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AMT Tech Trends: Spark Finale

Episode 44: Stephen and Benjamin go over some of their favorite highlights from AMT’s 2021 Technology forum. Steve mentions a partnership between one of his favorite audio companies and one of his favorite additive companies.
by Benjamin Moses
Mar 12, 2021

Episode 45: Benjamin and Stephen discuss the best of IMTS spark, from Network Week back in September to Demo Days.


MTConnect www.mtconnect.org

Music provided by www.freestockmusic.com


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

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca technology analyst at AMT.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, how are you doing on this nice hot summer winter day? Or hot winter day.

Stephen LaMarca: Dude I am ready to sit back. We just wrapped up ... Well, IMTS Spark is wrapping up. It was a really fun time. It was awesome to see, on top of everybody in the industry, everybody in manufacturing pivot during the pandemic, to create whether it's PPE or ventilators from what they were making before, to see everybody at AMT pivot from hosting a week long show, what was supposed to take place at the end of last year, to nearly six months of digital streaming content, is incredible. It was a fun time. It was a lot of work. And I should certainly not say I'm as exhausted as I know other people are really really pooped probably.

Benjamin Moses:          Definitely. Yeah, that's a good observation. Today marks a very special episode. It marks the end of Spark, which was on March 15th. The journey started on September 20th. September-ish. We had IMTS Network Week and then we kicked off Spark right after that, and it's run all the way to March, the following year and that's a really long time. Especially at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, a lot of conferences were doing digital events that were a day, a couple of days maybe. Peter said, "Hold my beer, we're doing six months." It is great.

I think you hit on the key element of Spark, is that there's so much industry support, our partner content companies that helped out. Then all the industry that we brought to Spark itself doing interviews and participating. It was really amazing to see the industry wide support and the diversity in the industry. I think manufacturing does get a bad name, which could be fair in some cases, or could not be fair, that there's not much diversity in manufacturing. But there's a wide variety of demographics, people, background that came to Spark and helped support the content.

So what's your emotion today, Steve? You mentioned you're a little tired. Of course, I am too. I just finished the Tom and Lonnie chat an hour or two ago, and it feels good to take a break in between. But, what's your emotion today?

Stephen LaMarca: Happy.

Benjamin Moses: Happy.

Stephen LaMarca: Tired, but really happy. It was fun. It was exciting. But, I think everybody really got to develop a whole lot and personally and as a professional. I mean, I never anticipated being in front of a camera as much as I've been in the last six months. Actually it goes back further than six months, because of course we produced a lot of this stuff before IMTS Network Week and then Spark. But, no, I'm ready for a break, but I'm also really excited to get back into it.

BenjaminMoses: Let's talk about that, Steve. So some of the stuff that we've paired kicking off the early stages of IMTS was Road Trippin' With Steve. What were some of your favorite parts about Road Trippin' With Steve?

Stephen LaMarca:         Man, we've touched on Road Trippin' With Steve so much in recent episodes of the podcast, whether it was our wrapping up 2020 episode. I forget when it was, but I've talked about Road Trippin' With Steve enough to know that every stop in the trip at one point, I have said was my favorite part of the trip. This time, and if this is the final time, I will say that my favorite part of doing Road Trippin' With Steve was all of the awesome feedback that I received directly to me from viewers, from family members, friends, colleagues, telling me how much they loved seeing me on camera and the stuff that I was talking about.

Benjamin Moses:          That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         But the most important of all those people that I got feedback from, my favorite part was hearing from members and potential members, people in the industry that liked it that were reaching out. And not like in some cringing, "Ooh, we want you to come here next, because we see this is free advertisement." Like, "You need content, don't you?" No, no, they were like, "We loved what you did. Please come visit us. Come visit us. We can accommodate cameras if you want." There was a handful of people that reached out like that and it's second season of Road Trippin' With Steve is not planned yet, but it's in the works. It's going to happen. There's no plan is what I mean, but we're planning on it.

I don't know where I'm going to go, because for Season One of Road Trippin' With Steve was New England. There were people in New England that reached out to me after seeing it and they were like, "Oh, you need to come back now. You need to come back." It was like, "Well, we just did New England." But, maybe we can do one-off episodes or something like that. Of course, there's a ton of people-

Benjamin Moses:          And New England is your favorite.

