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AMT Tech Trends: Made On Earth

Ben and Steve wrap up their thoughts on the Tokyo Olympics. Stephen starts a discussion with Benjamin regarding “made in the USA.” Ben transitions to cybersecurity and cyber-physical attacks on the manufacturing industry.
Aug 16, 2021

Episode 55: Ben and Steve wrap up their thoughts on the Tokyo Olympics. Stephen starts a discussion with Benjamin regarding “made in the USA.” Ben transitions to cybersecurity and cyber-physical attacks on the manufacturing industry. Steve pivots to NASA’s need for volunteers to live on year in a 3D-printed “Mars” environment. Benjamin speaks on the journey to make additive manufacturing a viable technology to adopt. Stephen closes with micro additive for precision plastic parts.

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

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, AMT's technology analyst.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, how you doing today?

Stephen LaMarca: Doing great.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah? I was watching the last of the Olympics. I missed the closing ceremony, but they've been talking a lot about gold medal counts. Is that interesting to you? I don't find that too interesting, to be honest.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah?

Stephen LaMarca: I'm still interested in the medal count.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm interested in knowing how much better we are than other countries-

Benjamin Moses: In one thing?

Stephen LaMarca: ... than something. And-

Benjamin Moses: I remind you that we send a thousand athletes, versus the next country probably sent a quarter of that.

Stephen LaMarca: Right. And I'm also interested in the topic that was brought up recently of the weight of the total medal count.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: So there's a little bit of debate and stir around like, well, the total medals are more important than what kind of medals they were.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And that's kind of like... I disagree with that.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: I think that number is valid, and that number does need to be tracked.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But if there was some sort of point or weighing system, a weighting system on the type of medals, then that should be counted. But if you're trying to place one country over another at the end of the Olympics over all of the events, that's like saying, "Well, this event is harder than the other." That wouldn't be fair. But saying that one medal is... I mean, you look at the athletes when they're done. And now I'm not saying the athletes are right in this, but you look at the end of one of the events, gold is celebrating.

Benjamin Moses: Yes, off-the-charts emotion.

Stephen LaMarca: And then the silver medalist and bronze, you're lucky to get any emotion out of them that's positive. If anything, they've got a negative emotion. Now, I'm not saying... Clearly, the gold is more important to the athletes.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: Now, I'm not saying they're right in their emotions. There's still a thing called sportsmanship. And maybe just the overall count is a weight of sportsmanship, but it goes on the lines of... I think popular culture and social media has actually hurt the value of the silver and bronze medalists, because I think that's a this-generation thing.

Benjamin Moses: Ah, it could be.

Stephen LaMarca: Because I think everybody back in the day... I don't know. I know I'm sounding like a boomer right now, but I know back in the day, it was a big deal if you medaled at all. It's a big deal if you get to the Olympics at all. You're the best of the best if you're an Olympic athlete. But there's a meme, I'm sure that you've seen it before, of this Olympic athlete celebrating over his medal, and he's at the bottom of the podium. He's over-celebrating, being absolutely ridiculous. And he's not even third place. He's like 10th place, something like that, but they gave-

Benjamin Moses: He's living it up.

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe that meme is also a bit of a dis at like just give everybody a medal or give everybody a trophy, which is also wrong.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: But if you get podium... Or in Formula One, like podium... Obviously, you want to be first place.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: First is the one that gets to spray the big bottle of champagne. But first through third are the ones that get to stand up-

Benjamin Moses: That's true.

Stephen LaMarca: ... on the podium, spraying the champagne and getting sprayed by the champagne and spraying the audience with the champagne. And they're also the ones in the post-race interview. And then it's not just them. There is sort of a participation trophy for first through 10. First through 10 positions in Formula One are points-awarding positions. So they actually get points for... And then after 10, and I think there's 40 cars.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Something like 40 cars.

Benjamin Moses: They don't get anything.

Stephen LaMarca: They don't get anything. So you've got to be in the top 10. I think it goes back to qualifying.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: You've got to qualify good to be at least on a good starting position, a good pole. But if you don't qualify very well, I mean, you're probably not going to get points either.

