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AMT Tech Trends: Pole Position

Episode 47: Stephen fully discloses the copious amounts of fun he had on the pole at his best friend’s bachelor party. Pole position that is, because they went karting! He also announces his lust to learn more about machine tool cutting fluids.
Apr 16, 2021

Episode 47: Stephen fully discloses the copious amounts of fun he had on the pole at his best friend’s bachelor party. Pole position that is, because they went karting! He also announces his lust to learn more about machine tool cutting fluids. Ben shifts the conversation to the growth in robotic orders. Steve learned that Toyota was prepared for a silicon chip shortage. Ben closes with advanced metal additive for aerospace.

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

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, AMT's technology analyst. Ben, what's going on man?

Benjamin Moses: Steve, it's been a great week. What have you been up to?

Stephen LaMarca: Well, let me tell you, I can't believe we're already more than a third the way through the year. But at the end of last month, the other weekend, I drove down to North Carolina to surprise my best friend. His little brother actually set up a surprise bachelor party for him. He's actually getting married next week.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And we went down there for a bachelor party shenanigans and it was very clean and it was a good time and there was nothing crazy. We are in the middle of a pandemic and he is marrying somebody that's a little bit strict with the activities. So there was no lewd acts involved. So the main event of the bachelor party was incredible. And we went go-karting.

Benjamin Moses: Oh! Awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: It was a really fancy indoor go-karting and me and his little brother were planning this in advance. And we were looking at places that were kind of close to him and we found this really cool professional indoor place. I say professional, it's sanctioned. They take it really seriously. And you've got a driver's briefing before you go out on the track. Every time that you do a race, there's a driver briefing. It's not like, "Oh, you've done this once, now you're good to do it forever." Every time you go out onto the track, even if it's just an eight-minute race, which is what we did. We did two eight minute races. We're going to this place, it's sanctions. They take it very seriously. 

I knew this in advance, of course. So, I brought my own motorcycle helmet and my gloves because I wanted to look special and stuff like that because I've done since I was probably the single digits of age on the PlayStation, I've been playing Gran Turismo forever. I know the concepts, the science behind a driver's line, how you take a squiggly piece of asphalt spaghetti and you try to straighten it out as much as possible by taking the right line through the corners. Breaking at the right time, starting wide, coming inside, flipping the apex perfectly, and then going back out wide while rolling onto the gas. And I know this stuff and I've always respected race car drivers. And they're heroes of mine. And some people say, "Oh! The car's doing all the work. They're not actual athletes. Racing's not a sport." Dude, let me tell you...

Benjamin Moses: Tell me Steve, what did you learn from this experience?

Stephen LaMarca: So my best friend and his little brother, they've been athletes as long as I've known them. They play soccer and baseball.

Benjamin Moses: Cool.

Stephen LaMarca: Baseball doesn't really count, but then again, I'm hyping up racing, so I can't talk smack about baseball. But soccer, those people are running for 90 minutes straight. And anyway, they're fit. I've got easily a hundred pounds on both of them.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: So I'm already at a disadvantage, but mentally I know my lines and stuff like that. Our times were really tight and there were some really good racing. And there were times where I was just dominating them. And then there were other times where was just like, "I'm out of breath. And I can't do this anymore." They're eight minute races.

Benjamin Moses: That's long [crosstalk 00:04:17].

Stephen LaMarca: And we only did two of them and I'm pulling down the front straight and I'm looking at the big board they have that shows everybody's position, what their split times are, what their best lap is and stuff like that, and I'm just like, "How much time is left in this race? I'm out of breath, I'm getting weak." I've never pushed myself like this before, because playing Gran Turismo and doing a lot of performance driving and riding a motorcycle as much as I do. And I feel riding my motorcycle is actually a nice, decent workout. 

Riding on public roads, you don't get a chance to really push the limits of what you or your vehicle are capable of. And we were on a track and this is the first time doing that and I never thought... When you go to the gym and you're lifting weights, especially if you don't do it very often, it's a good idea to go for at least the first few years I guess you would say, with a personal trainer, just to make sure you're doing everything right and doing everything safely. And the most important thing that personal trainers will always make you believe is, when you're on the bench press or whatever, make sure you're breathing properly.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: Because it's easy to forget breathing. Totally forgot to breathe while I was [inaudible 00:05:43]. So I'm super out of breath, muscles are tightening up. It was bad. But then on top of that, being a big fatty, when we pulled in at the end of the race, everybody hopped right up, got out of their cars. And sure, it was nice being on the podium, being first a few times at leading some laps. The second race, I was just like, "Nope, I'm taking it easy." I had finished third but everybody just hops up out of their car, all these light people. And I'm like, "Dude, I need help." The next set of drivers actually came out onto the track and started getting into their cars. While I'm still like, I can barely move. I need help unbuckling, stuff like that. It was bad. It just made me think that, "Okay, we got to start getting active again." This pandemic has been bad for me.

