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AMT Tech Trends: MTConnections

Episode 61: Ben and Steve don’t agree on mushrooms. Stephen shares some excitement mentioning some companies outside of the manufacturing industry that have recently downloaded the latest version of the MTConnect standard...
Nov 26, 2021

Episode 61: Ben and Steve don’t agree on mushrooms. Stephen shares some excitement mentioning some companies outside of the manufacturing industry that have recently downloaded the latest version of the MTConnect standard. Benjamin declares that 3D game engines are trickling up into the manufacturing industry. Steve found an article that found a research paper on additive emissions. Ben flexes some Boeing 787 wings. Stephen closes with the success of a child’s wildest dream: SpinLaunch.

For the latest in Manufacturing Technology news https://www.amtonline.org/resources


Benjamin Moses: Hello everyone. And welcome to the Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing, technology, research, and news. I am Benjamin Moses, the Director of Technology, and I'm here with-

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, Technology Analyst. What's up Ben?

Benjamin Moses: Steve, I'm excited for Thanksgiving. It's going to be great.

Stephen LaMarca: You know, me too. I'm going to Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving this year. I hate beaches and I don't like Virginia Beach, but I always have a fun time when I go down there.

Benjamin Moses: That's a shame, Virginia Beach is my favorite beach.

Stephen LaMarca: Is it really?

Benjamin Moses: I mean, I like the quality.

Stephen LaMarca: I was spoiled at a very young age, and I think Christmas in the year 2000, my parents took my sister and I to Hawaii.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Specifically the island of Kauai.

Benjamin Moses: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stephen LaMarca: And it was incredible.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. That's where-

Stephen LaMarca: But no beach will ever hold up to that.

Benjamin Moses: That's where we went for our honeymoon. We spent 10 days in Kauai and-

Stephen LaMarca: Nice.

Benjamin Moses: It's funny because the north, northeast, one of the northern sections, it's so rough that you can't drive around the entire island. You actually have to stop and then go back around. So if you're a part way, and you're running low on gas, you can't circle the entire island. That's fun.

Yeah. So I'm going to my parents' house. They live close by for Thanksgiving. And you know, Thanksgiving's interesting. We've had a mix of foods. So someone does make a very, very large turkey, and there's so much left over that I regret turkey. Growing up in that environment that I'm not too interested in turkey in general. It's-

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: It's a lower grade meat in general.

Stephen LaMarca: It's big.

Benjamin Moses: It's big, it's massive. It's way too much. It's so wasteful. I don't like the 30 pound turkeys that are being sold. You know, half of it's going to be wasted.

Stephen LaMarca: The best Thanksgiving dinner I ever had, and I feel terrible saying this, because my family, they're amazing cooks.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: When it comes to making the Thanksgiving dinner, like the mashed potatoes are always on point. But my aunt can make the best gravy.

Benjamin Moses: Ah, that's good.

Stephen LaMarca: And she told me that the secret ingredient too, she puts Jim Beam in it. But it is seriously the best gravy. Growing up I hated mushrooms. The only time I felt mushrooms were ever acceptable was once a year at Thanksgiving in the gravy.

Benjamin Moses: That's another conflict you and I have because I love mushrooms now.

Stephen LaMarca: One year, something happened. My mom was supposed to host it, and my mom doesn't think she's a good cook. And she gets really stressed out and sometimes screws things up because she's stressed, not because she's a bad cook. And something happened. So the next year she was like, "I'm catering it. I'm not even fiddling with making anything. I'm doing catering." No joke, we had a Cajun Thanksgiving dinner, a spicy fried Turkey shipped from Louisiana.

Benjamin Moses: Wow.

Stephen LaMarca: I kid you not, it showed up the morning of Thanksgiving.

Benjamin Moses: That's amazing.

Stephen LaMarca: In a big styrofoam box with dry ice in it, and all the instructions of what to do with each dish, and the turkey just needs to go into the oven. The turkey was actually warm. It was not in the same box as the cold stuff, but it was already warm. They were just like, "Put it in the oven as soon as possible to keep it warm." And it was the best, a deep fried spicy turkey. That Cajun turkey is the only way to have turkey. But that was incredible. My mom actually ordered that meal from a Neiman Marcus catalog.

