Episode 63: Ben and Steve share what Santa brought them for Christmas. Benjamin announces NIST’s updates to their cybersecurity guidelines. Stephen is excited about void-free PEEK additive. Ben thinks AMRs can and should do more. Steve says 3D-printed batteries are closer to becoming a real thing now more than ever! Benjamin closes with mistakes robotics startups should watch out for.
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Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to AMT's 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, Manufacturing Technology Analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, welcome to '22.
Stephen LaMarca: It's a new year.
Benjamin Moses: It's a new year.
Stephen LaMarca: And I just used my old title. It hasn't changed much, Technology Analyst. I didn't think to remove the manufacturing part.
Benjamin Moses: That's all right. Everything's a little hazy this time of the year.
Stephen LaMarca: I love manufacturing.
Benjamin Moses: Just keep it in. Good to get a tattoo. I love manufacturing. We passed the holidays. A lot of people got gifts.
Stephen LaMarca: Heck yeah, dude.
Benjamin Moses: You get anything good?
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, got a lot of great Christmas presents.
Benjamin Moses: Oh yeah?
Stephen LaMarca: Man, what are some of my favorites? For one, this sweater that's keeping me warm in this cold office that the heat is actually on full blast right now, which is why it's so stuffy and, probably by noon, our noses are caked and really dried out yet it's still only like 70 degrees in the office.
Benjamin Moses: [inaudible 00:01:20].
Stephen LaMarca: Because this floor has like no insulation whatsoever. Water comes in when it rains, birds nest in here. Last year we had the 17 year old Cicada thing, cicadas were in the office.
Benjamin Moses: Did you have Cicadas here?
Stephen LaMarca: You didn't see that?
Benjamin Moses: I don't remember.
Stephen LaMarca: We were still in, not lock down, but [crosstalk 00:01:43] the office was optional. There were cicadas in here. I remember when we were shooting the IMTS YouTube series, there was cicadas in here.
Benjamin Moses: That's fine.
Stephen LaMarca: Anyway, other things I got for Christmas. You know you're an adult when you're excited about a herring bone pattern, end grain teak cutting board. Inch and a half thick baby.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, that's nice.
Stephen LaMarca: Nice cutting board. Now I just got to get my knives sharpened. Because I'm marring the hell out of it.
Benjamin Moses: And you got to take care of it.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I got this board cream, which is just bees wax and mineral oil that I have to rub the cutting board it says like once a month.
Benjamin Moses: That's a lot of maintenance for a cutting board.
Stephen LaMarca: It is a lot of maintenance, but you don't want them smelling, you don't want them warping.
Benjamin Moses: I just put mine in the dishwasher, which you're not supposed to do it all. That's why I shifted.
Stephen LaMarca: You're killing me, Ben. What else did I get? Dude, in the apartment, I'm going to try not to spend too much time on this one.
Benjamin Moses: All right.
Stephen LaMarca: In the apartment, upgraded the bathrooms because we got two bathrooms. Upgraded the bathrooms to having bidet.
Benjamin Moses: Congratulations.
Stephen LaMarca: Bro.
Benjamin Moses: Life changing?
Stephen LaMarca: Life changing. Let's say you're rolling out of bed a little late.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: And you go have some breakfast, you brush your teeth, and then you have to sit down a little bit to wait for your morning to start. If you know what I'm saying. And it's like 15 minutes later and it's like, "Dude, come on, we got to get moving." So you get fed up waiting and you just hop in the shower and then you get out of the shower and then it's like, "Oh, now you're ready."
Benjamin Moses: Of course.
Stephen LaMarca: With a bidet, that's not a problem anymore. Because before having a bidet, if you got out of the shower and then you had to go, you may as well get back in bed and start over.
Benjamin Moses: It's a long process I guess.
Stephen LaMarca: Not with a bidet, baby.
Benjamin Moses: 22 is looking good with a bidet I guess.
Stephen LaMarca: What else? Got new SSD for the gaming computer.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: Not necessarily a new one. An additional one, to double my storage capacity. Why am I forgetting the last one? There was another one. What'd you get. I'll try to come up with it.
