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AMT Tech Trends: Rocky Mountain High

Episode 60: Ben opens with his trip to Denver for the MFG 2021 + MTForcast event. Steve says cars soon could come equipped with Nvidia silicon. Benjamin lists some things to consider when selecting end-of-arm-tooling...
Nov 12, 2021

Episode 60: Ben opens with his trip to Denver for the MFG + MTForcast 2021 event. Steve says cars soon could come equipped with Nvidia silicon. Benjamin lists some things to consider when selecting end-of-arm-tooling. Stephen is excited about the new excrement detecting drones deployed at Mount Vernon. Ben closes with heat healing carbon fiber.

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


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

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, AMT's Technology Analyst.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome Steve, how you doing today?

Stephen LaMarca: Awesome.

Benjamin Moses: Have you been-

Stephen LaMarca: Great to be...

Benjamin Moses: Great to be on the pod?

Stephen LaMarca: Yes.

Benjamin Moses: I do enjoy recording this every two weeks. It's awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: It's a lot of fun.

Benjamin Moses: I was going to ask, have you been to Denver, Colorado before?

Stephen LaMarca: No, I have not. It's actually, I don't know if I've ever been to Colorado, to tell you the truth. I feel like I've been there before, but as a layover.

Benjamin Moses: Sure. That doesn't really count.

Stephen LaMarca: But considering what's legal over there, maybe I just forgot, but I don't think I've been to Colorado.

Benjamin Moses: So AMT hosted the AMT forecast and MFG meeting in Denver. So a week long event, we combined two meetings and I was there for forecast. So first time I've flown to Colorado. I haven't spent much time in the Midwest and I think that's an area one explorer going for it. I spent a fair amount of time in Wichita. They have a fairly big aerospace section in Wichita, Kansas, and that was previous work, but for vacations, everything else, all other travel has always been on the coast. So it was a good time. It was fairly interesting that Denver's known to be, or Colorado's been known to be in the mountains. So when we're flying in and I was looking through the window, minimal cloud cover. I was like, "Oh, that should be fine. I should be able to see some mountain somewhere." Landed, the first two, three days didn't see any mountains at all. That was fairly disappointing, we're in the city so we just saw skyscrapers and tall buildings everywhere, but no mountains yet. Didn't see any mountains until I think Thursday, the sky cleared up. And then to be honest, I only saw that mountain was on the way driving back to the airport. So that was a little bummer.

Stephen LaMarca: So, wow. That's is surprising. You'd think there'd be a lot more mountains, especially from all of my experience with Colorado, from watching South Park over the years, you'd think there'd be more, but was it a fun time?

Benjamin Moses: It was, we had a great time. Did the miles for manufacturing run at 6:45?

Stephen LaMarca: Oh you did?

Benjamin Moses: Yes, did a 5K run.

Stephen LaMarca: Good for you, wow.

Benjamin Moses: Pitch dark. It was a well organized event. We had spot runners, making sure our pace was good, because it was an open course. So they'd have the roads closed off, but it was early enough where there weren't a lot of cars, so they would make sure traffic and all that was set up. So we did a fair amount. So it was a good time to be running. We ran faster than anticipated on the day of, but, and the air definitely got to us. We were suffering a little bit. Lungs were burning a bit. It was a little chilly, but that's one thing that caught me off guard is being that high up. I definitely got lightheaded a few times. I felt okay once we got to the lobby and stuff, but I was on the 20th floor of the hotel. So once I got up to that height, my ears popped once in a while, but then once I got to the room, I was like, "Hmm," I definitely lightheaded once I got to the room a few times, but-

Stephen LaMarca: Now I don't think I've ever experienced thin air like that. And you said lightheaded. Do you ever feel short of breath or out of breath?

Benjamin Moses: I did not. No. I'm-

Stephen LaMarca: I'm acting like you climbed Everest, and this is just Colorado.