Benjamin Moses: It's been rough.

Stephen LaMarca: Not that I've always been super fit, but when go-kart takes it out of you... I've always had respect for race car drivers, but now I really know what they're going through.

Benjamin Moses: It is interesting that if you actually see certain race car drivers in person, like Formula 1, you see-

Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God! How thick their necks are from holding their heads up in the corners?

Benjamin Moses: There are certain features on, like NASCAR, I think tend to be taller and maybe on the largest side, but even [Le Mans 00:07:11] drivers, those guys are not big. Those guys are really petite and fit. They are like the Bruce Lee's of the world, driving cars around.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah. Like, Dan Gurney. A lot of people have heard of Dan Gurney at least. He was an anomaly. He was six-plus feet. He was cray. He's known for, when you see cars and you look at the cockpit, the passenger cabin, mostly a sports car, and you see those humps on the roof, those are called Gurney bubbles.

Benjamin Moses: Oh! Because of him.

Stephen LaMarca: That's so you could get a head with a helmet on in a small cabin of a sports car. That was their way of getting a few more cubic inches inside the cabin. That's a Gurney bubble and it was after him. But yeah, he was an anomaly. And the other cool thing that you don't realize that I remember hearing, but now I got to see it and feel it in practice rather, and I was definitely not pulling this many Gs, especially in a go-kart, but in Formula 1 and in ALMS and Le Mans and World Endurance Championship, those drivers, we're talking world-class race car drivers. When they're pulling three Gs in a turn, they have to take a huge deep breath while having a sustained 160 beats per minute heart rate. They have to take a big deep breath before going into a corner because the amount of lateral Gs they experience can actually cause their lungs to collapse. I'm not saying I did that. I by no means did that. I'm just saying, you're out of your mind if you don't think those boys and girls are athletes.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And it's funny to hear that. I think I'm a good video game driver myself, but that doesn't translate anything because you disconnect from the physical world. You're holding your breath on a tight turn like that, that's something I'll never learn until I don't do it and I crash.

Stephen LaMarca: It's like the recoil to airsofters. There's some videos on YouTube of these gun guys, firearms instructors who are ex-SEALs and stuff. They take these kids off the airsoft course who are really good and have a lot of tactical discipline and they can hit their targets and stuff like that. Those airsoft guns, they don't recoil. So they don't know how to manage that stuff. It's like that I would imagine.

Benjamin Moses: All right. You also mentioned learning the hard way of how complex cutting fluids are, you want to get into that or you want to save that for another time?

Stephen LaMarca: Drew in our... Is it Technology Issues Committee?

Benjamin Moses: Correct. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Not AIM. I Always get confused with AIM. But Drew of Blaser Swisslube, he likes to say he gets accused of a lot of selling snake oil. But I really want to have some more in-depth conversations with him about the ins and outs of manufacturing fluid, cutting fluid, coolant, lubricants, all of that stuff, all of those fluids, because I've really been taken aback and baffled by some gear oil science as of late. So I actually had the manual transmission gear oil in my car changed recently when I did the clutch. And then I did it... I changed the gear oil again because my transmission was acting up. And I also changed the oil, which the engine oil is the same as the transmission oil in my motorcycle. Had that changed recently because that poor bike has been neglected for a year now and I finally got it serviced and took it out on the road because now I'm not really afraid of COVID anymore. At least on the road. 

I'm not worried about having to falling over, separating a shoulder and ending up in a hospital and catching COVID there. I think they've got it under control, at least inside the hospitals now. So let's go get hurt on the bike. Anyway, get the things serviced and I do recall that every time I get the oil changed in my motorcycle, because it has a wet clutch, the clutch is actually bathed in the same gear oil that the transmission gears are being lubricated in. Every time I get the oil change in the bike, it feels like the cultch is a little worn out when it's not, it's just, I'm breaking in new oil.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: And within 50 to 100, a couple 100 miles, the oil's broken in and the clutch is back to it's a standard torque holding abilities. And it's interesting because you think oil, you want to minimize friction as much as possible, but at the same time, when you have something that's bathed in oil like a clutch, a clutch is about using friction to your advantage. You don't want to totally screw that up, which is why you cannot mix motorcycle engine oil and car engine oil. That's a talk for a different time. And I'm sure Drew can instruct me a little bit on that too. 