Benjamin Moses: I feel bad for the people that try and get me gifts because I buy whatever I want through the year. I don't wait to get something I'm interested in. And plus most of my hobbies are unique enough it's hard for someone to buy me gifts.
Stephen LaMarca: I get in a lot of trouble for that as well.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. So I just buy whatever I want throughout the year. So past couple of Christmases there's been a lot of old man gifts. I get a lot of socks, a lot of ties. I got a couple of random utility tools that are more comical than useful. So the holiday for me is just a lot of spending time with the family. I'm actually trying to figure out how to give good gifts. So Amelia, my seven year old, was really interested in a lot of fidget stuff now. For us, the fidget spinner was the biggest popular one that came about recently. I guess the kids nowadays have a thing called pop it. It's kind of like this big sheet of rubber bubbles that you just pop back and forth.
Stephen LaMarca: No way.
Benjamin Moses: So she wanted a 100 count pop it. So its this giant sheet with 100 bubbles on it.
Stephen LaMarca: Wait a minute. Like bubble wrap, but you pay for it?
Benjamin Moses: So it's not a one time use bubble. You just keep popping it back and forth.
Stephen LaMarca: Whoever made that should be a millionaire. That's amazing.
Benjamin Moses: And then Amelia asked for a pop it fidget spinner. So she combined both worlds.
Stephen LaMarca: Wow.
Benjamin Moses: So that was fun. She got a lot of little fidget toys. It's interesting. She's not really fidgety so she just uses them as toys to play around, so it was fun. A lot of good times.
Stephen LaMarca: That's awesome.
Benjamin Moses: Got a couple board games. I enjoy getting board games now, it's fun activities.
Stephen LaMarca: Good for you. New year's was fun because we played some games. I had some guests over. One of them was unvaccinated and of course got COVID.
Benjamin Moses: That's a bummer.
Stephen LaMarca: It is a bummer. He's all right.
Benjamin Moses: That's good.
Stephen LaMarca: He says he's full recovered because he's in denial about it. But every now and then we'll be playing online games and he gets in the mic. You're like, "Oh there's somebody over there." We're like, "Yeah man, you've recovered. Good job."
Benjamin Moses: That's right. So it's going to be a long stretch before our next holiday. So just keep that in mind.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God. No.
Benjamin Moses: Let's get into some articles, man. I got a couple of good ones. I got one on cybersecurity. So, we've been talking about cybersecurity for a couple of months and there's a growing need in improving our security resiliency in manufacturing. So this did an update on engineering guidelines, cybersecurity engineering guidelines. So this is geared more towards people developing software code programs. And I thought it was very interesting because it cascades into the manufacturing where if you're doing custom applications on the shop floor or if you're building controls or you're building any type of software in manufacturing, how do you build in security or resiliency into the application or program?
So it's not just looking at the infrastructure within a building to hopefully make sure it's secure, make sure your switches are secure or you're controlling things, the digital physical side of the network, but also building in security within the program itself. So I thought that was a very interesting look at the need for it. And it's a big document. It was like 200 some pages, but it definitely addressed a lot of things.
And a couple key elements from the article from NetGov. So the publication addresses engineering driven perspective and action necessary to develop more defensible and survivable systems. So, inclusive of machine, physical, and human components. So it's looking at a very broad spectrum. And then the second part is building trustworthy secure systems cannot occur in a vacuum with isolated stove pipes for a cyber secure software and information technology.
So again, it talks about the breadth of what they're approaching. So this has two core documents. So they've got one that looks at, you're a organization, how do you assess yourself on making sure you're resilient? And then now it takes a deeper dive of now you've got software and program that you've developed or you're developing or implementing within your facility. And then how do you make sure that that is resilient also in connection to the higher levels of organization? So a fascinating look and I'm glad that there's more direction, more information and more guidance on, we need to improve our security.
