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AMT Tech Trends: Who’s dead now? Additive? Cobots? Find out tonight at 11!

Episode 106: Elissa fills us in on NASA’s robo bees and upcoming travel. Ben says NASA’s testing 3D printed rocket nozzles made out of aluminium. Steve was recently quoted as a professional. Elissa closes with Amazon’s new robot workers.
Nov 13, 2023

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Ramia Lloyd:

Welcome to the TechTrends 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. I'm Ramia Lloyd, and I'm here with...

Elissa Davis:

I'm Elissa Davis, the digital community specialist.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm Steve LaMarca, AMT's technology analyst. Not the only one anymore, though.

Benjamin Moses:

I am Benjamin Moses, the second most awake person here. Everyone is really sleepy this morning.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think you're the most awake person.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, probably.

Ramia Lloyd:

I don't know who's beaten me right now.

Benjamin Moses:

I've gone through three cups of coffee, so it's all good.

Stephen LaMarca:

Nice.

Ramia Lloyd:

Oh, okay.

Elissa Davis:

Understandable.

Ramia Lloyd:

Prepared.

Benjamin Moses:

Just prepared.

Ramia Lloyd:

Cool.

Benjamin Moses:

Elissa, I hear South Tech is happening this week.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Tell me what you're excited for.

Elissa Davis:

Well, I've never been to South Tech.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

I've only actually ever been to East Tech, so this is my first time.

Stephen LaMarca:

Same.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Ramia Lloyd:

Where is South Tech?

Elissa Davis:

It's in Greenville, South Carolina.

Ramia Lloyd:

Does that make sense?

Stephen LaMarca:

Fun place.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. And our hotel's right on the water. It's going to be really nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

Greenville's really pretty.

Elissa Davis:

I've never been to South Carolina and it's one of the few states I have never been to in my life and so I'm really excited. I've never even had a layover there or anything.

Stephen LaMarca:

Everybody in South Carolina is so polite and super nice And you're going at the perfect time of the year because any other time of the year, it would be miserable.

Elissa Davis:

It's still going to be in the seventies and low eighties.

Benjamin Moses:

It's going to be pleasant down there.

Stephen LaMarca:

It'll be nice.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Super white.

Elissa Davis:

Well, I mean... I went to a John Mayer concert on Friday, I get it.

Stephen LaMarca:

South Carolina is how I pictured when Lavelle Crawford during his bit talking about Aspen. Aspen, Colorado. He was like, there is one person of flavor and when you show up, they're just going to be, "Welcome to Aspen. Now it's my time to leave." That's South Carolina.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. So yeah, I think it'll be really cool. I know I'm going with our membership team.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

And so they're probably going to go see some members and be able to introduce me to some people. So yeah, I'm excited. And then a couple of weeks I'll be going West Tech too, so I'm going to be all over the map.

Stephen LaMarca:

So you're seeing all the tech.

Ramia Lloyd:

She's traveling.

Elissa Davis:

It doesn't hurt that my boss is currently laid up at home with-

Stephen LaMarca:

Got a feeling.

Elissa Davis:

On painkillers.

Stephen LaMarca:

It would be interesting to see because these the SME regional events that we've partnered with.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Stephen LaMarca:

And it's cool to see the different focus in each of the areas.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Stephen LaMarca:

So definitely want your hot take after going to these two events to see what's different between the two areas.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. When I was at East Tech, I got this... Our booth was right next to this machine that, it was using laser to cut shapes out of metal.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

He would just find stuff on the internet and put them on the screen and then would cut it out for you.

Ramia Lloyd:

That's so cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

I love that.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. And so Leah and I, Leah who also works here, we both have a set of little dolphins.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh cool.

Elissa Davis:

That he printed for us because they would print and they put it on the floor and they're free to take.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

So I have that and then I've also got a butterfly that he printed.

Benjamin Moses:

That's cool.

Elissa Davis:

It was really cool.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

So I'll be interested to see what stuff because I'm a hands-on person.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

I love that a lot of shows, they're literally like children's museums.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

You just get to touch everything, you get free stuff. So I'm excited to see what they have at South Tech because East Tech it's such a big show.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

And I know South Tech's going to be a little bit smaller, so it'd be interesting to see what they have there.

