Friday, February 5, 2016

Save Time And Money With Injection Mold 3D Printing

So much goes into creating an injection molded part, from the design team that creates the part in CAD to the quality engineers who have to fix issues that arise when a part is injected like short shots or warp. Due to all the bumps in the road injection molders encounter, the popularity of 3D printed injection molds is steadily growing.

Reduction to CNC Que
You can imagine the frustration of having to push back a job because you don’t have the bandwidth to keep up. This is why 3D printing is quickly becoming a valuable complementary tool to CNC shops. If, under the right circumstances, an injection mold that is intended for low volume production meets process conditions of the material and press clamp force, then having a 3D printer on hand can free up CNC time. This allows for a shop's CNC machines to be used for cutting larger, more expensive steel or aluminum molds which in turn allows a project to stay on schedule.

Reduction in Mold Costs
When you are producing large volumes of parts, then it makes sense to tool your mold out of durable materials such as aluminum or steel. However, for low volume production the cost of a mold sky rockets if you are not producing parts that can offset the cost of the mold tooling. Instead, you can 3D print the mold for about the tenth of the cost of an aluminum mold.

Multiple Printer Applications (ROI)
Engineering service companies and mold shops alike are finding the benefits of having a 3D printer are vast. Otentimes, print is brought in for print injection molds only but soon they become go to resources to print prototypes, jigs, fixtures, and end use parts effortlessly and for less of the normal cost.

Speed of Printing Mold

The time it takes to print an injection mold from a 3D printer can be done usually in less than a day. Multiple ink jet heads that cure layers of photopolymer mean the speed to build up a mold is done quickly.
To learn more about 3D printing and how it can help your next project, please visit our 3D printers page on our website.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Optimizing your CAD for FDM 3D Printing

Whether modeling in SOLIDWORKS, Creo, NX, or any other Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, bringing your design to life is easy with a 3D Printer,  but it all starts with an STL file.  Here are some tips to consider for your next design, to get the best possible 3D Print, while reducing material waste.

First, watch the walls. The width of thin walls should be designed as a multiple of the filament bead width, bearing in mind the number of perimeter toolpaths (aka “contours”).  For example, the standard configuration for Stratasys professional 3D printers produces one 0.5mm perimeter bead (with infill rasters in between).  Very thin walls should be either 0.5mm OR 1mm wide.  Any width in between is likely to be undersized and/or inconsistent.

Next, mind the gaps. Most machines (or slicing software) have a minimum size for infill rasters, which might result in airgaps within thin walls.  For the example machine above, a 1.3mm wall isn’t quite wide enough to infill, so it’ll print as two thin flimsy walls side by side.  In this case, a 1mm wall would be more rigid, despite being narrower, because the two beads would be fused.

Also be sure to remember that STL files (sometimes referred to as “Standard Tessellation Language”)
are faceted; meaning they contain no curves!  So, when sliced into layers, every 'circle' is actually a polygon.  Thus, exterior curves will always be slightly oversized and internal curves will be slightly undersized.  The results can be improved by tweaking the STL export settings in CAD (use the “fine” resolution or better); just be consistent.  While designing, consider defining custom oversized hole standards or undersized library features, in order to get consistent fits for pins/holes.

Last be sure to take into account orientation. Whenever possible, build cup-shaped parts open-end-up, to avoid unnecessary support.  But when that that’s not possible, consider that most machines can bridge short horizontal spans without building support underneath.  To minimize use of support material and speed up prints, stay out of the ‘support zone’ between 0° (horizontal) and 45°.  Also include chamfers or fillets to inside corners whenever possible, to reduce the length of horizontal spans (and the likelihood they will require support).  For example, a 1” diameter cup printed upside-down might result in a LOT of support material used.  But adding just a 1/8” chamfer reduces the unsupported “ceiling” to just ¾”, and might eliminate the need for support altogether.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Simulation Tech Tip: How to Load Results Faster and Reduce File Size for Nonlinear and Transient Studies (Results Options)

Here's a quick and simple tip for all multi step simulations , dynamic, non linear, drop  etc... You don't have to keep ALL the data for EVERY solution step the solver takes.  The solvers will take smaller steps for convergence purposes and a solution may have hundreds of steps. For a large model this means large files and computational overhead (aka lag switching between studies. The good news is we may not need every piece of data for post processing and we can control the data that is retained under "Result Options".

