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AMT Tech Trends: Full Course Yellow

Steve won’t shut up about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ben takes over with the difficulty small firms have with robot integration. Stephen thinks Boston Dynamics has moved on from Spot to a humanoid robot to be competitive with Olympian Simone Biles.
Aug 30, 2021

Episode 56: Steve won’t shut up about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ben takes over with the difficulty small firms have with robot integration. Stephen thinks Boston Dynamics has moved on from Spot to a humanoid robot to be competitive with Olympian Simone Biles. Benjamin is fascinated by robot simulation and cutting taters. Steve read about a life hack for cheaper ceramic 3D printing. Ben closes with hot refractory metals.

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Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the AMT Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. I am Benjamin Moses, the director of technology. And I'm here with...

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca AMT's technology analyst.

Benjamin Moses: Amazing. Steph, how are you doing today?

Stephen LaMarca: I'm doing great.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Oh yeah. I had fun weekend watching Le Mans. Didn't watch it the entire time.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: To be clear, the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses: It's a long race.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: Tell me more about this race.

Stephen LaMarca: So first off, let's take care of pronunciation. It is technically Le Mans, but that's the French like purest pronunciation. A lot of Americans, well the few Americans that actually do watch the race and more should, that we'll call it Le Mans. And Jay Leno has gone on record saying that if you say it the perfect French way...

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: You sound too much like a snob and you don't want to sound too French, especially in America, but also you don't want to really ruin and the beauty that is that French race and the French heritage behind it. So you don't want to call it a Le Mans either. And so Jay Leno has gone on record. To be right in the middle, you should just call it Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses: Le Mans. That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: But...

Benjamin Moses: It is a...

Stephen LaMarca: It is a 24 hour long race.

Benjamin Moses: Right? So it's time duration. And they started Saturday morning and Sunday morning.

Stephen LaMarca: So I know we're in August and the schedule has shifted. Last year it shifted from the second weekend of June, which is traditionally the second weekend of June, 9:00 AM. Well, excuse me, 3:00 PM, Saturday. I'm just used to American time. Well, East Coast time, but 3:00 PM, Saturday afternoon to 3:00 PM Sunday afternoon.

Benjamin Moses: That's amazing.

Stephen LaMarca: And the goal is, bring your car and well, traditionally, bring your car, see how far...how many laps you can throw down in 24 hours...

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And it's evolved. It was the 89th running of...

Benjamin Moses: Long time.

Stephen LaMarca: The 24 hours of Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses: And to be clear, this is the pinnacle of racing.

Stephen LaMarca: It is the pinnacle of racing, so a race car driver that achieves the Triple Crown is a race car driver that has won an Indianapolis 500, which is Indy Car racing has won a Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, not won a Formula One championship, just the Monaco grand Prix. That seems like of all of the races to win, that's the one you want to win [crosstalk 00:02:43] nobody's home turf.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: It is an incredibly technical circuit. And just like Formula One, there's a lot of money and a lot of sketchy money. And that is the place to really show off is that Monaco.

Benjamin Moses: That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: And then the third race of the Triple Crown is the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses: Wow.

Stephen LaMarca: And the cool thing about Le Mans, unlike the Indianapolis 500, unlike the Monaco Grand Prix, it is an entire race season in one race...

Benjamin Moses: That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: In one weekend.

Benjamin Moses: One weekend. And so there, it's not one driver the whole time, right? They're rotating drivers for a certain duration, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Right. So each team has multiple cars like Formula One team has two cars.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: In La Mans, you're allowed to have, well, some companies have in the past have gotten away with four cars, but technically they're separated into two different teams.

Benjamin Moses: Sure. But those cars are running the entire time. They are not backup cars.

Stephen LaMarca: They are running the entire time, they're not backup cars.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And each car has three drivers. So drivers actually share a car.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And there's one car wins, but there's three drivers that win a Rolex at the end of the race and all race car drivers will say, I'll never buy a Rolex. The only way you'll ever see a race car driver wearing a Rolex is if they've won it, They'll never buy a Rolex.

Benjamin Moses: Or say advertising for it.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, I guess, I guess. But I think even Rolex as the company, they stay true to that. They only get like brand ambassadors that are like Hollywood heroes or whatever.

Benjamin Moses: And the track is a decent sized track. So it's...