Stephen LaMarca:

Soapbox. That's all I want out of the manufacturing industry is somebody with a laptop and a machine tool, just have people come over who they want to demo to these people, their machine and just pick something on Google Images or-

Elissa Davis:

That's literally what he was doing, yeah-

Stephen LaMarca:

Realistically grab the CAD.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Get me a CAD design. And this is why I have trouble with the CAM companies all the time is because I'm like, "No, don't show me something that you already have saved to convince something buddy like me. Go on Google. I want you to open a new tab right now. Go to Grab CAD, pick anything you want. Whether it's a POKEBALL or a bottle opener. Get something on Grab Cab, grab a CAD and download it and turn it into G Code. I want you to do it in front of me right now, you have five minutes." And they can't. It's literally all I want out of this industry.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

And that is useful. So the hands-on experience. So to your point Steve, the user workflow but to your point Elissa, so if I'm going from a water jet to a laser cutting machine, being able to see the hands-on experience of what does the surface finish look like, what are the edge prep needed. So being able to just physically feel it, that's very valuable for a manufacturer that's either replacing a piece of equipment or just looking at new technology.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. Well my butterfly is very sharp.

Benjamin Moses:

Yes.

Elissa Davis:

It's got a couple of really sharp edges.

Benjamin Moses:

It is not when-

Stephen LaMarca:

Burring tool-

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

In the office, just so...

Benjamin Moses:

Don't have one?

Stephen LaMarca:

We don't have one.

Benjamin Moses:

I got a couple at home.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

I'll bring one in.

Elissa Davis:

But I'll definitely, maybe I'll bring back some Knick-knacks from South Tech and I'll bring back all the info.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Because I'm really excited. Like I said, I've only ever been to East Tech and now I get to go to all the techs this year.

Stephen LaMarca:

This is awesome.

Elissa Davis:

I went to Houston Tech earlier this year too.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, Houston has their own tech.

Ramia Lloyd:

Right?

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. Well I love that. It's called Houston Techs.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

I just like how that sounds.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

They're really fun. They should do that with more cities.

Elissa Davis:

Well they could also just call it... They could do an-

Stephen LaMarca:

If it was Chi Tech?

Elissa Davis:

They could do it at any other city in Texas and it could just be called Texas Tech.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh.

Elissa Davis:

Or Tex Tech.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, Tex Tech.

Ramia Lloyd:

I do like tech.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Ramia Lloyd:

That sounds fun.

Elissa Davis:

SME, you got my number.

Benjamin Moses:

And they do Texas design and manufacturing because every city or area, it's got their own specialty.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

You have the Fort Worth area, you got Houston, you got Dallas, you got Galveston even. They all have their own little specialty within oil and gas heavy industry or defense even out of Fort Worth or airspace.

Elissa Davis:

They had a big bumblebee from Transformers, but it was built all out of different manufacturing parts.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. That's cool-

Ramia Lloyd:

That's so cool.

Elissa Davis:

And that was the big piece when you walked into the show floor at Houston Tech. So that was pretty cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

Industrial art pieces are so awesome.

Elissa Davis:

It was. I mean I have pictures of it. It was really cool.

Benjamin Moses:

I have a question for you Elissa.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Let's continue on the topic.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

I heard you got a bees update.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. I do have bees update. So my NASA bees book. So I found out that the reason why I didn't realize that I didn't see anything about the bees is because on the back of the book it calls them robo-bees or robot bees. So they're not bees bees, they're robot bees. I haven't gone to that part in the book yet because obviously that's a much... It starts in the time of Aristotle and it goes all, it's 50 major events through history of robotics and AI. So it starts with Aristotle and eventually we're going to get to the robotic bees. But yeah, so the robot bees and NASA's use of them is going to be one of the major chapters. So that's where the bees are coming into play, NASA's bees. And it's a really interesting book because it's great for someone who's a newer to the industry and a little more beginner like me. And it just breaks down these events. It starts with Aristotle and his use of automatons.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow.

Elissa Davis:

But what's really interesting is that it also talks about how the people's fear of robots and automation taking people's jobs is literally as old as Aristotle. Ever since automatons were on the books.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

People have been afraid that they're going to take their jobs.

Benjamin Moses:

That's amazing.

Elissa Davis:

So I feel like if it hasn't happened in 2000 plus years, it's probably not going to happen.

Benjamin Moses:

Or the other way to look at it, if people raise a concern, just move on. Stop talking about it because there's no way to placate this conversation. There's nothing you can say to calm them down. They're just going to have that fear.

Stephen LaMarca:

No.

Elissa Davis:

And it's interesting to think that there's some things in society that never change and it's interesting that that's one of the things that never changes.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Is that people being afraid of robots taking their jobs.

Stephen LaMarca:

Robot bees though, I'm not afraid of them. I feel there's rationale to being afraid of robot bees though.

Elissa Davis:

It's like murder-

Stephen LaMarca:

Bees scary. Robots if you must, they can be scary. Robot bees though, let's take it easy.

