Episode 48: Stephen gets wound up over digital twins helping to find real-life exploits and sim racing making its way to the Olympics. Steve also thinks that the latest photonics research could lead to a silicon replacement in computer chips. Ben brings evidence supporting how cool metrology truly is. Stephen thought California banned deodorant. Benjamin wraps up with additive heat sinks.
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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, director of technology for AMT, and I'm here with:
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, AMT's technology analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, how're you doing?
Stephen LaMarca: I'm doing well.
Benjamin Moses: Are you melting like a snowman? Because it 1,000 degrees and it's only spring.
Stephen LaMarca: You know, it is a bit warm today, and I feel like it came out of nowhere. It's not hot.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: I'm almost as confused as my central air system, because it's on right now, and we have our AC set to 68 degrees, but we also have the door open, and the AC, it hasn't turned on. I'm comfortable right now, but when I go outside to walk Charlie, it's like, "This is nice and it's a little warm," and then you get into the shade and then the wind blows, and it's like, "Okay, now it's chilly." It's it's so confusing right now. I'm happy with it.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, that's good. I do enjoy the change. I wasn't expecting the abrupt change, because it was chilly for a couple of days and then spiked, and then I skated down the street on my skateboard to pickup Amelia, and I was sweating all of a sudden.
Stephen LaMarca: How cold was it up here last week?
Benjamin Moses: There was a freeze warning overnight once.
Stephen LaMarca: Wow.
Benjamin Moses: My sprinkles went off in the morning and it turned into ice just after that.
Stephen LaMarca: No way. That's incredible.
Benjamin Moses: I think I broke something in my sprinkler system, but I'm not going to check.
Stephen LaMarca: So, last week, as you know, I went down to North Carolina for my best friend's wedding, and no joke, I didn't think to check the weather before heading down there because I figured, "Okay, it's nice springtime weather up here in Northern Virginia, right outside DC, but I'm going down to the deep, dirty south where it's probably going to be Nashville hot everywhere, and not just the chicken." We get down there, I think we stopped for gas in Southern Virginia, like right outside North Carolina, actually right outside Tennessee, we took 81, and it was so cold out. It was in the low forties. I was like, "What is going on?" We stopped for gas not because we needed gas immediately, because the temperature dropped so much that it affected the tire pressures and the tire light popped on.
Benjamin Moses: That's amazing. That's a fun road trip.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. How crazy is that?
Benjamin Moses: Speaking of cars, one continuing item we've been talking about is the digital twin.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: You've got some updates on sim racing.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. A lot of sim video games, which are now less of video games and more legit classified as digital twin, which is great for both digital twin and for these video games that are trying to establish themselves. Let's start with Gran Turismo. I've mentioned Gran Turismo before. Gran Turismo is recognized by the FIA, which is a French acronym. But they're the International Regulatory Body for Auto Racing.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: The FIA has recognized this PlayStation game as if you're good enough at this game, you can have your international race car drivers license.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: It's that wild. This is old news. They've actually taken Polyphony Digital, who's the manufacturer or the producer of this video game has taken some of their top drivers in the game, and actually they've been so good. I think it was like their top 10 drivers, they've flown these people out to France or Japan, wherever, to actually get them some behind the wheel time in actual race cars. No joke, some of these boys and girls are talented enough that they put them in actual race cars and sent them to actual racing events. The past few 24 hours of [inaudible 00:04:19] have actually had Gran Turismo veterans behind the wheel in actual race cars. So, it's not only a proof of concept for the digital twin, but it's also showing that holy cow, Gran Turismo is in fact a legit training tool.
It does not replace actual seat and track time in a real vehicle, because as I can tell you from the bachelor party that I went to, that just because you know what the right drivers the line is and you know the feel for cars and go-karts and stuff like that, does not mean that your big dumb fat body that's used to sitting down in a comfy chair all day can handle the G-forces and you even can remember to breathe properly. You know? When behind the wheel. But not only that... oh my God, before I shift from Gran Turismo, I got to mention, the big update with it is sim racing is an e-sport, and this e-sport, Gran Turismo as an e-sport will be in the upcoming Olympics.
Benjamin Moses: That's impressive.
Stephen LaMarca: It's going to be a Olympic event. Gran Turismo iRacing.
Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: It's wild.
