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AMT Tech Trends: Techin Turkey

Episode 107: Ramia Lloyd, Elissa Davis, and Benjamin Moses share personal anecdotes and plans for Thanksgiving. They discuss interesting articles on tactile sensors for robots and the use of 3D-printed homes to address Colorado's housing crisis.
Dec 04, 2023

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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 IMTS+. I'm Ramia Lloyd, and I'm here with...

Elissa Davis:

I'm Elissa Davis.

Benjamin Moses:

And I'm Benjamin Moses. Hello, everyone.

Elissa Davis:

Hi, friends. Good morning.

Benjamin Moses:

Elissa, I know you've been on the road a little bit.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Traveling the world, especially with the regional events. Tell me about SouthTec?

Elissa Davis:

So SouthTec was in Greenville, South Carolina. And I've never been to South Carolina and the Greenville Airport was an adventure.

Benjamin Moses:

It's a small guy, isn't it?

Elissa Davis:

It's very small. And I have a funny story about the hotel shuttle that I'll tell later. So when we went to SouthTec and it's smaller than EastTec, it's obviously a much smaller show.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

But it was busy.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, yeah?

Ramia Lloyd:

Nice.

Elissa Davis:

And people honestly were saying that they prefer SouthTec to WestTec.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow, that's interesting.

Elissa Davis:

Which I was not expecting.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

People have been saying that since it moved to Long Beach, it's just really different. So people love SouthTec.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

And again, it's in Greenville, South Carolina, which is not a place you think of when you think of technology mecca.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure, sure.

Elissa Davis:

But apparently people really, really like SouthTec. Something I noticed a lot of, was a lot of training software.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, interesting.

Elissa Davis:

Virtual training software. I saw quite a few booths that had that. So I guess that's something that's definitely becoming more and more prevalent.

Benjamin Moses:

So they're using augmented reality?

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. And I think Steve used it when he went to Lyft for the welding test. So yeah, I was surprised by that. I don't know why I wasn't expecting that, but I was not expecting that.

Benjamin Moses:

I do see a lot of that use case more, where there's a lot of human to machine interaction. So weldings, I've seen that, a couple of years ago with Lincoln Electric pushed that out and it's been adopted a lot more. But I see that on some of the larger organizations too, where they're doing cable assembly or something fairly intricate, where there's safety involved, there's some level of human repetitive nature. They have to build up some muscle memory, I think you have to build up. So that's very interesting, I'm glad to see that occurring more often.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. I was pleasantly surprised by that. There was a lot of software at SouthTec, that was definitely a very prevalent one.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

I'm trying to think, there was a couple of 3D printing ones out there.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

But I mean SME, they put on a great show.

Benjamin Moses:

Good.

Elissa Davis:

SME and AMT put on a great show, yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

That's interesting that you mentioned the preference between SouthTec versus WestTec, because I do think logistics to an event, that's fairly underrated and Greenville is fairly small. But I forgot the university is nearby, they specialize in high-end metrology and they're pushing the envelope on where they are. So there is an overlooked hub of manufacturing in the Southeast, particularly if you look at some of the manufacturing USA Institutes. You have, I think it's Power that's in that Southeast area. So it's very interesting that you mentioned SouthTec. But in comparison, the West Coast manufacturing scene is very hot. So it's interesting that you mentioned that, not as a fun experience as SouthTec.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, it was interesting, because people were saying, like you said, logistically some people were like, "Oh, it's kind of a nightmare." And I had been to Long Beach the year before and I stayed across the street from the convention center and I was like, "It's actually in a really central location." So I'm not sure why people are like, "Oh, logistically it's a nightmare." It's in a good location, it's near the waterfront, the touristy area.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

It's easy to get to and from. WestTec, it was definitely not as busy as SouthTec, I will say that. But WestTec also, I think is an entirely different crowd than SouthTec.

Benjamin Moses:

It is, it is. I think that's one thing, I feel like the audience in Greenville, they're traveling to Greenville, but I feel like the ones in Long Beach, it's not quite driving, but a lot of more local manufacturing. Because other than, in terms of population of manufacturers, the West Coast is significantly high, particularly California, right?

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, no. Definitely most people there were from California. They were from the Southern California area and they had come to Long Beach for the show.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

So yeah, I mean there's definitely less of a travel element, I think for WestTec. And then there's also the AeroDef part of it.

Benjamin Moses:

That's true.

Elissa Davis:

Yes. Which again, they're attached, but they're very different. So AeroDef started, their first keynote was at 8:00 AM.

Benjamin Moses:

That's early.

