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AMT Tech Trends: IncoNOW!

Episode 97: Ben gets nerdy about tax code. Steve fell into an Inconel rabbit hole and says testbed content is in the works. Benjamin reports industrial automation and robotics is becoming more affordable and accessible. Still, Stephen is afraid it isn’t.
Jun 30, 2023

Episode 97: Ben gets nerdy about tax code. Steve fell into an Inconel rabbit hole and says testbed content is in the works. Benjamin reports industrial automation and robotics is becoming more affordable and accessible. Still, Stephen is afraid it isn’t. Ben concludes that AM is the only way to produce rocket engines. Steve says the US plans to slow China’s AI development.

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Transcript

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 the MT Forecast Conference. I am the Director of Technology, Benjamin Moses, and I'm here with-

Stephen LaMarca:

Stephen LaMarca, Technology Analyst.

Benjamin Moses:

And producer [inaudible 00:00:24].

Ramia Lloyd :

Hi, tech friends.

Benjamin Moses:

What's going on with peoples? Before we get into some topics, I've been traveling again, Steve.

Stephen LaMarca:

Dude, you've been gone for so long I feel like. Then again, now that the dust has settled from me moving, I legitimately feel like I just woke up from a coma. Even if you were here, I wouldn't have known you were here.

Benjamin Moses:

It's nice to know I'm the first person you see coming out of a coma.

Stephen LaMarca:

Respect.

Benjamin Moses:

I was in Rochester. It is funny because I spent so much time in Rochester traveling back and forth, back in my time in Eden. Going back there feels familiar. And it's one of those towns where you go in and you're like, it's like Cheers, you come back to a place you're familiar with. But we had an automation manufacturing committee meeting there at Calvary Robotics. They're a system integrator and a member of the AM committee and the MT. And we've been rotating committee meeting locations. It was really interesting topic at the committee meeting because they're focusing on two main areas. One is business topics. At the last meeting they talked about changes to the tax code and how that impacts their finances and credits they can apply for, research and development credits. It was an interesting topic. A little on the dry side, but-

Stephen LaMarca:

Sure.

Benjamin Moses:

It needed to be talked about because there's things they could apply for and risks. There's a couple where when they're applying for it the IRS is checking for certain things, and their perspective on what they're checking for, you put more effort into that to make sure that those calculations are correct. That was a super cool topic.

And then the rest of the time on the technology side, we toured Calvary and saw where their technology growth and development, and we saw a couple of their R&D, new sectors they're getting into. They're an integrator, so their solutions can be custom. They could do one-offs if they want.

Stephen LaMarca:

Sure.

Benjamin Moses:

They're getting into higher volume automation stuff too. They're reproducing the same style, but different modifications to it. They're getting into some very interesting areas. They don't have it on their website, so I can't get into it right now. But their approach and their tactic is very interesting and it was really cool to see that they're branching out. We have a, article later on about the changing dynamics of automation I would definitely want to hit on. It's really cool to see where they're headed. And also, well, I would call it more R&D areas.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

They have a VR room so they can simulate designing a system and you can interact with that so you can see-

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, cool.

Benjamin Moses:

That was a really cool demonstrator. So they have some really interesting-

Stephen LaMarca:

They have a digital twin of everything in their inventory or on their back order was even-

Benjamin Moses:

That was a project with Rockwell Automation they wanted to go through with that. That was really cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

Very cool. Wow. They've got a heck of a [inaudible 00:03:07] it seems like.

Benjamin Moses:

I didn't realize how big they were. They're in a campus area, and we're driving in, it's a massive building. They're on like 400,000 square foot piece of property and they're expanding in the future.

Stephen LaMarca:

Holy cow.

Benjamin Moses:

Automation does require space. If you're building an automation line array, you got to build it. But it's impressive. They have a great facility. I'll give Mike Fisher props. When you go into a facility and they take care of the plants is when you walk in and you see the air conditioning ducts, right?

Stephen LaMarca:

Mm-hmm.

Benjamin Moses:

When it's clean on top of their air conditioning ducts, then they're taking care of the facility. Keep an eye on that when you visit a factory, tell me how clean the top of their air ducts are.

Stephen LaMarca:

It makes me feel so dirty.