Benjamin Moses: I might watch the Olympics for that.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. But the other cool thing is this other video game simulation that I've mentioned in previous podcasts, DCS Digital Combat Simulator, which takes military aircraft, and it's a simulation of military aircraft. You can do bombing runs and fly actual digital twin missions in almost any plane you want that they can get an accurate simulation of. I say that because planes like the F22 and the F35, A, B and C are still, those four planes are still classified by the US or Top Secret, I forget what it is, so we don't have all the deets on how to actually fly those. But what's really cool is through all of these YouTubers and Twitch streamers that are really hardcore into Milson games have been flocking to DCS because it is so hardcore and real that a lot of these guys by no means are capable of taking down actual pilots. There's some really great videos of them going up against real pilots. As soon as a real fighter, pilot gets a grasp for the game, they're an absolute weapon and can't be stopped. It's actually hilarious.
Benjamin Moses: That's good to know.
Stephen LaMarca: But a lot of these gamers are finding exploits through this game that military units didn't know about that they could do. So, a lot of countries actually have implemented what we have here in the US, which is the Eisenhower interstate system, which is for however many so miles of highway you have, you need to have one mile or so of perfectly straight, flat level highway.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: That was done during Eisenhower's time as president, because if the US is ever under attack, we want to be able to turn some of our interstates into a makeshift runway landing strip for military aircraft, which is a really cool concept, and it seems outdated now, but now that it's been exploited in DCS, some players have found out that if you are in mid flight or mid combat and nobody's around you, enemies are around you, and the AWAX doesn't have their eyes on you, you can go totally radar invisible by putting your landing gear down, coming to a complete stop, and landing on a highway, and just watching for enemy aircraft. As soon as they're close enough, because you're on the ground and you're not coming up, you can fly up, fox to them and then come back to a landing, and nobody will know what happened.
Benjamin Moses: How fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: It's wild. But there's other cool concepts like Redshift and, well, with radars, that I've learned watching some of these gamers play. So, an aircraft radar can detect another aircraft if the aircraft is moving away, in which the blip comes up as red or the aircraft is moving towards the aircraft with radar, which then the blip would come up as blue. But if you are moving at a perfectly constant distance from that aircraft with the radar, either at the same speed or making a perfect circle around the aircraft with the radar activated, you'll come up as green and thus you'll come up as landscape and they won't even see you there. That's one tactic of showing up as a invisible. Again, this isn't just some video game. This is digital twin stuff right here.
Benjamin Moses: Well, it is just a video game, but the ability to apply this to real life scenarios is fascinating, right? So, you've got a game that's going to be used as an Olympic sport is truly a change to where we are 10 years ago, even, right?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: Then the ability to create this entire world and say, "Hey, world, find out potential exploits and flaws that I can now fix in the future." Right? So, granted it is a video game, but there are applications where people are learning a lot from this environment.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I think there's going to be some of these exploits that these gamer nerds like us have found in some of these games that will end up being here in the next few years being taught in military top gun programs.
Benjamin Moses: The idea of Gran Turismo using as a starting point for people that want to get in their racing career is very fascinating, because the learning curve, like you mentioned, the learning curve for physical racing, like being in a car seat, it's very high. The risks are very high, right?
Stephen LaMarca: The risks are stupid high.
Benjamin Moses: You're pushing the car to the limits, your physical damage of yourself. But if you're able to cut a lot of that initial learning curve outward digitally, that gets you so much closer to a better end state quicker, and I find that very fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Regardless, you could be the safest driver ever in an actual car.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: It's still going to put a lot of damage on your pocket book. Sim racing is a lot cheaper.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It was funny, because my buddy did motorcycle racing, and he said, "Don't bring anything to the racetrack that you plan on driving home."
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, geez.
Benjamin Moses: Just don't expect a good day at a racetrack if you're planning a race weekend. So, some of the articles, we harvested some really good ones today. You got one on photonics, and potentially with the way with the silicon shortages, this could be some interesting news in the next couple of years.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, man. Yeah. This article that I found on photonics just got me thinking that... so, the title of the article is Integrated Photonic Circuits Demonstrate Ultra Low Loss. The article talks about silicon in the use of being used in photonics and how it does lightly glance on the silicon shortage. But it talks about that before there was a silicon shortage, silicon was pretty abundant, and there was really no reason to look elsewhere. But now that a lot of these schools of thought and these concepts, especially something like photonics, or even chip and dye production for microprocessors, now that there is a silicon shortage, there's actually a reason to look at other materials.