Benjamin Moses: Before we move on [inaudible 00:04:27] and talk about [inaudible 00:04:29], but there's two, the happiest moments that I remember from watching the Olympics. I just want to share that before we move on real quick.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure. No problem. Just to wrap up quickly, yes, I do care about medals.

Benjamin Moses: The men's high jump, there was two guys competing, and they both tied towards the end of their runs. So the Olympic officials said they could either do... They could keep running until one of them fail or keep high jumping until one of them fail, or they could share the medal. And the guys just looked at him and said, "Can we just share the medal?"

Stephen LaMarca: That's awesome.

Benjamin Moses: They just shared the gold medal.

Stephen LaMarca: They did that?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, man, I wish I-

Benjamin Moses: That was really cool.

Stephen LaMarca: I wish that hit the news. That's a big deal.

Benjamin Moses: I'll include the link to the video in our show notes.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. Awesome.

Benjamin Moses: It was really impressive. And the other one was, I think it was the Irish female boxer. I don't remember what class it was. She won gold. But when they're doing the final celebration on the podium, she just had all the other podium finishers come up with her on the number-one place on the podium, and she celebrated all their medals together. And I thought the way that she kind of conveyed that emotion with the other athletes, I thought that was really, really cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Sportsmanship.

Benjamin Moses: A lot of sportsmanship.

Stephen LaMarca: Or sportspersonship. What's the PC term for sportsmanship?

Benjamin Moses: I don't know what the gender neutral term for that is.

Stephen LaMarca: Sports.

Benjamin Moses: Sports. But you did bring up an interesting comment. Our favorite thing to watch was-

Stephen LaMarca: Olympic skeet shooting.

Benjamin Moses: Skeet shooting, the American way to compete in the Olympics and shoot stuff.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes, yes. And I saw that another comment on social media is... And I think I saw a meme on Instagram. It was like, "It's a really bad look on America if they don't just dominate in the shooting sports." And that was like a dig, but like-

Benjamin Moses: That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca: They're kind of right. But yes, Olympic skeet shooting.

Benjamin Moses: That was fun. That was fun to watch. You brought up an interesting point. We've been keeping an eye on like men's versus women's competition. I was watching a lot of indoor pistol, and they had two teams competing with each other, two people on each team, and there was a male and female on each team. And I thought that was... It feels like this is a new concept to me where... Not new to me in general, but new to the Olympic teams, where they're looking at combining the genders into more combined events. And you brought up the idea of even solo events, they could still be gender neutral. Skeet is one of those, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yes, absolutely. And in the past it was... The idea was put forth that it was to help women, that like, oh, you need to separate genders in these events or else the women wouldn't be competitive.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: When it comes to Olympic skeet, and I watch international skeet competition even before it gets to the Olympics pretty regularly. And I can tell you, I feel that the separation of genders in a shooting sport like skeet shooting is actually helping the men because it's... Let's go to the Olympics. I mean, think about our past Olympic American hero, Kim Rhode, who was taking home suitcases full of Olympic gold medals before Mike Phelps, Michael Phelps even made it to the Olympics. And she continued taking golds home even after his reign at the Olympics. So I genuinely think that it's helping the men because there are guys out there, there are Olympic shooters that don't want the floor wiped with them. And it's a shame because I would have loved to see women go up against men shooters.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It's an open competition.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. That'd be fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh no, you didn't medal? Too bad. You made it to the Olympics. That's a big deal, though.

Benjamin Moses: All right, man, we've got some really interesting articles today. Do you want to kick it off with the first one?

