Episode 90: Ben and Steve discuss the best hand tools for the job, whether professional, Shadetree, or hobbyist. Stephen also tells us how his soft hands, wimp, can’t play guitar for over fifteen minutes. Benjamin shares his excitement over the nuclear power sector’s use of additive manufacturing. Steve claims handmade is dead; long live advanced manufacturing! Ben thinks GE is betting big on US manufacturing. Stephen concludes that the simplest geometries best serve additive.
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Produced by Ramia Lloyd
Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the AMT Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology research and news. Today's episode is sponsored by Modern Machine Shop "Made in the USA" Podcast. More on them later. I am the Director of Technology, Benjamin Moses, and I'm here with-
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, AMTs, Technology Analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, welcome to a casual Friday.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes, we're recording on a Friday. This is so fun.
Benjamin Moses: Yes.
Stephen LaMarca: This is actually okay. I did not understand the gravitas in the significance of this recording session until you mentioned that because you're always on camera in a suit.
Benjamin Moses: For those of you watching-
Stephen LaMarca: This is like the first time AMT has put you on camera for anything and you haven't been in a suit.
Benjamin Moses: The way I normally look on the weekend.
Stephen LaMarca: This is a rare edition. This is episode 90.
Benjamin Moses: 90. That's right. Big deal. They better get the screenshots.
Stephen LaMarca: I hope I got that right.
Benjamin Moses: The audience better get the screenshots while they can because you'll never see me in this again.
Stephen LaMarca: Never again.
Benjamin Moses: Steve. I want to talk about how we select our brands for tools like hand tools.
Stephen LaMarca: All right. Buckle up. So, okay. Growing up, my dad always had Craftsman Tools and I know you're a big fan of Craftsman Tools. Then I got into the video games, PlayStation 2 rolls around. I remember playing a car game, a racing game called Auto Modellista. It was really cool because it was a cell shaded game, meaning the cars were accurate in terms of their dimensions and shapes, but the graphics was cell shaded to make it look like anime. Make it look like it's cartoons.
Benjamin Moses: I like that style a lot.
Stephen LaMarca: But really cool. But one of the coolest things, one of the fun things that wasn't really, it was part of the game but wasn't imperative to the gameplay, was you could customize and set up and organize and decorate the garage where you store your car and part of that was the stuff you could hang on the wall and of course there's the decals that you can put on your car to make it look like because race car and whatnot. But that game introduced me to the brand Snap-on.
Benjamin Moses: Okay, cool.
Stephen LaMarca: And years go by, I become an adult and it's like, "It's about time that I start buying tools to actually work on stuff, whether it's the car or just IKEA furniture." It's time to start building a set of tools. And my mom and dad passed down, well my mom passed down a set of my dad's socket set to me, don't know where it is. Don't tell anybody. It's a really nice socket set and my mom was originally trying to give it to her sister's husband John, my uncle John, who ultimately he's an electrical engineer and he is like, "Oh no, this is a nice socket set. This needs to stay in the family. This needs to go to Steve." And so that's really, and of course I lost it. It's somewhere I know though.
Benjamin Moses: Misplaced.
Stephen LaMarca: Anyway. Yeah. It's just misplaced. Anyway, when I look into buying myself my first set of tools, I'm just looking for a toolkit, which I didn't realize for actual handy people who know their way around hand tools, nobody buys a toolkit. Nobody buys a tool set as like a starter. You buy a big sheet metal toolbox that you wheel around and then you fill it with each tool as you need it. And if you want to get fancy, you get custom laser cut foam inserts to each drawer or you just throw them in there and let them clank around. But I'm not about that. Let me get a good starter set. But anyway, when I was shopping for this original tool set, I was like, it went back to my days in middle school and playing PlayStation 2 and Auto Modellista.
I was like, I have an adult wage, let me buy some nice tools. The saying is, you buy nice tools, you only buy them once, buy once, cry once. That whole thing. So I'm like, "I want Snap-On tools. Aren't they the best?"