Benjamin Moses: Geez.

Stephen LaMarca: It's the weirdest thing ever. That whole catalog is you're so bougie, and you can get Thanksgiving dinner from it.

Benjamin Moses: I think Popeye's used to do Thanksgiving dinners. I have to check that-

Stephen LaMarca: They still do.

Benjamin Moses: Out.

Stephen LaMarca: So I went to Popeye's last week, and somebody came in and like, "Oh, I don't want to order anything, but where, how do I order a turkey for Thanksgiving?" They handed the guy an application.

Benjamin Moses: Whoa.

Stephen LaMarca: You've got to fill out some forms to get a turkey apparently.

Benjamin Moses: That's amazing.

Stephen LaMarca: It's really cool.

Benjamin Moses: I think one thing Deepa and I had a couple Thanksgivings just us, and we had competing chickens. So we actually bought two small chickens. And I think I did like a lemon seasoning, and then Deepa did like more of an Indian spicy chicken, and kind of competing back and forth. So I think, we may try that. We'll see, there's going to be a lot leftovers too, because my mom makes ton of Indian food. So I think we'll be eating that next couple of days after Thanksgiving, in addition to left over turkey, which I'm not excited for.

Stephen LaMarca: In college. It wasn't until college, when I realized one of my roommates was... Turkey, isn't the star of Thanksgiving. It's the macaroni and cheese. And I'm like, I grew up in the wrong family.

Benjamin Moses: That's difficult.

Stephen LaMarca: That's not, I've never, my family's never put macaroni and cheese on the table for Thanksgiving.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, man.

Stephen LaMarca: Anyway. I want to transition to something kind of fun.

Benjamin Moses: Definitely.

Stephen LaMarca: So I've been talking with Russ back and forth a few times, Russ, the Technical-

Benjamin Moses: Managing Director.

Stephen LaMarca: Managing Director of MTConnect at AMT.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And every now and then he used to... Well about a year back, he emailed me, "Oh, hey, by the way, like six months ago, we've got a lot of downloads from SpaceX." And I also found on my RSS feed of MTConnect throughout the internet that there's a German Formula One team was looking to fill a position, and they requested somebody with manufacturing experience specifically with experience using MTConnect.

Benjamin Moses: That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Or MTConnect enabled machines.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And basically we've had a back and forth slowly for about a year. And I finally got out of Russ. It's like, "Dude, I need this stuff. I need to know this as soon as it happens, so I can tell the rest of the world, or at least I can tell people who are listening." And so basically, he's agreed to start feeding me all of the exciting companies that have gone to MTConnect.org and started downloading the standard.

So in the past two weeks, the latest companies of note are, where are they? I clearly opened up the wrong thing. There we go. So of the past two weeks in Motorsports, a company called Shift Tech.

Benjamin Moses: That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Have a number of MTConnect downloads as well as an HVAC company, an HVAC company that everybody knows. They never think about this company, but everybody knows Trane.

Benjamin Moses: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stephen LaMarca: The next company being SKF, a bearing manufacturer.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And lastly, and the most exciting one for me, Cartier.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Now let's go back to the top, Shift Tech. Shift Tech is a motor sports company that doesn't make the cars, but they make specific components for braking technology. Their name Shift Tech, so probably controllers and hydraulic manifolds for shifting sequential transmissions on race cars.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So they're probably doing, using 5-Axis CNC mills to produce hydraulic manifolds.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: For these components like ABS units and transmissions. So, that's kind of cool. HVAC with Trane. I don't know what they're doing. We have to start following Trane, I guess, to see what they're getting into, but maybe they're not doing anything exciting other than keeping people cool during the summer.

Benjamin Moses: They could be doing a lot of things, right? So not only just component manufacturing, but assembly.

