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AMT Tech Trends: For Export Only

Steve’s car’s blood (oil) test returned negative for abuse, so more track days will come in 2023! Ben had a blast at the Tech Departments end of year trip to the gun range...
Jan 13, 2023

Episode 84: Steve’s car’s blood (oil) test returned negative for abuse, so more track days will come in 2023! Ben had a blast at the Tech Departments end of year trip to the gun range. Stephen takes back what he said about getting a German robot, they don’t want to sell to us, but at least he has plans for SHOT Show! Benjamin has some manufacturing technology trends to watch out for in 2023! Steve checks if Forbes knows what they’re talking about. Ben fancies some automation trends. Stephen needs to investigate more into design for additive.

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Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the AMT Tech Trends Podcast where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology research and news. Today's episode is sponsored by IMTS+, and I am the director of technology, Benjamin Moses, and I'm here with-

Stephen LaMarca: ... the technology analyst, Stephen LaMarca.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, welcome to '23.

Stephen LaMarca: Thanks, Ben. Welcome to '23.

Benjamin Moses: This first couple of days back for work for me. I've been off for a while. It feels like ages.

Stephen LaMarca: I think you've been doing everything right.

Benjamin Moses: Thanks.

Stephen LaMarca: We all needed that break. Those of us who got a break. Very thankful that we got a break.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: But, we were just saying, in the last episode that feels like a year ago now, that if 2023 is just as good as 2022 was, but slowed down, we're good. And I think you're off to a perfect start.

Benjamin Moses: I think we're starting off well. A lot of emails were backed up, but it's all good. It's expected.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, oh my goodness was there a lot of emails in my-

Benjamin Moses: A lot of emails.

Stephen LaMarca: All right, I'll be honest with you. I don't get a lot of emails. I like to think it's because I have good rules, and stuff in my Outlook. But, when I got back into the ... I told myself over the break, I'm not going to to check my email at all.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And I was true to that. I didn't.

Benjamin Moses: That's good, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Actually, I checked once because I did want to see if, spoiler alert, fruitcore got back to me, and they did. But I didn't read it, and I didn't respond to it until I was back in the office. But when I get back in the office, it's something, and this is probably light for a lot of people, but my inbox said like 76 unread.

Benjamin Moses: That's quite a few.

Stephen LaMarca: That's a lot for me.

Benjamin Moses: That's a fair amount. Kicking off this year, we want to talk about, you have an update on Blackstone, some oil analysis from the last year.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah, remember we were on there past three episodes I've been blabbing about how I finally sent an oil sample after the last 30,000 miles, and I've been really paranoid that I'm about to blow my engine. Blackstone got back to me. They went over the sample, they said, "Yeah, some levels of iron and what not are elevated. But that's to be expected in the averages for this engine. You're still below average in terms of things that aren't supposed to be in your oil compared to other of the same type of engines for this model car.

Benjamin Moses: That's the best news to be told, you're below average.

Stephen LaMarca: It is. Yeah, this is the best time to be told you're below average. And it's great that just means that oh, I can stop worrying.

Benjamin Moses: Good, good.

Stephen LaMarca: I've got some 2023 can bring me another track day or two. Yeah, it's just good news.

Benjamin Moses: I want to mention a side note, so when we talk about car stuff, I've been waiting for a new windshield for about one and a half months now.

Stephen LaMarca: You told me about this.

Benjamin Moses: Supply chain issues man, so we've been ... Safelite's been trying to get an aftermarket one that's missing a rain sensor, so you have to get one from the dealership.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Wait a minute, the rain sensor is in the windshield?

Benjamin Moses: The cutout for the rain sensor.

Stephen LaMarca: Got you.

Benjamin Moses: They can't rub it away or they can't scrape it, whatever, it's fine. They would be [inaudible 00:03:13].

Stephen LaMarca: [inaudible 00:03:13] engine anyway?

Benjamin Moses: Technically, I've been failing inspection for the past few months.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, wow.

Benjamin Moses: I just let it be. I'm just going to wait.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, but this is for a few months.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, anytime.

Stephen LaMarca: They only check once a year.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: A few months don't matter.

Benjamin Moses: It's going to go. I need them to get the windshield.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: I need to call Porsche and ask them where is my windshield. That's what I need to do.

Stephen LaMarca: This is Porsche.

Benjamin Moses: Also, we mentioned that we're headed to a nice team building event, and it's related to some travel we got coming up. We had a great time at the gun range.

Stephen LaMarca: Had a great time at the gun range with Tim.

Benjamin Moses: New experience, I've never been to this kind of gun rage before.

Stephen LaMarca: This gun range was awesome. When you have a lane, you have a lane. I did watch a video of that place before we went, and apparently there's even better, more bougie and luxurious lanes than that. You can rent out an entire party lane, which has two lanes, and like a party area behind the two lanes while people are shooting with a coffee table, and couches-

Benjamin Moses: Wow.

Stephen LaMarca: ... so you can change. Everybody has to wear EarPro while back there and probably eye protection as well. But there's a kitchenette, which frankly, doesn't really make sense to me too much, because if you just got done shooting and you want to tend to the brats or whatever you have, it's like, you got to wash that lead off of your hands. But, I'm not the designer. It's none of my business. I don't have enough money to rent that lane.