Stephen LaMarca: Huge track.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So it is based at center of the track because you got to have grand stands and you got to have a paddock. The track is based off of the Bugatti circuit. I don't know if it's called like the Circuit de la Bugatti or whatever, but it's based off of the Bugatti circuit, Bugatti being a French car company...

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: With Italian background. But in currently Bugatti is owned by Volkswagen group just to get that out there. But yeah, it's based off of the Bugatti circuit, which is typically, even though Bugatti's a car company, but the Bugatti circuit isn't really in any auto racing...

Benjamin Moses: Any series?

Stephen LaMarca: Series. [crosstalk 00:04:55] It's used in motorcycle racing a lot.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: It is seen as a motorcycle track, even though it's named after a car company, but the Bugatti circuit is the base and the entire La Mans race track is called the Circuit de la Sarthe. And I think it's eight...it's almost nine miles. It's like eight and three quarter miles, but it consists of like half the Bugatti circuit and rest is French country roads, which is so cool.

Benjamin Moses: If you get to see like a ride along where the driver does like he's driving and he's describing what he's doing at each stage.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes, Allan McNish.

Benjamin Moses: Allan is amazing experience. We'll see if we can include that link where...

Stephen LaMarca: Allan McNish did that when he was driving for Audi.

Benjamin Moses: And it's very interesting, like on these [inaudible 00:05:46] city roads that he's on. But back country roads, there's a long straightaway say like one or two mile long straightaway where they have to cross over the crest of the road to get on the other side. Otherwise they'll basically go flat spin because that side of the road is like terrible. Right? So it's...

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. The car will bottom out.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And while... Unlike formula one, they don't really care about that. If the car bottoms out in the car bottoms out and you see sparks and it's very dramatic and the fans love it. But over 24 hours...

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: That friction wears away at the bottom. And there's every race car... All these modern race cars with all these modern advanced materials still have like a plank of wood underneath them. Cause it's the regulation.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: There's a plank of wood and at the end of the race, they actually measure it to see how much it has worn away. And if it's worn away too much, the cars disqualified.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So the drivers cross over at a certain point because it just wears away less...

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: That plank of wood. And it's really hard to like time that, and they have to do it at a certain point because they do it anywhere else. Either the car will lift off and you'll have a catastrophic loss of down force and there's some other great clips on the internet of that. What happens there? It's not fun. It actually, that was a huge problem at Nurburgring the past few years.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And they've, I think they're trying to doing some landscaping to fix that...

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Because it is a safety concern, both for drivers and spectators, and they don't want to repeat of what happened in the 1960s. Oh man.

Benjamin Moses: So let's get into who competed in.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. Yeah. Thank you for cutting me off. No. So this year the big contenders were Corvette because it's their first year premiering the C8 at Le Mans, which is Corvette's, of course, their first mid-engine car and every other race car has gone the way of mid-engine layout. And for the longest time Corvette, the Corvette racing team was really dominant with their front engine rear wheel drive layout. And now that engine restrictions have really put the regulation down on them, they just figured if we need to stay, if we're going to stay competitive, we have to go admit it.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And so that's why you see a lot of consumer cars. And a lot of people say, oh, that Chevy looks like a Ferrari when you see that on the road. And it's because of the racing teams.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: We have to be competitive.

Stephen LaMarca: Even the Porsche 911...

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Is going mid-engine and will eventually be mid-engine.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Which the Porsche 911 is rear engine. So the engine is actually hanging out behind the rear axle on a traditional 911. Porsche is slowly moving it in front of that.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: It's going mid engine, like the Cayman.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But yeah, Ferrari had it right for all these years.

Benjamin Moses: The one thing they got right.

Stephen LaMarca: And technically Chevy did it too with the Corvair, but it never saw Le Mans. So the Corvette was a big contender and it, at the top level of competition, is the, what used to be called the Le Mans prototype class LMP1 and LMP2. But the Le Mans prototype class has since been renamed and re established as the hypercar class. Because ever since Volkswagen had to back out...

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: Because of dieselgate, they just haven't been able to fund their racing teams.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So Toyota has essentially been competing by themselves.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: I mean, there's other cars there, but they're the fastest ones.

Benjamin Moses: Or they're running like a hybrid model [crosstalk 00:09:31].

Stephen LaMarca: They're running a hybrid. They've been...companies have been using hybrids for a while now at Le Mans, since before Formula One I think even, but...