Stephen LaMarca: But what I'm saying is they might not be doing research and development.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But they could be ramping up production in which case, MTConnect would be a perfect use for that.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: Just tracking that much manufacturing, SKF Bearing manufacturer. When we're talking about precision, you want to be able to track as much data as you can. Not necessarily, but you want to be able to track your data because bearings are a precision component. Cartier. Cartier is exciting to me.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Because, we all think of them as a jewelry manufacturer.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And making diamond rings and perfume, but Cartier's also made, always made watches.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: And within the past five to 10 years, they have moved their watch production from outsourcing components to going in-house. And now, it seems, that they're taking going in house seriously, and they want to get their manufacturing on point, which is why they would want to use something like MTConnect.

And they are probably ramping up their manufacturing. So they've gone from an outsource company, meaning they would buy watch movements, the intricate internal components of a mechanical watch made by somebody else, to making their own stuff under the same roof that they're setting diamonds.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Into rings and stuff like that. So it's really exciting. And I'm glad Russ is keeping me up to speed on which of these not necessarily sponsor companies and certainly not AMT member companies, because none of these people are making manufacturing technology, but it's good to see companies that we know.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And potentially use on a regular basis using not just manufacturing technology, but one of our primary products here at AMT. That's kind of fun.

Benjamin Moses: And it's cool to see the diversity of the companies implementing.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Implementing digital manufacturing tools. So, you have from Motorsports to intricate watches.

Stephen LaMarca: AC.

Benjamin Moses: AC, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: To luxury watches.

Benjamin Moses: That's awesome. And I am interested to see what Trane is doing. Are they doing assemblies?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Are they doing components? Maybe they're just managing inventory better or something like that, but I'm definitely worth a deep dive.

Stephen LaMarca: Right. And I'm actually glad you mentioned the diversity, because of those four companies I've listed, the only one that makes sense that we talk about, or at least are related to on a daily basis, is probably SKF Bearings. But I love ball bearings. So I'm not going to give that.

Benjamin Moses: You're a roller bearing. You're a bearing kind of guy.

Stephen LaMarca: I love bearings, dude.

Benjamin Moses: Let's get a-

Stephen LaMarca: It came from middle school.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Skateboarding.

Benjamin Moses: Ah.

Stephen LaMarca: The bearings were what made your board fast? It was the quality of your bearings.

Benjamin Moses: Okay. I'll remember that.

Stephen LaMarca: Seriously. It's a weird thing. And you dipped them in gasoline to clean all the gunk off and you'd get less rolling resistance because the gasoline cleans out all the grease, but then they won't last as long.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: But it doesn't matter. It was fun.

Benjamin Moses: Now that you mentioned that I was thinking about all the dangerous chemicals I used as a kid, just because. Probably shouldn't be doing bearing cleaning with the gasoline as a child.

Stephen LaMarca: Dude, when I found out you could clean stuff with gasoline.

Benjamin Moses: Oh yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm surprised I didn't blow up.

Benjamin Moses: I'll share a story where I think I was middle school, and my brother is five years older than me. We got a portable gas canister on fire. I'll share that story with you sometime.

Stephen LaMarca: Like a Jerry can?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. Definitely a story for another time.

Benjamin Moses: Let's get some articles, man. I was researching some stuff on Unity. So Unity is a platform software used heavily on 3d content generation, so video games, movies. Their core expertise is real time 3d content, so generating in a video game, right? So you're playing a video game, all that 3d contents being generated real time, even in the cut scenes, some of that content's generated real time.

And the connection to manufacturing is they're looking at simulations. So they've been around since 2005 and their core development was, obviously, video game and 3d content generation. But now in the past couple years, I've seen a lot of say, universities, look at, I have this data. How do I visualize it? So there's a kind of disconnect of how humans can infer information and just looking at ones and zeros and tables, doesn't get you that far. So now the idea of taking manufacturing data or data off a floor and visually representing it, that was the first instances I've seen Unity being used. So they'll model say a machine tool or a manufacturing floor and get real time data on position location, and feed that into Unity so they can get a visual representation of what's happening semi real time.