Benjamin Moses: There's a lot of lead in that lane.

Stephen LaMarca: But I will say, it was very inspiring. Maybe inspiring's the wrong word. But, it made me want to get back to going to the range more regularly.

Benjamin Moses: That's good, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: This year, I asked for Christmas, I asked for a bunch of ammunition. I got it, dude.

Benjamin Moses: Nice.

Stephen LaMarca: I got 1,000 rounds of 223, 5.56 for Christmas.

Benjamin Moses: Hopefully not the green tip so you can actually shoot anywhere.

Stephen LaMarca: No, no, lead core. Believe me, I specified and Santa delivered.

Benjamin Moses: Good, good. I think you bought a loader also to help you load the magazines.

Stephen LaMarca: That's for my birthday. That's on the way.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, that's coming up. Okay, cool.

Stephen LaMarca: My fiance got that for me. She's the best.

Benjamin Moses: It's fun because it's a premium range. They have a bunch of other stuff there. They have a restaurant. They have a knife lounge. Is that what it's called?

Stephen LaMarca: The Knife Nook.

Benjamin Moses: Knife Nook.

Stephen LaMarca: This place is called XCAL by the way.

Benjamin Moses: Some high-end knives and then some generic knives. But it was interesting, and the lane that we had, Tim was nice enough to rent it for our team building event, so-

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. It was sick.

Benjamin Moses: I would say it's like a 50 yard range. But the knife ... It's a single range where it's got cinder block walls along the entire length of it, so you completely separated from the lane next to you.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, like sound dampened.

Benjamin Moses: They had sound dampening too. I was like-

Stephen LaMarca: You could not hear the lane next to you.

Benjamin Moses: I expected your rifle to be louder than it was, but no, because of all the sound dampening material, that was down the length of it-

Stephen LaMarca: By the way, your AR chambered a nine mil, made the weirdest sound-

Benjamin Moses: It sounds weird doesn't it?

Stephen LaMarca: ... down range. It sounded like a laser gun. I thought we were in Star Wars. You know that scene where they're in the hall and all of the rebels are shooting at the smoke that Darth Vader's in, I was expecting to see a saber coming through that smoke at any moment.

Benjamin Moses: When you shoot pistol calibers through 16 inch barrels, they all make a weird sound.

Stephen LaMarca: Fascinating. I didn't know that.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, so if you shoot a 22 long range or a nine mil ... I want to get a 45 [inaudible 00:06:28]. But that's impossible. Steve, you want to tell us about our sponsor today?

Stephen LaMarca: Our sponsor today is IMTS+, the people behind technology, the stories driving the future of manufacturing, the thought leaders and people like us creating the products, the opportunities, and solving the challenges of our industry. Explore a new digital destination designed for the manufacturing technology community where you can watch, read, learn, join, and connect. Go to imts.com.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Thanks, Steve. You mentioned fruitcore earlier, and I think it's time to talk about fruitcore and tell us about updates.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, so over the break, I checked my email, like I said I wouldn't. But it was only for the one. I saw I got an email back from the sales representative at fruitcore Robotics-

Benjamin Moses: That's cool, yep.

Stephen LaMarca: ... a German company. German robot arm company, they're new. They're inexpensive, naturally being that our organization does not exactly have the deepest pockets for manufacturing technology budget. We're not making parts.

Benjamin Moses: We have a test bag.

Stephen LaMarca: We want to simulate ... We want to not simulate. We want to make a replica of a manufacturing cell in our office where legally, you can't make a manufacturing cell, but that's besides the point. Again, we're not making parts, it's totally legal. And we're just doing experiments. They get back to me, and they're like, "We are excited and pleased that you are showing interest in our robot arm. But, we're focusing on the German and European markets currently."

Benjamin Moses: That's interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: And we're not ready to extend our support to North America just yet.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: They worded it much more friendly than that. But basically it sounded like they were a little afraid of some, being able to supply us with replacement parts should we need them-

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: ... number one. Number two, I think they want to be careful around some of the regulations in manufacturing in the US, which I respect, but at the same time, man, it killed me. I was like, come on. Of course, I jinxed us in the last episode. I said, "We're going to get a robot. We're going to get this fruitcore robot," and then next thing you know, yeah, you can't have our robot. I learned the lesson, Ben. You're always trying to teach me things and I'm never listening to you. And you said, Steve, maybe you shouldn't talk about tests bed stuff until you actually do it." And I'm like, you know what? You're right. I see it now.

Benjamin Moses: Now, you see it.

Stephen LaMarca: Now I see it. I announced something on the podcast before we actually wrote a check or anything like that, and they're telling us, yeah, no, you're not getting it.

Benjamin Moses: Nope, can't do it.

Stephen LaMarca: Here I am backpedaling, first episode of 2023, like we're not getting the robot we said we were going to get.

Benjamin Moses: Backpedaling Steve.

Stephen LaMarca: At least backpedaling, great.

Benjamin Moses: It's unfortunate, but I think it conveys the sea of equipment at this price level, at this pro-consumer level.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, true.

