashboard from a car, intact? Very carefully – especially when the dashboard comes from one of only 19 ever-made vehicles. Here, Bogi Lateiner (at right) and volunteer Ally Abel work to disengage every electrical component, screw and snap-fit connector keeping the S60 T8 Polestar dashboard in place. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

The brand-new 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan was almost too cool to cut up – but Girl Gang Garage knew that something even better would emerge in the end. Before the roof was cut off (see the video on LinkedIn), the work timeline required removing the dashboard with all its electronic components.

Here’s the extracted S60 dashboard, viewed from the bottom and front:

Volvo S60 Dashboard removed from the car by Girl Gang Garage, to be mounted in the PV544 body of the Iron Maven project. (Image courtesy PADT)

And the frame behind it:

Mounting frame for the original Volvo S60 dashboard. It will need to be retrofitted for the PV544 Volvo rebuild project. (Image courtesy PADT)

And here are the existing red PV544 dash and the black S60 version side by side (the dots are the reflective targets used with the 3D laser scanner). The S60 configuration needs to fit in the original PV544 space. To compress this at least five inches, the glove-box probably has to go.

Both Volvo dashboards side by side: the large new S60 dashboard and the original PV544 dashboard. The new one is more than five inches wider and will have to be cut down. (Image courtesy PADT)

Once again, the team is turning to scan data, and that analysis is in process.

Top view of the S60 dashboard, as scanned with the GOM Tscan Hawk 3D scanner. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
Top view of the S60 dashboard, as scanned with the GOM Tscan Hawk 3D scanner. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Stay Tuned

Due to the scheduling and travel challenges presented by the ever-shifting COVID scene, Girl Gang Garage has decided to complete the Iron Maven for presentation at the 2022 SEMA Show (highlighting automotive specialty products). This also allows more time for 3D printing the new components which are coming off the Stratasys F370 printer. PADT will be documenting updates and sharing cool photos of this one-of-a-kind project in the months to come.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on GOM 3D scanners and Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

PADT Announces Leadership Team Expansion to Support the Growth of 3D Printing and Simulation Business Units

Additions to the Executive Team and Staff Allow PADT to Better Serve Customers Across New and Existing Business Units

Our sales and support team is the part of PADT that the largest number of customers interact with. Over two decades we have grown our offering from the core Ansys product in Arizona to representing half a dozen different simulations, 3D Printing, and scanning solutions across the US. that is why we decided to step back and take a look at the leadership and structure of our team and create three new positions that allow our sales professionals and engineers to better serve our customers.

You can read the details below in the press release. The primary changes are the promotion of two leaders, Kathryn Pesta and Ted Harris to the Director level where they will oversee expanded teams in sales operations and simulation technical support. We have also created a new team, Enterprise Solutions & Alliances, and appointed Alan McNeil as Director. Under the restructuring, Doug Oatis is taking over our Simulation application engineering team.

These changes are on top of the addition of Jim Sanford as VP of Sales and Support at the beginning of the year and new agreements with EOS to distribute and support their metal 3D Printers and #handsOnMetrology for their scanning solutions.

Our longstanding partners, Ansys, Stratasys, and Flownex, and users of their tools will also benefit from these developments. At the same time, we continue to add experienced engineers to our award-winning support team and seasoned professionals to our respected sales teams. Read below to learn more about these new staff members, and visit our careers page if you or someone you know wants to join our growing family. You can view a quick update on the nine new employees who joined PADT in the first half of 2021 at the bottom of our July newsletter.

You can also view the official press release in HTML or PDF.

As always, If you have any questions about these changes or want to learn more about the amazing products, contact us.


Press Release:

PADT Announces Leadership Team Expansion to Support the Growth of 3D Printing and Simulation Business Units

Additions to the Executive Team and Staff Allow PADT
to Better Serve Customers Across New and Existing Business Units

TEMPE, Ariz., August 3, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced the expansion of its 3D printing and simulation sales and support team with the addition of new members and management. The executive growth includes a new hire and two promotions. Alan McNiel joined as the director of Enterprise Solutions & Alliances, Ted Harris has been promoted to director of Simulation Support and Kathryn Pesta has been promoted to director of Sales Operations. The additions to the executive team are necessary to support the overall rise in demand for PADT’s sales and support offerings.

“As the U.S. begins to recover from the pandemic and gets back to business, we’re seeing significant demand for simulation tools and advanced 3D printing systems and materials,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “To meet this demand and serve our customers, PADT is bolstering our executive teams with the hiring of an industry-leader in Alan McNiel and the promotion of two of our most tenured and capable employees, Ted Harris and Kathryn Pesta.”

The newly appointed directors’ responsibilities include:

  • McNiel is now leading the newly created Enterprise Solutions and Alliances team. He is focused on the sale of Ansys, Stratasys, and EOS products to enterprise customers, growing Flownex in North America, as well as expanding new industry alliances.
  • Harris will restructure the company’s award-winning software support team to be aligned with expanded product offerings and drive optimal customer outcomes.
  • Pesta is leading a reengineering of PADT’s sales and support operations to meet the changing demands and increasing size of the company’s customer base.

Along with these management changes, PADT has recently added experienced salespeople to the Ansys and Stratasys sales team. The hiring of Mike Borsum in California, Brandyn Small in Texas and Brian Basiliere in Arizona as account managers will bolster PADT’s growing presence in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona, respectively. Additionally, Shane Stahl has joined PADT to represent EOS for the western U.S. Multiple additional sales positions will be filled across the country in the second half of 2021.

PADT’s Expanding Sales Territories

Bolstering PADT’s technical staff, electrical engineers Kang Li, PhD and Akimun Alvina have recently been added.  Li, located in Arizona, specializes in motors and electrification, while Alvina, located in Colorado, is a high frequency antenna specialist. As part of the transformation, former PADT team lead Doug Oatis has been promoted to engineering manager over the customer facing simulation application engineer team, while Harris assumes the role of acting manager over the simulation engineering support team. The 3D Printing technical team also increased its capability with the addition of Chase Wallace as an additive manufacturing application engineer.

“To support our customers across the U.S., PADT has worked hard to add talent in new and existing regions, as well as new products and capabilities, as quickly as possible,” said Jim Sanford, vice president, Sales and Support, PADT. “Our continued growth is truly a testament to our people and the technical excellence they’ve displayed despite the challenges of the last year and a half.”