And Unity is pushing that significantly further. So what they're looking to do is have a specific suite of products that are explicitly for simulating just about everything, right? So they want to simulate here. And the article talks about being able to simulate robotic systems in the outdoor or indoor environment. So if you have a AGV or a warehouse robot, and you are exploring, you don't want go full in and see what the capabilities are. You have the ability to say model as much as you can on your warehouse and then model your AGV and use the tools built in for the AGV and see, can it get from point A to point B. Where are your constraints? And we've talked about simulations in the past of before I invest in physical equipment, which is very expensive, can I prove that this system will work?

So I found it very, very interesting that they're taking a significant step on mission planning, collaborative mapping, all for robotic systems, both on the single arm robots and AGVs. They're even looking at simulating LIDAR equipment, walking robots, off road robots. So not only the robot itself, but the decision making process within the robots, they're working to simulate. So it's absolutely fascinating that, we've come to a state where we're able to migrate these advanced tools for gaming that are very applicable, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: So it's amazing that the art of simulation is significantly valuable to understand where your problems are before you get into the situation. So I thought it was absolutely amazing to see this transition.

Stephen LaMarca: It's crazy. You mentioned video games, it's crazy to see stuff like these game engines. Now this is a more recent and developed development of these game engines, but it's crazy to see what used to be just an environmental 3d, three dimensional engine for video games is started expanding out to movies with movies like Avatar using, I forget either Unity or Unreal. It doesn't matter. They're all the same, it just depends what brand you want to use to manufacturing. We've come all this far. It's funny that typically technologies trickle down from manufacturing into other industries, and this is a trickle up.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: It's cool. I wonder how long is it going to be? And this is an incredibly dumb question, but I wonder how long it's going to be before either... I'm predicting one thing's going to happen or the other, and it's when is Autodesk going to come out with their own engine?

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Or when will Autodesk bend the knee? Not to bend the knee, but when Autodesk start using somebody else's engine, like when you're loading up Fusion 360, and it says in the lower right hand corner powered by Unity or something like that. Or more realistically, because I don't think Autodesk would ever do anything like that. When is Autodesk going to have their own engine, if they don't already.

Benjamin Moses: They do already. So they do have their own 3d engine, and you'll see that. I forgot their name.

Stephen LaMarca: You're right. They do. How dumb of me, I told you they were going to.

Benjamin Moses: Well, you're looking for future state in this already achieved. Congratulations, Steve.

Stephen LaMarca: Nice. We did it.

Benjamin Moses: We did it. So there are two things also. Yeah. And I've seen robotics also used heavily in movie industry. So being able to replicate a shot or putting cameras in very harsh conditions. So a lot of times you'll see like a composite of several shots, overlaid each other, and they're using robotic arms and motion tracking systems to basically reproduce that shot five or six times. And then they'll cut those into layers. And I think, using the Unity engine there, one of the early issues that they ran into is trying to program the path for these and simulate that. So they make sure that everyone else around you wouldn't die from this robotic camera flinging around. That was one of the early use cases I've seen a couple years ago. So I thought it was fascinating. You got an article on 3d printing emissions.

Stephen LaMarca: Yes. The EPA cracking down, actually I don't think EPA is mentioned in this article at all. But 3dprintingindustry.com published an article. They published an article saying that this company, BOFA, publishes a research paper on the impact of 3d printing emissions. Now you and I, it wasn't the last episode, it may have been the episode before, or maybe even before that, that we beat to death, like a dead horse, the potential emissions and waste, for that matter, of 3d printing and additive manufacturing. And of course, that's vastly different between consumer and industrial, meaning, kids who have a 3d printer are going to print nothing but trash and maybe even never print a successful part.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Maybe it's successful in their eyes. As for industrial, an industrial company, the manufacturing company, they're probably only going to print something that is perfect and not click print until the part is exactly how they want it to be, and they know it's going to come out perfectly.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: What I've been trying to say is that we've been talking about a little, in a previous episode, on the emissions potential and waste potential for additive manufacturing and sure enough, couple episodes later, a company, this company BOFA International, or I like to call them BOFA has in fact released a research paper. Now we did a little bit of diving earlier, and we did find out that BOFA International does manufacture and produce... Their primary products are air cleaning devices for industrial facilities.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: So they're a little bit biased, but then again, everybody has to do research to develop their own products even further. I'd say that they're not really biased, but no kidding, that they've got intentions behind this research paper. It'll be interesting to see what they say once I actually read it.