Stephen LaMarca: Wow. It's funny, one of my new neighbors who moved in, I want to say in November or October of last year. So he hasn't been living at our place long. He's from Alabama and he's a young kid, early twenties. From Alabama, moved in, has brand new BMW4 series, brand new BMW S1000 RR motorcycle. And we live at a really nice apartment complex. And we started riding together, riding the motorcycles, at least before it got way too cold. But really talented rider too.
And I'm like, "Dude, what do you do?" Oh and he wears a brand new Rolex Datejust II. I'm like, "Is this mommy and daddy's money?" I'm blunt about that kind of stuff. Or like, "What do you do, man?" He's like, "No, no. I'm from Alabama, my parents are still back in Alabama. Group up dirt poor. But I'm working in cybersecurity."
Benjamin Moses: High demand, man.
Stephen LaMarca: That's where it's at.
Benjamin Moses: Does he have his accent?
Stephen LaMarca: A little bit.
Benjamin Moses: I do enjoy a little Alabama accent.
Stephen LaMarca: So definitely like an up and coming Southern gentleman. Because he's got this ever so slight accent, but he's trying to cover it up and he's really proper and all this stuff. Moving up in the world for sure.
Benjamin Moses: Nice. That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: Cool dude. But cybersecurity. I think he said Booz Allen.
Benjamin Moses: Okay. Nice. Well, he's also working for or Booz Allen.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, they're treating them well.
Benjamin Moses: Talk to me about your article. What you got?
Stephen LaMarca: All right. First one I got from 3D Printing Industry. "Company Bond 3D Achieves 99% Part Densities with Void Free PEEK 3D Printing Technology." PEEK as in polyether ether ketone, not peak as in pinnacle or the apex or the summit of a mountain.
Benjamin Moses: Nicely done.
Stephen LaMarca: And so what's really cool about this, PEEK is typically printed, conventionally, with FFF or material extrusion. And they're still doing that, but Bond 3D has a pressure controlled material extrusion approach to essentially eliminate voids and match the material density similar to that of injection molding.
Benjamin Moses: Wow.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's really wild because we've all handled 3D printed parts before and you see each strand of material, of course. They have, through material extrusion, which we know is one of the most basic forms of additive manufacturing, it's just laying down a line of material, through their pressure controlled process, they've been able... I'm repeating myself. They've been able to achieve a material density of 99%, which is very similar, close to if not better than, injection molded. And the coolest part, and you'll have to see this article later, is there's a diagram, there's an image comparing a conventional 3D printed part, and there's a very close up shot of 3D printed PEEK on the left and on the right It's just like a solid image. It doesn't look like anything's there.
And I think the scale on it is like one inch of the picture and the picture's only like four or five inches wide. One inch on the picture is 100 micrometers, 100 microns.
Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: It's really cool. Void free 3D printing's kind of a big deal.
Benjamin Moses: That's kind of a big deal.
Stephen LaMarca: A couple years ago, 3D printers are already crazy expensive, especially the industrial grade ones. Some of them are really cheap.
Benjamin Moses: It depends on your perspective I guess.
Stephen LaMarca: And it also depends on the process. Material extrusion I'm confident is typically a relatively inexpensive process. But I've always been wondering, with additive, because the machines can be really complex and they're relatively large machines with an extremely controlled environment around the build plate. Usually, not all the time. But why haven't some of these more advanced machines, some of these multi-million dollar machines in that controlled pressure environment chamber that's almost like a clean room, why haven't they also doubled the purpose of that room as a cryogenic treatment chamber or a hipping process chamber to take what is typically a process that yields a part or object with a lot of internal voids. Use double or triple the process or the capabilities of said chamber to do those processes to improve the density and molecular composition of the part.
And one person that I ran that idea across said, "It's probably only a matter of time. Once people start spending more money on additive, it's probably only a matter of time before that machine comes out." And now with this, it's like, "We might not need it." Which is pretty cool.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And that's an interesting thought experiment that you mentioned about the controlled environment. So one thing you want to keep in mind. So if I look at the build environment, from my perspective it's a matter of controlling the environment for like a welding process. So you want a clean environment, in some cases an atmosphere. Some you could pressurize it. You probably could control the temperature a little bit to some degree. When you look at either homogenizing temperature cycles or hipping processes, then you get a matter of scale in terms of temperature and pressure. So the pressure chamber on the hipping cycle could be 10,000 PSI. I don't know if you want to build that much into additive machine where you may not use that process every single time.