Stephen LaMarca:         New England is my favorite place of all of the Americas. But, there was of course a handful of members and potential members, I'd like to think, in the Midwest, that want me to come out there.

Benjamin Moses:          So where would you like to go, either geographically or technology focus wise? Because I do enjoy going to the Midwest. I only get to go to the coast for most of my travel. So I took a trip to see Metal Quest, I think that was Nebraska. It was really interesting to see the different change of pace in the Midwest and it was cool to see the geography there.

Stephen LaMarca:         Realistically, I'll start with realistically. Realistically, I think I really want to go to the Midwest next, because that's the heart of a lot of American manufacturing, is out in the Midwest. I think naturally it's the next stop. We did New England first, because it's the closest. We're on the East Coast, New England's on the East Coast and I'm comfortable with going up to New England, especially in the northern, northern parts of New England. The population's not as dense. Then again, I take all that back and I eat my words when I say that we also visited on the way back, New Jersey.

Benjamin Moses:          I feel sorry for you.

Stephen LaMarca:         But yeah, it's crazy. The New Jersey turnpike was wide open when we hit.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah, that's strange isn't it?

Stephen LaMarca:         I promise you it is not that wide open now. Because, no joke, I was telling you before we started recording that I took Charlie out for a walk right before we got on this meeting and that was right before 2:00. The exit, so right outside my apartment complex is 495, when I take Charlie out to do his morning, afternoon and evening business, after his meals, we're literally looking at a barbed wire fence, one of those sound barriers and then there's a 20' drop down and then it's the Capital Beltway. Right outside, that part of the Capital Beltway is going south and the first exit after my location on the Beltway is 66, the exit 66. At 2:00, not even 2:00, 2:45 it is backed up.

Benjamin Moses:          It's already backed up.

Stephen LaMarca:         We're supposed to be still in the middle of a pandemic. Why is the Capital Beltway backed up already? And of course, that part of the Capital Beltway's backed up because that's going to 66. Why is it? Of course 66 is backed up in the middle of pandemic.

Benjamin Moses:          Of course.

Stephen LaMarca:         I have a handful of Snapchats documenting that. But, realistically, next stop, the Midwest.

Benjamin Moses:          Midwest. That's going to be interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:         In my heart, and this is not the right move, but in my heart, I want to go right back to New England.

Benjamin Moses:          Of course.

Stephen LaMarca:         And I'm going to say this without mentioning a name, because number one, they're not a member, so they don't get the advertisement yet. Number two, it would be an incredible bias, but there is a company up in New England that makes cutting tools. They grind carbide cutting tools, out of proprietary blood carbide, I've tried to squeeze it out of them, they wouldn't tell me.

Benjamin Moses:          Wouldn't tell you the recipe.

Stephen LaMarca:         I know this company, because when we bought the Cock Pocket NC, the Pocket NC, came with a carbide cutting tool. Single flute carbide cutting tool, eighth inch, for cutting, milling plastic and that tool is still probably the best tool that I have for that machine. I love buying cutting tools from that company. That company, I stand behind that company. If you go on Instagram, Instagram machinists stand by that company. That is their favorite tool to buy.

Benjamin Moses:          That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         Seriously. And it was so awesome that after Road Trippin' With Steve debuted, I don't know if it was wrapped up by then, somebody reaches out to me from this company and they're like, "Dude, we just opened a 70,000 square foot facility and we would love for you to come back and we'd love to give you a tour. You don't have to film there, but we'd love just love to show you the place."

Benjamin Moses:          That would be cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         I was just like, he was telling me all this and talking about what they're doing and the process. And like, "It's the middle of winter right now. You probably don't want to come back up here until the snow is gone." All I can think about is, this is my favorite cutting tool. Obviously, I can't say their name now, because it will make a lot of top dollar members really mad at me.

Benjamin Moses:          Next time you're on vacation, Steve, take a vacation day and go up there.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, I'll have to take a vacation there. But it was really cool hearing from them. It was just people like that. So that's where the first place I want to go. But I think it will probably Midwest for the second season.