Benjamin Moses: And it's interesting. Actually, there's been a lot of environmental talk recently. I ran across that article from the EPA actually that they're releasing a new national strategy on transforming recycling. So I thought it very interesting. Recycling is fairly complex for me, because every time I go somewhere, like we travel a lot, and I'm always interested in minimizing my environmental footprint. So I try and recycle as much as I can. But you know, if you go one place, they'll recycle this piece of plastic, where you go to another place, you can't recycle that. So it's very confusing to me. And I think, some other article I ran across called it wish recycling, where I hope they recycle this, and I just put as much as I can into the recycling bin.

Stephen LaMarca: Right.

Benjamin Moses: Hoping for the best.

Stephen LaMarca: It's a huge problem.

Benjamin Moses: It's a problem for me, because I don't want think about it. I don't want to know this place doesn't recycle and that place recycles. I want everything other than stuff that breaks down easily, I want all that stuff to be recycled. So I find this interesting, and the applicability of the manufacturing is fairly interesting where they're looking at creating more of a circular ecosystem and traditional manufacturing. I think it's pretty close actually, if you look at chips coming off a subtractive manufacturing equipment, particularly metal. A lot of that gets sent back for recycling. Right? You would have to separate a lot, but there's a lot in manufacturing that is wasted. It still makes it to the landfill. I think the new EPA strategy may start trickling down into affecting manufacturers regularly. I think it's something to be aware of.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: I think it's the right step.

Stephen LaMarca: It stinks. That's true. I feel bad that I hate the EPA so much. I don't actually hate them. I know that they mean well.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And they're doing the best they can. If they can keep politics out of it, they're doing the best they can. But, oh my God, when I hear about another regulation or when the next generation of car... You see it a lot in motorcycles.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: That the difference between, for some manufacturers, a 2021 model and a 2022 model is they didn't change anything. But the engine, the valve timing.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: They had to cut back a little bit for emissions reasons.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And so, and to compensate for that, to make sure power numbers don't change, they open up the exhaust a little bit more.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: It's fun if you're a nerd, but it's got to be such a headache for people like tuners or more importantly in pertaining to us, manufacturers, that's going to stink for people who've got to work around that headache.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. We'll see.

Stephen LaMarca: I mean, but it's for the better. You just have to keep in mind.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: It is genuinely for the better.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I have an aerospace background. So I've got a very fascinating eye on how aircrafts get tested. So both, the first flight, first test aircraft, that taking off in their full test cycle of, they have to be able to do a roll or be able to just take off successfully. Right? Previous to actual flight testing, they actually do a lot of testing on the structure itself. And I've got an article from Simple Flying that there's a video about the 787 and how much the wings flex. So wing torture testing, or wing testing in general, it's important. Right? That's the only thing basically keeping the aircraft up. Right? They want to make sure that their predictions, and what they expect this wing to do, is accurate. So there's one test where they basically flex it to the full-

Stephen LaMarca: Can I actually pause you real quick?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Actually, no, no. Keep going, keep going. Okay. And then I'll talk about how crazy wings are.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Because-

Benjamin Moses: So the wing flex testing, they go the full range that they predicted plus another 50%. So they want to make sure it's the environment or the sustainability is there. So in this case, the tip of the wings flex 25 feet. So if you're on there, that's almost taller than my house. It is mind boggling that if you're sitting in your seat and you look out the window, before you take off, it's dipping down. And then after you take off, it's where did this wind go? It's absolutely amazing. And you know, the article talks about this for a couple of reasons. One is, the material that they're using, they're using carbon fiber reinforced polymers, and that's a big driver for the 787. Lot of the structure is made out of carbon fiber, but it gets back into why would you want to do that?