Stephen LaMarca: Right. True.
Benjamin Moses: So it does get into one of the articles later that I'm going to talk about for autonomous mobile robots, of single task versus multitask capability. So it's an interesting dilemma where you want to increase the capability, but the question is [inaudible 00:15:28] need that capability?
Stephen LaMarca: Are you going to use it?
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And that's not a cheap capability to incorporate. That's the thing. Going to a hipping oven, that's a lot of pressure and really high temperature. So for like [inaudible 00:15:40], you're taking it up to, 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. That's a whole new scale of heating elements and temperature controls and things like that. So it's a fairly good thought experiment. And also, those hipping cycles aren't short either. So do you want to take it out and parallel build another part while you're hipping the previous part? So now you get into production flow questions.
But it's always the dilemma of do you have several machines and continue producing it or do you have one machine that you get a complete part out of? And that's ongoing with subtractive, with every single machine, even back at Eden where we discussed. We used to have three machines that had internal cutting, then external cutting, then a finishing op. And then we did an experiment of what happens if we just do...
Stephen LaMarca: It all in one machine?
Benjamin Moses: Three setups on one machine. And obviously you couldn't have one part completely done on a single setup, but you could have three setups on one machine. So after the machine cycled, you'd take one part out and keep adding new parts to kind of cycle through it. And we got fairly good throughput. It was very similar comp throughput compared to the three machines, but now we're able to balance the time for the operator of loading each of the machines. So it's always going to go back and forth, I guess.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I don't know. Maybe I just fall with the auto industry too much and think that not every soccer mom needs a V8 and an eight inch lift and four wheel drive, but stuff sells.
Benjamin Moses: Stuff sells. All right. So let's get into why multifunction robots will take over commercial robots. So it's an article from Spectrum IEEE. They're talking about autonomous mobile robots, which is all the rage nowadays, right?
Stephen LaMarca: Heck yeah.
Benjamin Moses: So even from warehouse robots into a lot of the applications they talk about are the recent need for sanitizing cleaning certain rooms. Particularly hospitals and things like that. And they're talking about the massive growth of AMRs across the board. So from warehouse robots to single task robots. And that's the point of the article is talking about the need for single task robots is dying really, really quick. So the robot that you see could be doing inventory management, like in Walmart, going through and scanning all the shelves?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: What else can that robot do? And that's the core of the question is the return on investment on these single task robots compared to adding two or three other features. So you could incrementally add the cost to the AMR, but the flexibility and return on investment is so much higher on just adding those other features that the author feels that the trend will be, yeah, this robot could clean the floors on a manufacturing floor and pick up parts. So there's always downtime for these robots too. So obviously there's issues of charging the battery and things like that, but when the task is done, the robot doesn't need to sit still.
So how do we keep this robot running basically 24 hours? And the overall thought process and the direction that the field industry be headed to is adding incremental capabilities where it's doing one thing, but then it's part of a bigger organization where you want the robot to be doing several things. Like in a hospital, you could sanitize the floors, but also transport drugs from one place to another. It's a very good perspective on this trend in AMRs where single tasks are great.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. That's very thought provoking. Especially when you brought up the retail part of inventory. One of the things, back when I worked at Total Wine, that we had to do every night, we did like a mini inventory. It wasn't a full on inventory and it wasn't even considered an inventory, but you look at the shelf, if the shelf is empty for a particular spot, scan it. Are we actually out of stock? And if so, put this thicker up there and if not, then you search behind the shelves for a bottle or up top where the cases are. It's a real headache.