But my car, when I changed the gear oil in my car's transmission, I was getting some grinding. And I think I talked about this on the last episode, but I've been getting some grinding at speeds above 65 miles an hour. And it's either shifting up into fifth from forth above 65 miles an hour, or from sixth gear down and shifting into fifth above 65 miles an hour. No matter what I do, no matter how slow and how long it takes me to go from one gate into the fifth gear gate and how I make sure that the clutch pedals floored, there would always be a grind.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Anyway, I've put on another 2000 miles, actually, since the gear oil change has been done, it's totally gone. And I think it's the same thing that I experienced with the motorcycle gear oil change or transmission oil or engine oil change, is that the oil needs time to break in because, in both of these cases, you don't want perfectly frictionless oil. You do need some degree of friction. And it's because after looking at a lot of diagrams and trying to wrap my head around the clockwork that is inside any transmission... And manual transmissions apparently are simple. I don't even want to know what's going on in an automatic.

But the synchro, what you feel when you feel that notch going into any transmission gear's gate, you're feeling that synchro mesh the speed of one shaft to the shaft of the gear that you're going into. And while that synchro needs to help synchronize the speed differential between those two shafts, if there's absolutely no friction, then that tinkerer doesn't have a chance to really spin up to help make that shift happen. So you're effectively shifting from a totally different speed shaft into a shaft that... You may be shifting, for example, from a shaft that's not moving to one that's moving at 5,000 RPM. And that's why I was getting that grind. The oil hadn't been broken in yet.

So, I got a serious lesson recently in oils and just lubricants. So I would love to know, what are some of the intricacies in manufacturing cutting tool fluids that I probably don't know and maybe a lot of people don't know? But what are some of the challenges that companies like Blaser and what Drew do on their cutting fluid machine tool fluid test bed that they are trying to replicate or overcome?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, absolutely. And that's interesting you bring up just the idea of the stuff right out of the bottle versus something that's been in a cooling jar for a long, long time. Just the history of fluid that any manufacturer, they all have different conditions.

Stephen LaMarca: It's like the oil break in. Are you trying to get small particulate from the transmission or whatever it is that you need to break in the oil? Are you trying to impregnate the oil with small parts per million of particulate or is the break in due to thermal cycling? I'm not saying I know what I'm talking about. I'm asking questions so I hope to learn what I'm talking about. But yeah, I really want to have a talk on that.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. So let's get into some articles. I found some interesting information on automation. RA released a press release about robotic orders and I found it very, I'll say reassuring, very complimentary of the manufacturing reach. So they're reporting an increase of about 3.5% from 19 to 20 year over year sales. And I thought that was a very good growth [inaudible 00:16:56] for the automation and manufacturing industry. 

I would say it's not a fair comparison, but looking from the end of last year into this year, they seeing significant growth also of a significant amount. But some of the industries that they are noticing year over year growth in is like life sciences increasing like 69%, food and consumer goods grew like 56%, rubbers and plastics 51%, automotive grew 39%. So I thought those are very good retrospective look on the growth in robotics going into last year. And I thought that was great.

Stephen LaMarca: And I feel like robotics is only going to keep growing. That's one of those things that all the Dogecoin boys and girls can say, that thing's going to the moon. Because I like to say automation is foundational to the future of transformative manufacturing technologies. Because when you talk a lot about the digital thread and industry 4.0, that's all network infrastructure. Cybersecurity is a concern and frankly it always will be, but you got to make sure you've got a sound network, you've got a good data transfer from one device to another, and you're extrapolating and interpreting that data properly. And you're only collecting the right data and stuff like that. That only gets you so far though. When it comes to actually higher performance, then you need to start increasing the capability of your manufacturing facility. And once you've got that network infrastructure in place, then automation is your next step. And robotics I feel is the... Okay.

Benjamin Moses: And the last thing I want to hit on from the articles Q4 in 2020 was 63.6% higher than Q4 in 2019.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh wow!

