Monday, June 29, 2015

Stratasys to Host Kansas Roadshow Series

This July, our partners at Stratasys will be hosting a series of roadshow events designed to showcase their PolyJet and Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printers and 3D production systems. These events are scheduled to take place in Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, and will give those interested in 3D printing a great opportunity to see how the manufacturing and design industry is utilizing this fast-growing technology.

In previous roadshows hosted by Stratasys, participants were provided with presentations that addressed common manufacturing challenges and introduced how additive manufacturing is finding new ways to solve problems faster and with less expense. Those in attendance at this year's shows can expect to learn about the basic functionality of the FDM and PolyJet 3d printer series and how their technologies differ, along with specific applications that are revolutionizing how traditional manufacturing is done. 

With so many different industries that benefit from 3D printing technologies, few challenges are identical, and one-on-one time to discuss your own unique setup is invaluable. Stratasys and Fisher Unitech application engineers and sales representatives will be on hand at each roadshow to discuss any specific questions attendees have regarding their own applications.

To register to attend the July 20th Roadshow hosted at the Hotel Sorella Country Club in Kansas City, click here.

To register to attend the July 22nd Roadshow hosted at the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, click here.

To see more Stratasys and Fisher Unitech 3D printing events coming up this summer near you, click here to see our 3D printing events page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SIMULATION TECH TIP: String Your Bow - Nonlinear Iterative Results

I was very excited to see this feature in Simulation 2015: viewing partial simulation results in nonlinear analysis. When debugging a study, it's extremely useful to watch the solution as it progresses and make changes. I was working on a fun model of a recurve bow that required some relatively complex choreographing of fixtures to properly set up the run.

In this example, I wanted to "string" the bow, add some pre-load and then release the arrow.  This nonlinear dynamic study was "driven" using fixtures. The string was emulated using a link connector to a puck. Then using fixtures:

1. Raise the box to string while holding the arrow in place.
2. Move the arrow back into the puck to "pull the arrow back," then release the fixture on the arrow using the "1e8" trick (see:

To enable the preview, just go to Study Properties and check the "View Iterative Results" checkbox.

This is one cool feature that you can look forward to if you haven't upgraded to 2015 yet! Check out my video of this process below:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

3D printing Company finds their way to ABC’s Shark Tank

Let's be honest: the majority of reality TV available to viewers is not the most educational of content. However, ABC's Shark Tank gives real-life entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch their ideas and companies to some of the best business minds in the manufacturing, design, and technology industries. So it was only a matter of time until 3D printing company "You Kick Ass" came to Shark Tank looking for investors.

You Kick Ass was able to develop a technology that takes a 2D image of a face and turns it into a 3D model. This model can then be brought into a 3D printer, where the customers face is printed and attached to a superhero body, thus the name "You Kick Ass." 

By utilizing 3D printing You Kick Ass was able to capture all the details in a customer's face and take advantage of the benefits 3D printing brings to producing low-volume complex end-use parts. After providing an overview of the concept and their technology, Founders Alesia Glidewell and Keri Andrews looked for a cash investment and guidance from of one of the sharks. They found it in investor Mark Cuban. Cuban, having an extensive background in technology and seeing the value in both 3D printing and proprietary 3D printing software, agreed to a 10% for $100,000 stake in the company.

"We went with Mark because we felt he would be a great partner," explained Andrews. 

"He really seemed to understand that we were a technology company and he gave us what we asked for. I couldn't be more excited."

Want to learn more about 3D printers? Check out our website by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Automating the Copy Settings Wizard with Task Scheduler

Problem: I want to backup my SOLIDWORKS settings regularly. Currently, I have an alarm set and once a month I run Copy Settings Wizard*, but I'd really like to just put it on a schedule and forget about it.

Solution: Write a simple batch file and run that through SOLIDWORKS Task Scheduler** as a Custom Task on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.

I know this sounds like a lot, but if I can do it, you can do it. I am not a programmer, I'm a Googler. I also had some help from a powerful Wizard friend of mine. Again, to ease your mind - learning, writing, and completing this task took me less than an hour. You've got this.