Benjamin Moses:

I don't want to mention how dirty stuff here is.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

But the reason I bring that up is touring the facility is fantastic.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

And our sponsor later when we get to the read is MT Forecast, and we got some great tours lined up and we're working with some of our members there, and it's in Detroit. I can't mention the tours just yet, but it will on the website soon. We got some great tours lined up for MT Forecast later-

Stephen LaMarca:

Why don't I go ahead, I want to keep talking about this.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Why don't I go ahead and knock out this read real quick? MT Forecast. MT Forecast brings the latest economic news and industry trends straight to attendees. Industry leaders, executives, and key decision makers will explore an agenda that provides a roadmap to better business strategies through customer industry insights, economic forecasting, and deep dives into market data. For years, MT Forecast speakers have been sharing crucial looks into the near future. Go to AMTonline.org/events to save the date and register.

I'm really looking forward to this MT Forecast. Of all of the MT Forecasts that I've been to, in fact, I think of all of the AMT events this year even leading up to this, I'm looking forward to this the most.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I don't typically get the most excited for the MT Forecast and its type of content, but this is going to be a really good one. I think I'm going into this one with a lot more questions of what I want to take out of it. Plus, it's going to be back in Detroit.

Benjamin Moses:

It's going to be in Detroit. We've had a lot of good times in Detroit.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think Detroit has become you and I's favorite manufacturing city to go to as of late.

Benjamin Moses:

I think it's the number two seed behind Pittsburgh.

Stephen LaMarca:

For sure. For sure. It's definitely, yeah, Pittsburgh's going to be our OG.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

But we've been to Detroit, I've been to Detroit I think two times already this year, maybe three. I'm looking forward to going back because I just wrote an article for LaMarkables in the MT Magazine on the lore of Inconel.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

Inconel has been something I love talking about for a while now, and I decided to do a serious deep dive into the rabbit hole of almost everything there is to know about Inconel. I'm sure I missed a few things here and there. But the reason why I'm excited to go back to Detroit is the company that originally developed Inconel ...

Benjamin Moses:

Mm-hmm.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's been a lot of changing hands since then.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

So I'm not going to say the current company that owns the trademark to the name Inconel, which is why a lot of other companies, like when we went to IMTS, mention like, oh, we use Nickel 625 and 718. They didn't say Inconel. I was like, why is that? It's like, because it's still under trademark.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

It can't be under trademark. It's more than 20 years old. And then Legal Zoom told me that anything that's still in use by its owner, even if it's beyond 20 years old, it still has a valid trademark.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

That was fun learning about that. Anyway, going back to Inco, the developer of Inconel, what came out before Inconel, their first big alloy, was Monel.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

And without geeking out too much about Monel, I'm really excited to go to Detroit again to go to the Guardian Building in the Financial District of Detroit.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because they have the main gate in the lobby of the building that is entirely made out of Monel.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow, that's pretty cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I want to see it.

Benjamin Moses:

It's cool to geek out on material. I remember ...

Stephen LaMarca:

We should come up with a list of manufacturing sites to see across the US. Not facilities-

Benjamin Moses:

Sure, sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because then we'd never get an end of it. But cool things that are manufacturing related that should be seen in the US, and I think this gate is the start point.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay. At my previous role we did, there's a couple of different grades of Monel. We used K500.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's a tough one to machine. We use that in high abrasion areas, so interfacing with shafts and things like that.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

We used that and L605 are kind of the two areas. I think oil and gas uses Monel a lot because of lower temperatures with higher pressure situations. And it's not easy. That's some tough stuff to chew through. It's very interesting to hear applications of oil and gas using this high tensile strength material, and then a same application on a gate, which is fascinating to me.

Stephen LaMarca:

And it's funny that they wanted to flex this hard about this alloy that they invented. They're like, we're going to make a gate out of it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

This isn't what this alloy should be used for. Which it ended up being used for many things, but one of the most notable things is World War era US military dog tags.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Made out of Monel for the corrosion resistance.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

They didn't want to give soldiers and Marines steel or some grade of steel that after however many tours of sweating and getting gross would make it rust and tarnish and whatnot. And you look at these Monel dog tags from so many years ago, and they're still shiny and polished.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Which is funny because the Monel gate in the Guardian Building has tarnished and oxidized.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I think it's because it hasn't been exposed to anything corrosive. It's an alloy that wants to be exposed to something. It's how it shines.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Literally.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fun. Let's go look at a rusty gate.

Stephen LaMarca:

I can't wait to see it. I've never been so excited to see a gate, like a tarnished oxidized gate.

Benjamin Moses:

Good. Yeah, I like the idea of a list of places to see for manufacturing. Steve, I'll save vacations for next time.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

I'm heavily tanned and I'm sunburned on my shoulders, which did not make travel pleasant, but I'll get over it.