Benjamin Moses:          Let's talk also about Outside the Shop. We did talk too much about that during the podcast, but you visited the East Initiative and there's some really cool things that happened in your Outside the Shop.

Stephen LaMarca:         So Season One, Jules, Adam and I with no camera crews, mostly Adam, and I was supposed to be a boom mic person. And I was terrible at it, because these kids, and they were kids, they're students, but they're kids man.

Benjamin Moses:          Well, yes.

Stephen LaMarca:         They were telling us on camera these awesome projects that they were doing for school using manufacturing technology and I was such a terrible boom mic person, he goes, "Well-

Benjamin Moses:          Just amazed.

Stephen LaMarca:         ... I'm like, "Wow. Are you serious." You can audible hear me while I'm supposed to be totally silent holding this mic. But that was in not Little Rock, Arkansas. Hot Springs, Arkansas. Highly recommend visiting that part of the country. Hot Springs, it was dirt cheap and fantasy land beautiful. It was absolutely incredible, and weather very similar to here. If not like a two week delay. I think that's how Jules described it. But that was beautiful. That was Season One of Outside the Shop. Season Three, which has not been filmed yet, and I don't think that's been planned yet either, but anyway, I don't even know why I mentioned Season Three. Season Three is in the works. Jules and Adam are planning that out. I don't know where we're going. But, I do know that Jules contacted Adam and I recently asking about ... She forwarded an email to us saying that the three of us were invited to be judges for the next EAST Initiative Conference.

Benjamin Moses:          Oh that's awesome. Cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         So Adam and I were like, "Absolutely."

Benjamin Moses:          That'll be a good-

Stephen LaMarca:         Adam signed up and applied, so hopefully we can be judges on the next season of Outside the Shop.

Benjamin Moses:          That's going to be amazing.

Stephen LaMarca:         Outside the Shop Season Two, we went to Ryan's neck of the woods, San Francisco.

Benjamin Moses:          Oh, that's right.

Stephen LaMarca:         We visited the Autodesk West Coast tech center and got to interview and see what all of their resident companies are doing there. Autodesk, everybody thinks of them as like the CADCAM company or a CAD/CAM company. And they also do things for architects and stuff too. Software company for modeling. But the cool thing is, they actual bolster a lot of startups in manufacturing, in the manufacturing industry. It's really cool, they find these awesome people and they offer residencies to them and then they train them on manufacturing technology. And we're not just talking about additive and robots, but they have a wood shop there and of course, Autodesk, one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities on, they have a West Coast and East Coast. For Road Trippin' With Steve, I got to visit the East Coast one in Boston. But, their West Coast, either of them, it doesn't matter which one, you go to Autodesk, everybody thinks Autodesk has this awesome forward thinking, advance manufacturing technology facility. They still have a Bridgeport there. I'm like, "Yes."

Benjamin Moses:          That good old Bridgeport. I swear if there's a-

Stephen LaMarca:         Heck yeah, man

Benjamin Moses:          If we go to factory and don't see a Bridgeport, I would question my life [crosstalk 00:15:13].

Stephen LaMarca:         Questions, suss, mad suss.

Benjamin Moses:          That's amazing. Also, I'm really looking forward to the type of content getting into IMTS next year.

Stephen LaMarca:         Me too.

Benjamin Moses:          And also AMT is looking at getting to know some of those conversations, so Spark will eventually dwindle down and we'll also mention where we can keep seeing, if you guys want to keep watching, some of the other content that you missed on Spark. But, before we do that, I want to hit on some highlights and some interesting things that occurred during Spark, some of the articles that we talk about. Also, some of the interesting conversations that we had with some of the people that we had on Spark. The biggest takeaway that I noticed the past six months or so was, everyone should be aware of Australia. Between their growth of artificial intelligence in defense and their focus on manufacturing and bringing in advanced manufacturing technologies into the country, it's very fascinating to see one, how much effort they're putting into it, but also, the information that's coming out of Australia about their focuses.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, and not how much effort that they've put into it, but how far along they are with their efforts.

Benjamin Moses:          True. It's very mature.

Stephen LaMarca:         They're not some ... This sounds insulting. They're not some third world country. They're near super power in manufacturing, and I had no idea.