Elissa Davis:

Hey, but maybe that's what saves the bees.

Stephen LaMarca:

Maybe this is what saves the... Okay.

Elissa Davis:

Is the robot bees.

Stephen LaMarca:

But this goes on to my follow-up questions. Who made the bees? Is it humans? Is it us? We're making these bees?

Elissa Davis:

So I believe it's NASA, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

What is the purpose of the robot bees? Is it for pollination or exploration?

Elissa Davis:

I haven't gotten to that part in the book yet, so I'm keeping you updated.

Stephen LaMarca:

I need to know more about the bees. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

To be continued, Steve.

Elissa Davis:

To be continued. This is going to be my running series throughout the Texas podcast.

Stephen LaMarca:

For robot honey or is it just 10W40?

Elissa Davis:

Would that be oil like the tin man. Yeah, so robot bees which yeah, when I picture them they're very terrifying.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

But I am sure they're not. I'm sure they're just a little tiny bit, little-

Stephen LaMarca:

It sounds very Dr Robotnic.

Benjamin Moses:

Well to be fair, there's a lot of organizations mimicking organisms into robotics.

Elissa Davis:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

Festival has been doing that a lot with, they have a fish, they've got a bunch of different, not quite replicas of the natural world but taking organic mechanics and see if they can mimic that. The hummingbird is a real interesting approach nowadays. A neat thing they're trying to get into, see if they can mimic a flight through hummingbird mechanics.

Elissa Davis:

It's interesting because isn't a hummingbird also a pollinator?

Benjamin Moses:

I think so.

Elissa Davis:

Are we just trying to mimic-

Benjamin Moses:

Just copying all the pollinators?

Elissa Davis:

I mean which is good because apparently they're dying out, so we need more of them.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

That's interesting that those are the things that we're choosing.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

There are two of the things that I think in some ways, we least understand.

Benjamin Moses:

I think it's related to transport. So underwater, copying a stingray and how those things, dolphins and how they move through water instead of just using a prop. So I think the exploration of efficiency, if an organism can do it one way, is there a way to mimic that and improve our efficiency in robotics. On that note...

Stephen LaMarca:

Like how the medical industry learned to make more efficient needles for injecting people with stuff.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

They studied the mosquito. You can get a needle that people won't notice.

Benjamin Moses:

I don't think that's true. I always notice a needle.

Stephen LaMarca:

Have you seen the videos of a trained nurse or doctor jabbing a balloon?

Elissa Davis:

Oh my God.

Stephen LaMarca:

And it doesn't pause.

Ramia Lloyd:

I've seen those.

Elissa Davis:

That viral video.

Stephen LaMarca:

How crazy is that?

Benjamin Moses:

I still would feel it.

Elissa Davis:

It's wild though because you can tell, it's like a dentist office.

Stephen LaMarca:

You're one of those.

Benjamin Moses:

I am. I mean I-

Stephen LaMarca:

Uh.

Elissa Davis:

To be fair when you see it if you see it, you're going to feel it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Even if you don't actually feel it, you're going to feel it If you see it.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm actually one of those concealed carry holders that's like, why do you have that? Are you scared? And they just like, "Not scared bro. Not scared. Being scared has nothing to do with it."

Benjamin Moses:

No, I'm not scared of being shot or getting, receiving shot. I just still feel it. Let's talk about injections, I mean.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm sorry dude.

Benjamin Moses:

Ramia, tell about say sponsor please.

Ramia Lloyd:

Okay.

Tune in for modern machine shops 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 the 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, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Benjamin Moses:

Thanks Ramia.

Ramia Lloyd:

You're very welcome.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, I hear we want to get some equipment for free.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh yeah. Okay. So Testbed update.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I think this was true the last time we recorded, but the accessories for our new robot arm are on the way.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Or at least as close to being on the way as possible. They are... Mike Spaziano, my contact at IGIS, is making sure that they have everything in stock and he is compiling all of them and making sure everything is present, checked off and packaged before they ship it out. And this has been concerning to me because they're telling me all this stuff and I still haven't paid you.

Benjamin Moses:

You paid for the arm, just not the accessories.

Stephen LaMarca:

This is America. You are providing goods to me with spectacular customer service too, by the way, in return for that, you're supposed to receive money and I haven't paid anything yet.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, maybe he's expecting a read on the podcast.