Benjamin Moses: It is very difficult. Even getting the XRM a couple of years ago, that was right at the end of a kick starter, and it took us a really long time to actually get their physical equipment.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, like 2023, 2022, 2023, we're trying to prove it's not just China or bust.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And now, they're like China's just sitting there smiling. It's like we'll take a check any moment now.

Benjamin Moses: And to be fair, so they do have equipment. I think they're concerns is like you mentioned, exporting from Germany and then importing into the US, and all of the support behind it, and that's a fair promise statement is can they support us, and I think they're looking broader. They probably have received several inquiries from the US and probably are looking at how do I support. Do they need a distribution center? Do they have to ship directly from Germany to the US for all of their support needs, and that's not the best idea, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Right, no it's not.

Benjamin Moses: I definitely agree with their uncertainty.

Stephen LaMarca: I mean, well, we're just talking about your issues, your woes of trying to get a windshield from Germany.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: This is all foreshadowing.

Benjamin Moses: All foreshadowing, so-

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe-

Benjamin Moses: We got to press reset on the research on-

Stephen LaMarca: Got to press reset. The good news is maybe good news. I'm not going to jinx myself again. But, Doug asked me. Because apparently, yeah, Doug came up to me, and he was like, "Oh, tell me about the [inaudible 00:10:53] robot we're getting."

Benjamin Moses: Nice.

Stephen LaMarca: I was like, well, it turns out we're not getting it, Doug. I'm sorry.

Benjamin Moses: Can we go buy one and bring it in your luggage?

Stephen LaMarca: Send me to Germany, and I'll do it.

Benjamin Moses: This is getting a little more expensive but interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, just the flight is going to be the cost, our budget for the test, Ben. But, I'm telling Doug about this and Greg Jones, who sits very close to me. Of course, he's overhearing this and he's like Steve, last year, we got ... We were able to get a Chicago school a universal robot's arm for one of their shop class, so I think we can pull this off because universal robots is really happy with us right now, and I think they would be willing to get us something and I'm like, well, it's an off year for IMTS.

It's not like we'd have to ... They're scrambling to get everything ready for the show. This might happen. But, and I say that because I think IMTS 2018, in the beginning of 2018, we were trying to get our first robot. That's how far back it was when we planned to get the X arm, our robot in general. And I was talking with [inaudible 00:12:11], Doug and Tim, and I think maybe ... Well, yeah, Doug and Tim reached out to Mike Chico. Mike Chico set me up with the right people to talk to to get us a robot. And then, it was nearing the end of the summer. In 2018 which means a couple of months, well, a month plus before IMTS 2018, and I stopped hearing from Fanuc.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And Tim was like, stop reaching out to them.

Benjamin Moses: They're busy.

Stephen LaMarca: They're all hands on deck getting ready for IMTS.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Just it's a next year thing.

Benjamin Moses: And I talked that you and they're like, we're going China. But, we don't want that to happen again.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: I think for us to-

Stephen LaMarca: And it might be the year to strike with a member, potential member company in the industry.

Benjamin Moses: Maybe we can debate this a little bit more because I do see value and actually trying to buy a piece of equipment to see what that entire infrastructure look like. Maybe instead of an arm this year, maybe we'll get some [inaudible 00:13:11] equipment.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, right, and Greg was saying that they would likely, even though they wouldn't charge us, they'd likely give us the robot, under the ... With the agreement that one of us, me most likely, takes the class on how to use it.

Benjamin Moses: I'm sorry, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And we assure Universal Robots that I will teach other people how to use it.

Benjamin Moses: Sure, that's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: That's their agreement for giving away a robot. And to be fair, that was the same agreement that Fanuc had. It's just the timing didn't work out.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: There's nothing against Fanuc. We'll see what happens, but maybe we'll just stick to Metrology.

Benjamin Moses: I think it's time to pivot. Speaking of which, we talk about our time at the gun range, and we're getting back into industry research, and you and I have been talking about shifting our research into technology events and shows to end use shows.

Stephen LaMarca: End use shows, absolutely. The fun show, not that industry shows aren't fun. But the beauty of this industry is anybody can a work in this industry and get really excited about it. Maybe I'm speaking from myself. But, you can get ... It's easy ... I find it really easy to get excited about the manufacturing technology because it fuels all of my passions. One of those being firearms, I'm going to shot show next week.

Benjamin Moses: That's right, so who do you have lined up that you're trying to stop by and take a look at the booths?

Stephen LaMarca: First one I want to go see is ... Well, the first one that I named ... I don't necessarily chronologically want to see them, first maybe Daniel Defense, and the main reason for that is they are a primary sponsor of the American Precision Museum.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, cool.

Stephen LaMarca: My favorite trip, my favorite guest visit in season one of road tripping with Steve, American Precision Museum, heavily supported by Daniel Defense.

Benjamin Moses: Cool.