Benjamin Moses: So the [crosstalk 00:19:05] end of last year, that was a super, super strong finish. And talking to the automation and manufacturing committee, they're just feeling the impact a lot of that growth. They saw changes in who they're delivering to an industries and the article mentions that too, but automation is strong. I think coming out of the pandemic, it'll change US manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. That's a big deal when something like this pandemic certainly affected everything. And in most cases it hurt everything.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: But when you have something, especially a technology-like automation that comes out of a pandemic and you find out that, wow, it's actually doing way stronger than anybody anticipated than the year before, which was pandemic-less, it's a big deal. And of course we know why that happens. It's because you want to take humans out of the equation when we're talking about getting people sick. But it's really special. And that's a cool case.

Benjamin Moses: So let's talk about Toyota, man. You found a good article of how Toyota is weathering the seas, apparently.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. So I saw Jalopnik posted something with respect to Toyota and their anticipation. They had anticipated the chip shortage. So we talked about last episode, the shortage in silicon, how there's a huge premium on silicon right now. And it's not just GPUs and CPUs that we're talking about. And of course we've mentioned automobile manufacturers with their ECUs. There's a lot of different industries that use silicon. 

And the pandemic, a lot of people anticipated that there would be a shortage because a lot of the stuff comes from the far East. And as it turns out, the pandemic didn't affect the supply chain coming from Asia as much as we thought it would, where the shortage really came from was the majority of people working from home and feeling that they needed to upgrade their home office setup. So everybody's buying things from CPUs, GPUs to just webcams. There's people demanding new silicon and various products here and there, we know all that. 

What was cool about this article is Jalopnik found out that Toyota was totally prepared for it. It's not that they saw the pandemic coming and they saw that something would affect the silicon shortage, it's the fact that they had apparently experienced a silicon shortage before in the past. I mean, Toyota's still around, but it apparently hurt them enough to the point where they were like, "This can't happen again." You'd have to read the article to find out more, but maybe they stockpiled silicon or what.

Benjamin Moses: Maybe.

Stephen LaMarca: But they were ready for this.

Benjamin Moses: I've asked you to help out on an article they were writing about, taking failures and converting those to lessons learned and trying to apply those lessons learned in the future. And this is a very interesting scenario where this actually worked, right? So they had a failure, they said, "Let's not do this again." And then they put systems in place so this error or problem doesn't come up again. So obviously, it's at a very, very large scale, Toyota is massive. They're doing a lot of things well, because they're Toyota. You don't call it the Toyota Production System for nothing. Right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So it's an interesting application of lessons learned and I'm glad they can see that.

Stephen LaMarca: And do you know what? I'm going to follow suit with Toyota because there is this awesome sauce, literally at Trader Joe's called Chili Onion Crunch that Russ and his wife Sarah got me on to. And the past few times I've went to Trader Joe's, they've been sold out and they said it was because of a suppliers' glass shortage for the jars. And it's cool. When you go to Trader Joe's and you don't see something, not only will they come back to you and tell you, "Yes, sorry, we're out of stock," but they'll tell you exactly why and which supplier's fault it is. They know all of that. It's fascinating. But anyway, I'm going to do what Toyota did. And the next time that stuff is back in stock, I'm buying a case of it. I don't even go through it that fast, but I don't want to be without it ever again.

Benjamin Moses: I can't confirm that that's what Toyota is doing, but I recommend you buy as much a sauce as you can. All right, Steve. And the last article I want to talk about is, Advances in 3D Printing, an article from Design News and talk about some research that University of Virginia and Argonne National Labs was getting into. Let's see. They're investigating structural defects that occur in 3D printing. Specifically, the use case that they have is for the aerospace industry. 

And what they're looking at is porosity that develops but that porosity transfers into a keyholing. So what they did is they use high speed scantron x-ray imaging to discover how porosity occurs to characterize metal transformation during a 3D process at a very high spatial and temporal resolution. So they're just taking tons of tons of high resolution pictures using x-ray and basically watching the entire process as it's printing.

Stephen LaMarca: That's cool.

Benjamin Moses: And I find that a little bit interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: I can't help but stop you though. Did you say scantron?

Benjamin Moses: That's what their article says.

Stephen LaMarca: Like, [crosstalk 00:25:00].

Benjamin Moses: Not the one you fill out with bubbles. Yeah, exactly.

Stephen LaMarca: I don't miss that stuff, man. But I'm glad they're putting that to a better use. Cool.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And it sounds interesting. I mean, they highlighted two key observations from here. One is I think very obvious that the band for energy and speed is actually very narrow to achieve a port. And one of the things that they talked about was, the metal actually vaporizing then in turn, causing a high velocity vapor to escape the melt pool and creates a keyhole. 