Benjamin Moses:          It does feel like they-

Stephen LaMarca:         Here I am supposed to be like-

Benjamin Moses:          It does feel like they've come out of nowhere. But some of the articles that we covered was the one that started making their own submarines. So they have one of the world's largest machine tools to start manufacturing that. Their artificial intelligence for drones, so I wouldn't call it Sentient of course, but I think they're a fairly mature technology and some of the additive use cases are very fascinating. Definitely recommend checking some of those out.

Stephen LaMarca:         Australia, if somebody ever says to you, instead of watching a company, as if it's talking about the stock market like, "Which company do you think is really blowing up in the stock market." If somebody asks you which country's really blowing up in manufacturing technology, my three answers would be, your top three right away, I don't know what's happening in Germany, but I'm worried about them. Because I haven't really heard much out of Germany.

Benjamin Moses:          They've been a little quiet.

Stephen LaMarca:         They top three, U.S. obviously. I don't know where they place. I've got internal bias, so I'm not going to place them in the top. I'm going to place them in the top three, I just don't know. But the other two countries, Australia is definitely up there and I think it's really close for first place between Australia and South Korea.

Benjamin Moses:          South Korea, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Korea, Hyundai and their automation is ... Well, Korea and their automation. The most robots per capita.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure. It's impressive.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's really cool.

Benjamin Moses:          One of the other things that have come around in the past couple of months was security. Surprise, cybersecurity is a problem, especially in manufacturing. I think that some of the hot things that came out were some of the day one patch, zero day penetrations, like on solar winds. Microsoft just had a fairly significant breach on, I think it was their exchange.

Stephen LaMarca:         Was it Microsoft or was it Intel?

Benjamin Moses:          I thought Microsoft had one on their exchange. That's where there's a recent patch on their exchange server, but Intel could have too. Who knows?

Stephen LaMarca:         I think Intel's in some hot water recently too, right.

Benjamin Moses:          I wouldn't be surprised, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         All of them are in hot water-

Benjamin Moses:          Everybody's in hot water.

Stephen LaMarca:         ... Nvidia, AMD, Intel. I don't know what's going on with those Silicon companies.

Benjamin Moses:          Breaches left and right. Video game industry is getting hacked and source codes stolen. There's a lot of-

Stephen LaMarca:         And we can't even get the hardware.

Benjamin Moses:          Exactly, I'm just completely frustrated. But the key is, security is really reared its head in terms of I think the probably with the elections for the previous president that there's potential tampering and that's progressed into ... It feels like every month there's a new breach or there's a new hack or there's a new phishing scheme coming around. It's really more pronounced that the value of some decent security measures. It's grown significantly.

Stephen LaMarca:         Absolutely and we had a great meeting recently with one of our AIM committee members, Scott. Was it AIM?

Benjamin Moses:          Technology Issues Committee.

Stephen LaMarca:         TIC, and of course, we had Jan de Nijs and Mike Muckin from Lockheed who are absolutely SMEs, if not the people who you go to when you want to talk about cyber physical security. What was funny was, I forget what event on IMTS Spark it was, but we had somebody ask a question in one of the events and it was a pretty important person who asked this question, and Jules actually forwards the question to me. He was like, "Hey, do you mind taking a stab at this question and telling me how to answer it." I was like, "What are" ... The question was basically, what are some things manufacturing companies can do to help battle against security breaches and stuff like that?

Me, being the snarky person that was working on something else at the moment, and saw the notification pop up, read the question and I say, "Tell him to update their drivers, get the most recent Windows security patch and service package, or even install the latest operating system and be done with it. They're going to be fine." Jules was like, "Are you sure you want me to say that to them. I mean, do you think that will come off as me blowing them off?" I was like, "Yeah, you're right. Ask Ben."

Benjamin Moses:          I do remember seeing that question. It's funny that you bring that up, because I didn't know how I got to that point, but I was definitely brought in the loop. And yeah, it's interesting that you look at your personal life and how that projects to your company and industry. But in the end, there's a couple of rules or best practices to follow. We keep talking about the cyber framework, and that's a really good starting point, but it's gotten to the point where the U.S. government said, "We've had enough of this. Let's dump a ton of money with a private public relationship and let's start manufacturing with U.S.A. Institute just on security itself."