First, I needed to understand what the Copy Settings Wizard was actually doing for me so I knew what instructions to write. When you Save Settings to File, the Copy Settings Wizard is actually exporting a portion of your Windows Registry. What is the registry, you ask? The registry is a database in Windows that contains important information about your system hardware, installed programs and settings, and profiles of each of the user accounts on your computer. Windows continually refers to the information in the registry. You should not need to make manual changes to the registry because programs and applications typically make all of the necessary changes automatically.*** 

For example, when you check a box in SOLIDWORKS Tools > Options, or add a File Location for your templates, or customize your user interface, the registry is updated with that information and Windows refers back to it when you load SOLIDWORKS - this is the part of the registry we will be backing up. To access this information, you'll go to Start and search 'regedit' and open. The program is named regedt32.exe and is located on a default setup at C:\Windows\System32\regedt32.exe. The Copy Settings Wizard is essentially right-clicking HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Solidworks, choosing Export, and then saving that file at the location you specified.

What it looks like in Copy Settings Wizard:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SIMULATION TECH TIP: Transferring Flow Loads to Shell Elements

In SOLIDWORKS, we have the ability to take advantage of an integrated interface where we can use multiple simulation tools. If you are using Flow Simulation and Simulation (FEA), you can export Flow Simulation loads to FEA studies. In the following example, I ran flow over a truck body and exported the pressure loads to SOLIDWORKS Simulation. The goal of this particular problem is to identify the displacement of a truck cap as a function of the aerodynamic pressures.

In this example, there is 90mph airflow over the truck body. To start this problem, I ran through the Flow Simulation Wizard tool and set the problem as an external flow analysis. I gave the moving fluid (air) an initial velocity of 90 mph normal to the truck body and ran the study. If I want to see how aerodynamic my model is, I can view flow trajectories over my model. Figure 1 shows a cut plot of the velocities over the body with flow trajectories modeled as streamlines.

Figure 1: Velocity Cut Plot with Streamlines

Due to pressure being derived as an output variable in Flow Simulation, I can export that information over to a Finite Element Analysis in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. If you are using SOLIDWORKS 2015, you do this by going to the toolbar: Tools > Flow Simulation > Tools > Export Results to Simulation. Once in Simulation, I need to import the flow loads into my study. I do this by going to Study Properties > Flow/Thermal Effects > Fluid Pressure Option > Include fluid pressure effects from SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation (Browse to .fld file).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

3D Printing Helping Lead the Way in Battle Field Armor Development

When out on patrol, members of the armed forces and law enforcement teams count on each other and their training to keep themselves safe. Just as important to safety as making smart decisions, however, is what type of personal protection is available to individuals. The goal is to ensure that, when under attack, soldiers and law enforcement members have the best chance of avoiding injury. Currently, Kevlar body armor is the standard in protecting vital organs, but through the utilization of 3D printing, researchers are finding new ways to make improvements.

Using Stratasys PolyJet technology, a team comprised of members of MIT and the Technion Research & Development Foundation have been working to develop a new type of body armor design funded by the US Army. This project aims to more fully understand how a fish scale design could provide better coverage and protection. Researchers determining how to best alter the shape and design of the scales is key to providing premium coverage and improving on range of movement.

By utilizing PolyJet capabilities - specifically the Objet500Connex model 3D printer - the research team has been able to print multiple materials in the same build. By doing this, they have the flexibility to experiment with altering the density of the scales until they find the best possible combination. Through this experimentation and material adjustments, the team was able to increase the resistance to penetration by a factor of 40, with a reduction in flexibility of only a factor of five.

The US Army plans on continuing this project of testing new prototypes based on the 3D printed designs. The hope is that in the future, police and military personnel will be able to obtain body armor that is custom built for each individual and their specific needs.

You can learn more about 3D printing at our website - click here.

You can read more about this project in Soft Matter journal - click here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Accounting for Coatings and Determining Pre-plate Dimensions

For certain precision machining operations, the application of coatings will necessitate machining to a slightly different dimension than the one on the final print. While there is no direct feature in SOLIDWORKS to just remove the coating thickness, this type of operation can be completed in about three steps using a few of the lesser-known SOLIDWORKS features.

The basic idea is to create a model of the coating thickness and subtract it from the completed part. It's actually simpler than it sounds.

To start the process, we will make a copy of the body. To be perfectly clear, I am not introducing any new part files. This is a multibody technique where one part file will have two bodies (temporarily). The feature called Move/Copy body is how we'll do it. The duplicate body and the original will need to be in the exact same location, so we're not actually going to move it at all. To start we go to InsertFeaturesMove/Copy. There are two versions of this property manager and for this we will need this version.