Stephen LaMarca:

Maybe.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Maybe. But it's just weird because it speaks to our younger generation that likes to buy things off of the internet without talking to anybody. And I just even was like, "Oh, go to this website and just throw together your cart. Throw together everything that you think you want, all of our information's there too. All of our supporting documents. Marketing materials are on this website" and it's very much like the Amazon of robotics. I think I talked about their website on a previous episode. Very clean, easy to use. You just throw it in your cart and then, well okay, we specked out the robot and all the accessories we want, let's click check out.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

And when you click check out it's, "You're going to be contacted by your local representative." I'm like, "Okay, that's great."

Benjamin Moses:

Not bad.

Stephen LaMarca:

Fine. We did... So close.

Benjamin Moses:

So close to buy now.

Stephen LaMarca:

And now it's, "You're no longer a young person. Now you have to talk to people in the face over the phone." And that's fine. They're really good. Again, I mentioned before, exceptional customer service.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

They were very friendly to me. Heck, they're packaging it up and it may have been shipped by now. I still haven't paid anything. So that's cool.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

I got it for free. They're still going to collect soon but that's just my most recent adventure and experiences.

Benjamin Moses:

And we've been talking about this often on the buying process of manufacturing equipment, still feels rather clunky. There's certain things that you could buy right off the shelf that you could just hit the buy now button. And we compare this to when awesome dynamics really spot.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

You could actually go to the website and say buy now and pay $70,000 and get a robot pretty quick.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

And it still feels that in certain, I would say niche markets, what we're trying to buy is fairly niche but it feels like it's a clunky process to get there.

Stephen LaMarca:

As for buying directly online, actually paying online, they're trying to avoid that because for example, the same thing goes for when you buy a Tesla. You don't want to go to a dealership.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

They have showrooms in a shopping mall.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

And they can help you buy the car in the shopping mall on your own phone by the way.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

But they're sending you to the website.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's something exciting and dare I say dangerous to spending a lot of money on a website even though you're going to get that email receipt saying your order's confirmed.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Even though all this money is gone from your account-

Elissa Davis:

Orders confirm $50,000.

Stephen LaMarca:

We're in the process of getting you your thing, but for the money. This is the total opposite of that. There's no danger to it. There's just, I don't want to say inconvenience.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

They're making sure, "Hey, you're going to give us all this money but we're going to make sure you get what you want first." It's weird.

Elissa Davis:

I mean, its-

Stephen LaMarca:

We're not used to it. I'm sorry.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. It's a little different.

Elissa Davis:

No, we're not. But it's like when I tried to cancel my series as an XM subscription, you can't cancel it without talking to someone.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah. That's a headache.

Elissa Davis:

You have to talk to a representative in order to cancel it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

You can do it over chat, which is great. But what happens is when you talk to them over the chat, they're like, "Oh, we'll give it to you for $5 for 24 months instead of the $20 per month you've been paying."

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And I'm like, "Okay, cool." That's why they do it but that's part of why I didn't want to cancel it for a long time. I was like, "I don't want to talk to anyone to cancel this. I just want to be able to cancel it and never think about it again."

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

It's not something that our generation is... The thing is, as a kid, I was great at talking on the phone. Growing up, I talked on the phone a ton.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

But if someone tries to call me now, if I have to leave, call my doctor's office or call someone or something like that, I'm hype in myself for it. It'll be quick.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Ramia Lloyd:

So you're going to think about it all day.

Elissa Davis:

And then, you never have to do it.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

I think that's the underlying behavior is that if there's value add in the conversation. If we're trying to call someone to solve a problem.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

I think most of us are comfortable with that but buying something-

Stephen LaMarca:

Sometimes.

Benjamin Moses:

Is not value add or you could chat whatever.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

So going through the mechanics of trying to buy something when you know exactly what you want, you don't need a consultation.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

You know the end process, there's no added benefit of spending the time talking to someone. Clicking buttons is so much of a faster process. I think that's the difference in the generations of-

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Buying-

Stephen LaMarca:

When I bought my car, I didn't take it for a test drive.

Benjamin Moses:

You didn't?

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm a psycho, I know. I knew that's what I wanted.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's only one other conceivable option that scratches the itch that I want out of this car.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

I don't need to test drive it because I know that the other options do not check off as many boxes.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

As this one does.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

This is the one I want. As for other vehicles that I've test driven and probably less than 10 in my life, 100% wasn't going to buy it.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Absolutely not.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

I wanted to drive it or ride it in an event if it's a motorcycle just to say I did it and to see how much greener the grass is on the other side. I was in no way going to buy it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, that's fair. And I think that is fair for myself too because my test drive would want a confirmation as opposed to it... There's nothing that could have happened on the test drive that would've said, no, this is not the car you want.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

All right. Let's get some articles.

Stephen LaMarca:

There was something I wanted to say on that too. I lost my train of thought. Nevermind. Let's go.