So there's an institute out of Texas called the CyManII Institute and all their focus is security in the industrial sector, particularly in manufacturing. That's sponsored by the Department of Energy, now of course they feel that if they can reduce the burden of security, they can reduce the energy load in manufacturing. So, it's kind of a payback through reducing energy usage. I think that's very smart and they're investing tons and tons of money into this. That's what I responded to that question was, follow some basic guidelines. There's best practices already. Follow those best practices and that'll get pretty far.

The caveat to that is, there's a lot of penetrations just from the office side of your manufacturing area. People bringing random USB drives into the professional computers. People getting phishing schemes and people getting socially engineered to get hacked, are really, really big problems. And those are usually in the back office environment. Either you have the social engineering schemes are targeting executives in the company. So while you should worry about your operations and indirect attacks and your USB drives on your machines-

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, hot gluing your USB ports isn't enough.

Benjamin Moses:          Which to be fair, if this is a problem, stop putting USB drives on computers, which you probably can't do, because you probably have to local upload, whatever. But, the culture of security should be more of a wholistic organization look. I think that's the gap that a lot the industry sees, or I see in the industry, is that, hey, it's a really big problem and it's a whole organization problem. That's the thing that Lockheed was talking about where they're applying what they see are best practices across the industrial sector in general. Not just manufacturing, but what are other companies doing and how are they applying firewalls and security measures? So they have been following IIC and some other industrial groups, industrial security groups.

Their whole architecture has been put together in a way to mitigate, it's called east west communication, so if I go through a company, you go north and south, through the different layers of the organization. I go through the main firewall, then a building, then a room, then a device. Those are north south communication. So they've mitigated their device penetration, as much as they can, but that's created a burden on security where they have trouble communicating out the information that they want. So if they want to remote into something, it's actually very, very difficult for them. They're hitting operational issues because of their information technology issues. So, I think we are really at a fun time where people are willing to talk about their architectures and the type of problems, in addition to the rise of digital manufacturing, where we want this connectivity, but we also want to all make it secure. It's fascinating times.

Stephen LaMarca:         I get where I think some more of the what I ... That's not fair, but more traditional machine shops would think that ... I went from having nothing but some drill presses and Bridgeports and some LeBlond lathes, and now you're telling me I need an IT department? I was like, "Yes, it's crazy, but you want to maximize all this. If you want to maximize your productivity, you've got to go digital, you need security and your security is your IT department."

Benjamin Moses:          And that's come up a-

Stephen LaMarca:         A competent IT department. And the IT department can only be as competent as the owner of a shop, because you've got to hand over the reins. If you want security, they need full power.

Benjamin Moses:          And that's come up a couple of different times. On one of the Spark episodes with the Tom and Lonnie chat, we talked about hybrid manufacturing and the value that hybrid manufacturing has in dies, dies and molds, either creating dies and molds or repairing or modifying. There's a lot of value if you have a hybrid machine or have access to it. One of the questions was, in the future, if I'm a business, I'm looking to integrate hybrid manufacturing or additive into my strategy. What type of skillset do I want to include as part of that Cap X purchase? Because now you're bringing in welding processes, now you're bringing in theoretically casting type technologies. Do you need to hip your parts? There's a lot of questions that a company that focuses purely on subtractive won't be able to answer without bring in new skill. So the idea of, hey, these ramped technology growth is going to require new skills and new people to support it, is fascinating to me. This is really interesting times, because it shows a lot of the need for people still in the future. Everyone talked about automations, artificial intelligence is going to get rid of people. Not quite, it help people make the-

Stephen LaMarca:         Nope.

Benjamin Moses:          It'll make the faster, smarter, stronger, but we're still going to need people. We're always going to need a lot of people.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's still a team effort.

Benjamin Moses:          It's still a team effort.

Stephen LaMarca:         And then the team is instead of two humans, it's now the humans and the machines. It really is a team effort. There's no replacing.