Elissa Davis:

But the show floor for WestTec didn't open until 9:30. And I'm like, "Logistically, I don't know how great that is, but I'm not in charge of the planning."

Benjamin Moses:

So AeroDef is their aerospace and defense exhibition events, which is actually fairly good to participate in because getting into both of those markets, with Boeing looking at their next gen aircraft, and same with Airbus. So getting the aerospace, but also the defense side of aerospace is a very interesting market, as both industries are pushing a lot more funding for the next generation equipment going forward.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, and I know we've talked a few times about different branches in the military. Definitely breaking into 3D additive, which is also very big on the West Coast. Actually, there was a former astronaut which anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big sucker for space stuff. At IMTS last year, there was an astronaut at the Student Summit and I spent a lot of my time going through social posts for IMTS. And I really, really, really wanted to meet the astronaut ,because he was signing posters and taking pictures and I was nerding out.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

I was like, "I got to go see this astronaut." But time-wise, he would always be gone before I'd be able to go down there.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Or he'd be doing a podcast or he would just not be there and I was getting really sad. I was like, "Am I going to miss the astronaut?" And so I eventually was able to get down there and meet the astronaut. I have a mildly embarrassing picture with him.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Elissa Davis:

Because I'm smiling like an idiot and he's all calm, cool and collected. And I have a signed poster from him that hangs on my wall.

Ramia Lloyd:

So funny.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, I'm a huge nerd when it comes to space and astronauts and stuff. I think it's so cool.

Benjamin Moses:

To be fair, I think people need to prepare themselves that when they take a picture with someone, not quite idolized, but are very interested in, especially someone that's influenced, it's always going to be an awkward picture.

Elissa Davis:

Oh yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

It's always going to be terrible no matter what.

Ramia Lloyd:

Absolutely.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, I'm smiling so goofily, you just look so stupid compared to that person. But the astronaut who spoke at WestTec, he actually spoke about his work on, I think it was called Moxie on the Perseverance rover, so it's converting things into oxygen on Mars. And I believe Kathy, our head editor, is going to be writing an article about it.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Elissa Davis:

But he was an astronaut back in the '90s and his picture looked very different than how he looks now, he has his astronaut picture. But I unfortunately wasn't able to go to the presentation, but I mean, I thought that was really fascinating and I would've loved to have gone to it. But I didn't know there was an astronaut there until after the fact and I was like, "There's an astronaut here?" Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

That's your singular focus now.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, it was like, "Man, I missed the astronaut." That's all I could think about was, "I missed the astronaut." So yeah, I wanted to be an astronomer for a long time.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Elissa Davis:

And then I realized there's way more physics involved in it than I would've liked. So went to communications instead.

Ramia Lloyd:

That's close.

Elissa Davis:

Less math.

Benjamin Moses:

So since we are dropping this album around Thanksgiving, I wanted to see what's everyone's plans for Thanksgiving? Tell me about your food. What are you guys doing? How much you hate your family that you're going to go see?

Elissa Davis:

Well, my older sister and her husband, they alternate holidays between my family and his family.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

So last year they were at our house for Christmas and his parents' house for Thanksgiving, so this year they'll be at our house for Thanksgiving. We go all out for Thanksgiving. We don't really do turkey anymore. My mom likes to make prime rib.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, wow.

Elissa Davis:

That's what she likes to make and she does it really, really well. And then we've got obviously all the fixins, we've got mashed potatoes, we've got stuffing, pumpkin pie, gravy. I always try to make gravy from scratch, but sometimes they get upset with me because it's the last thing that's made.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Ramia Lloyd:

Absolutely, yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And they're like, "Just do the instant stuff so it's done ."

Ramia Lloyd:

Get it done and all ready to eat.

Elissa Davis:

And I'm like, "Yeah, but it tastes better when you make it from scratch in my opinion."

Benjamin Moses:

And it's fresh, hot and fresh.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. But we do frozen rolls, just stick them in the oven. So last year I think we ate at five or 5:30, which is the latest we've ever eaten on Thanksgiving.

Benjamin Moses:

Really? That's not bad.

Elissa Davis:

Because we got started a lot later than we usually do.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

But yeah, so it's a big, loud, gregarious family affair at the Davis household. It's a lot of fun though, we usually watch the Twilight Zone Marathon, because they usually have one on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we usually do that. And then we'll decorate the tree after Thanksgiving.

Ramia Lloyd:

Oh, nice.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, that's when we bring out the holiday decorations too, after Thanksgiving. How about you, Ramia? What have you got planned?