Benjamin Moses:

Back to NASA. I found an article talking about NASA tests 3D printed aluminum rocket engine nozzle.

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow.

Benjamin Moses:

So this is interesting on a couple layers-

Stephen LaMarca:

Aluminum.

Benjamin Moses:

Aluminum, exactly. So they're doing a couple of tests on this entire process. One is reducing the number of components. We've seen that a couple of times back when GE Aviation was testing their 3D nozzle. So reducing number of components and getting to a single piece as opposed to a massive assembly. Reducing the complexity of the assembly. The second is material. The nozzles are very hot. In the video, they do a test fire. It's cool to see because obviously you see the flame coming out, but on the backside, the cooling it, so you see icicles starting to build up on the outside. So-

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow.

Benjamin Moses:

Both on, instead of using super alloys that can resist the heat, they're working on improving the material capabilities. So they're using aluminum 60, 61, which is common but a variant of it. They call it RAM two. And they're using a bunch of different partners supply this. So I thought was a very interesting thought process on one, they're trying to solve the complexity of manufacturing, but also look at new materials that they can, if you save weight on a rocket, that's huge. That's significantly more beneficial than aerospace or anything like that. And the other takeaway that I found very useful here is NASA can't do this alone. They're defining where the use case is. They definitely need industry partners. The article talks about several industrial partners that they worked with on this case, but they can't do it alone. So they're defining where they want to go and industry stepping up to say, "Yeah, let's work on this together." So between industry partners and NASA leading the way, we're seeing a lot of innovation occurring on that front.

Stephen LaMarca:

That's beautiful and incredible because I'm sure there's a lot of people who've worked with rockets who are hearing that. That's insane.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. It is.

Stephen LaMarca:

This aluminum is going to melt like American cheese on a skillet. This is dumb, why are we doing this? But if you think about it, rockets-

Elissa Davis:

Makes sense.

Stephen LaMarca:

Which are our newest form of engines that we as humans have created. Every engine that we've ever made started air cooled.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

And then went to liquid cooled. It started as a big, bulky, heavy thing that doesn't produce as much as it can out of the fear and risk of it overheating and parts failing. That's literally any air cooled engine of any type of combustion or not. And then we went to air cooled or water cooled, meaning we have a cooling system with weaker materials, don't need as much material for the engine block. It's not as overbuilt because now we've got water going through it or some coolant, refrigerant to keep it in operating temperature. And any engineer is like, "You just took a beautifully simple system and ruined it by adding complexity to it and adding another major component that can fail. And if it does fail, the whole system fails." So normally, that doesn't sound smart but we've been running liquid cooled engines forever now.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

In fact, they've almost entirely replaced air cooled engines. A lot of high performance computers now are liquid cooled.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

So maybe I'm not as excited about the materials aspect of this but I'm really excited that wow, rocket engines are this mature now that we're liquid cooling them. They're not air cooled anymore.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, it's a fun video. You should definitely check it out. I like their hot fire test.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

NASA does a good job on that.

Stephen LaMarca:

They do really cool.

Elissa Davis:

So as more of a layman looking at it, I think for me I'm like, "Whoa, aluminum. That makes sense" because I always think of aluminum foil.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

Right. When you take it out of the oven, you can still touch it.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Without it burning your hands. You can't touch the pan, but you can touch the aluminum foil.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

So I'm like, "Oh, well then aluminum makes sense because it has that property to it." I know it's obviously a variant of that type-

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Of aluminum. I mean, but I would assume it'd be much lighter than anything else that we...

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. And that's what they're shooting for is just improved overall efficiency. So good on you NASA.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

To expand on that though, as a counterpoint, long before some of the food companies decided to wake up and realize that they're killing us, American cheese used to have aluminum as an additive to help it melt easier.

Elissa Davis:

Oh yum.

Stephen LaMarca:

So...

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, I mean the same in-

Stephen LaMarca:

Materials.

Benjamin Moses:

So tell us what you got for today.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, today. So on Saturday I woke up and found out that for the first time ever asterisk on LinkedIn, I've been professionally quoted.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah, I saw that.

Elissa Davis:

Oh.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm really bummed about it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Somebody thought that a little excerpt of the hot air that comes out of my mouth on a daily basis was actually quotable. But it was on an article that I want to share. Failing me. I still haven't found it.

Elissa Davis:

I think you pulled it up on Slack.

Stephen LaMarca:

Did I pull it up on Slack? Did I post it to Slack? Oh my God, I did. You're right. Thank you. 3D print.com. RIP 3D printing.

Benjamin Moses:

Duh.