Stephen LaMarca: I want to show them the recognition that their investment in the American Precision Museum is paying off. I want to meet them, talk shop with them, want to find out what machine tools they use and what their workflow looks like, what their manufacturing workflow, what's some of the pain, just talk shop with them.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Another one is LMT, Lewis Machine Tool. Got to talk to them just because of their name alone. They have machine tool in their name. They are in fact, a gun company. But what's cool about this gun company is a lot of other major gun companies actually have contract shops, contract job shops to make specific parts for them if not entire parts for them. They usually go to hire a manufacturing facility. It's like the watch industry, not a lot of stuff, at least it used to be, is made in-house by that company. The Switzerland rules have changed with watch making so now all of the watch companies now have to make their stuff in-house with their own equipment and artisans. And gun companies are, can be like that, or they can outsource.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Usually outsource locally, close to them, almost all American made guns are, if not made by that company, in their own facility, are made by another American company within a few states from them.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And LMT is one of those companies that makes parts for a lot of companies. And specifically, government contracted manufacturers. Colt, a lot of the parts in the Colt M16's and Colt M4's are actually made by LMT, especially the safety selector switches and what not.

Benjamin Moses: That's why the Colts are so expensive.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, exactly.

Benjamin Moses: LMT is [inaudible 00:16:57]-

Stephen LaMarca: Because they don't make anything on their own.

Benjamin Moses: And then there's a third one that is getting into high volume additive.

Stephen LaMarca: High volume additive, so SIG, a company that used to be Swiss german, I mean, there still are Swiss German. I'm sure they still have a few facilities over there.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, they still have them, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: But, they were like, the biggest buyers of firearms in the world as the US of A, baby. Maybe we should open up shop over there, and they did, and they came over here, and low and behold, they've got several government contract, military, US military contracts. One of those happened last year in 2022, was the adoption of the XM5, the next gen service rifle. I think that's what it's called. And the next gen service rifle, the XM5, and once it's fully adopted, will become the M5. That weapons system is not just a rifle, but was also a fancy optic made by Vortex, and maybe I'll go see them too.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But, I would like to see ... I know some of the guys and girls from Strategic Analytics, the other department at AMT, has one of the other departments at AMT, has visited Leopold in the past.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, nice. Oh, cool.

Stephen LaMarca: And apparently they have a lot of index machines. I really want to know what kind of machines a lot of these companies use.

Benjamin Moses: Definitely.

Stephen LaMarca: But Sig, and part of their M5 weapons system, is Vortex, so maybe we'll see if they're using index machines too. The big thing about the M5 weapons system is that it comes standard. Every weapon, every service, every American war fighter that gets an M5 will also get a suppressor as a part of that, a silencer, as a part of that weapons system.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Fully 3D printed out of Inconel.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And this is for two reasons. A tactical reason or a ... I think the word that they liked to use in the military is a force multiplier reason and a hearing protection reason.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And the human side of that is if you look at any American veteran, any US ... Well, if you take all of the US veterans, the biggest disability that they have coming out of service, is hearing loss.

Benjamin Moses: That's right.

Stephen LaMarca: And by giving every war fighter a suppressor, we could suppress hearing loss.

Benjamin Moses: That's a good plan. I appreciate that.

Stephen LaMarca: It could by spending a ton of money on Inconel suppressors for every single war fighter, we could save even more tons of money by not having to pay their disability.

Benjamin Moses: And the best-

Stephen LaMarca: That sounded really bad.

Benjamin Moses: The best example that I remember is in black hawk down, there's a scene where one of the soldiers had to quickly shoot very close to-

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: ... the ears of another person. And the other person, I think his name was Twombly, Twombly was basically deaf the entire rest of the mission.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: And that shows you the impact of how loud ... If you haven't shot firearms, it's very loud.

Stephen LaMarca: Dude, that's a good point. Well, yeah, they are really loud. Movies and video games-

Benjamin Moses: They don't do it justice.

Stephen LaMarca: ... especially video games, do not convey how loud guns are. There's a term in shooting called double plugging.

Benjamin Moses: I do that.

Stephen LaMarca: Everybody should do that. If you care about your ... That's putting ear plugs in, that stuff that goes in your ear that makes you deaf, and then, putting earmuffs over that. That's double plugged, being sure that you can't hear anything. You're protecting your ears. And yeah, Hollywood video games do not convey how loud guns are. And it's cool that they're doing this, especially considering that the new M5's cartridge that it's going to be using is at like 80,000 psi. And for reference, the current military cartridge is between 58 to 61,000 psi. That's a whole almost a 20% increase on pressure. Naturally that pressure's going to be converted to sound somehow. And that's a whole lot faster way to burn out your ear drums.

Benjamin Moses: Definitely. See, so I'm looking forward to hear talk about it on the podcast, and we'll see it in written content, we're able to produce from there.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm going to at least make one article about it.

Benjamin Moses: Let's get into some articles.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: I've got one from supply chain, supply chain and demandexecutive.com, and they talk about the technology trends to watch out for in '23. And the reason I like this is-

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, this is fun.

Benjamin Moses: ... it gets back to supply chain, which is going to be abysmal for a long time.

Stephen LaMarca: Don't buy German.

Benjamin Moses: Or don't-

Stephen LaMarca: That's mean, I'm sorry.