If you are looking at what appears to be assembly Mates, click on the button at the bottom that says Translate/Rotate and you will get the property manager above. In this property manager, all you have to do is click on the body and select the Copy option. Leave all the other inputs as zero and hit OK. SOLIDWORKS will prompt you with this message, since it thinks you forgot to do something

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Building a Case for a 3D Printer Purchase

If you have been in the manufacturing industry long enough, you have probably found yourself making requests to upper management for new equipment to do your job more efficiently. Sometimes you make a compelling enough case and get what you ask for, and other times there may not be room in the budget, or management decides they are not interested in buying new tools. Purchasing a 3D printer is no different.

As most in the manufacturing industry are already aware, 3D printing has become the latest and greatest new technology for manufacturing. However, many engineers are still looking for advice on how to justify the purchase of a new or upgraded printer. What many seem to find is that it's difficult to establish the cause and effect of new technology implementation and put it into tangible numbers. It's not easy to quantify things like higher satisfaction, increased idea flow, and better communication between departments. Also, depending on the applications you are looking to use a 3D printer for, the cost to buy can be a pretty big hit to a company's budget.

To build a case for the purchase of any technology, you must show how this new purchase is going to improve operations within the company. Whether your employers are more driven by finding ways to reduce cost or increase profits, be sure to tailor your message in a clear and compelling manner. Be sure to not add fluff or tangential information about which your management can say "that really doesn't apply to us anyway." In a short business case, it's helpful to detail your current challenges, your solution to these challenges, and the costs associated with these challenges. Once you have established the need for change, you can then begin to build a case for your new 3D printer purchase. 

One hypothetical scenario is where you currently have a service bureau making your prototype parts, but you feel printing in-house will give you more control over making changes and speed up production; when building your case, detail how that helps the company. Will this new machine mean increased cost-efficiency by not using the service bureau as much, or possibly faster approvals for build designs so you can move on to other projects sooner? If you can put hard numbers down in your report for the ROI a 3D printer will provide, do it. It will look good to management and it's more difficult to argue with math.

Remember when pitching your idea for a 3D printer to stay on point with what your audience wants to hear. When management invests in new equipment, generally it is either because something is broken, the investment will reduce costs, or it will increase profits. Make sure you understand what management is looking for before you begin your proposal. 

When other departments are competing for budget, it's good to try and build an argument of "this won't only help me; it will help the whole company." If a 3D printer will save you time in one aspect of a project, then you have more time to direct your attention to other issues or ways to help other departments.

To learn more about 3D printers, visit our site.

If you'd like to build your case but need some help, please feel free to contact our sales team for assistance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Model Visualization - Part 3: Camera

If you missed parts 1 or 2...
Part 1: Orientation
Part 2: Perspective

Now that we know the camera, and not the model, moves around for our orientation, and the illusion of depth we create with perspective, let's dive even deeper to combine these with cameras and camera views.

I've given you both a video and text based version of the blog for however you'd prefer to consume it.

To add a camera to your model, Go to the Display Manager Tab > Right-Click Camera > Add Camera.

A quick guide for the camera settings is below, but I encourage you to watch the video, as the on-screen controls can be easier if you're a visual person.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 8 - Final)

Since I am always being asked what makes a good mesh, I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for in creating a mesh; knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is the final part in this series. Here, I will talk about some final tips in meshing your parts and assemblies.

Geometry Preparation
CAD geometry contains all the features necessary to make a part, but many of those features can be considered insignificant for analysis and should, therefore, be suppressed. With every benchmark I do, or any support case I work on, the first thing I will typically do is create a SOLIDWORKS Configuration and call it "FOR FEA." In this configuration, I will suppress the features and the parts that I believe will be irrelevant to the analysis and to the results that are being sought. For imported geometry, or parts with "artifacts" (those small sliver faces created when applying our standard SOLIDWORKS features), I will use the Delete Face command (Insert, Face, Delete). With the Delete and Patch option, a lot of times I can remove these small faces/artifacts and quickly simplify the model for meshing.

Mesh Control
If you are meshing an assembly, and one of the parts fails to mesh, open the part in its own window. Once you are able to mesh the part here, apply these mesh settings as Mesh Control in the assembly. Another, simpler method than the one just described is to apply mesh control to the failed component. In the Mesh Control property manager, you will find an option called "Use Per Part Size." This option will apply an appropriate mesh size as if the part was opened in its own window and meshed.

When All Else Fails
When all else fails, you'll be happy to know, Fisher Unitech will be here to support you. Contact our support team at (800) 816-8314 option #5,, or via support chat at

For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.