Stephen LaMarca: Yes. I saw a article this morning while I was lying in bed that was posted on LinkedIn by our friend, Doug Brannies. And he posted on LinkedIn, of course, an article by Industry Week. And the title is Much Is at Stake for American Manufacturing in 2021. And the cover photo was words stamped in a piece of metal that said Made in the USA or Made in USA. And thinking about that title, Much Is at Stake for American Manufacturing in 2021, I agree with much is at stake for American manufacturing, but I disagree in that a lot has been at stake for American manufacturing forever, for a long time, maybe not forever.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But I don't think this is new to 2021. The technology is new in 2021, but I mean, it's been new every year. But what do you think about that? What do you think of American manufacturing?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, I feel like it's always under pressure. I feel like there's always... So the competition is being sourced elsewhere, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: It's being sourced from low-cost countries or other advanced countries that have a different spin on how they manufacture stuff. And since I've been involved in manufacturing, there's always the question of do we source it locally? Do we source it abroad? Do we make it internally? And a lot of those questions come to cost questions. But recently, we've had a lot of conversations with people in supply chain that... And the cost is probably not your main driver now, right? There's lead-time questions. There's quality questions. There's what supply that you're willing to work with to improve your delivery into your manufacturing space.

And I feel like that pressure is always on American manufacturing. The constant review of how do we make this cheaper or how do we get this to the lowest dollar is always on American manufacturing. I agree with you. I don't think it's a new concept. I feel like it's constantly... It's built a callus on, I feel like, on American manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Callus is actually a great word, I think, for it because I see those dumb bumper stickers all the time. At least in the automotive industry, I see these bumper stickers that say Be American Buy American. And it's got like a bald eagle with that scowl on his face and the flag waving in the background. But I think as much as I respect that and I want to support American manufacturing... And I do support American manufacturing, or else I wouldn't be working here. But I can't stand the lack of information behind that bumper sticker because you see it on like a Chevy or Ford truck, and it's like do you realize that more... With exceptions of like the Ford F-150, there are more American-made Japanese cars on the road in the US than there are American-made American cars.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: I think the branding is... Those bumper stickers Be American Buy American, that's not patriotism. That's brand favoritism. And I think the American auto manufacturers know that, because Subaru... I think most Subarus... All Subarus sold in the US are made in South Carolina. Same with like BMW SUVs.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: The BMW sedans, I think, are imported or made in Mexico. Actually, I don't think BMW does that. That's the Volkswagen group that makes it in Mexico. But BMWs are made in Bavaria with the exception to the SUVs, which are made in South Carolina with our members' robotics, by the way, which is awesome.

Benjamin Moses: Which that's why... I mean, they make it in the US because that's all we buy.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, we buy SUVs.

Benjamin Moses: You do bring up a bigger issue, right? So you look at just manufacturing. But if you look at the life cycle of a product, you go upstream. Where was it designed? And then you go further upstream. Where's the parent company that's harvesting this money? And then I guess in the end, where does that tax money go that... There's corporate taxes, right? They know how to get around it. But there's different phases.

My buddy and I were thinking about going on a... He went on a trip, and we're experimenting on travel tripods to take pictures for photography. And there was a company called Peak Design. They designed a really lightweight, really compact tripod made out of carbon-fiber legs and the components are very light. It was a very interesting design. But it was designed in the US, but it was manufactured overseas.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh!

Benjamin Moses: So it was like... It's fairly complex in a startup. You're looking, how do I get this product to market? The idea is if you're designing in the US, you could manufacture in the US. That's always the idea, but if there's already an ecosystem that you're connected to-

Stephen LaMarca: But you also want people to buy it, and people like things that are cheap.

Benjamin Moses: The decision process to get to where you manufacture is fairly complex. And as a consumer, just pointing your finger, "Make this in the US," like, yeah, but what about all the other things that happened in the US that we're losing [crosstalk 00:13:37]?

Stephen LaMarca: Consumers say that, but they know that their wallet speaks first. It's easy to run that lip service, but the person that's doing the real talking is their wallet.

Benjamin Moses: When you filter on Amazon for Made in the US, then you're keeping it real.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, wow. Yeah, I bet. That's cool. That's cool. But just my closing point and coming back to cars, I'm sorry, but the most probable... I think the best-selling American vehicle is the Ford F-150 pickup. I was getting my car inspected two months late of last weekend, actually last week, and while I was at the shop, I was looking around. I saw this nice-looking motor just sitting on a pile of tires. It was out of car, of course. And it was definitely a truck engine. I knew it came from a Ford F-150. It was their EcoBoost V6.