So the energy band is either too high or this too much energy per velocity and the metal is vaporizing creating this keyhole condition. And one other interesting part about this is acoustics from the process could be affecting the gas bubble too. In the overall scheme of things, they came to some interesting observations. They have some good thought process on observing the melt pool. But the interesting takeaway on the acoustic side was very fascinating for me, because that's a new input into the process, new physics into the obviously temperature, speed, radiation. Now you've got acoustics that you have to consider. And I thought that's very, very fascinating me.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Where did we hear about acoustics recently? Oh, no. Nevermind. It was during the IMTS demo days, I was chatting Steve Lesnewich on the final episode, and he was talking about how they were Swiss turning phaco tips out of titanium for one time use parts in the medical industry. And a phaco tip basically is a needle that goes into your eye and resonates at an ultrasonic frequency to dissolve a cataract. And there's a hole in the middle that's bored like a gun barrel or miniature gun barrel to vacuum up all the cataract juices that you don't want floating around in your eye. But okay.

Benjamin Moses: Can we ban that word, cataract juices?

Stephen LaMarca: I'll never say it again. I promise.

Benjamin Moses: In the manufacturing, that's long, long time ago, we started investigating creep grinding for some of our profile cutting. So instead of using profile cutters, you would actually grind the profile. And there was experiments of applying ultrasound to the coolant being shot into the grinding surface [crosstalk 00:27:41] see if we get better cooling flow into there. That was long time ago and I feel that that died out. I don't think it [crosstalk 00:27:49].

Stephen LaMarca: The results weren't positive enough?

Benjamin Moses: No, I don't think the impact is high enough for what they're trying to do, but I do see a small use cases for ultrasound being applied in the manufacturing world now. It's interesting to see that pop up once in a while because I feel it's one of the things that just comes out of nowhere, but it's got a fairly long history of being found.

Stephen LaMarca: Do you know what? One of my favorite technologies that is shared amongst watchmaking and manufacturing is ultrasonic cleaners. There're ultrasonic baths to clean parts. I first saw one of those in a watchmaker in Arlington, Virginia, actually. And I was like, "So, what are you doing here?" And he's like, "Oh, well, once I take apart the watch movement, it's dirty." This thing has been working, it's been beating for 24 hours a day for the past seven years at 28,800 vibrations per minute for 24 hours a day for the past seven years, which is typically the service interval of a watch. A lot of wear and tear and lubricant and gunk has gotten all over these parts, even though it might look clean to the naked eye. They put it in an ultrasonic bath and clean it off. But I remember my first IMTS when I was doing those IMTS TV unofficial Snapchats on my phone, when I was walking through that section of IMTS. I think it was the C-Hall down the North building.

Benjamin Moses: That's cleaning section.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. They had the massive ultrasonic cleaners. And I was like, "Are these industrial deep fryers?" Because they look like deep frying machines. Yeah, that was cool.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome, Steve, this has been a great episode. Where can people find more info about us?

Stephen LaMarca: All right. So I said this last time, I remember in our last episode, and I didn't quite have the new website right. But, amtnews.org is kaput.

Benjamin Moses: Good.

Stephen LaMarca: Don't go there. It doesn't exist anymore. It may redirect you, but don't even try it. You want to go to our original website, amtonline.org. And if you want to find more of us and you want to find more cool articles that we've curated, like we've got a recent article that TechTrends found from Mashable that was, how to shut down Boston Dynamic's Spot the robot 'dog,' which if you ever come across one of those robot dogs Spot and it is engaged in an unsavory or a lewd act and you need to shut it down, this article will tell you where it's e-stop is.

But anyway, to read more articles like that, to find out where the e-stop is, go to amtonline.org/resources. You go there, you'll have four different options. You'll be able to look at AMT news. You'll be able to look at our newsletters like my weekly tech report and subscribe to them of course, you'll be able to hear the rest of the podcast episodes that we've done since the beginning of time. And of course, our recent White Paper Series. We've got all of those resources in one nice little spot at amtonline.org/resources. Ben, did you get that?

Benjamin Moses: Are you done, Steve? Special shout out to the comms department too for the refresh look on the AMT website.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God. It is beautiful.

Benjamin Moses: All right, Steve. Thanks. 

Stephen LaMarca: Have a good one. Bye already.

Benjamin Moses: Bye.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
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