PADT experienced significant growth in 2021, which began in April when it partnered with EOS to improve its additive manufacturing product offerings, resulting in the immediate addition of five advanced EOS metal 3D printing systems to its portfolio. The company also partnered with GOM and the #HandOnMetrology Network in May to add new products and capabilities in 3D scanning. The additions to the management team and new partnerships exemplify PADT’s commitment to growth based on long-term success providing customers with the technical and business solutions they need to design and improve their products. 

To learn more about PADT’s growth story please visit www.padtinc.com.

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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Girl Gang Garage: Custom Car Rebuilds + 3D Scanning + 3D Printing

What do you get when you cross a 1961 Volvo PV544 retro-look car with a sleek 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan – and why would you ever do that?

You get a custom head-turner hybrid vehicle designed to get people talking, especially about women in automotive trades. That’s because this blended vehicle project is being disassembled, redesigned and rebuilt by an all-female team based at Girl Gang Garage in Phoenix Arizona.

Bogi Lateiner and Shawnda Williams, co-owners of Girl Gang Garage, stand next to the stripped-down body of a 1961 Volvo PV544 that will soon be retrofitted on the chassis of a brand-new 2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan. The rebuild project provides a rare hands-on learning opportunity for women of all ages and skill levels, from around the U.S., to come and learn (or improve) skills in welding, cutting, transmission work, body repair/painting, electronics, upholstery and more. (Image courtesy Girl Gang Garage.)

Girl Gang Garage founder and co-owner, Bogi Lateiner, TV host of Motortrend’s All Girls Garage and Garage Squad shows, is well on the way to transforming these vehicles as the third major public project she has undertaken. Along with co-owner Shawnda Williams, Lateiner offers women of all ages, experiences and skill levels the chance to lend a hand, learn a tool, and possibly discover a new career-path in the automotive trades.

The front showroom of Girl Gang Garage (Phoenix AZ). At the left is the group’s second all-female build dubbed High Yellow 56, displayed at the 2019 SEMA Show. Partially hidden in the center is the first (2017) Girl Gang build, the Chevy Montage with its BMW engine, and at the right is the early-stage PV544 rebuild slated for showing at the 2021 SEMA Show. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

Lateiner and Williams apply well-honed old-school skills but have been increasingly interested in the possibilities offered by today’s digital workflow. That’s why early in 2021, after conversations with the fellow re-build team at Kindig-It Custom Car Fabrication, Lateiner reached out to Stratasys to see how they might work together to incorporate 3D printing in the PV544 project.

At Stratasys, Pat Carey, Senior Vice President Americas Products & Solutions, and Allen Kreemer, Senior Strategic Applications Engineer, were immediately onboard with the chance to help Girl Gang Garage move into the digital world while widening their circle of women with automotive skills and interests. They loaned the team an F370 FDM 3D printer and accompanying support-removal SCA tank and offered to supply filament material for a two year try-whatever-you-want time period. Moreover, they pulled together a volunteer team of women across the country who could support the effort on multiple fronts.

Every 3D printer looks better with a cool scooter in front: the Stratasys F370 FDM printer, installed at Girl Gang Garage. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

A Virtual Team and a Digital Workflow

The team includes engineers whose day-time jobs have them working at Stratasys, Link3D, Autodesk, Xerox, Collins Aerospace and Ford Motor Company or as independent consultants. Printer installation and local support is handled by PADT Inc, a Stratasys reseller and 3D printing/design/simulation company located just 16 miles away from Girl Gang Garage. In addition, members of Women in 3D Printing offered to coordinate many of the publicity efforts and even sponsor a related design competition targeted at young women in high schools and colleges who are learning CAD skills. (More on that to come.)

During the first few Zoom meetings that introduced Lateiner and Williams to the technical capabilities of the different team members and the printer, the basic rebuild plan was presented: strip the PV544 down to bare metal (removing every mechanical and electrical component), disassemble the S60 down to the chassis, engine, drive-train and hybrid motor system, and figure out how to make the two sections fit!

Traditionally, that workflow depended strictly on the classic tools of the trade, from cutting wheels and a Sawzall to hand-grinders and pneumatic drills. Those components are still coming into play on the current project under the skilled eye of the Girl Gang Garage leaders, but now complementary digital processes are being added.

It Starts with Scanning

Using the GOM Tscan Hawk hand-held 3D laser-line scanner to digitally capture reference points, surface curvature and details on the PV544 body. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

PADT recently became a reseller of GOM 3D scanning hardware and software tools, and the timing was perfect to bring the new handheld Tscan Hawk system on-site. Operating with both red-line and blue-line (different wavelength) laser scanners plus stereo cameras, the Tscan Hawk captures millions of spatial 3D-point-coordinates (termed clouds of data) which are converted into a standard STL mesh file format for several end-purposes. The red lasers generate measurements across medium to large surfaces while the blue-wavelength sensors capture fine detail, with accuracy down to 20 microns.

GOM Inspect software records reference points, captures the individual coordinate data and allows interrogation of that data to provide dimensions, such as the distance between the engine frame mounts or the diameter of the hole into which the headlamp fits.

 (Images courtesy PADT Inc.)

These three images show a) the reference-point data that appears on the laptop screen as the shape of the PV544 vehicle’s underside is captured, b) the completed scan showing the 3D details of the as-built sheet metal and c) a report page from GOM Inspect software with dozens of dimensions extracted from the scan, such as the length of the trunk opening and the width of the opening available for the engine mount. The scan data, if exported as an STL file, could be sent directly to a 3D printer – though for this project the team is not printing the full body. Instead, subsets of the scan are being used for reverse engineering, where the data works as the basis for creative design elements to be printed and perhaps painted or plated.

To do so, the scanned data is be brought into a surfacing package such as Geomagic Design X or Innovmetric PolyWorks. Those software tools let users convert the STL mesh into an IGES surface, which can then be brought into a CAD package as the basis for a new solid model.

Not for the real build but as a fun example, here is a possible headlight-rim with the letters “Girl Gang Garage” cut out as a circular repeat pattern, that could be backlit with LEDS to customize the build. The design and dimensions are based on the maximum inscribed circle fitted by the GOM Inspect software inside the given opening. (In future blog posts, we’ll show examples of the CAD team’s actual 3D printing results.)

Scanning has many other purposes and capabilities. If CAD data were available for the actual vehicle, those files could be imported, overlaid on the captured data, and compared, alerting the user to deviations between intended and actual dimensions – a very common use of GOM Inspect software.