This article talks about just the reason why looking... well, the fact that they're looking at other materials, like instead of just pure silicon, now they're looking at stuff like silicon nitride. They're finding that, "Oh, man, there are actually a lot of flaws with silicon that can be overcome if we look at other materials." Now that there's actually a reason, the shortage, to look at materials other than silicon, they're finding that other than the shortage, there are some benefits to changing materials.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome.
Stephen LaMarca: I think we've got a wild few years ahead of us, and I think the silicon chip might be going through some death throes in the next few years as we shift materials, which would be cool. It'd be kind of a bummer in some ways that means we're going to have to invest in new technology, but that's computers for you. You're outdated as soon as you take it home.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. That is interesting that you bring that up, because the US is investing in silicone manufacturer, or, to be honest, semicon manufacturing, so if there is a shift in materials that could drive a potential independence to foreign supplied goods, which is something I think the US is interested investing in. So, yeah, that's very fascinating, and I'm definitely interested in a change. I think computer hardware in general is going through a paradigm shift as they continue to decrease dye sizes. The CPU nomenclature could change because they're getting so small, and RAMs increasing speed. It's a fascinating evolution.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, man. RAM is getting stupid fast.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. I got an article on metrology. The actual title of the article from SME is... where'd it go?Scanners Measure Up... measuring up? Scanners Measure Up.
Stephen LaMarca: It's okay.
Benjamin Moses: I mean, manufacturing puns, man, they hurt me and make me giggle at the same time. I mean, I feel bad, but-
Stephen LaMarca: I love writing them for The Tech Report. I get in trouble sometimes for them because it's so easy to do a double entendre, but I love them.
Benjamin Moses: It's tough. I agree. But this one talks about the developments of non-contact scanners used on the manufacturing floor. I find it fairly fascinating, because it's used on a multiple broad spectrum of use cases. You have lasers and the structured lights, but, yeah, the article goes over a couple of scenarios or categories. One is where we are compared to five years ago, and the article talks about the technology investments, where we are today in both collecting data and being able to process the data and implement new technologies. The evolution over the past five years has been so fast in this pace that the current set of scanners are exceeding the requirements of the customer in a lot of cases. That's where you were a couple of years ago, where to fully meet what the customer is asking for, it was fairly difficult.
The article talks about off the shelf scanners meet or exceed the customer requirements in a majority of use cases. They also talk about the future of non-contact scanners. There's a couple of use cases where they actually see it in line with manufacturing, as opposed to post manufacturing. So, doing almost in situation manufacturing, similar to the idea of putting a probe in a CNC. So, you can machine the part, then you can probably measure it if you can, if it's a clean environment. This one, the article talks about as a operator's installing a part, potentially measuring or inspecting the part post that operation or potentially even real time-
Stephen LaMarca: I think this is a deal for metrology, because the few people that have reached out to me to talk more in The Tech Report and whatnot about metrology have all been "Metrology's made a bunch of advancements in search of the almighty micron and stuff like that, but it never gets any publicity just because metrology is not as sexy as the other manufacturing technologies." I 100% agree, and it's not just because of what all of these people have told me. But one thing that is sexy in manufacturing is closed loop.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: I love the fact that one of the ways to make closed loop production of anything a possibility is having integrated metrology.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: Why take a part out of the machine that is making it to have it scanned in between programs and processes, when you could just introduce the metrology technology into the machine that's making it? Closed loop and metrology are working together to hype each other up, and it's a fun time.
Benjamin Moses: The idea of air proofing gets extended even further, especially on assembly lines. You talk about assembly processes where if you do the inspection or check as the operator's putting on putting on the tool, right, you can only do so much hardware wires for the operator, but the system can also tell you, "Hey, this thing is incorrect. Fix it quickly before it goes on the next step." So, I find that fairly fascinating. To your point about closed loop manufacturing, I think for majority of subtractive manufacturing processes, I think it's applicable.
But when you get into some of the nuanced manufacturing where you have to be concerned about heat and the straining of the part, so we've done a fair amount of manufacturing in the past where you are generating tons of heat, and it actually doesn't dissipate from the part itself until it's removed and it's settled into the ambient temperature, especially for large parts where if you're measuring within a thousandth of an inch of a 14 inch diameter part, it doesn't take much heat to affect that diameter. So, there's cases like that. We get into flexible parts where you could elastically to form it with subtle pressure, you have to measure the parts in the unrestrained condition. There's actually requirements from the customer to say, "Don't touch the part as you're measuring it, otherwise you're going to screw it up."