Benjamin Moses: We ran a 5K, so I didn't feel like I was going to die and we could adjust our pace too. We weren't running world record pace, we're running comfortable pace so we could maintain it. I think I feel acclimated fairly well. I did look up altitude sickness just to see what symptoms I would have and they look pretty severe. I was like, I don't have any of these. I did take Advil but that's mainly because I was drinking at night too for the next day. We won't get in to that. I didn't partake in any of the local smoking activities, maybe next time. We'll save that for round two.

Stephen LaMarca: Awesome. Well, it sounds like it was a great event.

Benjamin Moses: It was a great event. We covered a lot of good material about forecast for next year and it was very valuable to see where the industry and economics are headed. So I definitely recommend checking out for 22. It's a good time of the year, it's later in the year. So you'll be able to incorporate that in your strategic planning for the next year.

Stephen LaMarca: What's crazy, and I even [inaudible 00:04:35] mention it, I think not necessarily for Mt forecast, but this is the first year that they've actually, I think this is the first year that they joined Mt. Forecast and MFG together. But this is my second year actually missing out on MFG. I've only been to Mt. Forecast a few times, but after they merged the two events, I definitely feel this was the [inaudible 00:05:00] event to go to. I do feel like I have missed out. But anyway, let me crack in some articles. The first one, I typically like to avoid this website, not to say anything bad about it, but they're typically not so manufacturing focused. But this and this one particular article isn't, but I feel like it relates to us because the company in question is a new member and it does pertain to something we've been talking about a lot lately, which is the chip shortage.

But the article from Yahoo finance is, "Nvidia promises, fully, self-driving cars with new Nvidia drive tech." Nvidia being the new AMT member that you'd like to highlight. We get very excited talking about Nvidia even before they were a member because GPUs and all of the [inaudible 00:05:57] being traced. But it's really cool, they don't pop up in the news too often. Well, when they do, it's usually about like the latest graphics card, but they don't pop up in the news too often, especially in the automotive industry when it comes to self-driving cars. And you typically think with self-driving cars you hear, you think about Tesla autopilot, but who knows, maybe the next Teslas, could have Nvidia chips in them. Probably not, that's a speculation.

Benjamin Moses: It is interesting. The first thing you mentioned, people think about when you mention in videos, obviously graphics card and gaming solutions and consumer products. But also, they have work station solutions. So if you have a high end CAD station, you probably have one of their number crunching graphic cards because they do very, very well for floating point calculations. And now obviously, they're trying to look at where those calculations can be applied in other applications. So artificial intelligence, machine learning, those are very, very important applications.

So when we look at the data flow and manufacturing, being able to do those calculations on the edge, feel more important than ever as opposed to transmitting back to the server and then having the server crunch back and then send data back and forth. It's an interesting dilemma between the importance of higher bandwidth, 5G is the big rage now, but I feel there's also a shift towards number crunching at the edge where I can do it like on machine and have high power calculations done right at the robot, right at the CNC as opposed to transmitting tons and tons of data. You can transmit smaller versions or summaries for historical information. So I found that fairly interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: For sure. I actually remember the first time I toured the Autodesk West Coast Tech Center, in San Francisco on pier nine. That was back in, I want to say... It wasn't 27. I think that was 2018 my first time there. And it was so cool because I even took a picture of this... There was nobody at the desk that was working there at the moment, but I had to take a picture of how cool the computer was. And I took a picture of it. It was a super computer that I learned later, more than a workstation called a Silver Draft Demon. And inside it had the glass panel on the side, all cool computers do and no joke. It didn't just have two Nvidia graphics cards hooked up with SLI or NV link, but it had quad and Nvidia GPUs in there. And I just remember thinking that costs more than all of the computers I've ever had together, I am sure. I come to later find out as I'm being guided through the... not Nvidia, Autodesk West Coast Tech Center, is that the person that works at that desk specifically with that computer does a lot of work with generative design, so naturally.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. So I'm definitely very excited for their developments on the GPU side, but also some of the tangential stuff where we get faster RAM that's increasing. I really like the pace of tumor PCs-

Stephen LaMarca: Who knows, the next time you shop for a car, you might be asking the salesperson, what kind of a GPU does this have? Is it AMD or Nvidia?