But the worst part of it all was really facing. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but as you're going, doing this process, as you're checking the aisle for product and seeing what's in stock, what's out of stock, if somebody needs to go look for it to fill the shelf back up. Facing was, as customers come through the store and if they see something they like, they grab it and put it in their cart and then go check out. You're removing product from the shelf. Facing is the annoying task of pulling product that's back in the shelf forward to the front of the shelf to make the shelf look really full and pretty.
Benjamin Moses: Fun times.
Stephen LaMarca: Please get Boston Dynamic's bot to walk down the aisles, scan inventory, but also have the robotic arm on top of spot to face the product? Oh my God. That would allow for so much more slacking off in the break room.
Benjamin Moses: The key for Total Wine employees. Slacking off in the break room.
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, it kept you alive.
Benjamin Moses: All right. Tell me about this other additive article you got.
Stephen LaMarca: I have another one. This one is really fun. We've talked about this process before. Another one from 3D Printing Industry. I love this website almost as much as fizz.org. But that's a little bit more nerdy. "Blackstone begins series production of lithium ion batteries using 3D printing technology." We've talked about 3D printed batteries before. The concept is awesome. It is not new, but the best part is it's gone from an academic level, this used to be MIT research to white paper, to heavy industry research, but just testing proof of concept. Well, the concept has been proven and Blackstone is beginning a production line made for 3D printing battery components.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: If not the batteries themselves entirely. And it's awesome. It's just something really to be excited about. 3D printed batteries, especially with how additive promotes new materials design and new materials invention, almost so to speak. That additive is opening up a whole new possibility for batteries. Not just designing physically and the shapes of batteries, but materials-wise. And so it's huge because it's going to, when Canada's out of those raw materials for conventional batteries, we're going to need some other forms of chemically containing electrical energy.
Benjamin Moses: And I do see that that is really interesting because the need for batteries? It's outrageous.
Stephen LaMarca: It will never go away.
Benjamin Moses: Right. So not just looking at vehicles. Obviously the shift towards EVs for vehicles, but also we just talked about AMRs. They're going to need batteries. So the need on the manufacturing floor has significantly grown quite a bit. The advancements in battery I think is crucial to a lot of our autonomous growth in the future. So that's fascinating. I'm glad to see, from research that we've been talking about to production. Hopefully production. I hope this works. To seeing something in the field where there's a think you saw grow. That's super interesting. You're never going to go EV are you? Car?
Stephen LaMarca: I would go hybrid.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: EV? I don't think so. Have I shared my dumb opinion on that before? I've got nothing against EVs. I like EVs. I love Tesla cars. I think they're cool. I don't have any big beef with Elon Musk. I think he's actually pretty cool. I'm not a fanboy. I do have a problem with Tesla owners. There's some rabid Tesla owners and Tesla fanboys and Elon Musk fanboys that are extremely toxic. But the way I see it, everybody thinks of EVs as being the fastest cars out there and EVs are like the quartz watch of automobiles or vehicles. Yeah, they're superior, but gas engines are going to come back as a luxury good and people who saw them as tools before are going to see them as flex pieces in the future. So take care of your internal combustion engines because I guarantee you, a long time from now.
Benjamin Moses: A long time.
Stephen LaMarca: They'll be something very special and worth cherishing. And gas will probably be cheaper then. Because everybody's going to have gone EV. The other thing about EVs is I don't see them as faster, superior vehicles. I don't see them as superior cars. I don't see them as fast cars. I see them as slow teleportation. It's just the next step in the evolution.
Benjamin Moses: Sure. That's fair. That's some good skinny. I appreciate that.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay, good. I think it's a little bit stupid, but.
Benjamin Moses: Well, I wouldn't disagree with that either. The last article I got, Steve, is "Five Mistakes Robotics Startups Should Avoid." So, startups are aplenty nowadays. A lot of people are getting into physical automation.
Stephen LaMarca: Deliver your product on time.
Benjamin Moses: That could be one of them. You talking about mistakes?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. First mistake? Not delivering your product on time.
Benjamin Moses: Not meeting your commitment.
Stephen LaMarca: If somebody gives you money, you have to give them a product.