Benjamin Moses: Cool.

Stephen LaMarca: And I could tell it was the EcoBoost. It didn't have the turbos on it, but I could tell it was the EcoBoost because it had God-awful cast-iron headers, like really short tube, strictly made that way for packaging's sake. And it doesn't matter. Isometric header tuning doesn't matter when you're just feeding a turbo.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: But it was a nice 60-degree crank-angle V6, dual overhead cam. It was like, yes, I'm so glad that this is made in America. And I couldn't tell that it was a Ford... I knew it was a twin turbo V6. I couldn't tell it was a Ford EcoBoost from an F-150 until I looked closer. So I looked for the serial number on the block. And when I found it, when I determined that it was in fact a Ford, it said FoMoCo on it, Ford Motor Company, I was so depressed when I looked at the bottom of that emblem. Not emblem, but it was like a metal plaque on the engine, let's say, with the serial number and everything. It said Made in Honduras.

Benjamin Moses: That's interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: I was like-

Benjamin Moses: I didn't know Honduras was up to manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca: And I bet you this motor came from a dumb truck that said Be American Buy American on it. Like, you should be ashamed of your... At least try to put some research into throwing it before you throw down money and run your lips.

Benjamin Moses: The products we buy, man, they're complex. They're going to come from everywhere.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I get that. Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: What I want to hit on is, back to pressure in manufacturing, is manufacturers are under attack. Cybersecurity, man, it's a big problem.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, yeah. It's been a problem since I've been here.

Benjamin Moses: And I think recently the visibility and the severity has become more apparent, right? We're seeing significant attacks on, I'll just call it the industrial sector in general. It's not... I'd say 10 years ago, you'd see a lot of news on bots taking over your machine or spam malware on personal computers. That's still a problem. Your refrigerator, your smart refrigerator is going to be taken over at some point by some emailing bot. So the personal ecosystem for security is a problem. But that has progressed into the industrial sector, where you see... I think the last one I saw was a water processing plant get attacked and-

Stephen LaMarca: Oof.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, no, the gasoline.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, the pipeline, man.

Benjamin Moses: The pipeline. Yeah. So not only were they asking for money, but because they were shut down, we didn't get gas delivered on the middle Eastern seaboard for a couple of... almost like a week, right? We almost had a gas run out there.

Stephen LaMarca: Eh, did we?

Benjamin Moses: Well, I was fine.

Stephen LaMarca: People claimed. I was fine too.

Benjamin Moses: I was working from home, so I didn't go anywhere.

Stephen LaMarca: The good news is we live in an area where the most worn button at the pump is the premium, the 93 octane pump.

Benjamin Moses: It did create a run because people were storing it.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: That was the only... If they continued their-

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, they were storing that 87 junk. Who wants that, man?

Benjamin Moses: My car can't run on that.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. You expect me to take a five horsepower deficit? I've barely any to begin with.

Benjamin Moses: But the article that was written here was, he talks about the broader issues of the concept of IT, information technology and operational technology within a manufacturing facility. So the influence of information technology or how we handle technology on the operation, on the shop floor, comes from a lot of IT practices, where you're monitoring printers, you're monitoring servers, you're monitoring laptops. They are different environments. And that's where... One of the key elements in the article talks about is the practices that have migrated into the operational floor, well, they needed a starting point. There really needs to be a significant shift in how we handle that going forward.