Benjamin Moses: Get to choose, that's pretty cool.

Stephen LaMarca: What kind of compute unit? What do you have?

Benjamin Moses: The article I have is about four critical considerations when selecting a robotic and effector system. So this is from percent, a little more robust company than Yahoo Finance, but they do some good, cool stuff [inaudible 00:09:51] sales. So from robotics tomorrow, they're talking about outlining the thought process of how you go about selecting end effector. And I thought this is fairly important because everyone's focusing on obviously the arm or other means of automation. But how you interact with what you want to interact with, that's fairly important. And that does get brushed to the side a little bit, but on two layer layers. One, I do feel like this is more standardized end of arm tooling and also the interface between the robotic arm and end of our tooling is becoming more standard too. So it's easier to Mount different equipment there, but they go over a couple of scenarios. One is operating environment. So obviously where in your factory are you using this? Is there a lot of coolant around? Is it clean? If you're planning on doing welding, those are different type of environmental conditions that you're going to generate or it's around the end of arm tooling. And that-

Stephen LaMarca: Is it flipping burgers or frying wings?

Benjamin Moses: Based on past episode, that's vital, that's crucial to know. And that gets into, the robustness and what type of end arm tooling that's required. So if it's in a harsh environment, you're going to need different requirements than if it's in a much cleaner environment. And same with if you're picking up sheet steel. How clean is that sheet steel? Are you picking up the plastic that's on top of it or the raw material? Is there debris on top? So I thought that was a first interesting point. The other thing they get into is, operating parameters. And they break it down into three areas. One is cycle time, wait, and reach. So cycle time is how fast you want to move through the process. So it gets into, do you have to wait for the vacuum pumps to cycle to attach it? Or could you use magnets? Or could you use a gripper?

So those are incremental steps on understanding the cycle time. Also once you pick it up then you got to move it around. So it's in conjunction with the overall cycle time of how fast do you want the robot to move. And another crucial point is weight. Everyone's focused on how much the robotic arm itself can support, but now I've got [inaudible 00:12:01] tooling that's got to support that same weight. So if I've got at a suction cup that can only hold five pounds, but I've got a 20 pound robotic arm, it might be a slight mismatch. And it gets into to the point of maximizing your return on investment. So I think previously we talked about being more open, more broad designing your robotic, our automation system. As in you could design it for this one cell now and then potentially move it to another cell later.

Locking down a piece of automation may not be the best in all situations. So consider over designing it to allow more flexible implementation later. Also reach, right? You have your arm, how far can that arm go? But how far do you need to extend past that arm? No orientation for the end of arm tooling. Basically in summary that operating parameters, what do you want it to do and how fast you want it to go. And a lot of scenarios, if you're doing welding, it's fairly straightforward. You want to torch at the end of that, but also it gets into some additional components that you could incorporate. So if you're very, very specific task on the end of arm tooling and that's consuming this entire cycle time, maybe including a second arm makes sense. Or you could include a gripper or other secondary end effectors on the same robotic arm.

So you could pick up the piece of material that you want to handle, place it, and then rotate around or swap it out the potentially to a welding head and then go through and process it. So I thought it was very interesting that it goes through operating environment, conditions, parameters, and then, and serial components, but in the end, you want to maximize your investment. So I think the idea of sure, understanding a bunch of potential scenarios and then over designing system a little bit. So you do have some flexibility in moving around makes a lot of sense.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure. Before I go on to our next... My next article. I do want to mention another cool thing. I found an article pertaining to end effectors that I threw in this week's Tech Report. And it's about how evolution may have designed, may have developed the perfect end effector, and it's the human hand. And how can we get this human hand on robot arms. But it's cool because the human hand obviously isn't perfect for everything. There have been cases where let's say you get a piece of sheet steel that you mentioned before, and it has one of those thin layers of like plastic on it to protect it from oxidizing or whatever. And we've all tried to peel something like that off and you just can't get a grip. Then I'm sure there's an end effector specifically designed for getting that stuff off.