Stephen LaMarca:

You're back.

Benjamin Moses:

I'm back.

Stephen LaMarca:

You made it.

Benjamin Moses:

I do want to mention Test Bed. Got some good news on Test Bed coming up.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes. Good news and bad news. Bad news, let's just start right off the bat, there's nothing new that we're doing. There's no new projects, but actually kind of that's wrong. The good news is now that AMT has a very talented and incredible young videographer-

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

On the payroll, we can finally set up actually loading up the Test Bed with cameras. And the content team is itching for more video content that isn't just reaction videos and stuff other than the content that we're already producing that's owned by IMTS. We want stuff for the AMT channel as well.

Benjamin Moses:

Cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm thinking, well, AMT has the Test Bed, AMT has MT Connect. Let's start doing some test Bed videos, just being like, let's see if I can remember how to machine something. Just taking an hour to film the test bed and seeing what I can do in an hour, and then seeing what kind of clips we can get out of it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. And it's great visual support of our Test Bed as we go through this journey. It's still a little hard to describe in words how important the Test Bed is and the functionality. Getting some video to help support that is beneficial. And I still think our journey can be replicated at manufacturers as they're exploring different things. And we'll get into an article later on about that.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's a really important component of AMT considering how much dust it collects.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome Steve, I'm super excited for that. And speaking of automation, we're going to talk a lot of automation today.

Stephen LaMarca:

We got a lot of automation.

Benjamin Moses:

I found a great article on how the robotics business model is shifting to meet manufacturers where they're at. Interesting title. It's from Forbes. So good content. Actually the Forbes manufacturing content's pretty solid.

Stephen LaMarca:

Forbes' manufacturing content is solid. It's Fortune that I don't like.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's fair.

Stephen LaMarca:

And Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal I like, but you guys don't know anything about manufacturing.

Benjamin Moses:

The premise of this is the shift in automation and robotics equipment to as a service. I think the underlying takeaway from this article is manufacturers still struggling with large CapEx projects. Spending 500K on one year to get the return on investment quick is a struggle.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

And I think integrators and OEMs are looking at, okay, maybe I can look at amortizing this over several months or years. The article talks about that and it goes over a couple of scenarios, and they do mention a specific company, but there are a couple of companies doing this now. They have prices mentioned here. I'm just going to mention that. We've talked about the prices of buying an arm and then adding the equipment. So that's fairly well thought of, right-

Stephen LaMarca:

We're going to talk about it again today.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep. And the article gets into spending instead of like 50, 80, 100K on a very introductory automation sale of the robotic arm, breaking that up into yearly cost or monthly cost. Instead of spending all that money upfront, getting a subscription service. So breaking it down into 35K a year, into monthly payments. Spending 5,000 bucks a month on robotic arms is where they're headed, showing the return on investment quicker.

Stephen LaMarca:

Gotcha.

Benjamin Moses:

This is a very interesting take. At first glance you're like, okay, why doesn't everyone do that? There's a little bit of infrastructure required to support that.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

And that actually helps to get, the article kind of walks through that. Getting customized help defining that solution. You're working with a partner. If your path is to figure this out yourself, this may not be the best solution for you. But if you have expertise in, say, subtractive and you have a pain point getting a supplier that can help you solve that pain point and reduce that cost or distribute that cost over time, that's where they're headed. That's where they see a lot of value and a lot of potential.

Stephen LaMarca:

Sure.

Benjamin Moses:

In this scenario, they do a straight breakdown of monthly cost. There are other companies that are looking at cost per transaction. At the higher volumes, they say almost like a price per click where it does a certain transaction, it sorts or it does a certain amount of feeds or loads the machine a certain number of times, then you pay per that transaction. And if you don't need [inaudible 00:14:40] transactions, then they'll consider either putting back the equipment or repurposing it. You're not utilizing enough-

Stephen LaMarca:

Gotcha.

Benjamin Moses:

And that drives interesting behavior also.

Stephen LaMarca:

This sounds, financing is nothing new to the manufacturing industry.

Benjamin Moses:

No.

Stephen LaMarca:

Financing equipment that needs to pay for itself, and at first, unfathomable the cost of entry, financing has been around to bolster that acquirement for a long time now. But this seems different because it's, I forget that company, who's that company that will allow you to rent out your equipment? Not rent it out, but it's almost like manufacturing, job share.

Benjamin Moses:

Mm-hmm.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's kind of manufacturing as a service. But this is a cool concept and it's nice to see a different take on this.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm just waiting for, I wonder is there a term for manufacturing financing because manufacturing equipment can get really expensive.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's not like financing a car, but I guess it is. But is there a mortgage that you take out for an Okuma?