Benjamin Moses: And there's two things I want to hit on before we transition to some articles.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: One is the amount of technology that trickles down from Le Mans racing.

Stephen LaMarca: So much...

Benjamin Moses: As a lot of...

Stephen LaMarca: Seatbelts, headlights, windshield wipers, disc brakes, that all came from Le Mans, didn't come from Formula One, certainly didn't come from NASCAR. It came from Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And the other thing I definitely recommend...

Stephen LaMarca: Headlights.

Benjamin Moses: Catching like a highlight clip. Like the one you sent me to see the Le Mans. Cause we mentioned the C8 so that's basically a production car class has prep for racing, but also at the same track on the same time, or these hypercars, basically race cars made just for the race.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: So there's some, 30 some cars have modified, semi modified, Porsche 911 that's on the road that they've prepped for racing to these $2 million race cars that you're on the same track at the same time, competing it for 24 hours throughout this entire time. Amazing experience.

Stephen LaMarca: And it's awesome because this is the first year of the hypercar class and why that's such a big deal, especially to not just to race fans, but to auto enthusiast is because, and of course there's the technology trickle down, which is what we should be focusing on. But you know, the prototype class of the past decade was just essentially a Formula One car with an enclosed cockpit and made for, to run 24 hours. The hypercar class is they are slowly going to put more regulations to say that we're going back to GT cars essentially and GTO - Gran Turismo Omalogato, which is homologation cars.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Meaning, if a car company is going to race this car at Le Mans, it needs to have a certain number of production models...

Benjamin Moses: Oh, that's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Available to consumers. So we're going back to that, which means the next few years we are going to see some crazy consumer road legal cars come out.

Stephen LaMarca: But in the meantime, until Toyota has somebody to compete with, the closest competition for them is SCG - Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Are you familiar with James Glickenhaus?

Benjamin Moses: No, not at all.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm not either.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: But apparently he's some famous Hollywood director gone producer for movies and whatnot, but he's more famous sadly, instead of being famous for the movies, he was a part of, he's more famous for his amazing Ferrari collection.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Like he has one-off Ferraris that Ferrari made for him because he has the money for that.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: He's got so much money that he decided to make his own car company. And instead of making consumer cars, he wants to race at the 24 hours. [crosstalk 00:12:36] It sounds like Gene Haas...

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: With his NASCAR team...

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And then wanting to go Formula One. [crosstalk 00:12:41] This guy, James Glickenhaus was like, no, we're going to the pinnacle. We're going no Le Mans. And...

Benjamin Moses: So he's in the class of people I hate.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Exactly. Exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: But yeah, he's going up against Toyota, which is wild.

Benjamin Moses: That's wild.

Stephen LaMarca: And he didn't do bad. He didn't come close.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But he's fulfilling a dream of his.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Which is, must be awesome to be able to go for something like that. But...

Benjamin Moses: That grand, sure.

Stephen LaMarca: It's one thing to just own a Ferrari, but you've got, you're a collector that has made their own Ferrari based race team.

Benjamin Moses: Let's get some articles, man.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes. Okay.

Benjamin Moses: The first one I got is from MIT Sloan. So, it's going to be true, it's going to be great.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So it talks about how small firms can harness the potential of collaborative robots. And I thought it was a good, well-rounded article. It talks about some of the challenges that they have today and gets into glimpse of where they want to see things get fixed for the future. And it comes out of their EmTech next conference, which is very fascinating. And hopefully if things calm down a little bit, we'll be able to do in person next year. But some of the key elements that you talk about, one is kind of the implementation barrier. So one of the implementation barriers is it's cost. So the Arm itself, you and I have talked about the reduction in cost of [crosstalk 00:13:58].

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: They've come down a lot. When you particularly want to talk about collaborative robots now too...

Stephen LaMarca: Certainly since 2018.

Benjamin Moses: Definitely. The barrier from, okay, I can buy an Arm, now what do you want it to do?

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: The cost of integration in this article talks about it's four time, four to five times the cost of the Arm itself. So when you talk about the full package of buying the Arm, integrating it, buying all the end of Arm tooling and getting the programming and everything involved with that type of automation, it's the article discussed. That's a fairly big hurdle for a lot of companies.

Stephen LaMarca: I don't think it's that big of a hurdle.

Benjamin Moses: Well, if you can get...

Stephen LaMarca: Four to five times, isn't that bad if you think about it, it's still a big hurdle. Don't get me wrong, but...