And it works so much better than the human hand. But anyway, I [inaudible 00:15:01], next article is a little bit fun because it's rather close to home. Fast Company has an article titled, "Poop sensors, drones, and robots. What automation looks like at the farm of the future." And I started reading this and of course I got enthralled by the fact that the first two words in the article are poop sensors. What's really cool is, and I say this as close to a home because no joke, a short ride from the AMT office is Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. Effectively the first White House is what I like to call it. But George Washington's home, Mount Vernon is still kept up really well. It's an awesome some place if you haven't been there before.

But my cousin actually, Olivia, she actually works at the farm every now and then. She used to be full-time there. She doesn't work full-time anymore because she has other things going on, but what's really cool is I actually know somebody who works at this farm and it's never come up in passing. That they have started... obviously this article just came out, but they've started implementing agricultural drones, well agricultural automation. And what that means in this case is they've implemented drones with a vision software that spots out excrement from all of the farm animals on the plantation. So they can notify a worker to go clean and pick it up and remove it. And typically, nobody cares about that on a farm. But when you have have a farm that is in the spotlight, if you would, as Mount Vernon, which is just across the water from DC. You have a lot of visitors on year round and you don't want your visitors in such a nice place, constantly stepping in poop. So that's one of the ways that they are implementing automation on that farm. And it was just really fun, and I'm going to have to talk to Olivia about it.

Benjamin Moses: That is fascinating because I do feel like agriculture's embracing a lot more autonomous slash automation. And it's weird because the it's a big open area. It's not like you would consider, "Oh I can include a robotic arm in a factory." Or I have structure where I can attach piece of automation equipment, they're in the middle of nowhere. How do you go out and look for something like that? And that's where wireless communication gets really interesting. And they've made really big leaps on like the combines or tractors being able to basically have this human sit in the car or in the vehicle to provide guidance. But the machine it's basically running itself and then being able to bring in drones, which have been around for a couple of years. I feel like oil and gas have been using that drones for checking big, long pipelines also. So I feel like-

Stephen LaMarca: In the aerospace industry too, for optical inspection, aerial optical inspection of a fuselage where somebody can't necessarily climb up to or in the case of some planes, you don't want to climb on them. So you need something aerial and with a good enough inspection camera to see any defects. And in this case, it's probably a lot more difficult than the aerospace use case because unlike a nice smooth panel of fuselage, we're talking in a field, can you spot the turd from 30 feet up? It's cool man.

Benjamin Moses: Also, side tangent, I was watching a episode of Magic School Bus with my daughter. And this is exact same scenario they went through. They have automated combines and they had drones overhead. Obviously they're looking at different fruits and produce to see if it's ripe enough, but the idea of this fully automated, not fully automated, but you could run a farm basically with or two people, which that's pretty awesome though.

Stephen LaMarca: That's Nuts.

Benjamin Moses: The next article I have is about new Carbon Fiber composite can be healed using heat. This is from Slash Gear. No, that's fairly interesting where the problem segment that they're trying to solve is there's a ton of carbon fiber components that are ending up in landfills. So giant windmills, these are massive structures also that they don't fully know what to do when they start getting towards the end of life. And there's, we'll call it trash problem. They're reaching end of life. I don't say sooner, but they're they have a finite life cycle. And what this university is looking to do is extend their life significantly longer or try and repurpose that.