Benjamin Moses: That's fair. So this article's very focused on the companies that's a startup, but I think it makes sense from the other perspective, too. If you're working for a startup, these are things that you need to keep an eye out for. As you're importing new technology and working with new suppliers and customers, there could be a lot of smart people, but there's some fairly common mistakes that this article talks about. And I think it's true for any technology development. If you're doing something internally too, I think these are fair applications.
A couple of the bullet points is developing software in a bubble. So obviously they've got some human to machine interface and developing the software outside the context of what else is the operator doing, the interaction between humans and machines is fairly important. So I think that's a fairly good look at a key element of software development is just put in context the rest of the environment around you. Underestimating prototype to production. I think this is a really key one that a lot of people do underestimate is taking your idea and being able to mature it into producing a lot of these things. It's fairly difficult. So the article hits a couple key elements about the need to stay in prototype as long as you can, and understanding the path to production. Not building an out of the box solution. So always going to a custom solution, which makes sense.
Stephen LaMarca: They said building an out of the box solution is bad?
Benjamin Moses: No, they said not building an out of the box solution.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, okay. Okay. Sorry.
Benjamin Moses: So basically taking a look at every single application as a custom application. Which, yes, there's some type of customization, but I guess the point of the article is starting at the core level of every single application from the very beginning to the end is a custom application. And that gets back to the production issue where your starting point shouldn't be a custom object every single time.
Stephen LaMarca: I think that's an excellent point. I think the reading between the lines there is if you're going into production, the word that is hidden in the word production is product. And you want to deliver a product, not a service.
Benjamin Moses: That's fair. And also if you look at the life cycle of it. So if I've got an out of box solution and if I've got 20 customers, I can support an out of box solution easier for those 20 people than 20 different custom applications. So it's a fair look at the industry, but also there is some need of customization. So it's a balanced approach. Focusing on the technology, not the problem. I think that's a common issue across all industries in all organizations where, "Let's bring in a robot." Well, you don't bring in a robot just to bring in a robot.
Stephen LaMarca: Unless you're doing a test with it.
Benjamin Moses: Exactly. Then you define the problem saying of, "We want to understand the production implementation of a robot." Then you scale down for a testband and you do something small. Right?
Stephen LaMarca: Right, right.
Benjamin Moses: Starting with a technology and then coming up with the problem statement? That's a huge problem. And I think that article hits on a key element pretty well. And the last one, I think it's fair, but at the same time, I am interested about it. Trying to reinvent the wheel. I guess the point of the article was that if a solution already exists, what are you doing differently? Are you providing another wheel? Which is fair. There are competing products, right? There are subtle nuances between certain products. But it's connected to not building an out of box solution and getting things ready for prototype. There's a lot of connection between all the previous items. And I think it's fair and it's a very good process approach to how you absorb new technology as opposed to, "Hey, let's do the thing ourself." but the thing already exists in the industry, why not just bring that in and customize it?
Stephen LaMarca: You're such a stereotypical engineer. You used one of the expressions I hate the most.
Benjamin Moses: What's that?
Stephen LaMarca: Somebody in college once told me that engineers have to be creative. They need to think outside the box. This person was an engineer. It's like, if you thought outside the box, you wouldn't use the expression think outside the box. That's one of my most hated expressions. The other one that you used was reinvent the wheel. We shouldn't reinvent the wheel. We should absolutely reinvent the wheel. The wheel is terribly aerodynamically inefficient. It is an awful means of moving something easily. It's simple.
Benjamin Moses: But again, get back to what's our problem statement?
Stephen LaMarca: Fair enough. Engineers.
Benjamin Moses: Engineers, man. Awesome. Steve, where can they find more info about us?
Stephen LaMarca: AMTonline.org/resources.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. This is a great episode.
Stephen LaMarca: Like, share, subscribe. I'm just kidding. We're not YouTube. Just go there and subscribe.
Benjamin Moses: Thanks, everyone.
Stephen LaMarca: Bye, everybody.
Benjamin Moses: Bye.