Ramia Lloyd:

As you guys know, my parents live in Florida, so I'll be taking a trip to Tampa. My brother won't be able to make it, he's in Japan right now. So only be just us, we're hanging out. I'm in charge of mac and cheese, which is obviously the most important part of Thanksgiving. So I'm mentally preparing to get all my stuff ready. That's pretty much it. We do not stray from football, Thanksgiving's my favorite holiday, literally food and football, I don't need anything else, so that's what we're doing. And then unfortunately, I'm a Christmas November 1st person, so it's Christmas from now until Thanksgiving. Then we have Thanksgiving for two days, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, then it's Christmas again.

Benjamin Moses:

Are you playing Mara Carey November 1st or do you wait?

Ramia Lloyd:

Oh, for sure. When she's like, "It's time," I'm there. Me and her together, yes.

Elissa Davis:

Singing together, November 1st.

Ramia Lloyd:

Mariah Carey and I are one.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice, nice. We'll hopefully see both of our parents. They both live in Maryland, close to each other. So hopefully we've tried to do is go to my parents or her parents, my wife's parents for lunch and then we'll go to the other parents for dinner.

Ramia Lloyd:

Nice. That's smart.

Benjamin Moses:

So my mom prepares a lot of food. This comes from back in the day when my brother and I and my sister were eating a ton of food in our youth prime and she never cut that down. So at Thanksgiving, which we may invite another family or it's just us, there's going to be a 20 pound turkey plus all the fixins, plus all the Indian food that she can make next to it. I was like, "Mom, there's like 10 of us here. There's not enough mouths for this to eat all this. What are we going to do with all this?" So there's going to be too much food. And I'm on fence about turkey. A couple of years ago when we had Thanksgiving at our place, it was just our family. We did a small game hen competition. So we each had a game hen, like small guy, just three of us. So my wife prepared it one way and I prepared it another way and it was who did the best.

Ramia Lloyd:

That's nice.

Benjamin Moses:

That was fun, that worked out. I really like the small turkeys or small game birds for Thanksgiving. Chicken's okay, turkey's okay. It's not my favorite meat. It tends to get dry quick.

Elissa Davis:

We would end up with so much extra turkey. That's why my mom will do a turkey breast. So we have turkey, because it's Thanksgiving, but she pivoted to prime rib. Plus my older sister doesn't like ham and she doesn't really like turkey, but she loves steak, so she will eat the prime rib.

Ramia Lloyd:

Gotcha.

Elissa Davis:

But that sounds like my parents' ideal Thanksgiving dinner. My parents love Indian food. I mean, my whole family loves Indian food, but my parents love Indian food. So if you have leftovers, feel free to give it to me.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah, I was going to say, I'll bring a Tupperware.

Elissa Davis:

My parents will take that.

Ramia Lloyd:

We'll just show up. Let me know what day.

Benjamin Moses:

I'll figure out a way to keep it to until our next recording.

Elissa Davis:

Perfect.

Benjamin Moses:

And then we'll go to my wife's parents' place and they'll have Indian food too, mainly Indian food that won't have too many Western style food, but their food's going to be super spicy. That's why it depends on the time of day. Hopefully it's for dinner this year, but it's going to be a fun experience.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah, nice.

Benjamin Moses:

Cool.

Elissa Davis:

Awesome.

Benjamin Moses:

Ramia, are you going to tell us about today's sponsor?

Ramia Lloyd:

Today's sponsor is IMTS+ manufacturing digital content to get you ready for IMTS and after. We are hosting videos and articles on topics relevant to manufacturing technologies and the business of manufacturing. It's all free. I guarantee you'll find something you like.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome, Ramia. Thank you. So today I've got an article on tactile sensors for robots. So end of arm tooling and robots have come a long way and it's fairly interesting that you see evolutions on the three main sections of automation. I break mainly robotic arms to three ways. One is the interface between the robot to what it's interacting with, so the end of arm tooling. You have the arm itself, and then you have the, I'll call it brain that's controlling everything. And there's been a lot of evolution on the brain controlling everything, particularly as you connect vision systems or now with cobots. So as you add sensors for it to act differently and behave differently. It's fairly interesting, now they're looking at more sensors at the end of arm tooling. So as you interact, what they're trying to in general, either research or the industry is headed towards, is more dexterity at the end of arm tooling. Not quite to you see fingers represented, but even the claws grips being able to handle more delicate equipment.