Next Steps

Every Thursday through Sunday, volunteer women come to Girl Gang Garage and learn to use cutting tools, welders, sanders and more, making daily progress toward the completed hybrid PV544. (All women are invited to come help and learn, at no cost – just sign up to get involved and get yourself to Phoenix.) Here are a few glimpses into the work as of early April – much more has been done but stay tuned for the next blog post as we show off elements of the S60 sedan, scan data being used for reference, and details of the design contest.

Views of the PV544 Volvo with work underway on a rear fender (also shown as scan data from the Tscan Hawk, with Bogi Lateiner in her Girl Gang Garage location). (Images courtesy PADT Inc.)

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

Mini Mechanica clock section of 3D printed Tourbillon Clock at PADT

Three Dimensions of Time: A new, 3D Printed Clock Highlighting PADT’s Additive Capabilities

Tracking time has challenged the human race for centuries, resulting in some of the finest mechanisms ever crafted. From sundials and hourglasses to pocket watches and atomic clocks, we have marked the passage of time with ever-increasing precision. Along the way, we became supremely skilled at creating the requisite gears and springs, as well as the machines to produce them. (If you have a deeper interest in measuring time, one must-read book is Longitude by Dava Sobel.)

This post, however, is about taking clock-making to a new dimension – three dimensions, in fact, using multiple 3D printers to generate not only the gears and structural components but even the watch-spring and winding-key, based on a mechanism called a Tourbillon. Invented around 1800 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the Tourbillon concept compensates for the effects of gravity on delicate watch-springs when the watch is carried or laid down (varying its orientations), by employing multiple axes.

A traditionally made Tourbillon watch mechanism (watchgecko.com)

An excellent write-up on this concept is on MyMiniFactory, which is also where you’ll find the fascinating design of a 3D-printable Tourbillon clock from a designer called Mechanistic. Check out this mesmerizing video of the clock in action. Mechanistic has previously done other awesome designs and this past Spring did a crowd-funding effort to support printing all the components on a hobby-type 3D printer.

Depending on one’s donation amount, some or all of the intricate clock’s CAD files are downloadable. Recently Justin Baxter, PADT’s senior 3D Printing Service Engineer (with years of hobbyist clock-making under his belt), set out to reproduce the device with a twist. Why not take advantage of all the additive manufacturing systems in use by PADT’s Manufacturing Division, and print at least one component on each?

This approach spans the AM technologies of Fused Deposition Modeling (Stratasys FDM material extrusion), PolyJet (Stratasys material deposition), selective laser sintering (3D Systems SLS polymer powder bed fusion), direct metal laser sintering (EOS DMLS metal powder bed fusion), stereolithography (3D Systems and UnionTech vat SLA photopolymerization) and digital light processing (Stratasys Origin One DLP vat photopolymerization).

The Triple-Axis Tourbillon Mechanical Clock Design

Not all of the clock’s 230 components are 3D printed – metal screws, pins and ball bearings round out the assembly – but Justin is slowly printing all other parts spread across colors, materials and AM technologies. For starters, he has recreated the central first-axis mechanism called the Mini Mechanica; this subset serves well for new users to test out their own systems and parameters ensuring effective dimensional tolerances. The Mini Mechanica part files are also available as a separate free download.

First section of the Mechanist design of a 3D printed, three-axis Tourbillon mechanical clock, printed at PADT based on the downloaded files from MyMiniFactory. (Image courtesy PADT)

Justin’s Mini Mechanica includes the following parts made of ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), each 3D printed on one of our two Stratasys F370 FDM systems:

Part Name
01_Bottom Base
02_Upper_Base
03_Tourbillon_Lower_Cage
04_Tourbillon_Upper_Cage
05_Cage_Bridge
06_Cage_Spacer
07_Ratchet_Post
08_Winder
09_Mainspring
10_Core_Post
11_Impulse_Pin
12_Tourbillon_Ring_Gear
13_Hairspring
14_Balance_Wheel
15_Escape_Fork
16_Escape_Wheel
17_Washer
18_Display_Stand

When finished, here is how that subset will fit into the completed three-axis clock:

Three-axis Tourbillon clock designed for 3D printing by Mechanistic, with part files available by donation on MyMiniFactory (www.myminifactory.com) (MyMiniFactory)

Note: the fully printed clock operates on a 90 minute run-time if a steel spring is employed, and 20 minute run time with a 3D printed (FDM) version. (We’ve seen suggestions for adding a battery.)

For more details on the Triple Axis clock, see the conveniently provided assembly guide: (2) How to build a 3D Printed Triple Axis Tourbillon | Assembly Guide – YouTube.

As the part-builds progress across our other printers and materials, we’ll post an update. Here are a few more components in progress, including the decorative base on the left, which was printed in Nylon 12GS on our SLS powder-bed printer.

In-progress parts 3D printed for the Mechanica Tri-Axis Tourbillon Clock currently being reproduced at PADT. The decorative base at the left was printed in Nylon 12GS on our SLS system; the parts for the MiniMechanica (assembled at the top) and the remaining black and grey parts were printed in ABS and ASA on our Stratasys F370 FDM systems. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys polymer printers and materials and EOS metal printers, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

The Many Flavors of 3D Printer Maintenance, and Why it’s So Important

Just over a year ago, PADT, like most every other engineering company, shifted rapidly into minimal on-site-operations mode. As the PADT 3D Printing Application Engineer, I worked from home while requesting support from our manufacturing group for running benchmark parts on our Stratasys fused deposition modeling (FDM) filament and PolyJet resin printers.  Whether those parts were created on the F370, F450, F900 or J55 printers, they spanned a wide range of part size, function and material. It was an interesting time, but software tools like GrabCAD Print made remote part set-up possible, and the on-site team kept everything running under some often-challenging conditions.

I’ve been back in the office for about a month, so I’m tending to tasks that were, out of necessity, put on a backburner while our company did high-importance projects such as printing a ton of PPE visor frames. Now it’s time to do some printer maintenance that got a little delayed beyond the recommended run-time schedule.

For our Stratasys J55 full-color PolyJet printer, while all the standard components were cleaned and checked after every print, we stretched the recommendation period for replacing the wiper blade, the roller-waste collector, and both filters in the compact ProAero Air Extractor that contributes to making this printer truly office-friendly. Now I’ve checked those off as done.

Bring in the Printer Maintenance Experts

Other steps should only be done by a professional from the Service Department at your reseller or from Stratasys. When they come on-site to perform Preventive Maintenance for your printer, do you know what goes into this, and the kind of tasks that keep your system humming along?