Benjamin Moses: And they talk about more of the digital side of manufacturing. Basically how do you manage the supply chain as a whole, right? Every manufacturers part of a supply chain. How do you manage that and it hit on a lot of digital stuff. Manufacturers will ramp up digital initiatives to track next gen workers, which I thought was interesting that that's the first thing that they're leading with is they're already talking about trying to track the next generation of workforce, and the technologies that they can track them with. Call it adoption when a lock access analytics, and drive smarter decision-making to support manufacturers, which we've been talking about that for a long time.

Instead of leveraging on machine, or analytics and in general, analytics have moved from onsite or on local machines to cloud-based. My friend, who is doing work for relevant analysis work, they shifted to a lot more cloud-based analysis just because they can harvest larger and larger machines. They can harvest more CPUs, so it's very interesting that they're definitely approaching that, and obviously with supply chain, if you're managing that type of stuff, managing several suppliers and as an OEM, you're going to do a lot more cloud-based analytics in general.

The third note that they make note of is increased cloud adoption, means increased security risks, which that makes a lot of sense since even our own I guess infrastructure here, we're shifting from on-premise equipment to cloud-based systems because we do a remote workforce, and that is the trend across the entire board for all platforms, is to have more cloud-based solutions, even just raw data storage, having on-prem stuff. It's dicey to have a large amount of on-prem stuff with a remote workforce.

Now that you're in the cloud, threat vectors and threat surface area is different. That needs to be accounted for and as you go through the migration process, the risks change. I wouldn't say the severity of the risks change. It's the type of risk I think change. I think that evolves in your migration plan. And I like the last one also is inflation will drive manufacturers focus on visibility for better forecasting.

Stephen LaMarca: Mm-hmm, let's hope.

Benjamin Moses: Let's hope.

Stephen LaMarca: That sounds great. But, put your money where your mouth is.

Benjamin Moses: Especially those industries that are purely commercial, or consumer-driven. We briefly talked about this earlier, the GPU shortages, early in the pandemic where we're trying to figure out what caused the GPU shortages, and a lot of people are blaming cryptomining, when realistically, just the demand was outrageously spiked, so-

Stephen LaMarca: Right, right. I feel like we did blame cryptomining, number one.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And maybe there's something to read from all of that. Crypto is tanking. Crypto is tanking. Well, first off, let's ... Inflation's at an all-time high, and we saw this ... We got a taste of this even though we may not have realized it, because these new GPUs, the RTX30 series by Nvidia, was coming out, and they were being advertised by their leather jacket clad CEO saying that these are going to be the cheapest GPUs of all time. Our 3070 is going to be 450 bucks or whatever they said.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Next thing you know, a blink of an eye happens later, they're being flipped on eBay for like $1,600, and that's a good price. Well, that was a good price. That's inflation now. Right now, inflation's crazy high. But, in the midst of this inflation being crazy high, GPUs are now available and they are dirt cheap.

Benjamin Moses: It's come back down.

Stephen LaMarca: Right now is the ... If you're a gamer, right now is the time to buy a new GPU.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Hopefully, hopefully this is a sign of the future to come.

Benjamin Moses: Right. And I think coupled with that, we've been ... I've been working with our automation committee, and learning about their struggles, and they've been facing shortage on fairly basic stuff like cables, connectors, things like that. And I think getting into better forecasting, so in the end, it's basically inventory management, getting back to the concept of trying to get stuff just in time, or being able to deliver the final ... Again, we talked about the integrators having struggles because of certain components that can't deliver the full assembly to their customer, and they can't get their revenue from there because they're waiting on a few connectors. There's a whole entire ecosystem of problems that are occurring because of shortages, and I think the idea of being able to forecast ... Improve our forecasting capability will help at least set expectations a lot more.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, absolutely.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, you've got one on life changing technologies.

Stephen LaMarca: Forbes has an article on the five life changing technologies that you might not understand. And while you were talking, I was doing a good job at active listening, and I should have been queuing up this article that would be ready to roll.

Benjamin Moses: Now the title is very, very impactful, so I'm hoping ... We'll see.

Stephen LaMarca: The title is impactful. I didn't think the ... I thought the article ... I mean, it's Forbes-

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: ... so I feel like the article was long-winded, and had basically the five technologies, four of them you likely already know. And the fifth one, I didn't know, I hope you know. But anyway, these four life changing technologies that are changing our lives, life changing, but we don't understand, artificial intelligence-

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: ... 100% changing my life. Do I understand how it works, like exactly the code that goes into making AI?

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: No. I'm not a coder. Maybe ALKA can tell me-

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: ... what goes into coding something that's AI-

Benjamin Moses: NINA can.

Stephen LaMarca: ... or NINA definitely can. You're right, you're right.

Benjamin Moses: But, I think-

Stephen LaMarca: Not to discredit ALKA-

Benjamin Moses: I think the basic principles, I think that ... There's layers to that question that I think you're alluding to, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: The most tactical level as in actually creating an algorithm, the very few people understand that. But the concept of, you take a model, or you take a data set, and you train an algorithm that's based on that, and-

Stephen LaMarca: Right, you don't write the algorithm, you train the algorithm.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly, you train-

Stephen LaMarca: Like what?