And it gets into two layers. One is... We've talked about keeping hardware up to date, and we were kind of griping about that earlier in our planning talk earlier, about I just upgraded my phone because the old one was getting out of date. It refused to update the OS because I was several versions behind, which annoyed me a lot. But the age of equipment is very interesting, where on the IT side, it's a couple of years old, say five years old, and you're upgrading switches. You're upgrading laptops. So keeping something up to date on the IT side, it's a best practice.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: But if I've got a piece of a quarter-million-dollar machine, I could keep that 20, 30 years. So that piece of information technology that's on this piece of equipment that's on the shop floor, that's a significantly different lifespan that you've got to maintain. I can't just replace that thing. It's an expensive piece of equipment. I mean, you could replace it. There are companies that do have a different depreciation plan for their equipment. But the idea of keeping things up to date and the mind-shift from IT into OT is significantly different. And I thought that was a very interesting look at the article and kind of what has to change in the future.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, right. I think the investment of an IT department in a manufacturing facility is incredibly important. And that's like the first step to a small facility or a small job shop growing into a medium size and then becoming a full one, is having an IT department to keep everything up to date and secure. And more importantly, and I don't think this is stressed enough... First, the IT department in general, I don't think, in a manufacturing facility is stressed enough. But I think that's not stressed enough because they're trying to stress the need for a solid relationship between, as you said, IT and OT.

Benjamin Moses: Right, definitely.

Stephen LaMarca: I mean, we've mentioned a handful of times here on our podcasts, AMT's outside, or outside AMT's hero for cybersecurity, Yenda Nice. But he'll tell us that he's got to have his wing man. It's not like Batman and Robin. It is Starsky and Hutch. It's Yenda Nice and Mike Muchin. You need IT and OT. You need a good relationship between the two, and you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each other. And then you can effectively keep everything up to date and safe.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely.

Stephen LaMarca: You can update your drivers and not screw anything up.

Benjamin Moses: And I think that's... The big takeaway for me is that, as threats become more aggressive, external threats... You've got nation-states trying to attack these industrial sectors where, as a small company, you're probably not going to be able to stop that, but the ability to recover from that is also important too.

Stephen LaMarca: But if you're a small company, the good news for you is you're also not the biggest target.

Benjamin Moses: True, true.

Stephen LaMarca: And if you're also a small company, the bad news is you probably don't want to be a small company for long.

Benjamin Moses: You're trying to grow.

Stephen LaMarca: You probably want some growth, and growth... You certainly want growth. We're all in this to make money, and so you at least want to grow your bank account.

Benjamin Moses: That's right.

Stephen LaMarca: And sometimes you can't grow your bank account unless you grow your facilities. And as soon as you get larger, then you become more of a target and then you need... And I hate to break it to you. It's not all cutting and growing in manufacturing. They're all computers.

Benjamin Moses: They're all computers.

Stephen LaMarca: And they all need to be updated and kept up to date.

Benjamin Moses: And I think that's the key. There's a lot more work that needs to happen on how we handle security on the OT side, so...

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Steve, what's our next article?

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. The next one I got... Switching gears a little bit, being a little bit more playful again, NASA is seeking volunteers to live a year in... I can't say that still... a 3D printed Mars habitat.

Benjamin Moses: That's awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: Would you do this?

Benjamin Moses: Would I do that, like right now with my family? I mean, I'd like to get away from my family, so maybe.

Stephen LaMarca: So this comes down to like your public education, like when a teacher would be like... I want to say, "Okay, what am I getting out of this, though? What are they paying?" And then the public educator... Like, I can hear high school teachers now saying, "It's not volunteering if you're getting something out of it, Steven." Okay. But yeah, they've got to be giving you something.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. You know you're going to write a book if you go through that.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: There's at least a book deal, potentially a sci-fi movie.

Stephen LaMarca: Somebody's going to want to talk to you. I don't know for how long, but somebody is going to want to talk to you about it.

Benjamin Moses: I don't think they're isolated, though, right? They're not cut off from the world.

Stephen LaMarca: Well, they've got other people.

Benjamin Moses: They're physically cut off.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: They're physically cut off, but I mean, you can still watch internet. You have internet access, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Sure. Sure.

Benjamin Moses: It's not in this biodome environment where you're cut off completely from the world.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: I wouldn't do that. I couldn't last. How many people? Does it say how many people are in there?

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. I'll tell you the exact scenario in which I would do it, and I think this is pretty common. At least I feel like it is. Graduated college, still working retail, haven't found a real job yet.

Benjamin Moses: That's a good scenario to be at.