For example:

I had a nonlinear dynamic study that was about 200K degrees of freedom in size and it took 50 steps to solve.  The time to switch studies varied quite a bit depending on how much data I chose to retain.

Save data for all steps  = over a minute
Save every 2 steps load time = 7 seconds
Save every 5 steps = 2 seconds

Who wants to wait to review a study ?  When you look at the size of the results file it start to become understandable why there is a lag.

If you have nonlinear or dynamic runs that take forever to load and you don't need to review every time step at every location you can modify the "Result Options".

1. Right mouse button on "Result Options"  and choose Define/Edit:

2. Decide if stresses are important, for example in a dynamic simulation we might only want to compare displacements and accelerations. If they are not needed for the study un-check the box.

3. Check "Solution Steps":  Then define how often to save data.  In the above dialog if the solver takes 1000 steps to complete the problem we will save every tenth step.  You can also specify multiple "Sets" saving multiple increment values during different parts of the simulation (see the video).

4. Lastly, choose how to handle sensor specific data.  Do we want to retain  all, none or specific sensors.  If you are not familiar with sensors check them out they are quite useful to define specific simulation quantities or locations to save data.

After you click "ok" , this setting will apply to the next time you run the study.  You will benefit by using up less disk space and being able to move between studies faster.

For a video example on a nonlinear seat spring model take a look here: Narrated Results



Thursday, January 7, 2016

Join Us In Dallas For SOLIDWORKS World 2016!

Right off the bat in the new year we have been keeping busy at Fisher Unitech, because we're gearing up for SOLIDWORKS World in Dallas, Texas. We're beyond excited because nine of our engineers were accepted as guest speakers at the event and we will be hosting a welcome reception mixer for customers, fans, and anyone interested in SOLIDWORKS.

The welcome reception will be kicking off at Bob's Steak & Chop House in the Omni Dallas Hotel on Monday, February 1st, starting at 5:30 PM. This is an annual event we have been hosting at SOLIDWORKS World for the last five or so years and are looking forward to another amazing year at World!

If you'd like to RSVP, all you have to do is fill out the form on this page and you're all set.

Can't make it to the welcome reception? We also have nine speakers at SOLIDWORKS World, all with great presentations you don't want to miss out on.

Here is the full list of speakers:

Get A Move On: Marketing Quality Animation Skills, Jay Pinheiro

Build Your Entire System In SOLIDWORKS -- PCB, Electrical & Mechanical, David Hofer

Leveraging Reporting In EPDM, Lindsay Early

Save Yourself! (The Perils of Saving Over a Network), Dan Erickson

Basic File Management Without a PDM System, Rachel Buhl

Sheet Metal: Everything You Wanted To Know & More, Cami Florence

Design Automation With The Configuration Publisher, Rodney Harper

SOLIDWORKS And 3D Printers, Nady Osmat

Getting Started With Design Tables, Katie Huffman

Here's to a great 2016 and hopefully we see you in Dallas!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MakerBot Introduces New Smart Extruder

MakerBot has seen some bumps in the road recently regarding the effectiveness and quality of their first generation Smart Extruder. On a Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printer, an extruder is a part used to dispense plastic filaments that build a part layer by layer. Generally the extruder has to heat up to a certain temperature to melt a spool of plastic then pushes the melted plastic out through the extruder tip.

With the release of the latest version Smart Extruder, MakerBot hopes to deliver the hobbyist 3D printing community an easy way to swap out an old, worn out extruder for a brand new one. The thought behind these Smart Extruders is that over time extruders become clogged or  wear out, so rather than having to order new parts to fix your extruder, the Smart Extruders enables users a quick and easy way to simply install a brand new one. This, as you can imagine, saves time and is extremely convenient if you are in the middle of a build.