So we did talk about opportunities to break up the carbon fiber and reuse that in the past. And this is another look at extending the life. So less material makes it the landfill. what they're doing is they have what's called V-C-F-R-P. What's it called? [inaudible 00:20:20] Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers. And the idea is that they're trying to find a middle ground between Thermostat and thermoplastics where obviously the thermoplastics are stronger, but the thermostat type of reinforced polymers are a little bit weaker, but they're more resilient. So they're trying to find this middle ground where-

Stephen LaMarca: But you also have to be careful because thermostat plastics aren't recyclable.

Benjamin Moses: Exactly. So they're adding these other elements that can link, unlink and then relink based on reapplying heat. So as these parts fatigue through their life, they're developing cracks or separating from the glue or the material, the binding agent. And they're looking at using basically heat to reattach these elements so they can get a longer life out of it. So it's including a check cycle and their life, basically a service cycle, which aerospace does that a lot. They have these maintenance cycles the way they inspect everything and then they have a full tear down cycle. So including those into these giant windmills or other large super structures, we fascinating look. So they're trying to turn it more into a circular life cycle. So similar to aluminum or any other metal where the [inaudible 00:21:45] chips, but I can take that back to the factory and melt it down and use it for more material going forward.

Stephen LaMarca: I know you think about that every time. At least I think about that every time I'm watching formula one and I see one car collide with another, and the front splitter just absolutely vaporizes is so much carbon fiber.

Benjamin Moses: Well you know what they should do with those pieces? They should just sell out on eBay. You can get $1000 a piece.

Stephen LaMarca: They would get so much money.

Benjamin Moses: Formula one fan fanatic.

Stephen LaMarca: You've seen, well a retired titanium or inconel exhaust valve? Sodium filled titanium exhaust valve from some no name team that didn't make it very far. And somebody just buys it to put on like their desk and expecting people to know what that is and they'll pay like $10,000 for it.

Benjamin Moses: Oh God, that's outrageous.

Stephen LaMarca: Absolutely. So before we wrap up and tell everybody to go read the Tech Report and look at passed episodes of the podcast at amtonline.org/resources, I do want to say that Form Next is coming up in Germany. And there have been almost too many articles to even mention in the podcast in the Tech Report, relating to companies that are leaking their wars, that they're going to show off. That they're going to debut and release at these events like Form Next. And there's just too many but it's really exciting to see all of these companies leaking and previewing, giving sneak peaks of what they're going to show off at these events. And I think it's seemingly to attract audience to the event that wouldn't typically go because we're still in a pandemic and all, but it's really cool to see that. And I hope that Peter and them do this with IMTS because I think it could help a lot. I know that I'm got serious FOMO right now that I'm not going to Form Next because there's so many articles coming out of these high speed, industrial grade 3D printers being released that have multi nozzle or 10 heads on them. And can do conventional print in one tenth at the time. It's really cool. There's a lot of stuff coming out about that right now. And they're going to be showing off at Form Next, which I believe is next week?

Benjamin Moses: Yes, it is next week. It is an interesting... I feel the pace of additive technologies is increasing quite a bit. So not only are they looking at the physical side of it. Like you said, "Listen, add more heads, they'll solve problems," or add more lasers, they'll solve cycle time issues. But also on the software side, being able to do real time inspection as they're printing the part at MT forecast as a company I was looking at that's doing that now where as it's printing, it's scanning the previous layer to see if there's faults and if they need to change anything in the next layer. It's kind of a closed loop system, but also, going further upstream is how do I design a part or how do I simulate the part? So my design will go through the manufacturing process. So I include design for manufacturing upstream and simulating that process. AMT has talked about that. We've done a couple of interviews with guys from Lawrence Livermore and ANSYS about that. So it's some very cutting edge stuff that's coming out of the additive committee. Also, man, Form Next in Germany, what's your favorite spot you want to visit in Europe?