Benjamin Moses:          One of the fun parts about Spark is we revamped the technology forum this year, where we brought in industry lead research for industry. I was really happy with the volume of speakers we had and the content we had, Steve. I don't know if you had any good highlights or takeaways. We could bring up our good friend Jan de Nijs again.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, I'm absolutely going to bring up Jan de Nijs again. I don't want to get too into details about the tech forum, only because we did talk a good about the tech forum. I mean the tech forum is the title of the last episode of the podcast we just did. But one thing I didn't say in the last episode and it is with respect to what we learned from Jan de Nijs is that the definition either has ... Either the definition has changed of digital twin since last year, or probably more realistically, I finally learned the actual definition of digital twin. But in 2020, as a recognized [inaudible 00:28:52] of technology of AMT, digital twin was a very advanced model, but not just a model, a simulation and a series of compounding models to make a digital subsystem for either your product or your process.

So yeah, you can have a really good CAD model of something where all of your moving parts are digitized in you can simulate it in a wind tunnel and do all of your computational fluid dynamics, but also do a simulation of it's manufacturing, and oh, you'd also have the model of the machine that makes said part and that machine exists in a model environment that has a full replication of the laws of physics that we live with, that's what we thought. We thought, at least I thought last year a digital twin was a digital model, focusing on digital, we're here. Last year we were focusing on digital with digital twin and your digital twin was a deep and as far as you are willing to program it, is your digital twin.

Then Jan ne Nijs comes along during the tech forum and is like, "No, you don't want to go too deep." You need to go a certain level of depth, but at the end of the day, you're focusing on digital. We don't want to focus on digital. It's the twin, is the word that you want to focus on. The emphasis is on twin. It can't be a digital twin unless there's a physical representation of your part. If you have a digital model, it's literally not a twin. If you have the physical piece that you're modeling, then the model becomes a digital twin. So, it's getting into semantics and being specific, but that's what I learned for 2021.

Benjamin Moses:          And that helps a lot-

Stephen LaMarca:         That was my main takeaway.

Benjamin Moses:          That helps a lot, because I still feel like it's a nebulous term that I can't put my hand around yet, but as teams like Jan and everyone else working on the digital twin standard in ISO, I forgot what the name of that working group is, but the further they enhance the definitions, the more real it becomes. The closer it becomes, I understand this thing now and I'm really excited for that.

Stephen LaMarca:         But just let me expand a little bit more, and I promise I'll be done. But, a couple podcasts ago, I brought up how at my last dentist visit they did a 3D scan of my mouth and then showed me on this big screen my mouth in 3D and they did all the simulations of what grinding would look like, what my bite looks like. In that episode, where I brought that up, I was a little bit hesitant to refer to it as a digital twin. I was just like, "It's just a really good 3D scan and subsequently a 3D model of my mouth." But then I realized, my mouth is the physical part. What they were showing me on screen and they were simulating, is the digital part. That is quite literally an applied digital twin. I saw it in dentistry before I saw it in manufacturing.

Benjamin Moses:          That's amazing.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's wild.

Benjamin Moses:          One of the fun times I had was hosting the Tom and Lonnie chat. So these are some of the leaders from Oak Ridge National Labs. They're heading up the manufacturing demonstration facility. They came up with a series of things that they're working on at Oak Ridge, talking about additive, they're talking about big area additive, concrete printing for large houses. And then-

Stephen LaMarca:         Oh, was this the moonshot?

Benjamin Moses:          No. No. The moonshot was a different one.

Stephen LaMarca:         There was a lot of good stuff.

Benjamin Moses:          They also talked about IoT for manufacturing. The moonshot was a very, very unique idea that could revolutionize the manufacturing industry. The specific one Tony Schmitz was leading was focused on replacing machine tool base, subtractive manufacturing base.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, that's it.

Benjamin Moses:          So most bases are cast. Some cast material, cast metal. The problem is in the U.S., the ability to create such large casting is very, very low, so a lot of that's imported, which obviously now is a fairly big problem with the pandemic and the current trade and tariffs. So the idea would be to-

Stephen LaMarca:         The energy costs and environmental issues associated.

Benjamin Moses:          Exactly. So the idea would be, what can the U.S. do? Instead of copy and pastaing the current stuff we're importing, let's try something different. What they did is the printed the shell of the base and then poured concrete into it. Then they're using that poured concrete with this additively grown part supporting it to start attaching the motion control systems on it, the beds and ways. So, that's their moonshot idea is making a machine tool base out of concrete, and the one they're working on is kind of a gantry style, and the additive section is actually going to become a mold in the future, so it won't be a one time use print. But-

Stephen LaMarca:         And you can use it with metal.