And there's two benefits to that. One is they're using about 50% of the entire aircraft is composite material, but they're able to reduce weight significantly so they can improve fuel efficiency. But also, the flexing, the amount of flexing that is allowed allows for a much smoother ride. Right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So if you have any turbulence, all of that. Oh, not all of it, but significant of that is absorbed in the wings, and it's similar to your suspension in the car.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So I think there are huge benefits to that.

Stephen LaMarca: I don't think people appreciate how much a wing of an aircraft does. It's wild to think that the wing of an airplane is the tires of a car.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: The suspension of the car and the fuel tank. Wings have to do so much, but yeah, it's the 25 foot flex of the wing, the flex potential, that's wild, because that is like what you said, it's the suspension travel.

Benjamin Moses: Right?

Stephen LaMarca: The difference between a car suspension travel and Baja trucks suspension travel. A Baja truck can, I think, have something crazy, two feet that suspension travel. As for an everyday car that you and me have, might have a foot, if it's a big old SUV.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: If it's actually lifted. I have no idea what our car, maybe four to six inches probably of suspension travel.

Benjamin Moses: Maybe.

Stephen LaMarca: So this is huge. This can handle some serious turbulence.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And-

Benjamin Moses: It's called Dreamliner for a reason. So I thought that was pretty cool.

Stephen LaMarca: I wonder how smooth it feels.

Benjamin Moses: I'll never know.

Stephen LaMarca: I wonder if the pilot is like, "Look for clouds to fly through."

Benjamin Moses: Just to test it out.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: All right. I think the last one we should end up with was SpinLaunch, man. I want to know about-

Stephen LaMarca: SpinLaunch.

Benjamin Moses: More space talk. There's a lot of space talk in the past month or so, past couple of months, but I think this is very, very fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: SpinLaunch is wild. If you're not familiar with SpinLaunch, 100% a child came up with this. This was a child's idea. And some Aerospace Engineer on DMT was like, "This kid's got a point." It was as if some random five year old was like, "What if we shoot stuff into space?"

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: "By spinning around really, really fast, and then letting go." And that's basically what this thing is.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: Now this speaks to both my inner child and one of my favorite realms of physics, which is flywheel physics.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: As we were discussing earlier, all of the forces, centrifugal forces.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: Are in deployment with this thing. But yeah, it essentially takes a little rocket, like what are those things that NASA uses to test astronauts and pilots to see how many Gs a person can handle. It's basically a thing it spins around.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But imagine that, but instead of putting a person in it, because I am confident you cannot put any living thing in this and expect it to survive.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: In fact, I'm sure you can't. It's for launching satellites.

Benjamin Moses: Right?

Stephen LaMarca: You take one of those things, you spin it around really fast, and then you get the timing and the math all right. And you have the thing at the end that you're spinning around really fast. You have it, let go.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: All at the right time. And it just shoots it out of the atmosphere.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It's fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca: And then once it is at a skate velocity, and actually leaves the atmosphere, then it can jettison its aerodynamic fairings.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And then the rockets can take over and start guiding it to wherever it's supposed to go. Or at least if you don't even need rockets, if you're just trying to put a satellite into orbit.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I got a couple of nuggets from the article here too. I was scrolling through it. So one, obviously if you're spinning that fast, you're going to launch something in outer space, you're going to hit aerodynamic forces pretty quickly inside the chamber. One little nugget, if you watch the video, is that it's actually inside a vacuum chamber. So-

Stephen LaMarca: It is a vacuum.

Benjamin Moses: Inside, it's a low atmosphere vacuum.

Stephen LaMarca: Right, right, right, right.