Benjamin Moses: You Got to justify the return on investment.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: That's the key is. When you look at the, okay, say an Arm cost $70,000. If your budget is a hundred thousand dollars, you're not going to cover the budget for an implementation.

Stephen LaMarca: That's still less than half the cost of like a half million dollar CNC machine...

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Advanced CNC machine.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And then you got to find somebody who can run it. You got to program it. You got to do all the tooling.

Benjamin Moses: It's very similar.

Stephen LaMarca: You have to maintain it. So, that's not bad

Benjamin Moses: It's more of setting expectations.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: If you go to a show and you say, oh, that Arm is $70,000. Well, you shouldn't budget for $70,000. You've got to budget a little bit more than that.

Stephen LaMarca: I get that. I totally feel that. But we knew, well, I called it. I'm going to give myself the credit. I called it in 2018, walking through the IMTS, student summit...

Benjamin Moses: Yup.

Stephen LaMarca: Seeing I'm not going to name the company, but their robot Arms, their $70,000 robot Arms, just standing there on the show for unplugged holding bags.

Benjamin Moses: Holding bags.

Stephen LaMarca: It was a $70,000 coat hanger. And I'm like the price on those is going to go down.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah Absolutely. The other area they talk about is the skills required to get the robot up and running.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure.

Benjamin Moses: So assuming you, in this particular scenario, you bring in the rollout that someone, the integrators setting help you do that initial setup, but how do you maintain that in the future, right? Are you going to bring in that person to help you change, setups and go to a different areas?

Benjamin Moses: And in [inaudible 00:16:02] years, robots are designed to be programmed by people who understand robots, which I think is fair, right. But...

Stephen LaMarca: [inaudible 00:16:08]

Benjamin Moses: I mean the analogy to, for like a CNC machine, right? You're going to bring in a machinist...

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: That understands how to machine and cut apart. But I think the big takeaway from the article is that getting a robot up and running and maintaining the robot should be simpler. That should be a little more conversational or human centric as opposed to machine centric. And I think that's where they're kind of headed. So, in the future, what they're talking about is the role of humans, not just programming a robot, amending it and letting it run open loop. The human is at the center of the innovation process, is really key. So they're talking about in the future, right? The human is providing the creativity, providing the value of what humans [inaudible 00:16:53] and in decision-making, and helping map out a process where the robotic Arm is the path implementation for that robot is quicker.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Other than this it's fine.

Stephen LaMarca: It's a great, very thought provoking article. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it does. It's nice to hear another side of the story.

Benjamin Moses: Agreed.

Benjamin Moses: What's your article on [inaudible 00:17:16]

Stephen LaMarca: The next article I got, I know we're done with the Olympics it's been done. We've already talked about the Olympics the past two episodes, but last week there was a lot of chatter going on and, and I'm sure you've got something to say about it, and I'll look forward to hearing about it, but Boston Dynamics showed off one of their still pre-production humanoid robots to go on the market alongside spot.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And they're basically showing it off, not doing dancing, but actually like Parkour and like Gymnastic stuff. And what's really cool about it. And the reason why I mentioned the Olympics is Boston Dynamics is going after like some own bottles with what their robot can share.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: So, you know, she's at the top of her class.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: So much so that they're like giving her a calculated disadvantage. So other Olympians that aren't as good as her can be competitive with her.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Which is...I won't get into that, but it's just cool that obviously she's the very best of the best.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And Boston Dynamics recognizes that. And they're like, we're going to design our humanoid robot to be as good as her to do what she can do. And I think it's great.

Benjamin Moses: There's two sides to that, one is, I really hate seeing the video that robot doing Parkour and through American ninja warrior chorus.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: It just clickbait and just more YouTube videos.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, it absolutely is.

Benjamin Moses: But the fact that, it's the combination of picking a top tier athletic capability and saying, we can integrate that into a robot. That's very fascinating to me. And, you know, seeing how agile the robot is, and it's not, so I was watching a DARPA challenge from, I would say like four or five years ago of they wanted a humanoid type robot to go into like caves and walk a course and get through...

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: Like an obstacle course.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes, Military.

Benjamin Moses: Military course.