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, you could take a loan against it. There are a lot of financing options. It's part of your large capital expenditure plan.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

And the same as any the other business. If you run a restaurant, you got to buy a stove and things like that. This is a larger scale for manufacturing. And that's the trend we're seeing is that physical assets are still difficult to financially manage.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

And the shift in pay it as a service is an interesting model. We saw that on CT scanning with Lumafield and we're seeing it more. This is probably the third or fourth company I've seen across to offer that service. And I wouldn't be surprised if other technologies are considering that in the future.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

It's interesting. And the article gets into deploying ... robotics is only going to grow, automation's only going to grow as GDP grows, as productivity grows, and this is just one way to keep pace with a constant blooming market. And it's nice for small to medium-sized companies too because cash reserve is a fairly big problem. If you don't have the cash reserve to say, I need to buy this thing, then you need to consider financing. But now finance, you're adding points to that. It makes a return on investment a little more difficult. That was a very good article and definitely an interesting shift. In the [inaudible 00:17:18] committee, we're seeing a lot of discussions on how to segment your different markets, your different business units. This could be an interesting look at where companies consider segregating their business units to create different revenue streams.

Stephen LaMarca:

When you buy an expensive machine tool or more than a pocket NC, because that's the only experience I have, that and the xArm 7.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

When you buy serious professional industrial grade manufacturing device-

Benjamin Moses:

Sure, like a quarter million dollar machine-

Stephen LaMarca:

That you may need, yeah, a quarter million dollar machine that you may need to finance. Does that machine, when you buy it, does it come from the manufacturer? Let's say you buy it outright. Does it come with a title or a deed? Because these are major transactions that I'd like to see paper trails for.

Benjamin Moses:

That's a good question. We should investigate that next time we meet with our members.

Stephen LaMarca:

So you don't know this either.

Benjamin Moses:

I don't.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

Every time we've bought a machine, we get the machine and like three sheets of paper, like a manual.

Stephen LaMarca:

Crazy. Cool, all right.

Benjamin Moses:

You got something on desktop sells.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. I was really excited when our good friend and esteemed colleague Andra of Silicon Valley Robotics shared a new company, well at least new to me. I think they're on Kickstarter as well.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

But the company is called, I'm assuming they like to be pronounced Wlkata. The name is spelled W-L-K-A-T-A, Wlkata Robotics.

Benjamin Moses:

Sounds good.

Stephen LaMarca:

Actually, sounds really fun when you say it out loud like that. Wlkata Robotics offers a, they call it an industrial grade desktop robot arm.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

And they don't just sell the arm, but the arm comes with a integral, so non-modular.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

An integral proprietary three joint gripper, not joint, but like three finger gripper.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

And what's really cool is this six joint arm, the six axis arm is also mounted to a robot conveyor.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

If you've got a long table and it's just a little robot with not the most reach or payload capacity and you need it to go from one end to another, it can slide along.

Benjamin Moses:

That's cool. I really like that concept in general, having the robotic arm a little more mobile.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

We saw that at Automate Ware, the one robotic arm was on a pedestal that raised and lower it.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes. Yeah, we saw a few of those.

Benjamin Moses:

The reason I like that is some of the poses are very, very weird to get to the right end of point. I think some of those pedestals allow you that extra degree of motion where you don't have these very weird poses for the arm.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right. Because if it's weird for the arm to reach it, well if it's weird for a human to reach that, it will add for a human to lift with your back instead of your knees, you would expect the same for the robot. So maybe it's good for durability and longevity.

Benjamin Moses:

That's interesting, a desktop cell being able to slide-

Stephen LaMarca:

But it's a cell.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's an automation cell that they are selling.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's amazing. I don't think I'll pull the trigger on one only because it doesn't seem industrial enough.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

They're primarily targeting education.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Like industry education, but it's still education and not actual, I don't think it's up for actual experimental manufacturing work.

Benjamin Moses:

Gotcha, gotcha.

Stephen LaMarca:

Which is what we're trying to accomplish.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. It's interesting [inaudible 00:21:10].

Stephen LaMarca:

That was one negative to it. The other negative is considering that it doesn't seem actual manufacturing grade.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Although it is industry related, it has an industrial price.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's around six, $7,000.

