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AMT Tech Trends: Ribs ‘n’ VIPS

Episode 116: The gang shares their love for amusement parks. Stephen is happy to announce that there are a lot of testbed updates. Elissa presents further evidence that Elon Musk is dumb. Ben closes with an allegedly new method of 3D printing.
Apr 19, 2024

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Ramia Lloyd:

Welcome to the TechTrends Podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. Today's episode is sponsored by Modern Machine Shop Made in the USA podcast. I am Ramia Lloyd, and I'm here with-

Elissa Davis:

I'm Elissa Davis.

Stephen LaMarca:

Stephen LaMarca.

Benjamin:

And I'm a carbonated Benjamin Moses. Hello everyone. Guys, it's almost summertime. We've been talking about vacations. I took a vacation, we'll talk about that later. But I want to know your thoughts on amusement parks. Theme parks.

Elissa Davis:

I am known for my love of amusement parks. When I was 22, I said that I wanted to go to the amusement park, King's Dominion, for my birthday. And my older sister goes, well, you're in your 20s now, so you need to have a grown up birthday party. And I was like, do I? And she took me to a winery and I got a headache and threw up. So from then on, I was like point for kids parties. Now it's like for my 30th birthday, I just got back from Disney and my mom gave me that trip [inaudible 00:01:16] birthday.

Benjamin:

That's a fun trip. Disney Florida, right?

Elissa Davis:

Disney, Florida, all four parks. My feet hurt and I'm badly sunburned.

Benjamin:

That sounds like any trip to Florida.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, that's true. When I went to Universal, I was also badly sunburned and my feet hurt.

Ramia Lloyd:

That needs to be their tagline, my feet hurt and I'm badly sunburned.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, but I had a lot of fun. And part of me was like, I was walking around, we got a picture in front of the Timon and Pumbaa and Simba thing Animal Kingdom, and I told my mom, I was like, is it silly if I want my picture taken in front of that? And she goes, no, why? And I was like, because I'm almost 30. And she was like, this is Disney World. You can do it. And I was like, okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

Happiest place on Earth. Or is that Disneyland?

Elissa Davis:

That's Disney World.

Stephen LaMarca:

Disney proper.

Elissa Davis:

But Disney's like a whole functioning city down there. It's like a Vatican City Italy situation.

Benjamin:

They have their own police. They have their own prison. I wouldn't know anything about that.

Stephen LaMarca:

They didn't recognize that the Earth orbits the Dun until 1989.

Benjamin:

Steve, I know you like theme parks, don't you?

Stephen LaMarca:

I like roller coasters, and I like some theme parks. So the one that I've frequented the most, as in the last decade, has been Kings Dominion. And before we started recording, I learned a lot from Elissa that it used to be owned by Paramount, and now it is not, which is why it's grossly gone downhill. But I really like at Kings Dominion a ride called the Intimidator 305, which I forget which roller coaster manufacturer made it, but they make some of the best roller coasters in the world. And the closest one that we have made that manufacturer here in D.C is the Kings Dominion Intimidator 305, which is awesome. It's such a smooth roller coaster, pulls great Gs. It goes very fast without the magnetic acceleration thing, which is nausea inducing.

But yeah, I think my first and only time I've been to Disney Florida, is that world or land?

Benjamin:

Disney Florida.

Stephen LaMarca:

Was pre 9/11. And my dad was down in Orlando for a business trip and was spending the weekend there. And my parents were like, why don't we send Steve down there? And my mom took me to, was DCA even built yet?

Benjamin:

I'm sure it was.

Elissa Davis:

That was like the '70s.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, this was pre renovation. And yeah, my mom walked me all the way to the gate, handed me off to a flight attendant, and I was sitting in the front of the plane. This was not first class or maybe it was, I don't know, but there was going to be a meal. I was really excited about getting chicken tenders, but I fell asleep on the flight to Florida, so I didn't get to have my cheeky tendies.

And so I was really sad about that, but it was an awesome time there. I do remember going to, we went all over Disney and Disney was really fun, I really liked Epcot, but I had more fun at the Terminator experience in Universal Studio.