Benjamin Moses: They have a reputation.
Stephen LaMarca: So anyway, I'm looking into trying to buy Snap-on tools. Go to Google, Snap-on. Nowhere can you buy Snap-on tools online.
Benjamin Moses: Oh my goodness.
Stephen LaMarca: I hit Reddit, which I hate doing, but I go to Reddit and they're like, "Yeah, Snap-on has built amongst civilians, amongst people like me who just want the clout of having nice tools." People like me who want to buy Snap-on, Snap-on marketing team has done this incredible job. And this also goes for Mac Tools and Matco. They have developed this clout that these are for professionals. We don't want the Sunday, the fair weather, the shade tree mechanic to have their grubby little soft hands on these tools. These are for real technicians.
Benjamin Moses: We'll get in soft hands later.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes, we will. So their whole thing is this allure to the civilians, to people who are not in that profession are like, "Wow, they only sell to mechanics. These must be the best tools because they want to keep them out of civilian hands." Just like HK doesn't sell the MP7 to civilians. Like, "That's not fair. We need the MP7."
Benjamin Moses: This pales across different industries.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's like, it's the HK of tools. Who doesn't want this? Until you handle an HK and you realize they're junk, foreshadowing. So years go by, then getting friendly with my mechanic now, Carter, and he tells me everything that's like about the big American tool companies that like half of their tools are actually made in China. They're all overpriced like they're made in the USA. But seldom are actually American made tools.
Benjamin Moses: They've taken a global strategy for their parts, yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: But their sales campaign is, I don't want to say toxic or hostile, but it's aggressive. And so not only do they have this allure, this exclusivity to civilians, I keep saying civilians, but it's a lack of a better term.
Benjamin Moses: Non-professionals.
Stephen LaMarca: Non-mechanics. Non-professionals that like, "Oh man, they only sell to professionals, so they must be the best." But they sell out of these trucks. So you see the Snap-on truck or the Mac truck or the Matco truck and the salespeople also drive the truck and they sit and wait outside of car repair shops for a mechanic that needs a tool desperately. And they want to get a job done because you don't want to charge the customers for all of the hours to do something simple. But if you need a tool, you need a tool. You want the right tool to do the job.
So a mechanic will go out in a panic to the Snap-on guy or if they just get paid, which I'm sure the Snap-on and all of the tool trucks are smart and they know when the mechanics that they sell to get paid and they're like, "Oh, they just got their paycheck. It's time to sell some tools they don't need." And it's just really aggressive and predatory.
Benjamin Moses: Data distribution model.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, but on the plus side, the tool sales people come to you. You don't need to go to a hardware store and get it that day. They come to you. Like, if you need the tool, they come to you. And I guess that's where a lot of the profit goes, you would think. I doubt it, but you'd like to think that way. But it's just these mechanics who already barely make anything, pay an astronomical price to not get them.
So naturally when I find all this out and fast forward a little bit more, I'm working in the manufacturing industry now. We get the Pocket NC. It ships with a Wera Hex driver and several not Allen Keys because Wera tools are German and the Germans call them L-keys for whatever reason, whatever win a World War. And they're really nice. But I end up... I step away with driver in hand away from the test bed, away from the Pocket NC. And I go to somebody's desk and like a dingus, I set the driver down, never see it again, don't know when it's gone forever.
So I reach out to Pocket NC like, "Hey, where do I get one of these drivers?" And Pocket NC tells me politely, they don't actually mean this in a hostile way at whatsoever. I love Pocket NC or Penta Machine. I'm like, "Hey, can you guys send me another one of these drivers?"
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: I lost mine. And they're like, "dude, that's a German driver. Like a $30 driver dude." Yeah. So-
Benjamin Moses: Go pound sand.