Benjamin Moses:

That's interesting-

Stephen LaMarca:

For something that I wouldn't trust putting near a machine [inaudible 00:21:34]. And I don't mean to sound like I'm slandering this company. I think it's exciting. I hope they come out with a bigger bot.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

They come out with a bigger bot with a modular end of arm tooling and they keep it around 10K just for the robot, we're in good dude.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

But the fact that this thing is six, $7,000 for an education tool.

Benjamin Moses:

That's a little steep.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's just like we're going in the opposite direction now.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Now the industry's proving me wrong. Now I'm putting my tinfoil hat on and blaming the robo Illuminati.

Benjamin Moses:

So counterpoint, at that price, that is fairly unique. There's nothing else in that market that has that equipment.

Stephen LaMarca:

We saw something, I feel like we saw something. You're right, and I want to give these guys the props that they deserve.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

But I just ...

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

At automate.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Not only did they sell you a full size six axis arm for like 5,500.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

But I just as a super modular company-

Benjamin Moses:

True.

Stephen LaMarca:

They have where you would attach end of arm tooling-

Benjamin Moses:

The rest, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

They have the universally accepted mounting points.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

So you could put an on robot.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

$30,000 end of arm tooling on a $5,000 [inaudible 00:22:49] robot. But they also have the modularity of the cable ways to manage everything.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

And they have that table slider.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah-

Stephen LaMarca:

That robot slider-

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's true.

Stephen LaMarca:

They had one of those.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay, I understand.

Stephen LaMarca:

I don't know if they had the pedestal thing that you mentioned earlier where it raises it up and down, but they did have that.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay, I understand.

Stephen LaMarca:

I just was more like, you want just the robot, 5K, and then we'll nickel and dime you for every other little component you want on top of that. But if you need the point of entry to be low enough, we're here for you.

Benjamin Moses:

And I feel like if that Kickstarter one that you mentioned, if they shifted a little bit more towards standard equipment-

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

I feel like we can compromise a little bit on the rigidity and the material choice they had, but we could use it for a while and then upgrade it later. It's unfortunate they didn't go with more of a standardized approach. But you got to start somewhere, right?

Stephen LaMarca:

Got to start somewhere.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome.

Stephen LaMarca:

We'll see how successful it is.

Benjamin Moses:

I got something on additive.

Stephen LaMarca:

Let's hear it.

Benjamin Moses:

The cutting edge, additive manufacturing, a liquid rocket engine from TCT Magazine. It's interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:

Whoa.

Benjamin Moses:

The article goes in depth. It goes over the manufacturing process, it goes over how they HIPped it, the applications. I definitely recommend someone getting in the nitty details of that process.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Because they used Inconel 718.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes. Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

Our favorite.

Stephen LaMarca:

Our favorite.

Benjamin Moses:

And of course to get the full strength, you're going to heat treat it. And they wanted to minimize porosity just like a casting so they went through a HIPping process.

Stephen LaMarca:

Hot Isostatic Press.

Benjamin Moses:

And then they went through an aging process. And then they went to testing with the testing scenario of the liquid rocket engine. I thought it was a very good win. And I like these articles because it is a win for additive manufacturing that it is difficult to get something high level confidence. They talk about CT scanning to make sure they have the confidence in the porosity-

Stephen LaMarca:

The porosity [inaudible 00:24:46].

Benjamin Moses:

Exactly.

Stephen LaMarca:

Now is a liquid rocket engine something new because I'm always used to reading about solid rocket boosters, like the solid rocket fuel.

Benjamin Moses:

I think it's a naming convention that these guys are using.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

I think they're the same.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

If you're a rocket person, let me know.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, we'd love to talk to somebody from Goddard.

Benjamin Moses:

We should swing by there.

Stephen LaMarca:

The people that own space, NASA.

Benjamin Moses:

They own space.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. The space people. Space people.

Benjamin Moses:

A lot of tinfoil hat discussions going on here. It talks about some of the results. And in the end, so why would they go to additive for this process? We've been making liquid engines for a while. Why'd you shift towards that? But in the end it's increased fuel efficiency. They're able to optimize the fuel path to get better fuel efficiency at the same power or increased power.

Stephen LaMarca:

And probably lighter weight with less material.

Benjamin Moses:

Less components. It was a very interesting-

Stephen LaMarca:

I feel like it was my first or second year working at AMT when I saw that article by I think Phys.org, Physics.org, that said rocket engines will never be made in the conventional way ever again.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

Ever since additive and metal additive became a thing in working, and because additive made working with our favorite alloy Inconel easier than ever, from now on, rocket engines will only be made using additive manufacturing. That's pretty cool.