Benjamin Moses: And then you get an output that you feed in variables, and then it generates output. That infrastructure that there's a training set, and you need to know how big that training set, and the quality of that defines the quality of your AI and things like that. And that occurs for vision. That includes for natural language processing. That whole process is the same thing over and over again. And I think a lot of people miss that.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, I think what was missed about that is that AI's been ... They've been talking about AI, not just like bots in a video game. But actual, the AI that we're talking about today was started a couple of years ago, but just like an actual intelligence, a real intelligence, it had to grow up. It had to develop before it could be marketed.

Benjamin Moses: Right, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Open AI, what we use for text generation and summarizing, that was not always good.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But it had to be trained, and it had to be trained through use.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly, and that's where ... I think that's the convergence of two areas, one the volume of training models that are available that, and also the ease of implementation. Both of those come together this past couple of years where it's not super easy, but the ability to at least try things, and get to a useful model, has come a long way.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, right. The next life changing technology that we probably don't understand, I can safely say I do understand, but it's not life changing yet. It will be. It absolutely will be, quantum computing.

Benjamin Moses: Quantum computing.

Stephen LaMarca: Quantum computing, not life changing yet.

Benjamin Moses: Not yet.

Stephen LaMarca: It will be. It will turn everything that we know about cyber privacy on its head, and will totally erase the term privacy, at least from the internet as we know it.

Benjamin Moses: Right, so if you-

Stephen LaMarca: It's terrifying.

Benjamin Moses: You're looking at the what-

Stephen LaMarca: But, if you have nothing to hide, don't worry about it.

Benjamin Moses: You're looking at the ... Quantum computing allows basically faster CPU, faster-

Stephen LaMarca: It's not just faster CPU's. A fast CPU can-

Benjamin Moses: Faster calculations.

Stephen LaMarca: ... do one calculation, then do another calculation. A faster CPU can do those calculations rapidly, do calculation, calculation, calculation, calculation. Quantum computing can do sequential calculations in parallel.

Benjamin Moses: Yep, right.

Stephen LaMarca: Can do calculations that need to be done in order. It's like, no I don't, and just lines them up, and calculates them all at once.

Benjamin Moses: Right, right. There's a paradigm shift of basically just ... That's what CPU's and GPU's do anyway. They're just running through mathematical models.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, so where today, a powerful computer, like a super computer, like something with a million cores, or whatever you have, can not jail break, what's the term, brute force a password in a couple of hours depending on how complex it is-

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: ... more or less hours depending on the complexity of the password. It'll brute force a password in that much time because it has to run so many sequential calculations. Quantum computer can run all of those necessary calculations regardless of the number of characters and unique characters a password is, all at once, and can get it done maybe in a couple of minutes or less.

Benjamin Moses: And so, the reason I went down that path is your first use case is-

Stephen LaMarca: Breaking in the computer.

Benjamin Moses: ... breaking in these computers. Never mind enhancing artificial intelligence processing for cancer, or what's the one we're doing with protein analysis?

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, protein folding.

Benjamin Moses: Protein folding. Never mind any of those nice applications.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, forget that stuff.

Benjamin Moses: Let's get right into security.

Stephen LaMarca: Get your money out of the bank now, because that number in your bank account on the phone doesn't mean anything. Put it under your bed now. No, please don't do that.

Benjamin Moses: What's the next one?

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe buy gold. The next one ... Forget this one. I really want to use foul language right now, but Metaverse next.

Benjamin Moses: Let's move on.

Stephen LaMarca: 5G.

Benjamin Moses: 5G.

Stephen LaMarca: 5G, we're seeing a lot changing in 5G.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: All of this calculation that I'm doing in my hand, is being done a lot faster because of 5G.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, you think so?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. And then the last one, I know nothing about. I don't even know how this is affecting ... What is Web3, Ben?

Benjamin Moses: Web3.

Stephen LaMarca: What does that mean?

Benjamin Moses: Okay, it's another way-

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe I should have read the article.

Benjamin Moses: Naa, you're not missing much. It's another way to increment technology phases for something massive.

Stephen LaMarca: And this is for the internet?

Benjamin Moses: This is for the internet.

Stephen LaMarca: Just like Web3, Industry 4.0-

Benjamin Moses: Industry 4.0.

Stephen LaMarca: ... was like Web 3.0.

Benjamin Moses: Right, so the first iteration, 1.0 was-

Stephen LaMarca: Dial up.

Benjamin Moses: ... massive adoption of the internet, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: They've gone from lab, from DARPA experiments, from [inaudible 00:32:54]-

Stephen LaMarca: Hello, okay.

Benjamin Moses: ... to now we can buy an AOL subscription, right? That's 1.0.

Stephen LaMarca: 1.0 was like some DARPA in the '60's was like, "Dude I just sent a message to Ben. He's on another floor on the other side of the building." He's like, what does this mean.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, exactly. That's 1.0. Now, when we get to the shift to 2.0, that's basically more of the creative movement. That's individual contributing towards their own content online. That's a broader phase from stuff being stored online, to basically where we are today, and you take that back about 10 years or so to basically everything on YouTube, everything on Instagram, everything is user-generated content, being put out to the world. That's kind of 2.0 is that-

Stephen LaMarca: Got you.