Stephen LaMarca:

And then the dates 1987, which I'm glad they got that right dispute. Everybody agrees that was in the eighties-

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

But they don't know if it was in the eighties. I didn't look that far into it but I'm going with it. If somebody's willing to publish it in their article that's going to have their name on it, it's 1987, good enough for me. To 2023. Complexity is expensive. And basically they're like, "This is not a clickbait title." Well, totally is a clickbait title. The article might not be clickbait though. It's a public service announcement basically saying that this emerged technology which is no longer an emerging technology but it is an emerged. And I'm so glad that I've been saying that for years. Elissa agreed with me today and now there's an article out there.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

But instead of just ripping into additive which would be the easy way to do, I read the comments on the LinkedIn post and they're very good. There's an excellent discussion going forward. The author of the article had posted it to LinkedIn and that's where I'm reading the comments from. It's not like Facebook, YouTube or Instagram comments. That's just like cesspool of toxicity. There's actually a solid discussion going on right now between people who have differing opinions from the article and the author backing them up or agreeing with the person. It's a really cool ongoing discussion right now about the current state of additive technology. Is it dying?

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Is it dead? Is it an investor's worst nightmare? Has it been an investor's worst nightmare? No, short answer. But it's just been really cool. And yeah, I commented... What did I... Now I don't even remember what I said. But my comment on the post was just because the technology has successfully emerged doesn't mean it's been successfully integrated which is additives major problem right now.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's a whole trans... What was the word that I used? Traditional, not trans. Traditional manufacturing industry that has been making the world go round for decades, if not centuries now. And it's run by people with very... They've been doing this and their pappy's been doing it and their pappy's pappy been doing it for hundreds of years now. This is how we do it. We're not going to change it. And then along comes this new technology additive which is hopped up on Star Trek, the next generation of counselor Troy just hanging out on the ship and being like, "I want hot chocolate computer. Give me hot chocolate." And hot chocolate just materializes in front of her. They think that's where additives going to go. And it's, "No, we've got a long ways to go. We've probably a few more centuries before we're there but I'm glad you recognized the baby step to that that is additive."

And these two industries have been headbutting, not necessarily headbutting, but they don't see entirely eye to eye which is why we've got this excellent developed technology that is all things additive and it hasn't been fully integrated into the rest of the traditional manufacturing workflow. And we're getting there and we're much farther than I'm describing it right now. I mean, I hate to keep bringing it up but that recent Oak Ridge National Lab trip that I went on, I've seen how far additive has been implemented into the rest of the industry. But I think this guy's concern is just that, before I hand it over to you, is just that there's still ways to go. We haven't seen the returns that we wanted because we're not done yet. The technology is done, now it's time to focus on business and just in case you haven't realized this yet, we're in the business of making parts to make money.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's what I want to hit on two layers. I agree, definitely the integrations, if I have a workflow of a part that's being subtracted manufactured, that workflows fairly robust. Like the CAD cam getting to post something on the machine itself, the inspection process. But the workflow of an additive part in that entire workflow.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

It's not there. You have to create an STL file still. You have to create two different languages to get to a finished product.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's a digital setup.

Benjamin Moses:

Right. And it's broken a little bit. And that's one thing I still struggle with a little bit is the workflow of going from program program, is perfectly fine. I understand that. So going from CAD to analysis to something else, a lot of times you are exporting and importing files but does that make sense, right?

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

I feel there's always a loss and risk of non-connected systems. And I think that's one of the biggest drawback that I'm seeing. And to your point of it's not integrated. Right?

Stephen LaMarca:

Exactly.

Benjamin Moses:

We understand the end use case of we want to improve our efficiency, we want better nozzles.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

We just talked about that. But the workflow from the product to the ideation, that workflow is completely broken between the different processes.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

And the other side that you hit on definitely is the risk or the business. The risk of the business side of it is still very high and additive, I think. Because of the cost of equipment and the knowledge set to achieve a production level part, it's not quite there. And that's where we see a lot of consultants or companies being successful as a bureau as opposed to companies bringing in their own equipment first. So it's still a lot of ways to go but a lot of adoption.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. We're getting there. I think additive is further along in the integration process with the rest of the manufacturing technology.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Then this article lets off.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

If you're still in the mindset in 2023 that how is additive not killing the game? They're always in the news. People are constantly invested in them. There's probably two, maybe three companies, additive companies that are actually making a profit selling machines.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

The rest of them, their money came from investors that don't know any better and didn't talk to anybody smart.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. The market's tough.

Elissa Davis:

I think instead of the hot chocolate thing, we should be aiming for the spy kids microwave.