Benjamin Moses:          Correct. Correct.

Stephen LaMarca:         I think it's so cool that their moonshot idea is like, remember those old television ads back in the day of this law firm for Saiontz & Kirk? If you have a phone, you have a lawyer. Their moonshot ideas is, if you have a 3D printer, you have a foundry.

Benjamin Moses:          Exactly. And it's very fascinating. One of the engineers that was working on it was Emma Betters and she actually presented the ability to tune a machine tool. One of the issues that you run into is resonance, as things move around, vibrance resonance, and dampening and all these different things. She did a demonstrator on the smaller part where I can create a base or a structure and obviously I can understand its dynamics and then modify it to meet the [inaudible 00:35:17] side I want. I found that very fascinating. That can be done at a different level on the casting, but the ability to do it as a one-off case, which obviously additive does help itself quite a bit for one-offs, but I thought that was very, very fascinating. And she presented that a year or two ago at the, I think it was the America Society of Precision Engineering Conference two years ago. Now she's working on this moonshot idea.

The thing with the Tom and Lonnie show, was the big takeaway is that Oak Ridge is doing some very, very cutting edge stuff. They've got a neutron source. For those you who know what a neutron source is, there's not too many of them in the world, they have it at Oak Ridge, obviously in a classified section. But in the manufacturing demonstrations facility, they're doing some pure cutting edge stuff. The big takeaway is, the stuff they're doing is value-add to the industry. The stuff they're doing is making businesses become more efficient. Making businesses more profitable in manufacturing. The type of innovations that they're spitting out and generating is always in partnership with an industry company that has a very, very specific problem. They solve their problem and it's repeatable, and it is in such a way they generate the knowledge in such a way that it can be done over and over again and the company becomes a pioneer or technology leader in their space.

They mention a couple of interesting use cases of using additive for construction applications. The first idea was, yeah, I could print a house. That technology's maturing. I think there're houses in the northeast you could probably buy that's been grown somewhere. But the idea of making molds out of using additive manufacturing, and those molds make your concrete blocks. The case that they had was this construction company had 200 some panels that are all unique, that they'd use wood forms to make their molds. But they grew the molds instead, so they reduced construction time and they were able to use the molds more than they could with the wooden molds. So overall, the profitability of the project just skyrocketed because of that.

And that's the big takeaway is that if you a have a problem, if you have an idea, if you have a need, contacting Oak Ridge to say, "Hey, this is something I'm interested in doing, have you guys seen this problem?" Will probably get you pretty far. It's surprising that the need willingness they'll support the industry in solving problems is amazing. And the problems that they have solved and the companies that have benefited from it are great.

Steve, the last thing I wanted to talk about was your efforts on Demo Days on Spark. Tell me what are Demo Days and some of your highlights.

Stephen LaMarca:         The Demo Days, which are just ending today, well, they've ended already, but the Demo Days was to wrap up IMTS Spark, we wanted to have a couple weeks where every Wednesday for the couple of weeks, that week would have a particular topic, whether it was automation or additive manufacturing or milling. And the final week of course was turning and production machining. But, it we have for a few hours during the middle of the day, multiple sessions where people could log in and watch directly from the companies on display, showing off their latest offerings and doing actual product demonstrations of the technology that they have on display. It was a way for our members and exhibitors to take a digital stab at what we all missed out on of not having an IMTS in person and being able to stand in front of that new metal and really get to embrace the latest technology in all of its in-person glory.

Instead of having an analog show, this was a digital show. Everybody missed having an IMTS, but this was the closest you could get to actually seeing machine tools and technology in general in motion on the show floor in front of you, but from the comfort of your own couch. I mentioned the topics, the weekly themes that we had, but we just wrapped up this week, and today actually with our last one, which was the season finale, if you would, which was turning and production machine. But to kick off every session on every Wednesday, Jules and I would host two SMEs who would come on and we would interview them. We'd throw some questions at them and they'd give us their insight on what we could expect to see at that week's Demo Day.