Benjamin Moses: ... first iterations basically infrastructure.

Stephen LaMarca: Wow, we're only on 2.0.

Benjamin Moses: And we just talked about 3.0 is the life changing thing.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, okay. We're about to find out.

Benjamin Moses: We're about to, so 3.0 is ... Okay, so right now, the entire infrastructure is you have a server somewhere. All your data is on that server, so you could have one whole website on, in this physical server building, maybe in a couple of racks or something like that. It's probably spread over that entire server area. Where 3.0 wants to get to is taking decentralization across the entire board. Instead of taking one set of servers for a single host or stuff like that, it's hosted over larger platforms, or across the different areas. Security is decentralized, taking some of the cryptomining tools into decentralizing that stuff, so that's where 3.0 is headed is more underlying technology to help spread the load across more area.

Stephen LaMarca: That's fascinating.

Benjamin Moses: [inaudible 00:34:45].

Stephen LaMarca: Do you think-

Benjamin Moses: You wouldn't notice a change.

Stephen LaMarca: Well, not in my lifetime, maybe. But do you think some day, the same thing that happened to Detroit in the auto industry, could happen to the server farms in Loudoun, and they could just be like empty, and like rotting?

Benjamin Moses: No, no, it-

Stephen LaMarca: Because people will take over and live there.

Benjamin Moses: Right, so you're still going to need a drive somewhere to hold data. This is taking ... Maybe, instead of having the capabilities and tools to decentralize within a building, you decentralize across several buildings. I mean, some of that already exists. But it's expanding that further and all the underlying tools to support that decentralization. It's basically back to Torrents. It's a very similar application where-

Stephen LaMarca: I'm thinking more like quantum entanglement-

Benjamin Moses: Right, so-

Stephen LaMarca: ... but with data.

Benjamin Moses: Actually, Steam is actually looking towards this process also as being able to ... Instead of hosting all of their game data on their servers, if you want to download something, and if you agree to that, people can download bits of that game from your computer also, so it's reducing the load from the server-

Stephen LaMarca: Wow.

Benjamin Moses: ... to decentralizing to people's computer.

Stephen LaMarca: Steam was thinking about playing with that years ago though, right? Are they actually making moves to do that now? Maybe not Steam.

Benjamin Moses: They're testing.

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe it was somebody else.

Benjamin Moses: It was probably someone else.

Stephen LaMarca: I've hard of this before.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It's been around for a while.

Stephen LaMarca: This is cool. Very, very cool.

Benjamin Moses: Are we all done with the life changing stuff?

Stephen LaMarca: All right, Forbes, not bad, not bad. You're off the hook.

Benjamin Moses: It's a good summary of a Forbes article. The one I have is trends to look out for in 2023, since we're in the beginning of the year. This is from automation.com, and they're talking about the top intelligent automation trends. It's taking AI and turning it backwards, and talking about intelligent automation. It's not saying all the decision-making's going to be done on the floor. It's looking how do we implement automation in a meaningful way? I'm not going to go over all 10 because it does cover stuff on software development. But there's some really interesting ideas here.

One is the concept of RPA, robot process automation. And it is somewhat related to the previous idea on cloud adoption and AI. In a lot of cases, the software automating software tool, so imagine Excel you're copy and paste, or do a lot of edits, continuously, repeatedly. You could build in a macro to do all that stuff, take that concept and expand that across several different platforms.

All right, so robot process automation allows you to basically automate stuff, software applications, and that's the idea that they're looking at is not just physical automation, but extending the physical automation concepts to software, and it's ... That's where I was trying to connect it back to is the supply chain side of your ... If you're constantly running analytics, running tools, running, pushing a button and having to digest data, being able to automate a lot of that processes. The other one that I thought was interesting, they talk about Generative AI, which-

Stephen LaMarca: That sounds redundant.

Benjamin Moses: It does sound redundant, but I'm still looking for use cases that are talked about. We've been talking about Generative AI for a long time. We understand the basic principles about it. But I don't see enough, and it could be just that not a lot of people are talking about it. But I struggle to see a lot of use cases coming out, and a lot of people talking about it, or in the designs that we see being generated.

Stephen LaMarca: The only use case that I can see about generative AI that's being used regularly, like actually used, and not just used, being used, but crushing it, is Quest-Tech.

Benjamin Moses: Sure, sure.

Stephen LaMarca: They're killing it with their specialty alloys.

Benjamin Moses: Yep, so yeah-

Stephen LaMarca: They don't get enough credit.

Benjamin Moses: Yep, and then, going back to, let's see ... Oh, this is the one I wanted to hit on. And because we've been using this a little bit. Rising adoption of natural language processing, technology, and conversational AI.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes, we have.