It’s similar to practicing good automotive ownership: checking the air in your tires, changing the oil every 5,000 miles or so, replacing brake pads before they’re so thin that you have to turn the rotors, etc. Some jobs you do monthly, some yearly and some on general principles to avoid future trouble which inevitably occurs during the critical stage of a project.

Stratasys F450 Print-Head Gantry Assembly (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Here are some of the tasks our PADT service technician performs from the 12-month Preventive Maintenance Checklist for a Stratasys F450 industrial FDM printer:

  • With the printer powered off, clean the canister drives, gantry fans and electronics bay ventilation fans (kind of like cleaning out the ventilation area under the front of your refrigerator – which we all do regularly, right?) Also, inspect the head cable and heat shields, verify X-Y belt tensions, and replace the vacuum filter.
  • With the printer powered on, verify voltage levels, fan speeds and Z-Zero calibration, inspect the flicker brush assemblies and clean and lubricate the Z-axis leadscrew.

When the two-year point rolls around, these tasks are repeated plus another set is added, such as:

  • With the printer off: Replace the filament guide tubes, Kapton seals, X and Y bellows seals, oven lamps, air-pressure regulator diaphragm and all compressed-air system filter elements.
  • With the printer on: Adjust the air pressure and airflow, verify the oven blower operation and perform filament load-time tests.

And at the four-year mark, all of the above are completed plus such tasks as “replace the X and Y belts.” At every service appointment, too, the technician verifies that the current version of the printer control software has been installed, and that the user has the latest application software, whether Insight or GrabCAD Print. All in all, we’re talking more than 50 check points and tasks that keep the printer running smoothly.

High Expectations from Good Maintenance

I have to admit that when I get into my car, I expect the engine to idle smoothly, the air-conditioning to generate chilled-air, and my driveway to be free of oil spots. However, that expectation is only realistic if I or my mechanic has done due diligence with regular inspections and taken action when certain conditions show up. Checking for dirty spark plugs or a cracked distributor cap will maintain engine performance. If the serpentine belt is showing signs of wear, I’d better replace it rather than risk losing both power steering and air-conditioning on some far-off road in the desert on a beastly summer day. And worn rings, pistons or gaskets could all contribute to that oil leak.

And so it goes with 3D printers. First, the importance of avoiding down-time is huge for most manufacturers and factors into both production planning and a smooth workflow for printing prototypes. Second, if you’ve paid for a Stratasys-authorized Service Plan, you get guaranteed response time when something does go wrong (say you accidently melted filament into the print-head because you didn’t mount the tip correctly – life happens). Third, with a PM contract, a trained technician steps you through every aspect of the printer’s operation, inspection and cleaning whether done daily/weekly/monthly by a program engineer or by the system operator.

Stratasys offers three levels of contract service for almost all of its 3D printers, now covering the gamut from FDM and PolyJet to SLA, DLP, and the new Selective Absorptive Fusion (SAF, a polymer powder-bed fusion technology). Those levels are Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond which can each be purchased for multi-year coverage.

Generally speaking, service offerings include:

  • On-site technical service
  • Spare parts
  • Priority service scheduling
  • Discounted user-training
  • Discounts on printer heads

Customers also win with hardware updates, optional backup printing services, predictable maintenance expenditures for easier budgeting, and more.

It’s not in my budget to buy a new car every year or even every couple of years, so regular, professional automotive inspection and maintenance is critical to me. It is to customers in the additive manufacturing world, too. So, to paraphrase that diamond-jewelry advertisement, “Now you have a friend in the 3D printer business: Stratasys.” Find out more about service contracts and the details of preventive maintenance by contacting 3DPSAL@PADTinc.com.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

Experience Stratasys: Manufacturing – Virtual Reveal

In one blockbuster event, Stratasys will unveil the most complete set of new, best-in-class, additive manufacturing solutions the industry has ever seen.

From tooling and jigs and fixtures to mass production of end use parts, Stratasys is redefining speed, productivity, and agility in manufacturing.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 – 9:00 am CST

Register today to join us for a 30-minute virtual live reveal with Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif. After Yoav’s exciting overview, we’ll conduct detailed breakout sessions and demonstrate how each of these new solutions will transform your manufacturing operations and help you seize a competitive advantage.

Secure your spot now – you don’t want to miss this unparalleled event!

Register Here

Press Release: PADT Named a Stratasys Diamond Partner

PADT’s long-standing relationship with Stratasys, the world leader in 3D Printing systems, continues to grow. The latest facet is our recent naming as a Stratasys Diamond Partner. We started this mutual journey as one of the first 3D Printing service providers to add Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling. With that start as a customer we grew to become a reseller, then a supplier for support removal equipment, We also recently expanded our sales territory to include the state of Texas.

And now we are proud to be identified as a Diamond Partner, the top level for Stratasys channel partners. Please read the press release below to learn more about the details. You can also read the official HTML and PDF versions.

We could not have achieved this honor without two groups of people – our customers and our staff. PADT has the most amazing relationship with our 3D Printing users, who let us into their business to help them realize their additive manufacturing goals. And what those customers tell us is that our staff is amazing. From salespeople who have become trusted advisors, to our expert application engineers, to our service engineers who keep their machines running.

We can’t wait to see where the Stratasys + PADT journey takes us next.


The Southwest’s Leading Provider of 3D Printing Systems, Materials and Services, PADT, Named a Stratasys Diamond Partner

PADT has Served More Than 500 Customers With More Than 800 3D Printers Throughout Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Utah

TEMPE, Ariz., March 9, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced it has been named a Stratasys Diamond partner for its continued success selling the 3D printing manufacturer’s complete line of products and providing stellar support service. PADT becomes one of the few elite Stratasys resellers in the country to have achieved Diamond partner status.

“For more than 25 years, PADT has provided the highest level of 3D printing products, services and support to our customers across the Southwest,” said Jim Sanford, vice president, Sales & Support, PADT. “Earning the Stratasys Diamond partner designation is a result of the hard work of our team, and the continued respect of our customers.”

PADT became one of the first service providers in the country to offer fused deposition modeling (FDM) printing on Stratasys equipment in the late 1990s and has continued to expand its 3D printing capabilities as a service provider and reseller. The company built its customer base by providing outstanding 3D printing services and technical support across a wide variety of industries and organizations, from schools to startups, including some of the world’s largest aerospace organizations. To date, PADT has sold 883 printers to 506 customers across the Southwest.