The previous version of the Smart Extruder had trouble giving users the promised life span and reliability. MakerBot says the new version promises to deliver extruders that have life spans lasting over 700, while some tested extruders have gone over 1200 hours. The new Smart Extruders will also have the updated software that Makerbot released last fall which helps increase print speed. Along with new software, there are new sensors that detect when more plastic filament is needed to complete a print. The new Smart Extruder will be available to the MakerBot’s fifth-generation line of printers, which includes the latest MakerBot Replicator, the Z18, and Replicator Mini. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's a Simulation Holiday, How long to cook that Bird?

While I was deciding on an appropriate brine, rub and injection for this years Turkey I was curious how closely a quick and dirty simulation would come to the reality of my smoker out on the deck? So while I was waiting for the bird to thaw I started modeling one up.  Then, to calculate the fowl temperature versus time I used a 4 step process:

1. Gather Data and make Assumptions:

- I'm assuming homogeneous thermal properties.

- Assuming the majority of heat transfer is via convection not accounting for radiation.

- I'm modeling the turkey while cooking dinner so bones are not added. If anyone has a full 3D Turkey skeleton send it on over.

I found some thermal properties for meats here:

- Most of the standard material properties in Flow are temperature dependant however for this study I'm assuming conductivity and specific heat are basically constant in this temperature range.

- Assuming constant ambient temperature.  When I get a second probe with recording capabilities I will try again with ambient temp(time).  Ideally with the control system on the pellet smoker it's pretty consistent so it's not too big of an assumption.

Step 2. Create a Steady State Flow Simulation of the Smoker:

With Flow I used parametric studies to estimate inlet flow rate and temperature to create a steady state ambient temperature of 325F.  I will use the ambient temperature and convection heat transfer coefficients from Flow rather than estimating them as boundary conditions in thermal.

Cut Plot of Ambient Temperature in Flow

Heat Transfer Coefficient on Surface Note it is NOT uniform
Step 3.  Run transient thermal simulation:

The transient study was run in thermal analysis to reduce tun times.  Running the full smoker model in Flow as a transient would take much longer to run. However we did use Flow to capture the non uniform convection which would be more difficult to apply in thermal.

Transient Thermal Simulation Using Flow Convection 

Now you not may be able to tell from the picture but I was in the holiday "spirit" and forgot to save my temperature probe data from the Turkey.....

author trying not to cut off a finger

This gave me a good excuse to smoke some more fowl.  In this case I had fewer guests to feed so I did a slightly more controlled experiment with Cornish hens. Through the beauty of CAD embedded simulation I just scaled down my turkey and then created a new configuration and re-ran with the Hens.

Calibrating my model


Step 4:  Conclusion/Comparison:  Time versus temperature calculations 

Analysis Compared to Thermal Probe Temperatures over Time

Here is a comparison of multiple probe points in the vicinity of the probe on both hens versus time. The actual probe data is in the middle which is a good thing and gives me confidence in my model.  If I was using this turkey to optimize Flow in the smoker this would be good enough to stop here.  If I needed more accuracy I would take into account the following:

- Bone thermal mass
- Variation in ambient with time
- Possible variation of conductivity and specific heat with temperature
- Take into account rotating the Hens halfway the smoke.

I hope this give you some insight into the synergy between Flow and Sim Pro thermal and a basic understanding of the assumption that go into a thermal analysis.

Here's a link to some video of the simulations:

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Reindeer Power: Overcoming Aerodynamic Inefficiencies on Santa's Sleigh

Santa’s sleigh doesn’t appear to be the most aerodynamic design we’ve ever laid eyes on, so I opened up SolidWorks Flow Simulation to analyze it.  I wondered how much power each reindeer would have to provide in order to counteract the drag put on the sleigh.  Using SolidWorks as a CAD and CFD tool, I could both analyze and design the sleigh in the matter of hours.