Stephen LaMarca: Sorry. Just go to your hardware store and get three millimeter hex key. And so I end up reaching out to the group of fine people on the Prepared websites, the prepared Slack team. I reach out, "Hey, where can I get a replacement Wera wrench?" And they tell me about KC Tool. And KC Tool is this great website that sells all German tools, all the German tool brands. And they've been great and the amazing prices on these high quality tools. I've given them way too much money. But they've delivered and now you do end up waiting like a week plus for your German tools to come in because they don't have them on hand, they're coming overseas.
Benjamin Moses: But you're able to go online, say add to cart.
Stephen LaMarca: But I'm not a professional so I've got time. But it's cool and it's nice knowing that I have the German tools.
Benjamin Moses: And that's more industry. So that caliber of quality of tool.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes. Whenever we go to a job shop, to a factory, to a plant, doesn't matter how small the manufacturer is or how big they are, they all have Wera tools. When I went to Sandvik. I thought, this is how dumb I am, I thought Sandvik had custom made Wera tools for them.
Benjamin Moses: Okay.
Stephen LaMarca: Because the Wera wrench or the Wera drivers, the handle was the same colors as Sandvik colors. Yellow and red. And then like, you dummy that's for electrical insulation. Wera tools. These German tools are apparently comparing Snap-on to Wera isn't quite fair.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Because Snap-ons and Matco and Mac, they're for automotive technicians.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: And Wera sells to machinists and electricians or electrical engineers. Electricians are just probably buying Husky and Cobalt.
Benjamin Moses: And that's a funny point because we talk about the reputation of tools and where things have progressed recently and for me, Craftsman was a top tier. And then to your point, I've always had a old travel tool set. I didn't buy individual tools for those things. If I buy a circular saw, I'll buy a single circular saw. Then if I need a jigsaw, I'm not going to buy a kit of those.
Stephen LaMarca: My mom still has my dad's Craftsman power drill that he bought and when he was in his twenties and now it still works. Great. It's a little sketchy because when you pull the trigger to start drilling, you see sparks come out the little vent on the side and it smells funny when you get going really hard and the power plug doesn't have a ground, it's only a two-prong. Things have changed.
Benjamin Moses: Things have changed.
Stephen LaMarca: But it's still, it's made of metal, it was made in the USA. Craftsman sadly, they have a made in USA line if you want to go that far.
Benjamin Moses: And the consumption of these hand tools is very different than the models in the past. So being able to add to cart now or go down to the store, like we mentioned when we were prepping that. Yeah, we'll see Wera tools. But at the same time you'll also see Cobalt and Husky from Lowe's and Home Depot because those are accessible. And also in some cases you want a kind of disposable tool.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes.
Benjamin Moses: So it depends on the scenario. And I bought a set of Craftsman and I was like, "man, this is going to be a great deal." And then I realized this is not the Craftsman of 20 years ago. I had things breaking left and right and the wrenches are okay, but the change in quality or change in perceived quality and how they're used has changed over time a lot for a hand tool.
Stephen LaMarca: And there's also a brand of, I was watching a YouTube video of a truck technician, an 18 wheeler technician was saying, there's a time when you go for Snap-on or Mac or Matco.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: There's a time when you buy the nice tools like that and there's a time when you just go to Harbor Freight.
Benjamin Moses: Yes.
Stephen LaMarca: And the guy in the video showed two crescent wrenches. These were massive crescent wrenches. Like the nut that this thing was supposed to turn is probably four inches. It's nuts how big this thing was. And it's like this is a Snap-on one. And if you notice the end of the crescent wrench where you would grip with both hands has a big, it's almost like an anvil, you put it on the nut and then you hit it with a sledgehammer. I forget the name of this wrench, but it's like this is a $250 crescent wrench that you'll use once every five years. Go to Harbor Freight, get it for 30 bucks, saw it in half. Now you have two of them for $15. And you hit it with a hammer. You hit it with a sledgehammer.
Benjamin Moses: That's fair.
Stephen LaMarca: Why spend that much for something that you're only going to use once every five years and it may as well be disposable because your job will change so many times that you'll end up having to lug that thing around. So there is a time, the moral of the story is there's a time when to go fancy for tools and there's a time when not to.