PADT currently offers Stratasys’ complete portfolio of top-rated systems, accessories and materials, including full-color printing with PolyJet multi-material systems, robust and proven FDM manufacturing systems from desktop to those supporting advanced materials, and stereolithography for precision and finish.

“3D printing is a fast-growing industry that continues to expand its capabilities and quality year-over-year,” said Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT. “We’re thankful for the strong partnership we’ve enjoyed with Stratasys, and with new technologies coming, we look forward to offering our customers even more choices to make 3D printing part of their everyday process to drive efficiency and cost-savings. This is especially true as we help our customers move from prototyping to creating tooling and production parts with Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions. 3D printing solutions from Stratasys are helping the world’s leading companies gain business agility and competitive advantage and PADT is proud to be a Diamond Partner.”

PADT now represents Stratasys in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah as an Elite Channel Partner at the Diamond level. To learn more about PADT and its 3D printing products and services, please visit www.padtinc.com.

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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Press Release: Ansys Elite Channel Partner and Stratasys Diamond Channel Partner, PADT Announces Jim Sanford as Vice President of Sales & Support

The Sales and Support team at PADT is the group that most of PADT’s customers interface with. They sell world-leading products from Ansys, Stratasys, and Flownex and then provide award-winning support long after the initial purpose. The team has grown over the years and has plans for even more growth. To help make that happen, we are honored to have Jim Sanford join the PADT family as the Vice President of our Sales & Support team.

Many of our customers and partners know Jim from his time with industry leaders Siemens, MSC, Dassault Systems, and NextLabs, Inc. He brings that experience and his background as a mechanical engineer before he entered sales, to focus PADT on our next phase of growth. He also fit well in PADT’s culture of customer focused, technical driven sales and support.

Our customers have a choice of who they purchase their Ansys multiphysics simulation, Stratasys 3D Printers, and Flownex system simulation software from, and who delivers their frontline support. We know with Jim leading the team, even more companies will make the choice to be part of the PADT family.

The official press release has more details, and can be found at these links or in the test below.

Press Release: PDF | HTML

Want to have a conversation about your Simulation or 3D Printing situation? Contact PADT now and one of our profesionals will be happy to help.


Ansys Elite Channel Partner and Stratasys Diamond Channel Partner, PADT Announces Jim Sanford as Vice President of Sales & Support

Sanford Brings a Wide Range of High-Profile Leadership Experience Across Technology and Aerospace and Defense Sectors to his New Position

TEMPE, Ariz., February 11, 2021 PADT, a globally recognized provider of numerical simulation, product development, and 3D printing products and services, today announced the addition of Jim Sanford as vice president of the company’s Sales & Support department. In his new position, Sanford is responsible for leading the increase of sales and customer support for a range of best-in-class simulation and additive manufacturing solutions. Sanford reports to Ward Rand, co-founder and principal, PADT.

“In the last few years, PADT has expanded across the Southwest, adding new expertise and technologies to our product and service offerings,” said Rand. “Jim is a valuable addition to the team and will be instrumental in sustaining PADT’s growth across the region. His leadership, experience, and knowledge of the industry will allow us to increase the pace of expansion and bring our solutions to serve new and existing customers in deeper and more impactful ways to their businesses.”

After a comprehensive search, Sanford proved to be the most experienced and capable leader to take on the vice president role. He will focus on providing visionary guidance, strategy, and tactical direction to the department. His responsibilities include refining the company’s sales team structure, recruiting, hiring, training, managing for profitable growth, and leading the support team to ensure an optimal customer experience for their use of Ansys, Stratasys, and Flownex products.

Prior to joining PADT, Sanford held business development and engineering positions in a diverse range of aerospace and defense, modeling and simulation, and software companies. His 30-year career span includes executive leadership roles at Siemens, MSC, and Dassault. Most recently he served as the VP for NextLabs Inc., a leading provider of policy-driven information risk management software for large enterprises, and the VP of Business Development for Long Range Services, where he was engaged in the development and testing of various classified items for the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona, with emphasis in materials science and physics.

“PADT is a well-respected brand well-known for its product knowledge, customer-centric approach, and expertise,” said Sanford. “My career has been defined by my ability to take technology-focused companies to the next level of success, and I’m thrilled to join PADT and help continue its expansion by supporting highly innovative customers.”

PADT currently sells and supports the entire Ansys product line in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah as an Ansys Elite Channel Partner. They also represent all Stratasys products in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah as a Diamond Channel Partner and are the North American distributor for Flownex.

To learn more about Sanford and PADT’s products and services, please visit https://www.padtinc.com/products/

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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Phoenix Children's Hospital 3D printed heart model. (Image courtesy Phoenix Children's Hospital)

Workflow for Creating a 3D Printed Medical Model with Stratasys

For decades in the medical world, surgeons and their professional support teams have relied on X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonant imaging (MRI) data when performing their pre-surgical planning approach. These diagnostic tools have been literal lifesavers, yet the resolution and 2D perspective of these images can make it difficult to determine the full details of anatomical geometry. Subtle, critical abnormalities or hidden geometries can go unnoticed when viewing flat films and digital displays.

3D printed heart model produced by Phoenix Children’s Hospital. (Image courtesy Phoenix Children’s Hospital)

With the advent of 3D printing, many surgeons are now using 3D models for both surgical planning and patient communication. While cost is the primary hold-back, such models are seeing increased use. In addition, efforts are underway to quantify the benefits of reduced operating room time/expense and improved patient outcome; see Medical 3D Printing Registry (ACR/RSNA). Supporting this concept are the high-resolution, multi-material PolyJet 3D printers from Stratasys.

But how does the patient’s CT and MRI data become a unique 3D printed model you can hold in your hand? How do you segment out the areas of interest for a particular analysis or surgical model? This blog post describes the necessary steps in the workflow, who typically performs them, and the challenges being addressed to improve the process every step of the way.

Data Acquisition of Patient Anatomy

When we think of imaging throughout the decades, X-ray technology comes to mind. However, classic single 2D images on film cannot be used to drive 3D models because they are qualitative not quantitative. The main options that do work include the series of x-rays known as CT scans, MRI data, and to a lesser extent computed tomography angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonant angiography (MRA). Each approach has pros and cons and therefore must be matched to the proper anatomy and end use.

CT scans comprise a series of x-rays evenly spaced laterally across a particular body section, typically generating several hundred image files. These can be quickly acquired and offer high resolution, however, they do not do well displaying different types of soft tissue, and the process relies on extended exposure to a radiation source.

