Sometime ago a project required a method of attaching a unique machine thread to a vertical post. As the project was going to be deployed semi-permanently it needed to be as durable as it possibly could. However, what we didn't expect is how strong the result would be - a useful trait for physical prototypes that need to be outdoors.
Almost a year later, the posts needed to be removed from the ground. This provided an opportunity to evaluate the strength of the posts and to determine if any improvements could be made.
First thoughts: when the posts were finally removed, it was surprising how strong they felt and how they still had the same brilliant white paint on them. Most posts left in the dirt for a year might already be decomposing and beginning to fall apart, but that wasn't the case with the prototype.
These samples were made using an additive printing technique called filament deposition printing, or FDM for short. However, this particular type uses a filament derived from corn called polylactic acid or PLA for short. For most prototyping, product developers and end-users will want something that represents the end product as much as possible, both in appearance and function. The PLA filaments available on the market today fill this need very well. You can print a prototype using design files, and have a product in hand that looks and feels like the real thing in a few hours.
However, products made in PLA without any post-processing may have a significant flaw: heat and UV can cause the bonds between the layers of the material loosen, or warp outside of a usable shape. So this means that you may not be able to do two of the most critical tests of the outdoor product development workflow: put the prototype through any type of real usability study, or outdoor product testing, not to mention environmental ingress testing.
With the specifications of the filament in mind, one can wonder what you would expect if you put something that can not stand up to heat or UV? Let's have a look at the gallery below.
You will notice that there is paint on the items in the pictures. It serves two purposes. The first is that it allows the product to have the intended color. Second, the paint includes UV inhibitors, such as roofing paint or exterior paint; this will dramatically improve the durability of the product, at least for the duration of the product tests. For traditional PLA, this seems to be the best method for mitigating damage.
Starting with a good base material is imperative, here you will find the MatterHackers Tough series PLA offers a blend of specs for users looking for filaments purpose-built for outdoor and rugged use. In future articles, we will be reviewing these filaments and the best use cases.
Learn about how to use any of these prototyping methods in your development workflow.
We have moved offices this week to Benicia and are looking forward to completing the setup of the space! The new address is in downtown, near Floors on First, across the street from Coldwell Banker and One House Bakery. We are looking forward to sharing more details soon!
Planning an infrastructure upgrade is a great way to make sure that it is a net benefit that helps the business.
After moving into the new offices, we are re-designing our network and wanted to share some of the process involved for considerations of a server rack.
Here are some of the essential considerations to begin thinking about in terms of most important to immediate operations:
Selecting a location that has good accessibility is essential.
It is kind of like "head, shoulders, knees and toes," except for the server rack. You need to be able to touch every part of the cabinet after it has been installed and provisioned. Additionally, if you are building or assembling your cabinet, make considerations for network and company growth. Inevitably, you will need access to the back of the cabinet. Moving a fully loaded or bolted down cabinet is not happening — plan for this in advance.
At a minimum there should be:
The servers, unlike you, do not like the warm weather at the beach. They need active room cooling with Air Conditioners to maintain peak operation in most climates.
Devices in the server room, like A/C fans, lights, door locks, thermostats, and data loggers, all need power - not to mention the server cabinet itself. A thorough evaluation of each devices' power needs is required to determine proper power strip/power distribution unit (PDU) specifications.
The server needs to be up and ready to address customer needs 100% of the time to be effective. Any loss of power could jeopardize the insertion of a SQL data record, for example, and cause loss to the data table or worse. To combat this, an uninterrupted power supply that is above the rating of the nominal usage of the devices connected provides adequate coverage in the event of a power outage. However, what happens if the power outage is from the power supply itself? Redundant power supplies exist for this purpose, more importantly, to keep the machine running at all times.
For all our systems, we have a separate ground fault protected UPS, with battery backup, for each redundant power supplies for each server (A/B), and network connection.
The backbone of the internet is the network connection. For each machine to have a reliable connection: it needs to be robust and dependable. We use CAT6 terminated in managed switches that is custom made for each connection so that the correct lengths can be used. Less cabling hanging to have to bundle into the cases.
Drawing the server rack in a diagram tool like lucid charts or Visio is useful for determining where things will go before bolting them down.
See the example below illustrating that heavy UPS should be installed at the bottom, while other devices like PDU (mid/top), and switches (top) should be placed in strategic places for cable management and air flow.
For some examples of great server room architecture, take a look at some of the videos from Custodian Data Centers and Linus Tech Tips.
If you have any questions about our progress, servers, DevOps, or IT in general please contact us or leave a comment below.