Stephen LaMarca: Oh man. So I definitely... When I was going to go in 2020, and then obviously the pandemic canceled that on me. You and I talked about it. You were like, "Steve, you can fly business class if it stays under this dollar amount." And then I got back to you or like I immediately went to my computer cause I was so excited to book my first international travel. And I'm looking at flights and I'm like $11,000 and there's no way I'm going to fly business. And then I saw Form Next is like three days, who wants to spend only three days in Germany? And so I was like, okay, let me see what I do if I expand it to spend a week, 5, 7, 10 days in Germany. And as soon as you expand it out to spend 10 days in Germany, the price down for business class flight on United Direct light too from 11,000 down to $4,000 round trip.

So I immediately went back to you and was like, "Hey, if I spend 10 days, it only costs this much. Can I do it?" And you were like, "No problem. You're saving so much money. Go talk to [inaudible 00:26:50], see if they can book you a hotel for that long." And I was like, "Yes." And so what I'm trying to get at is, being that I was going to have that much extra time and Form Next 2020, I was actually going to rent a car on my own money and take it, drive an hour and a half away from Form Next to visit the [inaudible 00:27:08] Green Nord life, the Green Hill in Germany, the world's biggest, not greatest, biggest racetrack 12.9 miles of asphalt spaghetti in the mountains, the beautiful green mountains of Germany. This I was able to refund because of the pandemic, but I had even booked two laps in a Porsche nine 11 GT3 RS being driven by a professional race car driver, that is guaranteed to get you around the track in under eight minutes or it's three. I had all this stuff booked and that's what I was really looking forward to. So yes, that is one of the places I want to go in Germany. I also want to go to in Europe, I want to go to Switzerland to tour the (Paddock Folate 00:27:52) Museum. But even more than that, honestly, I want to go to the Amalfi Coast of Italy and just get drunk underneath a lemon tree and look at the water.

Benjamin Moses: That's awesome. Because I was thinking about the same thing where, what type of places I would like to visit. And we've been trying to plan trips to Europe for a long time. It just never panned out. But I think, I feel like I would like to go somewhere where I can just go to a hotel and just walk around the entire city. I feel like there's enough... I enjoy going to a foreign land and just walking around, being a total tourist with the world's biggest camera around my neck and popping into shops. Just taking quick bite to eat and keep walking around and just enjoying the life and the atmosphere. And I would like to do more stuff outdoors, but I feel the US has so much to do in terms of outdoor life that I really want to enjoy like the historic areas, the old buildings, the statues, the museums, just be a tourist in some of those lands. And I want to get to more like Eastern Europe also. I've been to Germany. I've been to the UK quite a bit. I think getting to like Southern Europe and maybe Eastern Europe would be definitely interesting.

Stephen LaMarca: I think that would be really cool.

Benjamin Moses: I highly recommend Scandinavia in those summer. It's amazing, you would not go wrong going there.

Stephen LaMarca: Nice. I've seen some of your travel photos. They look awesome, but maybe next year, maybe 2022 is the year.

Benjamin Moses: There's always the year after that or next year or the following, there's always time.

Stephen LaMarca: But to tie this back to Form Next, AMT is going to be working a lot closer with Form Next this year. And, Tim told me that we're going to have plenty of opportunity for next year. 2021, this Form Next is really to keep up, more than keep up appearances to just to make sure that people are going to events and that events are coming back. But 2022 is going to be the year that things are really ramping up and it's going to be the year for first timers to go to Form Next. So I'm really looking forward to it and IMTS will be back.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. It's going to be awesome in Chicago. Walk around the Chicago with a giant camera on my neck and eating hot dogs. My tourist-

Stephen LaMarca: Dude, I can't wait to have Portillos again. [inaudible 00:30:10] think they recently went public and I think they're trying to expand across the US, but our listeners can hear more about us and read more about us at amtonline.org/resources. Thanks for listening everybody.

Benjamin Moses: Thanks everyone. Bye.

Benjamin Moses
Director, Manufacturing Technology
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