Stephen LaMarca: Military style.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Benjamin Moses: And the number of robots that just took one step and fell was like 80% of the robots that didn't make it.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: And here we are, not that long ago, not that long of a time where this robot is running an obstacle course, that if you were to put them on a green screen or put a green screen on this robot and put it like a human visual on top of it, it would look like a human running in the course, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: It's very fluid, very natural type of jumps and absorption of loads and kind of moving from step to step. So, it is I'm torn by how annoying the video is, but I'm also fascinated by how quickly we've accelerated from the first implementation of the human robot, trying to get somewhere.

Stephen LaMarca: Right. I mean, they clearly learned something from spot.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: And they were like, people want to see it being implemented.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Which is really cool because to shift gears a little bit, but I'm going to come back. One of the another use case that they're starting to advertise for spot. Apparently spot is the robot dog is like the way to automate, not landscaping. What is it when there's like civil engineers, like construction people...

Benjamin Moses: Surveying?

Stephen LaMarca: Surveying.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Like spot, apparently that is the way to automate surveying...

Benjamin Moses: That's cool. [crosstalk 00:20:38].

Stephen LaMarca: Land and stuff like that, which is really cool. But I feel like when it comes to cutting edge technology, not just manufacturing technology, and you really want to sell it to industry, there's two ways to go about doing it, apply it to some sort of like military task...

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Which is what you just touched on or the other way to do it is motor sport.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: You know the very highest competition, like how fast does a robot car go around the track and does it compete with like Formula One drivers or at Le Mans, something like that, but you can't do that with a humanoid robot, at least not yet.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So what's the other way to apply it to competition: the Olympics. And it's the highest form of human competition.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: So, and they're going for Simone Biles and I think it's great.

Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: It's really cool.

Benjamin Moses: I'm glad you're keeping track of this.

Stephen LaMarca: It's honestly... I'm not, it's just blowing up my feed right now.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It is, it is. And that's part of a irritating part.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes. I get that.

Benjamin Moses: All right. I got one from Nvidia and USC research has demonstrate autonomous robot cutting. So we're doubling down on robotics today, but this is a interesting direction on, based on the title and the image that they have. So it's actually a digital simulation of a robotic Arm trying to cut a piece of fruit or a cut an object.

Stephen LaMarca: Nice.

Benjamin Moses: So it's, let's see... Robotic cutting of soft materials is critical for applications such as food processing, household automation and surgical manipulation.

Benjamin Moses: And it talks about different simulators. So there's value in calibrating simulation based on parameters and optimizing controller. So what they want to do is basically get as close as they can through the digital simulation and build robust tools and processes that they can say that this is achievable in the future, in the real world.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay.

Benjamin Moses: So they get into some fairly detailed finite element models.

Stephen LaMarca: Like cutting taters?

Benjamin Moses: Cutting taters, crack propagation. That's very, very difficult. You know, I remember a project back at Eaton, we did for the military, and they had a question of if a crack existed on your object, on your part that you're designing, how big of a crack was detrimental to your part? I was supposed to answer that question until you get into, okay, now I've got to try and model this flaw on a part and then apply some lows to it and see, does that crack propagate?

Benjamin Moses: So they're taking the kind of opposite approach of, I've got a cut now I need it to propagate. So they're trying to simulate what the cut looks like and what forces me to be driven back to the robotic rm to understand that it is cutting properly and things like that. So it's a very interesting look at, and the problems that they're faced with, deformable, instructive, finite element analysis, and connecting the back to the closed loop of the robotic Arm to make sure it's cutting properly. So, and it's interesting look of kind of the, the challenges that they're also faced of this is a very, very complex mathematical model. That's all [crosstalk 00:23:51] find that ELMo model is right there. They're taking small shapes and simulating springs basically, and running that a billion different set of springs over this entire model that looks like a potato. And then they're trying to cut in between these two shapes. So they're solving several different problems at the same time. So it's a lot of processing power, a lot of modeling the problems. And you define a mesh of your object and you try and cut through that. So it's very, very interesting, a lot of different problems to be solved in that.

Stephen LaMarca: I think, in the next week, it's awesome. We can do this here at AMT. So I think...

Benjamin Moses: Cut a potato at AMT.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: I think, give me two weeks...

Benjamin Moses: Two weeks.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm going to get the, that end effector finally installed on our xArm.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm going to get it to hold the end effector, the gripper to hold one of my kitchen knives. And I'm going to try to cut a tater with it.

Benjamin Moses: Let's not get to a sharp knife right away.