Benjamin Moses:

I think they're able to harvest so much value out of it. I see that shift. I agree with that.

Stephen LaMarca:

And yet they still haven't found a way to emerge into the rest of the manufacturing industry. Additive, I mean. Guys ...

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, AI chip exports.

Stephen LaMarca:

Well that's one from Yahoo Finance.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh man, that's a throwback.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, right? Finance.yahoo.com. It's Yahoo. So I didn't even read the article, but the headline has everything we need to know. US considering new restrictions on AI chip exports to China.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:

This tells us a few things. Number one, it sounds like all of the serious chips, all of the good chips are actually being made in the US now. So that's awesome. Win for us. The second thing it tells us, US AI is far superior to China AI.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

We need to keep that gap as much as we can. So we got to place restrictions on it.

Benjamin Moses:

I do want to hit on a little point because when you talk about AI, there's a couple layers to that. There's like the algorithm, the training, the software. And then there's the hardware side that you're alluding to that a lot of people do skip over. These are computational intense processes, and they developed specific hardware just to process these calculations.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

When you're talking about AI chips, these are the hardware where-

Stephen LaMarca:

We're talking the brink of quantum computing.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, exactly. Being able to process this stuff is where it's at. And yeah, that's interesting that there's very big concern about China taking over that market, that segment. That was interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:

Now, this is not an end all, be all solution.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

China will do what China does best and they'll get their hands on it. They'll lawfully purchase an AI program or whatever hardware they need because capitalism.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

And then they'll find the patent and turn it into a blueprint, and then it's theirs.

Benjamin Moses:

Then it theirs.

Stephen LaMarca:

But at least this is slowing it down. And we've got the upper hand for a little bit.

Benjamin Moses:

And it is interesting that we've kept in tune with US exports because of our technology background we were involved on some of the export control panels-

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh man.

Benjamin Moses:

And it is interesting to see the shift on some of the underlying components. We've always talked about a piece of machinery or full assembly. Now we're seeing a shift in underlying components where we're regulating controls.

Stephen LaMarca:

I thought we needed a little bit of regulation, not for regulation's sake, but for the sake of implementing more standards on additive. I remember being part of the technical advisory committee for material processing equipment on Capitol Hill. And they would talk often about, well, we said we wouldn't regulate additive.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

But at the same time, they learned quickly from all these other technologies that could do a fraction of what additive can do alone. We're being regulated really hard. It was like maybe we do need some regulations. But the reason why they left it unregulated was to develop the standards, I believe.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

AI is just the same story all over again, but at least 10 times more important.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because AI is more than a dual use good. AI can be used hostily.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure, sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

And it is an incredibly powerful tool

Benjamin Moses:

And I'm sure Australia will do that first.

Stephen LaMarca:

Australia's got us covered. And yeah, I thought while the tack was saying things like we were not going to regulate additive. We need to regulate AI.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Not because of China or a country that could threaten us, because of capitalism actually.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Because Open AI came out with AI or ChatGPT and the Playground, and everybody else was like, all the other big tech companies that are American were like, oh my God, we need to get on top of this. And they started rushing the development of their AI, and then now they have these rogue computers. Not really, but-

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Let's put it this way, Open AI is not making the T1000 anytime soon. But if Google's not regulated or if Microsoft isn't regulated, they might.

Benjamin Moses:

It's what I've been watching on Netflix. It's really interesting timing. Terminator 2.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's classic man.

Benjamin Moses:

We were watching that over the weekend just hanging out in the hotel. So it was fun. Steve, this was a great episode.

Stephen LaMarca:

This was fun.

Benjamin Moses:

Where can they find more info about us.

Stephen LaMarca:

AMTOnline.org/resources. Like, share, subscribe.

Benjamin Moses:

Bye everyone.

Ramia Lloyd :

[inaudible 00:31:27].

Benjamin Moses:

Oh man.

Ramia Lloyd :

I got both of you.

Benjamin Moses:

She bing bonged us.

Stephen LaMarca:

This is my bing bong. Bing bong is mine.

Benjamin Moses:

You got to come up with something else.

Stephen LaMarca:

No.

Benjamin Moses:

It's a race to the bing bong.

Stephen LaMarca:

Why does this happen?

Ramia Lloyd :

It's a race to the bing bong.

Benjamin Moses:

This is a problem.

Ramia Lloyd :

You got to be quicker than that.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh man. He's going to do it-

Stephen LaMarca:

You've got to be quicker than that.

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Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
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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.
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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.
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.
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