Benjamin Moses: Let's talk about your soft hands.
Stephen LaMarca: My soft hands. My hands do not deserve German tools. So our industry colleague Russ, he's a good friend of ours and I hang out with him as often as I can. And every Tuesday night he hosts like a jam session at his house. He works from home. He's fully remote now and they have a room in their basement that they've turned into their home office and studio.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: And he has as a production studio for both doing his webinars and for actually making music. It's really cool. But I mostly go there every other Tuesday just to listen to people play music.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: Because it's really fun and it's awesome watching people work. There's something about appreciating an artist's art and actually watching them work, one of them isn't enough. You have to see both. And it was one of the reasons why I go. But anyway, this past Tuesday I go over and Russ hands me my bass guitar, which I bought back when I graduated high school. I bought a pretty nice bass guitar thinking that I would learn how to play. And I guess I learned how to play a little bit. But I am not good musically. I like to sing.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: And I'm okay at singing. But when it comes to instruments, nope, not me. Don't deserve the German tools man. Anyway, he coached me and was like, you're going to play... I think I played for 15, maybe 30 minutes, and already had blisters on my fingers, on my middle fingertip. It was this big gross blister. I was like, "Hey Russ, I got to stop playing."
Benjamin Moses: That's enough.
Stephen LaMarca: I'm only playing one note over and over again, but I have to stop now because for whatever reason it's dark right in the studio. My finger really hurts and I can feel like this bulbous thing on the end of the fingertip huge blister when I got home.
Benjamin Moses: Was your body telling you to stop?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: That's funny. Yeah. And I remember-
Stephen LaMarca: Soft hands.
Benjamin Moses: I remember to be honest, every time I do any kind of work, you can't do that when you're playing guitar. I wear gloves.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, imagine. I think I'm going to be one of those nerds the next time to play bass with a pick. I don't want to be that guy.
Benjamin Moses: You got to get a pick man. You got to keep playing.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Just got to keep playing.
Benjamin Moses: Keep playing. Tell us-
Stephen LaMarca: I'm going to have gross rough hands.
Benjamin Moses: Tell us about today's sponsor.
Stephen LaMarca: Tune in for Modern Machine Shop's "Made in the USA" podcast to explore manufacturing issues faced by companies making an intentional choice to manufacture in the US. Featuring commentary from OEM leaders, Made in the USA blends its nearly century long expertise with a unique audio storytelling experience to shine a spotlight on the past, present, and future of American manufacturing. Find Made in the USA on Apple podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms. Follow Modern Machine Shop on Twitter, it's Facebook and LinkedIn.
Benjamin Moses: Thanks Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: Bet.
Benjamin Moses: I got a couple of spicy articles.
Stephen LaMarca: Talk to me.
Benjamin Moses: First one on nuclear power.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh heck yeah.
Benjamin Moses: My favorite power.
Stephen LaMarca: When are we going to have for nuclear power? Maybe this will tell us. Let's go.
Benjamin Moses: So this is from 3Dnatives. How 3D printing is used in the nuclear power sector. I'm sure I'm pronouncing this incorrectly, but fine. And it has a bunch of use cases. I'm going to go with the three that I found very interesting. One is, and Alabama, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but this bullet is Safety Critical Components in Alabaman Reactor.
Stephen LaMarca: Alabaman. You've heard of Florida man, now we go I Alabaman.
Benjamin Moses: That's one of our hashtags for today.
Stephen LaMarca: Thank you.
Benjamin Moses: So one of these is in the Tennessee Valley Authority Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Athens, Alabama. The second most powerful nuclear power plant in the country. So fairly active.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh we actually have nuclear power plants?
Benjamin Moses: Oh yeah, definitely.
Stephen LaMarca: Awesome. It's good to know.
Benjamin Moses: The TVA is massive. It's connected to Tail of the Dragon if you happen to be in that area.
Stephen LaMarca: No way.