Stephen LaMarca: We should not. You're right. I think you're right. That's a good idea. I didn't think that through.

Benjamin Moses: Let's make that stage 10. Step one, maybe butter knife.

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe mash a tater first.

Benjamin Moses: Maybe.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay.

Benjamin Moses: If we were on Thanksgiving, we'll get to that.

Stephen LaMarca: No, you can always have mashed potatoes. All right. My final article, I'm going to take over here. Some Canadian scientists. This is from 3dprintingindustry.com. Some Canadian scientists successfully slash ceramic 3d printing costs by 95%. That's called using a new approach. I don't know how new it is, but it's new to me at least because I haven't heard about it before, but it also doesn't sound like something that came out like recently.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But anyway, Polymer derived ceramics. Are you familiar with those?

Benjamin Moses: Not too much now.

Stephen LaMarca: So apparently it's basically like taking, the way they're doing it is they start with three additive material like of Polymer filaments.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: But this fancy Polymer filament, which apparently isn't that fancy, but just nobody's done it before, has ceramics in it.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: So the 3d printer uses the Polymer filament to print a part. And then once the part's done, you take that part out, you throw it in the oven or a kiln.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And you bake it and voila, and now it's a ceramic part. And...

Benjamin Moses: That seems too easy.

Stephen LaMarca: This is so cool.

Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: But now it's so much easier to print ceramic.

Benjamin Moses: You know, that...

Stephen LaMarca: It's like those social media videos where that guy on TikTok or whatever...

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Takes all these like fancy and complicated ways of people doing things and shows you so much simpler way to do it. These Canadian scientists just dunked on the industry.

Benjamin Moses: I am glad Canada came through.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh Canada.

Benjamin Moses: [crosstalk 00:26:55] I do like the idea of, so the next article we have, has to do with the high temperature alloys. But, so I feel like ceramics are under utilized in our...a lot of applications, right? Yeah. I have a ceramic mug. Ceramics are known for their heat resistance. Right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So being able to coat objects or in this case make special objects of at a ceramic [inaudible 00:27:13] .

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: A little more robust as probably stronger. And instead of doing, you could do, I'll call it alloying but you know, embed other elements in that ceramic matrix.

Stephen LaMarca: Ceramet.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Sarah metallic.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly. So now you can start doing different material compositions in that ceramic. So I think this opens up a lot opportunity.

Stephen LaMarca: It is.

Benjamin Moses: That's cool. [crosstalk 00:27:33].

Stephen LaMarca: It's crazy how fast it's going.

Benjamin Moses: Stick on with the future man.

Stephen LaMarca: It is. I didn't want to say that before. But...

Benjamin Moses: All right the next article I have the last article I have, Steph is a 3d printed parts came made from our factory metals can handle the heat. So this is an interesting look at the high temperature applications.

Stephen LaMarca: Backup.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Refractory metals.

Benjamin Moses: Refractory metals.

Stephen LaMarca: Are you prepared to define those?

Benjamin Moses: Oh., From the article? Yes then.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay.

Benjamin Moses: So these are elements, metallic elements that have a melting point above 2200 degrees Celsius or 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit if you're American. So it's really hot, right?

Stephen LaMarca: So hot.

Benjamin Moses: So if we look at the capability, so they're talking about melting at 4,000 degrees, right? So if you back down to half of that, like 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, assuming you still have significant amount of strength at that material. So these are type of materials that they're using.

Stephen LaMarca: Melting point of Tungsten.

Benjamin Moses: These materials are using alloying and a lot, you know, Tungsten's a big one...

Stephen LaMarca: Not hot enough for tungsten.

Benjamin Moses: Not hot enough for Tungsten?

Stephen LaMarca: How much, how hot did you say celsius?

Benjamin Moses: 4,000

Stephen LaMarca: 4,000? No, that's what you said...4,000 Fahrenheit.

Benjamin Moses: 4000, 2200 Celsius.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. Melting point for Tungsten is 3,422 Celsius or 6,192 Fahrenheit.

Benjamin Moses: Okay. So we [inaudible 00:28:52] go for Tungsten. But...

Stephen LaMarca: Still hot, still hot.

Benjamin Moses: In that, in that group of materials.

Stephen LaMarca: Still really hot.

Benjamin Moses: There's a bunch of materials I can't pronounce.