Stephen LaMarca: If this comes up and I actually get accepted, I'm doing it. It's just a year.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: While you still have internet... Like you said, if you still have internet access, I can job hunt while I'm there, do some e-interviews that COVID brought us. We can do Zoom interviews. And if you get an offer, you'd just be like, "Yeah, can I start in a year? I'm kind of doing this thing for NASA right now."

Benjamin Moses: I wonder if I see that on a resume... I don't know how, as a manager, what I would do with that.

Stephen LaMarca: I'd be like, "This is really cool. This person takes great opportunities. They've probably learned a lot out of this. Probably doesn't have the best people and communication skills sinve they've been isolated."

Benjamin Moses: That's fascinating that they 3D printed it and that [crosstalk 00:24:22].

Stephen LaMarca: It is 3D printed. Yeah. We're missing the point here.

Benjamin Moses: I think construction has harvested a lot from the ability to 3D print. It's not quite additive, right? They're not doing any subsequent processing for it. It's purely 3D printed houses. And I see a lot of articles on 3D printed house for sale now, so I find that very fascinating in the US.

Stephen LaMarca: I really hope... And I don't mean to be a downer. This is really an upper for me and people like me and my generation, but I hope additive housing, 3D printed housing causes the next real estate collapse, and so I'll finally be able to buy a house.

Benjamin Moses: Finally be able to buy a house.

Stephen LaMarca: I'll finally be able to buy something.

Benjamin Moses: The struggle is real, man. The housing market is out of control.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. I've been patiently waiting for the past eight years now for a collapse that somebody once told me, "Oh, it's going to happen in two years." It's like, okay, I'm still waiting.

Benjamin Moses: The next article I've got is actually a white paper from New Era Assessments. We've been working with them to kind of talk about a new way of thinking in the additive journey. And we've just talked about a fairly, I wouldn't say mature process, but they're building a habitat that's 3D printed, right? So the ability-

Stephen LaMarca: Additive is absolutely a mature process. Additive housing, not a mature concept.

Benjamin Moses: Right. And the main takeaway from the white paper and all the articles we've been working with them on is the mindset of additive and the impact on business, right? And there's a bunch of different topics that they talk about here. It's kind of the business culture and product application and looking at those two areas and how does additive fit within those. And they hit on a couple of key myths within the industry about additive. One, additive is not going to fix everything. That's definitely true, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Correct.

Benjamin Moses: That's just my personal take. But it's a mature technology. It has its applications. It's connecting those applications and what's the return to business that's driving it. And they hit on a couple of key myths that I just want to talk about. One is additive is not for every company and not for every product. Taking something that's attractively made and then just converting it to the additive process, that's a terrible idea. You shouldn't do that. I mean, yeah, if your goal is to reduce lead time, potentially, if your goal is I can't make this part in time and I could switch it over. But there's significant financial impacts and a cost difference between the two. And understanding that, as opposed to let's just swap the two and magic will happen. That's not always the case.

The other one is material cost is how you control your expenses for additive. I find that very fascinating, that it uses such low material when you're growing a part. It's like 5% of the total cost. The other cost comes from the time on the machine and the subsequent processing for those in an additive process.

And then the last one they talk about is if you buy it, they will come. If I buy a 3D printer, metallic or plastic, I'll suddenly get business. Nobody knows that. Nobody knows you have a 3D printer or capability. It's very interesting that buying a machine is not the same as growing capability. There's a lot of intelligence and knowledge that's required to support that. And the designs, right? Just because you have a machine doesn't mean you'll always have that capability. So I found that... Those are some of the significant takeaways. And they also get into design planning, part building, part processing, and trends for the future. So it's a very good white paper, and it's a good read. I highly recommend it.

Stephen LaMarca: It sounds like actually a good read for a white paper.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, definitely.

Stephen LaMarca: It sounds cool.

Benjamin Moses: I highly recommend it. Steve, I think we've got...

Stephen LaMarca: We've got two minutes left.

Benjamin Moses: We've got two minutes.

Stephen LaMarca: Let's just... I'll bring it up.

Benjamin Moses: All right.

Stephen LaMarca: I've got a final article from the 3D Printing Industry. Micro Additive Manufacturing: Disrupting the production of precision plastic parts.