For this last one, turning and production, I got to interview Steve Lesnewich, and I had a lot of fun doing it, because he's been in the industry for a long time now. He's seen a lot and instead of gathering his insights of what the future of turning and production machining looks like, he got to tell me and everybody who was watching some really cool awesome stories of where it came from. The first story he opened with was with his time, I think it was five years at Citizen. It's probably more that than. But his time at Citizen in their Swiss machines. Their Swiss lathes and he was telling me about they had a medical supplier that came to them and they were like, "We need to make these little things and they're called a phaco tip, and they're for the medical industry. Phaco, P-H-A-C-O, it's this little needle sized part that would vibrate at an ultrasonic frequency, kind of like an acoustic tool, where at IMTS, everybody saw acoustic tools where they'd turn them on it wouldn't look like the tool's moving at all and then they'd splash some water on it and the water as soon as it touches the tool would evaporate right away, because of its frequency it was vibrating at. Not because it was hot. There was not temperature involved, it was the frequency.

Well, that's what a phaco tip did. And these phaco tips had to be made out of titanium for whatever reason. I'm sure he went into it. And not only did they vibrate, had to be made out of titanium, were really small, and turned of course, but you also had to have an inner diameter. He needed to bore out the center of the phaco tip, so you were essentially button rifling, or button broaching a hole in the center of this little phaco tip so when the needle goes into somebody's eye, it vibrates at the ultrasonic frequency emulsifying a cataract and once you emulsify the cataract you have all that nasty gunk floating around in somebody's eye, you've got to vacuum it up, so that hole was bored in the middle of the phaco tip to just suck it up and keep it away from the newly cleaned and clear environment that was the cataract free eye. Again, this was turned, micro size, a minuscule essentially gun barrel, made out of titanium, that had to vibrate at ultrasonic frequency. And this was done in the 80s. Theydid this in the 80s, man. So this is how far it's come.

BenjaminMoses:          That's amazing.

StephenLaMarca:         Then on top of that, I think the medical company that needed this. They even came and back and were like, "Oh yeah, the FDA just passed a legislation on this medical product and said these can't be cleaned and reused. These expensive small parts, can't be cleaned and reused. These are a one time thing. You use it once and you throw it away." So they're like, "We need to make a lot of them. They're going to cost a lot of money." That was just his first story and he had a bunch of other ones that were really insightful. He saw the advent of lathe manufacturing and lights-out manufacturing.

That was during his time at Daewoo Doosan and Doosan to this day, that package that they made, that made lights-out manufacturing possible, before Alean was even a concept, they called that package, which had standard involved by the way, that were not in existence yet. That package was called the productivity package, that they gleefully referred to as the Night Shift Two, which was really cool. But he did mention that the Night Shift, or excuse me, the productivity package is still available for Doosan products today.

Benjamin Moses:          That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's still an option.

Benjamin Moses:          That's amazing.

Stephen LaMarca:         He saw them come up with that. What was the story in the middle? I don't know, you have to go back and watch it. It was really fun. And if you missed anything, you did talk about this earlier, if you missed anything not just from IMTS Demo Days, but anything in general on IMTS Spark, because like I said, we pivoted from being an organization in the manufacturing industry that puts on a week long trade show every two years to a full on digital media company, because of a pandemic. And we've got to pat ourselves on the back, because we put out a lot of awesome content. Because there was so much content, if anybody missed any of it, you go to IMTS Spark and all of it's available on demand until June.

Benjamin Moses:          Awesome. That's exciting. Steve, where can they find more information about us?

Stephen LaMarca:         If you want more information about us, and we're not going to go anywhere. We're going to be on past June. You'll always be able to find us. But if you want more about the AMT Tech Trends podcast, go to AMTnews.org and if you really want to follow up hardcore, you got to AMTnews.org/subscribe.

Benjamin Moses:          Awesome. It's kind of a bitter sweet day closing Spark and I don't know about you, I'm ready for a drink.

Stephen LaMarca:         Ready for a drink.

Benjamin Moses:          So is the audience. So at the end of this episode I recommend everyone just go get a drink and have a good time. Thanks everyone.

Stephen LaMarca:         That's right. Bye everybody.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Manufacturing Technology
Benjamin Moses has worked in the design and manufacturing world for aerospace components for 16 years, developing new products and implementing new an ...
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