Benjamin Moses: We'll get into that later. So it's interesting because considering the scale and how much output they have, they work with Oak Ridge National Labs, which is the name will come up a lot in this article.
Stephen LaMarca: ORNL.
Benjamin Moses: And they installed four 3D printed fuel assembly brackets for use in their reactor back in 2021. And it's very interesting because it's super regulated. So the ability for them to both print the part and have the confidence to put that in the assembly, this is one of the most important parts of the section so it's very interesting. And the article gets into a little bit of what they used. So they used a laser powder bed fusion, a material called Trufrom 316, I'm assuming it's stainless steel 316. And it gives some the consistency. So that's the first one I want to mention. So that sets a stage of some of the other ones we want to get into.
And also it's a good takeaway because taking the concepts from each of these bullet points and how the parallels across all industries on this. So the ability to create brackets and complex geometry like that, that's the first takeaway here is, we can do very, very complex nozzles, but the ability to create safety fasteners and critical hardware.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: That's a very good takeaway. The other one I have is Siemens in Slovenia. So this is an international article, not just the US.
Stephen LaMarca: Sure.
Benjamin Moses: The first 3D printed operational part in the nuclear power plant as part of a work with Siemens is a 108 diameter metal impeller.
Stephen LaMarca: 108 what?
Benjamin Moses: Millimeter.
Stephen LaMarca: Millimeter.
Benjamin Moses: Okay. It's a little small guy. Not super big. Impeller for a fire pump constantly in operations at the nuclear power plant.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh cool.
Benjamin Moses: So this is again back to the criticality of it. And the cool part about this is the reason they used additive manufacturing is because the original plant was commissioned in 1981. So to go back and get that part from the manufacturer, they couldn't. So this is back to supply chain issues that run into.
Stephen LaMarca: That part is discontinued and plus a pump impeller is probably a 5-axis CNC machined part, potentially like a turbocharge.
Benjamin Moses: So in the pictures you'll see their example. So I think the first one was actually cast.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay.
Benjamin Moses: And that's why it's a very good example for additive is the first one looks like it's cast and they did a plastic model mock-up and then they show you the 3D printed model. So I think it's a very interesting use case and since it's modern and Siemens involved, they're able to create a digital twin of that right through their process and say-
Stephen LaMarca: Even still if it's cast, that mold is probably long gone.
Benjamin Moses: It's long time.
Stephen LaMarca: It's from 1981 so-
Benjamin Moses: It's probably holding up someone's table at this point now.
Stephen LaMarca: Perfect.
Benjamin Moses: And I think the last one I want to get into is Purdue University received a grant for $800,000 from the DOE to participate in a creation of 3D printed micro reactors. So we could have a reactor right behind your desk. So the university would participate in a transformational challenge reactor demonstration program. So they're want to see the efficacy of micro reactors and where they can deploy that stuff. So they would create the first 3D printed micro reactor by 2023.
And the takeaway here is, yeah that's kind of cool, but the ability to embed artificial intelligence as part of the end process QA to improve the reliability and quality of the part. So they want to use artificial intelligence techniques to allow more data rich and cost effective nuclear component qualification process.
Stephen LaMarca: Nuclear power, micro reactors, artificial intelligence. We just got so close to Terminator, it's not even funny.
Benjamin Moses: 2023 y'all.
Stephen LaMarca: I think that, honestly that's one of my favorite parts of Terminator was when he is got a switch reactors because the other one's like old and overheating. Yes. So he throws, it's a little mini nuke. It's like yeah we need that. I mean obviously we're not going to be using nuclear power if it happens. We saw what happened with Chernobyl and we don't need little mini Chernobyls all over the place.
Benjamin Moses: So in the end, I mean the takeaway is one, I think from my perspective, nuclear power, we'll actually be a long-term solution for power generation.
Stephen LaMarca: Absolutely.