Sample multiple digital images generated as a CT scan is performed (Image courtesy nymphoenix/Shutterstock.com.)

Typical CT resolution is 500 microns in X and Y directions, and 1mm in Z. This is readily handled by Stratasys printers; for example, the print resolution of the J750 Digital Anatomy Printer is 42 microns in X, 84 microns in Y, and 14 to 27 microns layering in Z, which more than captures all possible scanned features.

Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) involves the same equipment but uses a contrast agent. With this approach, brighter regions highlight areas with blood flow. This process is superior for showing blood vessels but does not differentiate tissue or bones well.

MRI data is based on a different technology where a strong magnetic field interacts with water in the body. This approach differentiates soft tissue and shows small blood vessels but is more expensive and not effective for capturing bone. Similarly, Magnetic Resonant Angiography (MRA) uses a contrast agent that can track small blood vessels which are important for identifying a stroke but cannot register tissue. MRI scans may also include distracting artifacts and offer poor regional contrast.

A final source of digital imaging data is Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Here, radioactive material is attached to a biologically active area such as cancer; the data obtained with sensors is useful but very local – it does not show surrounding tissue.

Segmentation: Conversion from DICOM to STL format

Whether generated by CT or MRI equipment, anatomic image data is stored in digital files in accordance with the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard. Two aspects of this standard are relevant to 3D printing medical models: DICOM files include patient-specific, HIPPA-protected information, and the data in the individual images must be merged and converted into a solid model, with the areas of interest defined and partitioned.

Various software packages and services are available that will convert DICOM data into an STL model file (standard format for 3D printer input) while stripping out the personal identifying information. (The latter must be done to comply with HIPPA regulations: never send a DICOM file directly to any service bureau.)

Segmentation involves partitioning a digital image into distinct sets of pixels, defining regions as organ, bone, blood vessel, tumor, etc., then grouping and combining those sub-sections into a 3D model saved as an STL file. Not only does this format offer more meaningful information than a stack of separate images, but it can then be exported for 3D printing.

Example of processed CT scans, combined into a multiple-view 3D visualization and saved as an STL file. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)

The standard unit of measure for identifying and segmenting the different regions within the combined 3D series of CT scans is a Hounsfield unit. This is a dimensionless value, defined as tissue density/x-ray absorption; for reference, water = zero, a kidney =+40 and bone = +1000.

Human guidance is needed to set threshold Hounsfield levels and draw a perimeter to the area of interest. You can define groups with the same threshold level, cut out certain areas that are not needed (e.g., “mask” the lungs to focus on the spine), and use preset values that exist for common model types. Typically, a radiologist or trained biomedical engineer performs this task, since correctly identifying boundaries is a non-trivial judgement task.

A particularly challenging task is the workflow for printing blood vessels, as opposed to bones or organs. The output from CTA/MRA imaging is the blood pool, not the enclosing vessel. In this case, users need third-party software to create a shell of X thickness around the blood pool shape, then keep both model files (pool and vessel) to guide printing the vessel walls and their internal support structure (which, on the Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy Printer, is soluble and dissolves out.)

So far, just a few medical segmentation software packages exist:

  • Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite is internationally known for its excellence in image analysis and allows you to write scripted routines for automating repeated aspects of the segmentation tasks. There are also tools for interpreting images with metal artifacts, designing support connections between parts, measuring specified features, and rendering a view of the resulting 3D model.
  • Synopsys Simpleware ScanIP is a 3D image segmentation, processing, and meshing platform that processes data from MRI, CT, and non-medical imaging systems. Simpleware ScanIP removes or reduces unwanted noise in the greyscale images, allows cropping to the area of interest, supports both automated and user-guided segmentation and measuring and includes API scripting. Modules are available for Cardio, Ortho, and Custom solutions.
  • Invesalius 3 is open-source software that can reconstruct CT and MRI data, producing 3D visualizations, image segmentation, and image measurements in both manual and semi-automated modes.
  • Embodi3D/Democratiz3D is an online service that lets you upload a series of CT scans, select a basic anatomy type (bone, detailed bone, dental, muscle, etc.), choose the free medium-to-low resolution or paid high resolution conversion service, and receive the link to an automatically generated STL file. (Users do not interact with the file to choose any masking, measuring, or cropping.) The website also offers downloadable 3D printable models and 3D printing services.

Note that these packages may or may not have some level of 510K FDA clearance for how the results of their processing can be used. Users would have to contact the vendors to learn the current status.

Setting up the STL file for printing

Most of the segmentation software packages give you options for selected resolution of the final model. As with all STL files, the greater the number of triangles, the finer the detail that is featured, but the model size may get too large for reasonable set-up in the printer’s software. You may also find that you still want to edit the model, either to do some hole repairs or smoothing, slice away a section to expose an interior view, or add mechanical struts/supports for delicate and/or heavy anatomy sections. Materialise Magics software will do all of this readily, otherwise, adding a package that can edit STL files or create/merge geometry onto an STL file will be useful.

Medical Modeling software workflow from CT scan to print, for typical Stratasys 3D printed model.

Whoever is setting the file up for printing needs to make a number of decisions based on experience. For Stratasys Connex3, J55, J8-series or J750 Digital Anatomy Printers, the process begins by bringing the file into GrabCAD Print and deciding on an optimized build orientation. Next, colors and materials are assigned, including transparent sections, percentages of transparent colors, and flexible/variable durometer materials, which can be for a single part or a multi-body model.

For the J750 Digital Anatomy Printer in particular, users can assign musculoskeletal, heart, vascular, and general anatomies to each model, then choose detailed, pre-assigned materials and properties to print models whose tactile response mimics actual biomechanical behavior, such as “osteoporotic bone.” (see Sidebar).

I tested out the free online Democratiz3D segmentation service offered by Embodi3D. Following their tutorial, I was able to convert my very own DICOM file folder of 267 CT images into files without patient ID information, generating a single STL output file. I chose the Bone/Detailed/Medium resolution option which ignored all the other visible anatomy then brought the resulting model into the free software Meshmixer to edit (crop) the STL. That let me zero in on a three-vertebrae section of my lower spine model and save it in the 3MF format.

Lastly, I opened the new 3MF file in GrabCAD Print, the versatile Stratasys printer set-up software that works with both FDM (filament) and PolyJet (UV-cured resin) printers. For the former case, I printed the model in ivory ASA on an F370 FDM printer, and for the latter, I was able to assign a creamy-grey color (Red248/Green248/Blue232) to give a bone-like appearance, printing the model on a J55 PolyJet office-environment printer.