Benjamin:

That's a great 4D environment show.

Stephen LaMarca:

That was a really cool show. But I remember how disgustingly loud the blanks were of the guns, and learned much later in life that, oh no, guns really are that loud. Super loud.

Benjamin:

You learned a lot that trip.

Stephen LaMarca:

The movies do not convey how loud guns are.

Benjamin:

Yes, it's a very sharp sound.

Elissa Davis:

I think something about Disney though that, I mean it's talked about when you watch, there's a lot of series on Disney Plus you can watch about the creation of the parks, but Walt Disney was really ahead of his time in terms of when he created the parks. Tomorrowland is insane.

Stephen LaMarca:

He froze himself. Yeah, he's ahead of his time.

Elissa Davis:

So Tomorrowland is basically the same way it was back in the '70s. Very few things about it have changed. Because my mom went there as a kid with her parents and she was like, oh, she kept hinting at PeopleMover. Every time we'd walk by it, she goes, oh, I love PeopleMover. We should go on PeopleMover. I was like, do you want to go on PeopleMover? And it's cool because it takes you through the rides and stuff like that, which is really cool.

But I was telling you guys earlier, one of my favorite things I went to there was the Carousel of Progress, it was from the 1969 World's Fair or something that Walt Disney created, and the room moves and you go around. And my mom was like, this is the exact same as when went here. And I was like, that's so cool. I'm not just saying that I work here, I'm not just saying the carousel progress is cool because I work at AMT.

But yeah, and Epcot the spaceship of Tomorrow, for the longest time I thought Epcot was just the ball. I thought it was all inside the ball. So when people would say they're like, oh, I drink around the world, they'd be like, they're just walking around inside that ball and drinking from different places? And then when I found out it wasn't inside the ball, I was like, so is it just empty and hollow? I did not know anything about Epcot. But Spaceship Earth, that's what it's called. Yeah, it's slow, it's narrated by Dame Judi Dench. And it's got some animatronics, Ancient Greece and Romans.

But Epcot, it's really interesting when you think about how, I mean they thought the world would look in what, 40, 50 years, and now we're here and it doesn't really look like that, but we really thought it was going to be The Jetsons. We really, really did. But it is still cool to experience it and be like, oh, this is what people thought the future would look like. And PeopleMover was fun, I will say that. Props to my mom for suggesting that 12 times.

Ramia Lloyd:

I have two amusement park experiences that I would just like to tell you guys. My first one is apparently, I say apparently because this is a running joke in my family, that we all went to Disney World when I was one years old. And I was one years old, so I don't remember it. So every time someone talks about it, I'm like, oh, I've never been. And my mom and dad are like, stop telling people that you did. And I'm like, show me a picture of me at Disney World and I'll say that. And conveniently enough, there are pictures of everyone but me in Disney World, and I'm like, cool, so you left me at home.

Which translates to another story is that when we did go to different amusement parks and Universal, and we're from Michigan, so Cedar Point was really big for us, it's like 40 minutes point away. Oh my God, it's so much fun. It's like 40 minutes away. But I don't ride roller coasters, especially when I was a kid. So the first one my dad forced me to go on when I was 11. By the time from me being 4 to 11, anytime we'd go to a park or something, my parents and my brother would go on rides and they'd literally just find a random person on the street being like, hey, we're going to go on this ride. Can you watch her? And I'd just be sitting there, what is wrong with you guys?

So shout out to my parents and their parenting, because they left me with multiple strangers multiple ways. They're up there living their best lives on the roller coaster and I'm just sitting there kicking my little feet, with somebody sitting on the bench.

Elissa Davis:

It's the beginning of a Disappeared episode.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yes, multiple times. They were just like, you sit here, we're going to go.

Elissa Davis:

If you are interested in a rollercoaster that's kind good for beginners, it's not super scary, The Ricochet at Kings Dominion is actually pretty good.

Ramia Lloyd:

Do you want to hear about my first rollercoaster?