Benjamin Moses: And they are looking to get to a cleaner process. Because some of these cases talk about cleaner nuclear power, but the 3D printing applications that they talk about here are applicable to a lot of different industries. Like the last one they mentioned about artificial intelligence to help train and help the decision making process. So you get a part is good or bad, should I use it? We'll have enough data and recommendation to say, "yeah maybe" or "good."
Stephen LaMarca: Imagine we completely stop using coal.
Benjamin Moses: Stop using coal.
Stephen LaMarca: And we're all using nuclear power. And then the next problem there is what do we do with all of this depleted uranium?
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: It's like you could bring down the prices of ammunition.
Benjamin Moses: Speaking of high prices, tell me about Bugatti and metrology.
Stephen LaMarca: Bugatti. So this article's really cool and it goes into this guy, Gregory, the name's actually not Gregory, but it's definitely a French version of Gregory. So it's spelled G-R-E with accent aigu -G-O-I-R-E. I'm just going to call him Greg. Works as a metrologist at Bugatti. And this guy is responsible for basically ensuring that every car and every component of every car meets the strictest tolerances and standards so Bugatti can make the finest product out there. And it's not just for the luxury good clout, but it's also for their performance reasons. They're making cars that I assume, I haven't followed the Bugattis in forever, but I assume at least come close to 300 miles an hour if not exceed 300 miles an hour these days. And when you're taking a car that fast and it's fighting aerodynamic drag that hard, everything needs to be locked down and exactly to spec.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Because this car is actually wind tunnel tested and the tires I think go bad before you run out of gas at speeds that high. So everything naturally when you do a tire change, or I think I read somewhere that the new Bugatti, every four sets of tires you need to replace the wheels. So metrology and it's because the material gets out of spec that quickly at high speeds and whatever. And because of they can only ensure that the tire was changed properly so many times and there's so much forgiveness, even though I think pretty sure there's only 10 technicians around the world that are certified to change the tires and each set of tires is like $50,000, that when you ding up and dent the wheels so much and they become out of spec and you can't just add wheel weights to them to get them back in balance properly.
So they're naturally, there's a lot of metrology. But I want to tell you all that to tell you this or discuss this with you rather. It's wild to me that luxury goods, exclusive high-end goods that only the 1% of the 1% can afford have fully done a 180 since I've started, at least seemingly since I've started working in the industry from being, "oh this is a hand all handmade product."
Benjamin Moses: Right?
Stephen LaMarca: Because only human eyes and the human touch sure can make a product as fine and as exquisite as this. And finally a company like Bugatti is like, "no, break rotors and break calipers need to be 3D printed."
Benjamin Moses: Oh yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: We need to 3D print stuff out of Inconel and ceramics and carbon ceramic and we need the absolute best metrology possible and available at the state of the art level because human eyes just aren't good enough for it and frankly the price can pay for it. So it's really cool how we've gone from handmade quality, and even we talked about this a couple episodes ago with SIG.
Benjamin Moses: Yep.
Stephen LaMarca: SIG Sauer. They basically said on record that if your design can only be handmade, it's a bad design and Bugatti's doubling down with that, it's like handmade stuff is dead long live advanced manufacturing.
Benjamin Moses: I think it's hearing a lot of consumer acceptance of that concept also. So at that tier of car, the idea of handmade fits that consumer, but I think they're pushing the envelope to say this design is so unique we can't hand make it right. If you want a good fit and finish, we're moving past the human and certain levels, the human eye, it's actually very hard to compete against that. So if you like a paint and things like that. Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: It sounded like I'm throwing shades. The human eye is actually almost unparalleled until recently.
Benjamin Moses: Between the improvements in traditional subtractive manufacturing to get consistent part quality and the ability to have very unique designs, the need for hand fit and finish. It's probably to your point, more of a archaic way to manufacture products.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: Now that being said, I'm sure you'd like a hand fit shotgun.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah. Hand fit shotgun.
Benjamin Moses: So there are certain things that you still want hand fit.
Stephen LaMarca: Hand polished acetate temples on a fine pair of sunglasses, but that's not a critical component to anything.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, exactly.