Benjamin Moses: And then it's funny because it has to pierce through basically a wall for it to exit the chamber. So it's fairly fascinating that the mechanics of it's fairly simple, but the intricacies of trying to send something this fast, because they're trying to accelerate up to... Well, they want to get to 5,000 miles per hour and-

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Anything that they load has to survive 10,000 Gs of acceleration. So a human's not going to be in there, but I agree with you, that they're looking at launching electronics, any cargo, things like that. And they did, I-

Stephen LaMarca: Your day load has to be durable.

Benjamin Moses: Correct. They did a successful test where they launched something, and then they were able to retrieve the rod or the capsule.

Stephen LaMarca: It's wild.

Benjamin Moses: They talk about the cost of, or the impact of trying to launch a rocket, is massive. Think about all that fuel that you're burning, all that dangerous element that can explode at anytime. I mean, to be fair, this isn't super safe. Let's be honest with this.

Stephen LaMarca: No. Flywheels are a great way of, and this is probably flywheel powered.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Hopefully it's flywheel powered, if not steam or electromagnetic powered, which flywheels are... The initial charge up of a flywheel is done through electromagnetism.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: In most cases, when those things fail, they fail.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: People are worried about gasoline exploding and stuff like that for engines.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Remember, dude, it's a lot better than... First off, it doesn't explode. It deflagrates, but it could be worse.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: The crazy thing to me, though, is let's talk about this real quick. In the video, obviously, it releases its payload at one point.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: At a specifically timed point, so it goes in the direction it's supposed to, but this thing is spinning.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And if you look at the second hand on a watch, even something as lightweight and as slow moving as a second hand. At one end, you have the long slender, second hand that's pointing to which second on the dial. And on the other side, you have a fatter and shorter counter balance on the second hand. It's not pointing at anything, but it's just to help the blow torque of the watch or clocks movement, turn that hand over a long period of time and with as minimal energy and effort as possible.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: This is going much faster than that, but it's releasing a considerably massed payload.

Benjamin Moses: Right? What do you do with the counterweight?

Stephen LaMarca: What's the other end doing?

Benjamin Moses: I have good luck-

Stephen LaMarca: What's going on because at this crazy high speed, I can only maybe... I really need an engineer here. At that crazy high speed, if you suddenly just lose mass on that end-

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And on the other end still has the same mass?

Benjamin Moses: It's unbalanced, and it'll quickly deteriorate.

Stephen LaMarca: We're going to have vibrations, and vibrations lead to heat, and heat leads to failure.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: And then this thing turns into a massive building sized frag grenade.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: And I just want to know more about this thing now. Clearly, whoever-

Benjamin Moses: Whoever thought this was a good idea.

Stephen LaMarca: Whoever the team of engineers that thought this through already.

Benjamin Moses: Yep.

Stephen LaMarca: Did everything right, because clearly the first launch didn't fail.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Even still, I'm glad it didn't fail. And this is still really fun. And it speaks to everybody's inner five year old, but then everybody's inner car owner thinks about what kind of maintenance does this thing need? How many launches can it do before it needs a full rebuild.

Benjamin Moses: Before you have to change the oil?

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: So it is fascinating. So there're two things. One, currently they're doing suborbital launches, and the structure is 50 meters tall. So it's a fairly big structure. And they're looking obviously to go orbital class. And the other suggestion is, Steve, I suggest you see where this is and see if you can find a road trip and conceive a trip out there.

Stephen LaMarca: A hundred percent. Just the building alone looks cool.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah. I want to see what their infrastructure looks like.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm sure. Yeah. I'm sure the power facility that is used to spin this thing up is really cool, too.

Benjamin Moses: Right. Steve, where can they find more info about us?

Stephen LaMarca: They can find more info about us at AMTonline.org/resources. There you can listen to previous episodes of the TechTrends podcast. And there, you can also read recent issues of the AMT news, the AMT weekly tech report written by yours truly, both myself and Ben. And you can even subscribe to our weekly tech report, which is how you get the latest deets on the industry.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: Thanks for joining us.

Benjamin Moses: Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving and bye everyone.

Stephen LaMarca: Bye everybody.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
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