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Ramia Lloyd:

So again, it's my birthday. My dad, my dad, great person-

Elissa Davis:

[inaudible 00:08:55] a wild story.

Ramia Lloyd:

... where he's like, just get on this one rollercoaster. I'm pretty sure it was close to my birthday. And he was like, just get on this one rollercoaster. You'll be fine. You're like getting up there, maybe you'll like it, maybe it's fine. So I had glasses and I didn't wear contacts, so they're glasses, and we get on this rollercoaster and I'm like shaking, shaking in my boots. And it goes, does this thing. And I'm like, okay, that wasn't that bad. I still have my glasses around my face. This rollercoaster just takes off backwards and my whole head smacked the back of the thing, my glasses went forward. And the whole time my dad's searching on the bottom for my glasses, don't know where they went.

So I got forced to ride on a rollercoaster and I couldn't see for the rest of the trip.

Benjamin:

That's a memory. That would explain why you don't like rollercoaster.

Ramia Lloyd:

Don't do them now, they're not my thing. I just walk around and play games.

Elissa Davis:

Go to the Carousel of Progress. It's a lot of fun.

Ramia Lloyd:

Maybe. Me and your mom on The PeopleMover.

Benjamin:

Ramia, can you tell us about today's sponsor?

Ramia Lloyd:

Today's sponsor is Modern Machine Shop Made in the USA podcast. [inaudible 00:09:59] Modern Machine Shop's Made in the USA podcast to explore manufacturing issues faced by companies making an intentional choice to manufacture in the US. Featuring commentaries from OEM leaders, Made in the USA blends its nearly century-long expertise with a unique audio storytelling experience to shine a spotlight on the past, present, and future of American manufacturing. Find Made in the USA on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms. Follow Modern Machine Shop on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Benjamin:

Thanks Ramia. Stephen, we got updates on the test bed.

Stephen LaMarca:

We've got a lot of updates on the test bed.

Benjamin:

I know Chloe's been working on adapter age and stuff. Tell me more.

Stephen LaMarca:

So she's dealing with the adapter agent software witchcraft, and it seems to be going well enough to the point where I'm getting some pressure that I'm not moving the hardware stuff fast enough, which is not on me. Hashtag more supply chain issues.

Benjamin:

Trying to get connectors.

Stephen LaMarca:

Trying to get connectors, oh my god. And I was just quoted for $115 cable, which I realized some industries would be like, oh, that's cute. But I'm an audio file, I know that there's people who spend thousands of dollars on cables, but they're chasing snake oil. I just want a robot to work. And I don't know if it's a GX connector. The manual says you want an M8 pin GX connector, and then I've got an electrician telling me that, no, that's an M12 GX connector. And then I've got a robot assist that I'm talking to that's being like, oh no, that's actually a EE connector. And I'm like, well, where can I get one of these and how much are they? And they are hundreds of dollars. They're hundreds of dollars and you need to order them and it'll take a month to get there.

Benjamin:

We should buy all three.

Stephen LaMarca:

You know, you're right. It's not my money.

Benjamin:

We're not sure if it's going to work.

Elissa Davis:

Buy every cable in the outfit.

Benjamin:

Yeah, just buy all of them.

Stephen LaMarca:

But here's what I am about to do, my nuclear option that I have not entered the launch codes into yet. I'm going to go to my favorite tool retail website, KC Tool, buy some German made wire strippers and manually plug in the wires into the socket. Because it's an eight pin socket in the robot arm, that could be a GX connector, it could be an M8, could be an M12, could be a EE, doesn't matter, there are little holes where the pins of the connector go. The male end of the connector goes into the female end. And I'm so close to stripping the cables that I need and just plugging them in and using hopes and dreams to keep them plugged in. I just want to function check the gripper at this point.

Benjamin:

It's not a bad idea.

Stephen LaMarca:

Outside of that, everything's going great. The robot moves beautifully, we've got everything set up to where we're ready to program the robot.

Benjamin:

Before we get to that, it wasn't running so beautifully until Wednesday. You guys did hit a robot.