Stephen LaMarca: I don't need my sunglasses to go 340 miles an hour.
Benjamin Moses: So when you do mention about the tires at some point, let's talk about high cycle and low cycle fatigue.
Stephen LaMarca: I would love to hear about that.
Benjamin Moses: The article I've got, Steve is GE to invest over $450 million in US manufacturing in 2023. So this comes from their site, ge.com and it goes over a couple of points and the key takeaway here's where the large companies are reinvesting to stay ahead of the growth curve or the technology curve. The first one is their aerospace group. They have a joint venture for their aero engine operations. They're going to invest $17 million in Ohio to look at, maintain and expand capacity across several lines. So that in itself, they want to keep up with growth. So they're growing their manufacturing capability. And also, so in Alabama they're going to have $60 million-
Stephen LaMarca: Alabaman?
Benjamin Moses: Back to Alabama to increase their additive manufacturing line. So back to growth.
Stephen LaMarca: Cool.
Benjamin Moses: To Lafayette, Indiana, they're going to invest $7 million to increase tooling support for their leap engine for maintenance and repair and improve their capacity and productivity.
And in the last place in Kentucky, they're looking to invest $4 million on maintenance improvements. Productivity, quality and maintenance improvements across several engine lines for the US military. So I think you're seeing fairly different use cases both on the nuclear article and on what GE is investing in. I would say almost keep up because depending on where they are in their life cycle, if they're investing now, if they're going to truly spend that much for this year, that means they've already had the pipeline of what they want to purchase and they're executing on that purchase plan. So they're well on their way to meet a growth curve for 23 and beyond. So I thought that was a very good look on all of their stuff is aerospace focused, so airspace military. So that's a very interesting look, spending in the Midwest basically or South and Midwest.
Stephen LaMarca: That's awesome. It's really good to hear that GEs buckling down on advanced manufacturing.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, absolutely. Speaking of advanced manufacturing, Steve, tell me about space and 3D printing.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, so KFC's, bringing back the double down, I'm sorry, wrong article.
Benjamin Moses: Wrong podcast.
Stephen LaMarca: TCT Magazine, Relativity Space secures an FAA license for the 3D printed Terran 1 rocket launch.
Benjamin Moses: That's a cool name.
Stephen LaMarca: It's a big deal.
Benjamin Moses: That's big. Tell me more about this. There's some things we need to talk about.
Stephen LaMarca: But, like I always do, forget the article, let's talk about something else kind of relate to it.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: If you followed the rockets made by any of these major non NASA private companies, they're all making their rocket fuselages with 3D printing.
Benjamin Moses: The fuselage, the cylinder.
Stephen LaMarca: The cylinder. We're talking the simplest part, but everybody's doing it, whether it's SpaceX or Blue Origin, they're big dumb barrels that they're shooting up into the sky, they're 3D printing.
Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's like, we have been told for the past, I don't know how many years that one of the big benefits of additive manufacturing is the complex geometries made possible from the technology and it's like this is a cylinder and this is just a circular wall. We could use gantry CNC machines, we could use a big lathe probably found in Australia. We can use fiber placement.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: Fiber placement's been making the best carbon fiber cylinders for Boeing. Why not send it into space? You have so much more money than them, and we're 3D printing it.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: We're 3D printing barrels.
Benjamin Moses: I'm sure there's some nuance in it, but the takeaway, it's-
Stephen LaMarca: Like this goes against everything that design for additive manufacturing is saying.
Benjamin Moses: And I think it's fair to look at the scale of it too, because these aren't small barrels.
Stephen LaMarca: No, they are big.
Benjamin Moses: They are big right?
Stephen LaMarca: And they have to, because of the materials that you can print with 3D printing, they can sustain going in and out of atmospheres.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: Unlike carbon fiber gets a little hairy. The other cool thing that we've noticed is, or that has been pointed out to me, a lot of these cylinders being printed, the built plate is vertical, meaning the print is horizontal.
Benjamin Moses: Okay.