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I totally get that, but if our friend, Lou Zhang, of Machine Metrics, if he was here right now, he would probably be like, "Well, that just means you don't know the right equations. You don't know the right physics equations to compensate for the temperature differences." Sure, yeah, you shouldn't measure a hot part. You should measure it while it's cold, but that's only because you don't know the math.
Benjamin Moses: The article ends with where they're headed in the future, which is mentioned integration into the assembly line, but also making scanners easier to use is another top top priority for the metrology companies. It's so much of the robotics evolution on user interfaces and physically programming a robot where the human to machine interface HMI has to evolve to the point where it's a little more intuitive, and where does it intuition come from? A lot of consumer goods and just walking around and living every life. They fully acknowledge that they have some ways ago, and I thought that was a very-
Stephen LaMarca: The next big technology to hit your smartphone will be 3D scanning.
Benjamin Moses: I hope so.
Stephen LaMarca: I promise it.
Benjamin Moses: I do have a bullet bullet here that when you're dealing with non-contact elements or non-contact processes, the issue of multi materials comes up. So, if I've got a big assembly with different types of materials, since I'm using light or structured lighted lasers, that could affect your processing for measuring. So, that's another area of advancement for the future. That was a fairly fascinating article. Thanks, [inaudible 00:21:16]. If you've got a section on denatured alcohol and environments, man, is driving changes in manufacturing process and technologies.
Stephen LaMarca: This article, no joke, it's really old, because the discussion and the topic came up this morning during our company's all staff, and I forget what the exact topic was that came up. I think they were talking about-
Benjamin Moses: There's a EPA regulation where they're looking at about 62,000 materials and trying to understand who in the industry is using that and what's the impact to the environment, and they're considering banning, or basically allowing exceptions or banning materials in sets of 30.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes. Okay. That's right. That's what it was. I saw that one of our colleagues commented, "Could this be in relation to California's recent ban on denatured alcohol?" I didn't know this was a thing. I mean, then again, why should I know? I'm not a citizen of the Republic of California. I looked into it. Well, first off, before I even looked into it, I thought, "Wait a minute, how can they even ban denatured alcohol? Do they realize that denatured alcohol is one of the, if not the primary ingredient in deodorant?" As if that state doesn't literally stink enough already, they're now banning deodorant. I wanted to keep that out of the all staff, because I know we've got some California residents over there which may or may not agree with that comment.
But regardless, did a little bit more digging, and the colleague who I asked about it who brought it up even clarified that it's, first off, that legislature is old. Denatured alcohol has been banned in California that went effective January 1st, 2019. So, this is old news that I'm only just hearing about. But the good news is it does not apply to deodorant at all, because deodorant or denatured alcohol in deodorant is a ingredient and not the primary thing that you're shipping. So, basically, what the legislature says is that you cannot produce denatured alcohol, pure denatured alcohol in California, and you cannot ship denatured alcohol by itself as an individual item to California. It can still be shipped to California as an ingredient in deodorant. So, of course, people can still go buy their Old Spice in California, but it really is a blow to the maker space in California, just overall manufacturers in California.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah. I do find it interesting, I was in aerospace when they had issues with cadmium, cadmium plated parts that was used extensively in aerospace.
Stephen LaMarca: Cadmium?
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It slowly was phased out, but there was still some legacy parts. Right? How do you handle that process? I do find it interesting that we're at a point where impacts to the environment is changing our manufacturing way of life. You know? I feel like the EPA rule we're looking at could affect wire harnesses, could affect core components within a machine tool, and that's going to drive changes upstream and downstream of that. So, it's fascinating that the manu-
Stephen LaMarca: Even still, though, you mentioned cadmium, and I've worked with cadmium in the lab in my undergrad, and cadmium is an alpha emitter, and it's a really nasty alpha emitter at that. We had to take an entire semester long class on the dangers of radiation poisoning because we would be working with stuff like cadmium. So, I wouldn't really classify cadmium on the same level as denatured alcohol, which we put in our armpits. But, yeah, come on, Ben, cadmium's more on the level of asbestos, and that's not around anymore for good reasons.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I mean, my message is that our pace of understanding materials was slow back when I was a wee little engineer. 2021... we're in '21, right? 2021, our pace definitely of understanding materials and impact to the environment has grown, has accelerated. The manufacturing industry has to stay current to these impacts and assume this constant change. That's my big takeaway, is that they could be working with a material now that could be easily phased out in a year or so.
Stephen LaMarca: For sure.