Ramia Lloyd:

That was the first thing I thought of.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay. Elaborate on this because you mentioned this earlier and I don't know-

Elissa Davis:

Have you seen Spy Kids?

Stephen LaMarca:

No.

Elissa Davis:

Oh my gosh. Well-

Stephen LaMarca:

But I want to-

Elissa Davis:

Okay. So-

Stephen LaMarca:

Only because apparently my motorcycle's featured in it.

Elissa Davis:

Well, one, it is definitely a movie of its time. I watch it back now and I'm like-

Benjamin Moses:

It's dated.

Elissa Davis:

Wow.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think it was dated.

Elissa Davis:

I saw the third one in 3D with the red and blue glasses, the first that I ever saw in 3D. But they have basically, it almost looks like a military MRE. It's that packaging. And they put it on a tray and the microwave and she pushes a button and then it comes out as a big Mac and fries.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Wow.

Elissa Davis:

And somehow the microwave makes it into this food. And so instead of the hot chocolate, we should really be aiming for this spy kids microwave, in my opinion. That's really peak performance for me, honestly.

Stephen LaMarca:

I put it in the last week's tech report, and I'm going to say it again and I'm going to say it until we have one at the office making me pizzas, but I want a 3D printed pizza. There's no reason that direct energy deposition and material extrusion on today's technology can't make me a pizza on a regular basis.

Benjamin Moses:

Elissa, can you tell me once we get our pizza machine, how a humanoid warehouse robot's going to deliver that to Steve?

Elissa Davis:

Yes. Well, if he orders it from Amazon but that's how it's going to deliver it to him. So Amazon's been using robots in their warehouses since 2012. So they've been doing it since I graduated high school. But they recently announced that they're going to start using Digit, that's what it's called, right, Digit?

Stephen LaMarca:

Digit, yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. Which is a bipedal robot that will be able to lift and move packages. So rather than just the little robots that go around the floor, this will be almost a person walking around the floor and lifting things.

Stephen LaMarca:

Digit is the model name.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Of Agility Robotics, humanoid robot.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. And I know there's been a lot of articles that have come out about people's concern about does that mean robots are taking our jobs. And so it goes back to what I was talking about. It's a tale as old as time.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

People are terrified that robots are going to take our jobs. And it's, "Well, someone's got to run the robots. Someone's got to watch the robots."

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And Amazon has said their integration of robots has created a lot of jobs.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

But yeah, when I was looking at... Because my Google alerts, I have robots set up as one of my Google alerts which is very general but it's great to get some good articles.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And it was all just filled with the Amazon robots because that's the hot news right now is, and people are like, "Oh, well, the robots who are already taking our jobs at Amazon. So it is just going to take more of them." And it's like, "No, I don't think so."

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

I think it might, in some ways, it might ease the burden of people working in an Amazon warehouse because they can let a robot pick up the heavy stuff and save their backs.

Benjamin Moses:

And there's two observations along these lines that I was thinking about. One is the, how long we've been talking about humanoid robots. We've been talking about that for a long time.

Elissa Davis:

There's some really creepy ones out there.

Benjamin Moses:

There's still creepy. But the thought of actual use cases and productivity getting harvested from humanoid, it's just really cool to see that. But one thing we do forget about automation in general is a need for verticality. The square footage is something everyone talks about as a problem in manufacturing, so it's hard to expand. So being able to go vertical is very important. So the warehouse AMRs or autonomous robots machines that you'll see scooting stuff around, at some point it's got to go vertical. You have to pick it up and put it on a conveyor at some point. And I think that's one of the scenarios we see is these humanoid robots solving the problem but going vertical to the next layer in automation.

And actually, I assign a lot of use cases where if you see a lot of mills together, you have a cell that's linear, transferring part from one cell to the other, obviously could have a robot on track. Or I've seen a lot of interesting use cases where the robot's mounted above the machine to save floor space. So going vertical again, definitely is beneficial. So that's two interesting observations. Hopefully it works out well. But I agree with you, it's not the supplemental of humans is to make them more efficient. It seems like an interesting use case. And I'm curious to see where Amazon might go with exoskeletons too because I feel that's a branch that they can get into.

Elissa Davis:

Well, I mean obviously there's also been a lot of critique on Amazon for how they treat their warehouse workers.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And so maybe this could also be their way of problem solving that too. Of instead of all humans having to work the overnight shift, some humans and some robots. And I think working at AMT, it's really opened my eyes to the fact that robots really aren't taking people's jobs.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, it's interesting that you mentioned that. So the problem they're trying to solve is instead of treating humans like robots, let's just put robots in there.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, exactly. And so don't expect the people to be the robots, expect the robots to be the robots. So.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, I mean, I see it as a good thing but I can see why people are critiquing it. I can see.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

Why people are like... But like I said, they've been using robots in their warehouses for 11 years.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

So this is just an extra layer to that, I think.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, definitely.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome guys.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think AI and robots are probably going to be one of the safest technologies humans ever come up with.