Stephen LaMarca: Before we started recording, though, you did a great job at pronouncing that one element that I refuse to even attempt. Niobium?

Benjamin Moses: It's got a B and D right next to each other.

Stephen LaMarca: Yup. No, I give up. It's not Niobium.

Benjamin Moses: But I mean, the approach that they're looking at is they've got these really, really interesting elements, right. So they're not alloying these parts. And so like Inconel, right.

Stephen LaMarca: Can I see?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. You can take a look. So it's like heat resistant super alloys.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure.

Benjamin Moses: They have a nickel base, but they're alloyed with a bunch of other materials. These are they're taking the straight material.

Stephen LaMarca: Niobium is one.

Benjamin Moses: That's the one.

Stephen LaMarca: But the one that you're thinking of the head of the B and the D right next to each other...

Benjamin Moses: Molly...

Stephen LaMarca: I still, I'm not even, but I have heard people at Spacecom talk on this, on how they have been able to print this, because if you get it in powder form, you can print it.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: They just call it Molly.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: It's way too difficult. So they call it Molly.

Benjamin Moses: So the applicant, so let's back up. The end user they're looking at is hyperjets, like scramjets, and going above like Mach 5. So these are super high temperature applications, high corrosive environments, where they want to push the capabilities of the materials that they're using. And, you know, obviously turbines can obviously benefit from this, right? So if you can [inaudible 00:30:24] increase the temperature of your combustion and you get a higher efficiency, better environmental conditions. And also then you don't have to worry about the blades themselves. Right?

Stephen LaMarca: Sure.

Benjamin Moses: Right now they're really, really difficult to cool down. So, you know, one approach that they've been looking at is...

Stephen LaMarca: [crosstalk 00:30:42] turbocharger on an internal combustion engine.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, Exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: The fancier, the metal you make that compressor or exhaust turbine out of, the less you need to worry about heat soak.

Benjamin Moses: Yep, yep. And so they're talking about how difficult these materials are to process right now. And what they're looking at to do experimenting with is a binder jetting process. [crosstalk 00:31:02] So they have some very interesting parts of they're experimenting with, so they have an article...

Stephen LaMarca: Turbine blades.

Benjamin Moses: They show the turbine blade themselves, and there is a very fascinating approach to make it purely out of these elements where you don't have to alloy them. So I think it's a very, very cool look at the future of we want to go fast.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: That the whole world wants to travel faster. And that requires us pushing our elements into hotter and hotter environment. So not only is the engine, we want the engines to run faster, but now the tip of the aircraft itself is at a billion degrees Fahrenheit. Right. Because you've got the friction of the air that you're moving so fast. Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So, I think it allows us to do a lot more cool things in the future. So that's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Especially if you're flying high, like Branson coming back into the atmosphere.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. You're not in space, you're just flying high.

Stephen LaMarca: Just flying high. You're still Suborbital.

Benjamin Moses: Suborbital.

Stephen LaMarca: Doesn't count.

Benjamin Moses: You sub.

Benjamin Moses: See, where can they find more info about us?

Stephen LaMarca: Find more info about us at amtonline.org/resources

Benjamin Moses: Thanks Steph.

Stephen LaMarca: Thank you, Ben.

Benjamin Moses: Bye everyone.

Stephen LaMarca: Bye.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Manufacturing Technology
Recent technology News
Episode 61: Ben and Steve don’t agree on mushrooms. Stephen shares some excitement mentioning some companies outside of the manufacturing industry that have recently downloaded the latest version of the MTConnect standard...
Episode 60: Ben opens with his trip to Denver for the MFG 2021 + MTForcast event. Steve says cars soon could come equipped with Nvidia silicon. Benjamin lists some things to consider when selecting end-of-arm-tooling...
Episode 59: Steve delivers a terrible intro. Ben talks about his visit with a gear grinding manufacturer and then an article covering Porsche’s plans to 3D print bespoke seats. Stephen tried to break into a 3D-printed neighborhood in Austin, TX...
Episode 58: Steve talks about how the chip shortage is helping the sellers of used motor vehicles including motorcycles. Benjamin is impressed by a new multi-function desktop machine tool on Kickstarter coming to market soon.
Episode 57: Steve explains why electric motorcycles are failing and he’s part of the problem! Ben pivots to the success of robotics in woodworking. Stephen quotes some Wall Street nerds with their take on additive manufacturing in/for space.
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