Benjamin Moses: Additive heat sinks, man. I was reading an article from 3D Print.
Stephen LaMarca: Nice transition.
Benjamin Moses: But they were talking about growing heat sinks, for a lot of different applications, but obviously electronics is your main user of this, could be computers or industrial computer servers, whatever. The idea behind this was a couple of folds. The main driver in the article, and they kick it off, was increased power densities in electronics, that's growing, right?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: We talked about silicone shortage earlier, and where we are advancing electronics. That's only going to grow. Your power density is going to grow, and the ability to remove that heat is becoming more and more vital. So, 10 years from now, heat sinks is going to be more efficient, going to be more-
Stephen LaMarca: You're going to look crazy.
Benjamin Moses: Look crazy because of the climate.
Stephen LaMarca: They're not even going to look like heat sinks.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, exactly. This article from 3D Print goes over a couple of interesting use cases where they do some FDM heat sinks, which I find fascinating. So, not only changing using the power of additive for unique geometry, the article talks about using lattices to increase your surface area to draw more heat away. But also, you want to try some unique materials, do some crazy stuff as composites as a heat sink. So, I thought that was a very, very fascinating look at we're at a point where you probably could change the paradigm of heat sinks in the next five years or so, and they go and they go over some really interesting concepts. They did an experiment where using lattice geometries increased the performance by 21%, doubling life expectancy of 50%, and then decrease the operational costs by that about two. So, the benefits are many, many fold of getting to these very, very unique heat sinks.
Stephen LaMarca: That's really wild. I didn't think about... additive heat sinks are not a new concept to me. I was introduced to those years ago probably at SpaceCom where I actually got to hold one in my hand.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: But what's wild is I just realize now you mentioning that, first off, brake rotors. Brake rotors are like kinetic heat sink.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: Their main process or purpose is not a heat sink, or at least we don't think of them as that, but brake rotors in automobiles, or any vehicle for that matter, are in fact a heat sink because they are converting kinetic energy into thermal energy, and they got to dissipate that thermal energy effectively to maintain their own effectiveness. Well, rather coefficients of friction, but in Formula 1, of course, we're going back to racing again, I apologize, but brake rotors have been, certainly in Formula 1, have been made out of carbon, and carbon ceramic has been the trickle down into consumer the consumer industry. But one of the cool things was that I was really excited a couple MFGs ago, I got to meet somebody who was specifically in the manufacturing industry, or their shops's primary role is doing micro deep hole drilling, which is huge in Formula 1 because that's how they drill all of the holes in Formula 1 brake rotors, where you look at a brake rotor that we have on our cars, and you look at the veins drilled in some cases in our breaker, there's one line of them.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: As for if you queue up a picture on Google of a Formula 1 brake rotor, there's a whole bunch of different rows of very small holes drilled into the brake rotor to dissipate heat, because it is in fact a heat sink where the purpose is the more surface area you have, the more heat you can dissipate. It's crazy. I never thought, "What if somebody's additively produced a brake rotor?" Then instead of drilling micro holes and spending a lot, a ton of money on micro deep hole drill bits, you just print the darn thing, and then it's got to be cheaper. I mean, still, it's an expensive material and you don't need to worry about surface finish because you're going to be grinding it down anyway with pads.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. The other way to look at it is transition those high-end technologies to more consumer grade.
Stephen LaMarca: I got to look into this. I wonder if the rotors in Formula 1 and in the world endurance championship are additively produced. They have to be, at least within the next year if they're not already.
Benjamin Moses: I want you to report back next year.
Stephen LaMarca: I will find that out for us. That's crazy.
Benjamin Moses: We had a lot of key things that we like: safe cars, computers, digital twins, denatured alcohol. I love me deodorant.
Stephen LaMarca: You know, the beauty of all of these things is that it comes back to the manufacturing industry.
Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. It's the core of the world, man. Makes the world turn.
Stephen LaMarca: That's right.
Benjamin Moses: All right. Where can they find more info about us?
Stephen LaMarca: amtonline.org, and because I haven't been there since the last time we recorded a podcast, I don't remember what the exact link is where we go, but if you go to amtonline.org, you can find where to subscribe for us pretty easily, because our website has been redesigned and it's absolutely beautiful, stunning, and easy to navigate now.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Thanks, Steve. That was a great episode.
Stephen LaMarca: You're very welcome, Ben. Thank you so much.
Benjamin Moses: All right, buddy.
Stephen LaMarca: Bye.