Elissa Davis:

Because we're so scared of them.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because we are terrified of them and we've been terrified of them since before they've even been close to being deployable on moss.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

So the thing I've noticed with automation is there's definitely a different progression of, let's talk about the safety standards before we look at. So the safety standards related to automation, that's fairly robust. You're doing risk assessments, defining who owns the risk. I don't see much being done on artificial intelligence, particularly ones that are more agent-based or decision-making for you. So I don't see the risk assessment and safety thought process being done on the same way.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. That's going to come down to regulation on the tech companies.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because the biggest threat to AI is the fact that... The biggest threat was when ChatGBT went mainstream.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

All of the big tech companies that were bigger than OpenAI. I mean, who had ever heard of OpenAI before?

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

As soon as OpenAI emerges as a potential competitor to the big tech, Mexican standoff, if you would. It's like, "What do you think Google, apple, Microsoft are going to say when this big disruptive product comes out and they don't have one?"

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

They're going to rush theirs to market and they're going to, how do you get something to market faster? You skip steps. What steps to making a good AI should be stepped... Not... Well, good is objective. But what steps can speed up the development of an AI? Let's skip state safety.

Benjamin Moses:

That's one-

Stephen LaMarca:

There's no regulation that we can follow, that we can track to say that Microsoft, Google, or Apple has been safe at all.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

In the development of their AI.

Benjamin Moses:

And I do think that's one thing that we need to be a little more cautious of how we talk about it. So in industrial applications, the AI is very focused. So we do a vision application of measuring or training a model to say, is this good or is it bad? That's very focused. But these wide-scale commercial applications where using large natural language models or asking questions, that's where the concern comes in because it's such a broad spectrum of use cases where it is tough to put safety guards on because ChatGPT does have some safety protocols when you ask essentially dangerous questions, but it's easy to trick.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's where, it's just such a broad tool that they develop where it's hard to come up with every single use case that you know can be safe around. And that's where I see the difference in industrial applications because it is significantly more laser focused on industrial applications where you can put safety applications.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right. And can you manipulate safety to get something unsafe?

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

What should I avoid? Dear ChatGPT, what should I avoid mixing with ammonia and bleach to not die while trying to clean a bathroom. It was like, "please don't mix ammo and bleach. That's how you make mustard gas." Thanks.

Ramia Lloyd:

It's why you don't clean a cat box with bleach.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, good point.

Stephen LaMarca:

But lastly, before we go, with all this talk on automation and safety and the death of a technology, I think... We've already touched on the fact that we don't think additive is going anywhere anytime soon. If anything, it's just going to come out more once it's integrated with the industry. But speaking to automation and safety, are we witnessing the death of the cobot?

Benjamin Moses:

No.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's a new ISO standard that was just released that redefines what is a cobot.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

That I certainly need to read up on to see what changed in the new standard. But will the cobot term and collaborative robots continue to be a term used in our industry?

Benjamin Moses:

Let's talk about that next episode.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think this is something worth looking into.

Benjamin Moses:

Agreed. Because we've been talking about then the automation committee quite a bit and we got some thoughts.

Stephen LaMarca:

Excellent. Cool.

Ramia Lloyd:

It's a to be continued.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Ramia, where can they find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd:

AMTonline.org/resources. Lecture subscribe.

Stephen LaMarca:

Bing-bong.

Benjamin Moses:

Bye everyone.

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Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
Episode 112: The Tech Frends reintroduce themselves, the purpose of this podcast, and walk through each of their backgrounds laying out how they got where they are today.
Episode 111: Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Steve notes that Modern Machine Shop has been on a roll releasing banger after banger articles. Ben closes with an attempt to redefine robotics programming.
Episode 110: The team discusses tool kits and power tool ecosystems. Stephen has a testbed update: the robot has been bolted down. Elissa has some words about Boeing. Benjamin is gung ho about defense 3D printing.
Episode 109: In this holiday episode of the TechTrends podcast, Ramia Lloyd, Elissa Davis, Benjamin Moses, and Stephen LaMarca share their individual families holiday traditions.
Episode 108: Ramia Lloyd, Elissa Davis, and Benjamin Moses get to the bottom of where the heck Stephen LaMarca’s been! Elissa shares an article on 3D printing in the human body using ultrasound. Stephen closes with noise canceling CNC machines.
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