GradCAD Print software set-up of 3MF vertebrae model, ready for printing in a user-defined bone color on a Stratasys J55 PolyJet full-color 3D printer. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)
3D printed vertebrae parts created from CT scans: on left, ABS part from a Stratasys F370 FDM printer; on right, Vero rigid resin material from a Stratasys J55 PolyJet printer. (Image courtesy PADT Inc.)  

Experience helps in producing accurately segmented parts, but more features, such as AI-enabled selections, and more online tutorials are helping grow the field of skilled image-processing health professionals. Clarkson College (Omaha, NE) also recently announced the first Medical 3D Printing Specialist Certificate program.

Reach out to PADT to learn more about medical modeling and Stratasys 3D printers.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

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Sidebar: J750 Digital Anatomy Printer

The Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy Printer uses PolyJet resin 3D printing technology to create parts that mimic the look and biomechanical response of human tissue, organs and bones. Users select from a series of pre-programmed anatomies then the material composition is automatically generated along with accurate internal structures. Pliable heart regions allow practice with cutting, suturing and patching, while hollow vascular models support training with guide wires and catheters. General anatomy models can replicate encapsulated and non-encapsulated tumors, while bone structures can be created that are osteoporotic and/or include regions that support tapping, reaming and screw insertion.

Currently the Digital Anatomy Printer models present in the range of 80 to 110 Hounsfield Units. Higher value materials are under development which would help hospitals create phantoms for calibrating their CT systems.

Currently available Digital Anatomy Printer   Model/Section Assignments:

Structural Heart:

  • Clot
  • Frame
  • Myocardium
  • Reinforcement
  • Solid Tumor
  • Valve Annulus
  • Valve Chordae
  • Valve Leaflet
  • Valvular Calcification
  • Vessel Wall

General Anatomy:

  • Dense connective tissues
  • Hollow internal organs
  • Solid internal organs
  • Solid Tumor

Blood Vessels:

  • Clot
  • Fixtures
  • Frame
  • Gel Support
  • Inlets
  • Reinforcements
  • Solid Tumor
  • Valve Annulus
  • Valve Leaflet
  • Vascular Calcification
  • Vessel Wall

Musculoskeletal

  • Facet Joints
  • General Bone
  • Intervertebral Discs
  • Ligament
  • Long Bone
  • Nerves
  • Open End
  • Ribs
  • Skull
  • Vertebra

Discussions on the Past, Present & Future of Optimizing Topology for Manufacturing – Webinar

Traditional design approaches don’t make the most of new manufacturing methods, like additive manufacturing, which are removing design constraints and opening up new possibilities. The optimal shape of a part is often organic and counterintuitive, so designing it requires a different approach.

Topology optimization lets you specify where supports and loads are located on a volume of material and lets the software find the best shape.

Kick off the year by learning about one of the most exciting advancements in modern design and manufacturing. Join experts from PADT and nTopology for an interactive roundtable discussion on the ins and outs of topological optimization.

Register Here

If this is your first time registering for one of our Bright Talk webinars, simply click the link and fill out the attached form. We promise that the information you provide will only be shared with those promoting the event (PADT).

You will only have to do this once! For all future webinars, you can simply click the link, add the reminder to your calendar and you’re good to go!

6 – An update on outputting results in Ansys Mechanical: 3D Printing Results

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

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

All of the posts are here.

This post is the final, of six, and we finally get to the topic that we get the most questions on: “How do I convert my Ansys Results to a 3D Printed Model.” This article will cover taking Ansys Mechanical FEA results, stress, vibration, and heat transfer, and make a cool 3D plot on Stratasys full-color printers. The process should work on other color printers, but we have only tested it with Stratasys.

3D Printing and Color

Since the beginning of 3D Printing, we have been using a file format called STL. The format only contains the external surface of an object represented as triangles, and it does not support color. But there is good news, a new format, 3MF, or 3D Manufacturing Format was recently introduced to replace STL. It is one of several 3D formats that contain not only triangles on the surface of an object, but they support color information for each triangle. 3MF is for 3D Printing. PLY, OBJ, X3D, and others are for rendering and viewing.

But there is bad news. At this time (2020 R2), no Ansys products support 3MF. So we need to get our results into a format that Stratasys can read color data from, which is the latest version of OBJ. Because of this, we will use our favorite Ansys post-processor, EnSight, to create a PLY file, then an open-source 3rd Party tool, Meshlab, to make an OBJ.

Note 1: As soon as Ansys supports 3MF or OBJ or someone adds a 3MF/OBJ ACT Extension, we will update this article.

Note 2: The steps below are actually covered in the post in Post 2 on how to use EnSight and Post 5 on how to make usable 3D result files. But I’ll repeat them here since you may have only come to learn how to make a 3D result file.

Step 1: Get what you want to print as PLY in Ansys EnSight

Ansys Ensight is a powerful tool that does so much more than make 3D result files. But we will focus on this particular capability because we can use it to get our 3D Printed results.

In Post 2 of this series, I go over how to get a high-quality 2D image from EnSight. Review it if you want more details or if you run into problems following these steps.

Before we get going, one key thing you should know is that Ansys EnSight reads a ton of formats, and one of them is the result files from Ansys Mechanical APDL. So we will start with getting that file.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By default, EnSight shows an undeformed object. If you want to see the deflected shape, click on the part then on the “Displacement” icon above the graphics window. Select the vector result you want to use, displacement in this case. Note, the default displacement factor may not be a good guess, change that till you get the amount of deflection you want.

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

The other thing you may want to change is the contours. It has a full library of colors you can change to, but I like the default. What I don’t like is that the min and max may not be where I want them, especially for modal deflection results. The min and max values are the min and max in the result file, and unless you normalize your results, you should tweak the values for your 3D print.

Here is the default color scheme for my 40th mode:

To change the range, click on the contour key and Right-Mouse-Button on the legend, and select Edit… This brings up the Create/edit annotation (legends) dialog. Then click “Edit Pallet…” at the top of that dialog to get to the Pallete editor.

You can make lots of changes here, but what I recommend you do is only change the min and max values. If I set the max to 50, I get this contour on my result:

Next, we wan to save as PLY.

Go to File > Export > Geomtric Entities.