Stephen LaMarca:

Sorry. Yeah, Wednesday Chloe and I came into the office because Tuesday before leaving, my computer has the igus ReBeL version 13 robot control software. I did the initial startup and calibration of the robot on my computer with version 13 software. So the robot is apparently calibrated, was apparently calibrated for version 13. Chloe, I sent her because she started on this, on the robot stuff, later than I did, there has since been an update to version 14, and all of the download links on igus give you the most recent update of the software.

She downloaded the recent one, version 14, and we did everything right. We had worked with IT to enter the admin passwords, which is just the cherry on top when you're trying to set up hardware, is needing an admin password every time the little dumb Windows shield pops up and be like, are you sure you want to do this? You're not an admin. You better contact your IT people. And on a work from home Wednesday when all of IT is at home, half of them are recovering from Ramadan because they've been fasting, the poor things. So we're pestering them to constantly let us into fiddle with some crazy settings like setting a static IP address. We did all of that right, and then we find out, igus is like, oh yeah, the software versions aren't compatible back and forth. They're not backwards compatible.

So Chloe was about to download the same version of software. I just was trying to tell her, nevermind, they didn't tell her this. I don't want to speak ill about igus, I love them. But for whatever reason, I think she was trying to download the same version of the robot control software that I had on my computer and I was like, no, no, no. This is a cybersecurity risk here. We want the most up-to-date, recent version of any software if you want to be secure. I will update my software and I will update the firmware of the robot and we'll just reconfigure it.

All of the programming I've done on the robot, which is A, not much, B, probably doesn't even work, just delete it. Get rid of it, don't worry about it. The update software was really cool, it was like, would you like to back up all of your saved programs? I'm like, no, let's start from scratch. Absolutely not. Plus that just gives you experience on reprogramming it and programming going forward.

But we did that, we had some great help from the people at igus. This guy Nicholas Schroeder, now connected on LinkedIn, he was awesome. He's like fresh off the boat from Germany and now he's up in New England helping the igus people set people up. He was unbelievably good help. And yeah, he helped us update the firmware of the robot, update my software. And because I did that, now Chloe's software works with the robot.

The next step is me programming motions of the robot to open and close the Pocket NC closure. And that's going to be a major step forward, and I'm 90% there because it's really easy. I just need to learn how to properly save the steps. Because when you program a robot, you are finding the position you want the robot to be in, saving that position, and then moving to another position and then fine tuning and ironing the movement from one position to another. It's really interesting and really a lot of fun, and it's actually kind of therapeutic.

And it's certainly much less unsettling than milling on the Pocket NC, which you're constantly, it's very anxiety inducing. You're covering the e-stop at any moment. Any change in pitch of the hum of tool cutting material, it's like, what was that? What was that? Robots are quiet the whole time until they crash, and even when they crash, it's not typically that big of a deal. At least in our case, it's not a big deal.

So a lot has happened, it's been a lot of fun -

Benjamin:

Good. I'm really excited for our next part, so we have to design some custom gripper.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, our gripper doesn't have any soft jaws. We need custom jaws for the gripper.

Benjamin:

So I'm excited to go over that with you guys.

Stephen LaMarca:

Why are you making faces? Do you need to learn a term? I'm ready to mansplain. I'm sorry, I won't do that to you. We weren't recording?

Ramia Lloyd:

I just cackled. No, we were recording. I think felt my face change, but I know what my face [inaudible 00:18:27].

Stephen LaMarca:

Sorry, I didn't mean to call you out like that.

Ramia Lloyd:

[inaudible 00:18:33] you said it. Our gripper needs some soft jaws.

Stephen LaMarca:

I've been in the industry too long, I don't see the humor in that.

Ramia Lloyd:

It's fine. I'm fine. Continue.

Benjamin:

Are we going to keep that in, or we're going to edit?

Stephen LaMarca:

No, no. Keep it in. Do it live.

Benjamin:

Okay. We'll transition. No, that's fine. We'll end there.

Elissa, tell me about your boyfriend, Elon Musk.