Stephen LaMarca: Because they're making big, long rockets. And when you're making a big, long rocket, if you're 3D printing it to make it out of one piece, you either need a big building that goes high up or you need an expensive foundation that goes deep down and then you have to send all of that material either up the build or all of your printed part down into a well.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: They're printing it side sideways. And my speculation is that if they print it vertically so the rocket is being printed up and down or the right way, then as the material is added on, the load that the material at the base of the rocket, assuming the base of the rocket was printed first, excuse me, of the cylinder was printed first, is going to have to bear more and more weight as the parts being printed and as it settles slowly and cures over time... Not cure, but as the material settles, it's going to settle differently from the material at the top, which is going to have no weight on it. So they're going to settle totally differently and maybe by printing them horizontally in rotating the build plate. Sure. Gravity has an equal effect. It has an equal effect across all of the material the whole time that the cylinder is being printed, which is really cool to me. Because I'm like, "we're getting back to classic watchmaking technique."
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: They're printing rockets via a tourbillon and it's wild and a crazy expensive.
Benjamin Moses: So you did hit on two things. There's the thermal distortion as you're printing and the load because it's such a big object on that part going to the base of the part, and I do agree with you, length is an issue. I think the answer is probably simpler than you expect. I think there are issues of just height. I think if they can scale-
Stephen LaMarca: It might just be height.
Benjamin Moses: If they can scale their factory lengthwise much easier than they can scale height. So if they're trying to build several different engine lines or fuselage, then they can do that easier.
Stephen LaMarca: Right.
Benjamin Moses: So when you do-
Stephen LaMarca: But how do you support?
Benjamin Moses: That's the issue. So that's been solved a long time ago with-
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, excuse me Ben.
Benjamin Moses: With long turning. So if I'm turning a 10 foot shaft, I have to have a steady rest part way to support it. So as they're printing, they're adding steady rest or some kind of,
Stephen LaMarca: What's that called in a lathe?
Benjamin Moses: A steady rest?
Stephen LaMarca: I thought there was another term. Is it really called steady rest?
Benjamin Moses: I hope so. Let us know on the comments
Stephen LaMarca: Because I thought the big thing that Mazak said was essentially what it boils down to what separates a regular lathe from a Swiss lathe, there's not all like the live tooling and not one being smaller than the other, but it's that the bar stock of the completed part is actually supported by a steady-
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. So yeah, they're supporting the backside of it on hang outside the machine. So yeah, let's back to the engine.
Stephen LaMarca: Gosh darn it man.
Benjamin Moses: The nice thing about that also is that obviously, they're able to print complex structure into the skin so that they're not just printing the skin itself right?
Stephen LaMarca: True.
Benjamin Moses: We are a little bit marginalizing the complexity of it, but it is interesting to take away-
Stephen LaMarca: Turn it on a lathe.
Benjamin Moses: That the shift in that scale to a horizontal process, which I agree with you. They're trying to use gravity to their benefit. And for me to see that, and that might be a good interview, is figure out why they're doing it that way for Road Tripping with Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: I also refuse to believe that there's some sort of internal geometry going on because if you open this article and you look at some of the pictures, the surface finish looks like-
Benjamin Moses: A little rough.
Stephen LaMarca: Looks like poop, man. It doesn't look good.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: It looks like it came out of a McDonald's soft serve machine.
Benjamin Moses: They need to put down a lot of material.
Stephen LaMarca: But you know what? Hey, they're the ones who are getting $1.3 billion in funding and not me.
Benjamin Moses: I like the use case a lot Steve. Lot of stuff in space that's 3D printed.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: Do more of it. Where can they find more info?
Stephen LaMarca: amtonline.org/resources.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Thank you.
Stephen LaMarca: Like share, subscribe, bing bong.
Benjamin Moses: Bye everyone. Is that your catch phrase now? Bing Bong?
Stephen LaMarca: That's how we're closing it out.
Benjamin Moses: That's how you're closing it out.