If you do a quick google search, you’ll see that in order for Santa to visit most children in the world, he would have to travel at 650 miles per second.  While that sounds great, I’m just going to go with a descent speed of a regional jet at 300 miles per hour as the initial velocity flowing around the sleigh.  This is of course the only input I need for my study, so I can establish goals, or criteria that I primarily want to analyze when I’m looking at my results.  The first parameter I need to figure out is how much power is acting on the sleigh.  Once I figure that out, I can estimate how much power each reindeer would have to provide in order to get the sleigh to move.  So I am calculating the force in the direction of the airflow, along with the velocity.   Multiplying these two values together gives me an estimate of the work (or power) acting on the sleigh.
If you convert the equation goal (power) from N-m/s to horsepower, you’ll end up with about 1700 hp.  Given that there are nine reindeer, each reindeer would have to put out about 190 hp in order to counteract the work being done on the sleigh… that’s about the horsepower of my Civic SI for each reindeer.

Looking at the cut plot displaying streamlines, you’ll see the velocity changes direction just behind the sleigh, indicating a drag region.  So, in summary, Santa’s sleigh not even close to full speed is hardly aerodynamic.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Press Release: Fisher Unitech To Host 3D Printing for Manufacturing Webinar Series

Fisher Unitech will be hosting a webinar series that will run throughout the months of January and February with all webinar presentations scheduled to take place at 2:00 PM EST. These webinars will offer participants a better understanding of not only the differences between Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling and Polyjet 3D printing technologies but also how the design and manufacturing industries are utilizing 3D printing to make better quality products.
All presentations will be given by our experienced Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Applications Engineering staff and will offer participants a question and answer session at the end of each presentation.
These informative webinar presentations will specifically cover: 
  • 3D Printing Industry Trends and Forecasts
  • Additive Manufacturing Meets Traditional Manufacturing
  • Fused Deposition Modeling and Polyjet 3D Printing Materials Characteristics Overview

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

3D Printing Helping the Aerospace Industry Take Off

Whether it is on the commercial side or the military side of the aerospace industry, 3D printing is
becoming a key component of getting projects off the ground. Commercial airlines are seeing a large spike in the utilization of 3D printing for end use parts. For companies like Airbus, 3D printing parts out of an ULTEM™ 9085 resin works great as this material is certified to meet Airbus material specifications. Utilizing Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printing, Airbus has managed to produce more than 1000 flight parts for use on A350 XWB aircraft, which began delivery in December 2014.

The benefits that a company like Airbus sees out of 3D printing end use parts is pretty substantial. FDM parts are lightweight yet still very strong. This is helpful for the airline industry because if you can reduce weight while still maintaining a high level of strength, then you can save money on fuel. Another benefit Airbus has found by 3D printing is ways to reduce its part inventory. With the speed and accuracy of 3D printing it is simple to quickly print a new part when it comes time to replace something that is old or worn out. By doing this Airbus frees up space in warehouses by reducing their overhead costs of storage of replacement parts.

3D Printing is also having a major impact on government and military projects. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Akron) and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) have included a request in the proposed 2016 Defense Budget for 10 million dollars worth of funding to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with the purpose of exploring and enhancing 3D printing capabilities in Airforce applications. 3D printing is also developing into a very important tool for NASA. There are numerous 3D printing projects that have been developed for space exploration including building parts for the land rovers that will be sent to Mars and even installing a 3D printer on board the international space station.

With a reduction in design constrictions, increase speed, industry grade materials, and better productivity it should be no surprise 3D printing is becoming the perfect partner for Aerospace. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Extended SOLIDWORKS BOGO Promotion!

Good news, the SOLIDWORKS buy one, get one 50% off promotion has been extended into December! Now you can treat yourself (or staff) to SOLIDWORKS for the holidays and try something at 50% off full price when you purchase a product at full price.

If you didn't see the initial post, you can read all about the BOGO promotion from earlier in November. Originally the promotion was going to end yesterday, on November 30th, but SOLIDWORKS has decided to extend their BOGO into December as a thanks to all their customers.

You can see the list of SOLIDWORKS products that are included in this promotion below.

SOLIDWORKS CAD – Standard, Professional, Premium
SIMULATION – Standard, Professional, Premium, FLOW, FLOW HVAC/ELEC
PLASTICS – Standard, Professional, Premium
PDM – Editor, Contributor, Viewer (not PSLs)
SOLIDWORKS Electrical – 2D, 3D, and Professional
SOLIDWORKS Inspection – Standard, Professional

All you have to do is fill out a form on our website here and we'll take care of the rest!