Benjamin Moses: This has been a hot topic in a lot of the news feeds for the past about six months or so. I think it's GPT-3 that's pushing out a lot of the conversational AI tools, so when you interact ... The analogy is say a couple of years ago, if you went to a website, a chat bot popped up and said, "Hey, how can I help you?" This is taking that 10 times more where the dialogue, and the semantics, and the conversation is more, significantly more human like and able to solve problems, and get to solutions, and-

Stephen LaMarca: Right, and instead of press one for sales-

Benjamin Moses: Right, exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: ... press two for customer service. Instead, it actually asks you what your problem is, not like that. But it asks you what your problem is, and it's like ... And it takes those words out, figures out what it means, and then sends you down the right path, assuming you told it everything it needs to know, without going through all of the press one-

Benjamin Moses: The first use case we talked about was ... I think it was Nvidia, or maybe one of the other GB companies was developing text to image. You write in a text of what you want the image to look like, and then, boom, the image appears. You said, I want a cat drinking a milk out of a bowl with a tree behind it, you try and generate that image. I don't know if ... I don't think it actually try and like for that image. That's just what a Google image search would do. It would actually create that image from scratch.

Where we are right now, is text to 3D models. You type in what you want the 3D model to look like, and that 3D model would be generated. That's a fairly simple model, fairly nascent technology. But the parallel is very similar where you're looking at 2D images. Now we're expanded to 3D. It's a very interesting path that we're seeing. The last one I want to hit on is ... Yeah, that's the last one I'll hit on is faster adoption of intelligent automation first in small to medium sized businesses.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: We've been talking about the automation journey for a long time, and the barriers for implementation. Now that costs have come down significantly, and we've been experimenting with test beds, getting super inexpensive equipment, well, stuff that you can actually buy and get imported to the US, being able to figure that out. I think one thing that small to medium sized businesses will need help with is they're still in, we'll call it low volume, high mix parts, so they have a lot of different part numbers that they're running through, right?

They're not running ... They're probably not running the same million times with one part number. Being able to switch between unique shapes, unique part numbers, and we're seeing a lot more standardization on [inaudible 00:41:32] tooling to help support that. It's a big convergence of barriers that's small to medium sized companies have had that are being broken down recently the past couple of years. I definitely agree with a lot of their thoughts on trends to look out for in '23. And as we get into IMTS for '24, we'll probably see a lot more interesting use cases that allow for more flexible part numbers through their manufacturing floor, so thanks, automation.

Stephen LaMarca: Thank you so much. There's a few more ... That article has a big list of-

Benjamin Moses: They do, yep. They've got 10 of them.

Stephen LaMarca: We just went over the top, top.

Benjamin Moses: Yes.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay.

Benjamin Moses: And a lot of it does apply, so the software dev, and that type of stuff, because they are talking about both physical and software automation, so you definitely want to check them out.

Stephen LaMarca: It sounds really cool. I definitely want to read that all the way.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, let me know what's your thoughts on 3D printing?

Stephen LaMarca: Design for 3D printing?

Benjamin Moses: Design for 3D printing.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. I'm going to pull a fast one on you, and be like I don't want, and tell you that I don't want to talk about this article anymore.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, no.

Stephen LaMarca: Because I thought ... I read the article a little bit further, and-

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, it's not a good one.

Stephen LaMarca: ... I thought it was going to be a nice article about design for 3D printing.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And the author of said article makes it sound a little bit more like they're crying about how additive isn't being adopted as fast as it should be, because people want parts that don't make sense for additive manufacturing. And it's just like, it sounds ... This sounds like a cry fest.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, yeah, it's a problem though. I mean-

Stephen LaMarca: I get that.

Benjamin Moses: Right. That's not what we need right now.

Stephen LaMarca: We don't need that right now.

Benjamin Moses: That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: It's too early in the year. Let me come back to this after I give this article a better read through, do it some honor.

Benjamin Moses: And we just talked about mass additive and suppressors.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, we did. And we're going to even further when the good article, and we've ran long for our first episode of the year anyway, so I think we've got a good amount of content.

Benjamin Moses: I think you should tell people where to find more info about us.

Stephen LaMarca: They can find more info about us on amtonline.org/resources.

Benjamin Moses: Thanks, Steve.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm not going to say like, share, and subscribe, because I don't know if they can like it. Well, they can share it, and you can subscribe to my newsletter.

Benjamin Moses: That's solid. Bye, everyone.

Stephen LaMarca: We got to put a like button on there, bye. Or even better, what Facebook should have done, put a dislike button.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
Episode 117: Speaking of amusement parks last episode, the tech friends will be at MFG in Orlando this year for a live podcast! Ben gets into machine learning for robots. Elissa shares a new found excitement for robot vision ad object recognition.
Episode 116: The gang shares their love for amusement parks. Stephen is happy to announce that there are a lot of testbed updates. Elissa presents further evidence that Elon Musk is dumb. Ben closes with an allegedly new method of 3D printing.
Episode 115: The gang talks about dogs and other furry friends. Elissa reports that Japan’s about to land on the moon. Ben discusses stainless steel corrosion. Stephen closes with an “ICYMI” on everything we may have missed with the Boeing situation.
Episode 114: Steve talks about jarred tomato sauce and hardware store struggles. Elissa reports on Boeing’s purchase of Spirit AeroSystems (not to be confused with the airlines). Stephen found out what the next milsurp machine tool is.
Episode 113: The team discusses what works and what doesn’t with the sales of Girl Scout Cookies. Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Elissa talks about how women could get burnt out in STEM.
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