Elissa Davis:

Oh god. I should preface this by saying I just don't like Elon Musk. I get he's a smart guy or whatever, I just don't think he's a good human. So this is kind of, when I saw this I was like, okay, well we need to talk about this, because-

Stephen LaMarca:

You don't have to provide a reason or a good reason. Because unlike Elon Musk-

Elissa Davis:

I gave you a list of reasons as to why I don't like [inaudible 00:19:28].

Stephen LaMarca:

Unlike Elon Musk, you are a human and you are allowed to express emotion.

Elissa Davis:

Exactly. But Elon Musk said that his guess is that by the end of next year, we will have an AI that is smarter than any one human. Which, okay, here's my thing. A lot of computers are already smarter than most people, so I get that. But is he implying that they're going to be sentient and smart by the end of next year?

Benjamin:

I'm still fascinated by the fact we're using AI as his big bucket of everything. I've got AI in my video games, we call them bots for a long time. So it's very interesting that he's characterizing a whole decision-making humanoid as AI.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, [inaudible 00:20:12] plant a chip in someone's brain. It feels very illegal.

Benjamin:

How do you say it's smarter than someone? Are they going to do an IQ test? Are they going to pass the bar?

Elissa Davis:

That's what I'm saying, it's like, well, anyone can do that. It's like, are they going to compete against someone on Jeopardy? They already did that, and yes, the computer beat everybody. That's why I'm like, okay, I don't understand one, it was streamed on his platform, X, which I don't call it X because no one calls it X. It's Twitter. And he was like, yeah, I'm guessing we're going to have someone AI smarter than a human.

And so it's just interesting that he's implying that robots, I'm assuming he's implying that they're going to be both sentient and smart, which that's weird, but also why is someone trying to make it that sentient? We're trying to avoid that. With all the apocalyptic movies that we've seen, aren't we trying to avoid that?

Benjamin:

And I feel like there's other problems we need solved before creating something sentient.

Elissa Davis:

Like world hunger, war, salmon.

Stephen LaMarca:

So I'll be honest, I'm not even concerned with as sentient AI. I am very pro AI, but Neuralink bothers me. In a world where there's no such thing as, well there's certainly not about to be any such thing as internet privacy anymore. As soon as quantum computing is relatively accessible, by that I mean accessible to world governments, there will be no online privacy anymore. But Neuralink, it's like, do you really want a computer chip in your brain? Because what is in your head is the last bastion of privacy as we know it.

Benjamin:

So to clarify, you're not scared of Ultron, but you're scared of-

Elissa Davis:

Terminator?

Benjamin:

... things connected to your head?

Stephen LaMarca:

Ultron is just a computer version of Thanos, right? I'm pro Thanos.

Elissa Davis:

No, it's a Jarvis.

Ramia Lloyd:

Evil Jarvis.

Elissa Davis:

Evil Jarvis.

Benjamin:

We'll make Steve watch Ultron again.

Elissa Davis:

The thing is, yes, I also have a problem with Neuralink because one, it feels like they could not be nearly close enough to be testing on humans yet because that feels like they did way too fast and that's what scares me. I understand maybe the need for someone like a paraplegic having something in there so that it could do some things for them that they can't do on their own. But yeah, why would you want to chip in your brain?

Stephen LaMarca:

The same people who were super concerned about a COVID vaccine being released too fast are like gung ho about putting a computer on your brain.

Benjamin:

Could you imagine updates for that?

Elissa Davis:

Take forever.

Stephen LaMarca:

Cycle the power.

Ramia Lloyd:

The admin password.

Benjamin:

Call Stephen, tell me about ribs and robots.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, the Wall Street Journal has an article behind a cool paywall that's titled Meet the Robots Slicing Your Barbecue Ribs. The marketplace industry is investing billions of dollars to automate notoriously difficult jobs. So they want to replace butchers, and I don't think that's what's going to happen because that butchers will just end up being robot programmers, as the case with all automation. Not butchers, but that's just an example. But I will say automation in this case is being applied for the sake of safety. And not to say that people can't be trusted with knives, but if you're doing it day in and day out and if you're super tired, you might not want to be handling edged weapons. So I'm for this.