In the dialog, chose PLY Polygonal File Format. This will be the generic format we can convert into something GrabCad likes. Make sure you specify which times or modes you want. By default, it will make a PLY for each one. Also, make sure you have selected the part.

Now you have a color-coded, faceted representation of your results, in a 3D file format. Just not one that GrabCADPrint currently supports.

Step 2: Convert to OBJ in MeshLab

Now we need MeshLab. There are many other tools the read PLY files and output to other formats, but MeshLab has not let me down yet. It is opensource, does everything, and is a pain to use. You will laugh at the user interface. But as ugly as it is, it works. You can download MeshLab from www.meshlab.net. Once you have it installed, follow these steps:

  • Open MeshLab
  • Chose File > Import Mesh
  • Spin it around, look at it. You could scale and transform. But we just want to convert it.
  • Chose File > Export Mesh As
  • Scroll down in the File of Type dropdown and pick Alias Wavefront Object (*.obj)
  • Save
  • Make sure you have only Color checked for Vert. Then click OK

Here is an OBJ file from the example above.

That is it. Import that file into Stratasys GrabCAD Print and have at it.

I printed a different mode shape, but I think it looks fantastic. Click to get the full-resolution version.

Closing thoughts

And this ends our series on getting output from Ansys Mechanical, circa early 2021. It was just going to be one article on getting higher resolution images, but it grew a bit. We hope you find it useful.

Remember, PADT is here to help. We are proud to be an Ansys Elite Channel Partner offering Ansys products across the southwestern US.

PADT has been doing this for a while, and we can offer help in terms of one-on-one support, training, customization, and consulting services. Although this article focused on Ansys Mechanical, we cover the physics across the Ansys product line with experienced engineers in every area. And don’t forget we do 3D Printing as a service as well as product design.

Please contact us to learn more.

Optimize Additive Topology with FDM Fixture Generator – Webinar

Additive Manufacturing has profoundly impacted all aspects of manufacturing. With the ability to increase speed-to-market, lower production costs, and customize specialty parts, it continues to fuel innovation. Manufacturing jigs, fixtures, and other tooling accounts for more than 20% of all end-use parts produced with 3D printing today. Yet, without tools that make the design of custom jigs and fixtures simpler, many users are kept from reaching the full benefits of Additive Manufacturing on the factory floor.

One tool that is helping engineers bypass this roadblock is the latest collaborative effort from Stratasys and nTopology, the FDM Fixture Generator.

This innovative software tool allows you to automate the design of 3D printed jigs & fixtures. Generate custom designs and streamline operations on your factory floor without spending time in CAD. Ready to print with a few clicks.

Join nTopology and PADT to learn more about FDM Fixture Generator and how it stands to disrupt the manufacturing environment.

Register Here

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GrabCAD Print (the App): Making Work-from-Home Actually Work

I am so lucky in a zillion ways to be able to work from home while functioning in my position as a 3D Printing Application Engineer for PADT Inc., a Stratasys 3D printer reseller and engineering consulting/manufacturing company in Tempe Arizona.

Three things are making this possible:

1 – Awesome management and co-workers

2 – Great high-speed internet connection

3 – GrabCAD Print software, and more specifically, the GrabCAD Print phone app.            

Of all the apps on my phone, next to my gmail account, this is the app I check most often, because it is so handy!

First off, I can instantly see the status of the nine PADT printers we have on our Tempe network; I can also check other networks and accounts in other locations for which I have permission. That means I know the status of printers I’m running or want to run, and can tell how long someone else’s job is going to take – a very useful bit of information when it comes to telling a customer or our sales group what printer is open for running a part.

For example, this screen tells me:

–  a job is ready to start on our full-color PolyJet Objet500 Connex3,

–  one print just finished on our Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Fortus400,

–  my job is 43 percent complete on one of our FDM F370s, and

–  another of my jobs has just begun on the second F370 system.

I can even see that a print got cancelled on our older F250; in this case, I was expecting that, but it’s good information in case I wasn’t. But there is so much more…

Say I want to confirm the file name of what’s running on that first F370, and get some data about its status. I click on that printer’s name and the app shows me this screen:

Now I see that the print has just gotten to layer 2 of 123 slices total, it started at 1:58pm and it will finish at 6:12pm this evening. It also displays the file name of the part and shows that I’m the owner.

If I slide the image of the printer to the left, I then get the camera view, since an F370 has a build-chamber camera that updates about every ten seconds. Because this print had just started, you can’t really see much beside the build plate (brightly lit at the top), but I can come back to that as often as I like to monitor a particularly challenging geometry – say, perhaps a tall thin part where I added some extra support structure.

At this point I can access several more windows. If I click Job Material Usage, I see

This information is useful if I need a reminder of how much model and support material this print will consume.

The next line offers the bigger picture: clicking through, I see how much material remains in each canister, for both the model and support; it also shows what, if any, material is loaded in the second set of bays. Stratasys printers with double bays will do an automatic hot-swap as needed – a nice feature over the weekend or in the middle of the night.

Here’s another possible status screen: a paused build, where I had planned ahead, inserting a Pause Build instruction in the GrabCAD job set-up. In this case, I wanted to stop the part and remove it, to create a sample piece that exposes the hexagram infill I chose for lightweighting. Another reason to pause and resume an FDM print is to add hardware such as a flat washer to reinforce a deep hole.

The GrabCAD Print App also sends me email alerts (with a chime on the phone) when the status of a print job changes, such as the message below telling me the job has indeed paused as planned:

(I don’t get notifications for other people’s jobs, so I don’t get inundated with messages.)

This real-time information lets me keep track of all my print jobs from my 3D Printing Command Center deep in the heart of suburban Phoenix. I can do 98% of what I need to remotely.

Of course, I depend on the engineers in PADT’s Manufacturing group – essential workers who’ve been in the office non-stop throughout this crazy 2020 work-year. They change filament, load clean trays, run calibrations, remove parts, and put finished prints in our Support Cleaning Apparatus tanks (a PADT-developed system spun off to Oryx and OEM’d to Stratasys since 2009.) That step dissolves the soluble support. (For several of the engineering filaments I run, the support is break-away, and my team takes care of that, too.)

The GrabCAD Print App is available as a free download from the Apple app store. And all of this is in addition to how you can view and interact with GrabCAD Print itself from any computer, setting up a part to print as you sit in one city then uploading the print-ready file to a system across the state or across the country.

Got any questions about the app? We’d love to answer them.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on PADT and its 3D printing offering, please visit www.padtinc.com.

About PADT

PADT is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long-term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 90 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

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