Benjamin Moses: Precision plastic, I like that.

Stephen LaMarca: Precision plastic parts, additive is apparently disrupting. I feel like we haven't seen a good disruptive technology in a while. We've seen some transformational technologies. And certainly, we see a transformational technology or at least update our list of transformational technologies every year. But I feel like it's been a hot minute since we've seen something disrupt something else.

Benjamin Moses: Micro additive, that's a growing trend.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: That's definitely a hot idea and topic. I think a lot of the applications I've seen are more medical or opto-electronics, but micro-plastics, that's fascinating to me to be able to grow this very, very small part.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, because you used to think that when additive was still a disruptive technology, and it arguably still is, one of its faults... Among other things, one of its faults was that you couldn't get, and frankly you still can't, get the surface finish that you can with other means of manufacturing. And now all of a sudden, additives come out of the gate with like, "We can do micro stuff now." And to be micro, you've got to have really good surface finish qualities. So I think this is a big deal.

Benjamin Moses: I think so.

Stephen LaMarca: And it's worth actually looking into this article for more information.

Benjamin Moses: I definitely want to look at what use cases they see. I still see the debate of either prototype and tooling, which if it works, great. I think that's a great way to leverage additive in the beginning. But then once you get into production or end use, then it's fairly interesting. I'm trying to understand if there's still a need and drive to get value from additive end use. Like, aerospace can definitely harvest value on growing more efficient components for airplane engines. But I'm just regular Joe Schmoe. You grew some parts on my phone. Am I going to notice those values?

Stephen LaMarca: I'm thinking for on the lines of repairs.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Like, even back to the white paper you just spoke on. I was thinking about how cool would it be if you go to a... The concept of just-in-time manufacturing or just-in-time assembly in general fascinates me, because I think a lot of people think that when a company is putting together X product, before they package it and ship it to a retailer and a consumer buys it, they think that as it's going down the assembly line, somebody is just pulling parts out of a massive bin of that same part and putting it on the product. And it goes down to the next person who does the same thing. And the concept of just-in-time manufacturing fascinates me, because I see that it's basically telling me that you have that same assembly line, but as the product comes towards the assembly-line worker, instead of them reaching for a part from a massive bin of the same parts, there's another conveyor belt bringing them the new part, the one part that they need.

Cars are manufactured like that, for example. I mean, cars are manufactured and assembled in a hugely efficient and beautiful manner. But car repairs, not so much. If you need a new wheel bearing for your car, you go to your local dealership and you ask for, "I need this wheel bearing," for whichever one it is if they're individualized, and you hope that they have one in stock. You hope that they have one in a bin of parts of the same parts. And if they don't, then you have to order it. And that's not just-in-time. If they had a big box of them, that's not just-in-time. And if they're out of stock and they need to order it, that's not just-in-time either.

But I think this concept of additive is cool, at least for small parts because that's what we're talking about, is really cool because I'm thinking, "How cool would it be to go to a service center, and they'll be like, 'We're printing this plastic part for you now while we wait for the metal part to arrive.'" So it's like a donut. You have a spare tire. It says, "Don't drive over 50 miles an hour. Don't drive for more than 50 miles." If there was that, like, "Okay, here's this plastic part."

Benjamin Moses: That would be fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: "And ride this until it comes in. Don't exceed these limits." That would be really cool. It's probably not that realistic, but I mean, it's... I'm sorry. I still have an imagination.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, where can they see more about your imagination?

Stephen LaMarca: You can find more of what we have to talk about at amtonline.org/resources. There you can find our recent white paper series that we've just... We've just closed that off, haven't we?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, we finished up a supply chain series.

Stephen LaMarca: Finished up the supply chain series of white papers. That was a lot of fun. You can subscribe there to my weekly tech report and find more episodes of the Tech Trends Podcast.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome, Steve. That was a great episode. Thanks.

Stephen LaMarca: It was a lot of fun.

Benjamin Moses: Bye, everyone.

Stephen LaMarca: Thank you. Bye.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
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