Elissa Davis:

It's interesting they categorize it as a dangerous job though. I get it, you work with knives, but I cut things with knives every day. Does that make me dangerous? You know what I mean?

Benjamin:

Yes, probably.

Elissa Davis:

I'm dangerous for other reasons, but yeah.

Benjamin:

So there's a couple of sides to that. One is the repetitive nature of it. I mean, cutting a thousand ribs through a shift. So there's that repetitive nature of handling a knife, but also the fatigue of the human. But also have you guys been into a place where it's doing high volume food industry type stuff? It's not a pleasant place for most places. We should talk to our old boss, Tim. He came from a food industry service where they're converting-

Stephen LaMarca:

They would prepare chicken.

Benjamin:

... chicken or beef. Oh, whatever. But the volume of stuff that they're producing is very laborious, very strenuous. So taking them out of the pure physical labor of it to managing equipment is probably a better safe. So it's not just safety of the blade nearby, but it's also the human fatigue of constantly going through the same repetitive motion over and over again.

Stephen LaMarca:

And there's some great essays out there based around the same use case which is, is a cobot really safe? I think the title was something like that. And there's a great picture of a collaborative robot arm with a knife duct taped to the end of it, and it's just swinging around. It's not exceeding 15 newtons, which under 15 newtons is the maximum legal limit for the force of a collaborative robot, for a robot to be declared collaborative. And it's not really safe when it's swinging around a knife.

Elissa Davis:

Well, I mentioned in our Slack chat that CSI Vegas, the reboot of the original CSI that's out now, they did an episode where basically this guy was working in a lab and they didn't know if one of the humanoid robots killed him or if a person killed him. Turns out a person, spoiler alert, a person used the humanoid robot's arm to kill him.

Benjamin:

One thing I don't like about where we're kind of headed in general is using robots and automation kind of interchangeably. I guess it's a good thing that is going to occur in the future, but to your point, I mean you don't need a robotic arm to cut ribs. You can have an automation equipment to slice ribs. So to your point, you don't need an arm with something that'll kill someone, you can protect yourself accordingly.

Speaking of which, I found a new good barbecue place near us. It's delicious. I don't know the name of it, [inaudible 00:26:42] brought home, she over-ordered.

Stephen LaMarca:

That's the best way to order barbecue.

Benjamin:

There was a whole thing of mac and cheese, I was like, this is going to be gone.

Elissa Davis:

Barbecue place mac and cheese is the best.

Stephen LaMarca:

God, that's the best nap after work.

Benjamin:

Guys, I want to end today's podcast on a new 3D printing method. I thought it was interesting because it talks about shifting 3D printing to more affordable and eco-friendly. Which affordable is fine, but the eco-friendly I think has a lot of legs in terms of where we're headed into manufacturing. So the process is called vapor-induced space separation, super niche, but it's in a research where they're using vapor to solidify the ink as is printing. So this is interesting where it's actually geared more towards porous material and they can embed different metals or polymers inside of it, or ceramic. But they're using this more towards medical devices like implants where you need a very porous surface, or you can change the porosity of it based on the vapor.

So one, I thought is a very interesting new process that's being developed, but also the applications in the medical implants too. So it was kind of cool.

Elissa Davis:

Medical 3D printing is coming leaps and bounds in the last few years. It's insane.

Benjamin:

Definitely. And the fact that FDA is kind of catching up and trying to keep pace with being able to use this in implants, it's very fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca:

The vapor-induced makes me think, is this just the same technology that uses vapor to plate the external geometries of parts with a certain coating or surface treatment and then they're layering the plating to grow apart? That would be pretty cool. And I don't think anybody's done it.

Benjamin:

You're talking about vapor deposition, which is very similar, but they're using the vapor to solidify the ink or the soluble.

Stephen LaMarca:

You're tight. People have definitely done that.

Benjamin:

Yeah. I thought it was cool and we'll see where this heads. I have a feeling in about five, six years, we'll see some equipment at like IMTS.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin:

Ramia, where can people find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd:

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

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Author
Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
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