Ramia Lloyd:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

And the main use cases that we're seeing is broadening the spectrum of automation. So you look at some of the interesting use cases of food separation. So as you're farming food, how do you know what's good and bad? Using vision systems to identify what's good and bad that exists, using paddles or compressed air to blow stuff off the conveyors. But shifting to suctions or soft robots or something that can handle a soft semi-ripe food for separating. But also now we're getting the food prep. There's a lot of scenarios where it makes sense to have something delicate.

Even in aerospace, we were just talking about AeroDef, aerospace has some very delicate components, electronics, things like that. So shifting towards being a more capable piece of automation with end of arm tools with more sensors built into it is where they're headed. But they are headed down an interesting path, because the cost of sensors have dropped significantly, but it depends on what tier you're looking at for sensors. So there are quality concerns and endurance concerns about these sensors, because it's constantly being used. So it's a double-edged sword when they're looking at this scenario. So I thought it was a really interesting use case for automation.

Ramia Lloyd:

I mean, especially as more and more robotics are being used for.. I know recently saw Sweet Green is using robots to make the bowls now. And I'm like, "I don't want it splattering hummus all over the place. You want it to be a little gentle scoop." So I mean, yeah, I hadn't really thought about that to be honest with you. I mean, so with the sensors, I guess, do they have a high wear and tear rate?

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, so it's an interface, so basically you're touching. The sensor is in between the gripper and the object you're touching. So it's either measuring force, measuring how much to compress or measuring something that you want to limit the capability of that gripper. So it's almost a wear item at that point. So I think that's where they're trying to figure out is the blend of we want it to last forever, but that may not work for the dexterity they're looking for. So if you go to a wear item, now is it cheap enough that you can replace it once a month or something like that?

Ramia Lloyd:

I hadn't really thought of that to be honest with you.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, it's a fun experiment.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

So Elissa, tell me about 3D printing and homes.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

I know you ran across a pretty interesting one.

Elissa Davis:

Yes. This is one of the subjects I'm very interested in. So the article that I'm talking about today is specifically about can 3D printed homes solve Colorado's housing crisis?

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, interesting.

Elissa Davis:

And I lived in Colorado for six years and I can tell you that there was definitely a housing crisis. And part of it is because similar to where we are in Northern Virginia, there's a very large retired or post-military career community.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Because that's where the jobs are, right? Because my dad, he's a contractor, he's former army. And so we lived in Colorado and Colorado has exploded over the last 10 years. And so this is asking, "Okay, well now houses are expensive to build, houses are expensive to buy, how do we..." And there's also obviously a very large homeless population in Colorado as well, specifically in areas like Denver, Colorado Springs. This is specifically about the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity. And so actually out here in Virginia is where the first 3D printed home for Habitat for Humanity was done.

Benjamin Moses:

Cool.

Elissa Davis:

So they saw that happening and they were like, "Well, can we then do that in Colorado and use those same materials to start solving this problem?" And also, I did a week with Habitat for Humanity when I was in college, I did it in Cleveland where they just take old houses and tear it down to the studs and rebuild it. But in Colorado there's so much open land that it makes more sense to just build a new house.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

So yeah, I mean they're trying to look at, is it cost-effective? Because right now 3D printed homes cost about the same as a regular lumber built home. But they're like, as supply chains solidify and as those things happen, will it be less expensive?

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And so will that help solve that crisis? Because when I did in Cleveland in 2013, 14, they could buy houses in Cleveland for $35,000.

Benjamin Moses:

Definitely.

Ramia Lloyd:

So super cheap.

Benjamin Moses:

And so the parallel that I'm seeing a lot, and I'm glad you hit on that, is the comparison of making something through additive and what is the benefit? And one article I ran across separately on, I think I talked about in the Tech Report is the cost analysis benefit, getting that deeper. In some cases additive is going to be more costly, which fine if there's a benefit. So we're seeing use cases where there's a benefit to the end user, like improved efficiency for gas turbine engines or better combustion, so it's less impact to the environment. Or it's better performance to an engine. But for housing it's more of a cost benefit. And I think the technology maturation still needs a occur a little bit more for us to understand can it be cheaper or they're cutting costs somewhere else? So maybe the pad can be different or labor for putting the accessories. Because there's still a lot of finishing that you have to do.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, for sure.

Benjamin Moses:

And when we moved a couple of years ago, we bought a new construction and just putting out the timber was fast. The foundation and timber, the structure was superfast. A lot of that was pre-built. The finishing took forever because it was onsite. So I do see, the best comparison I can see is I've seen a lot of pre-built houses that you just ship to the site and you just put it together in sections. So I see that as a fair comparison between the additive printed house, which I'm on the fence about which one I prefer.

Elissa Davis:

I mean, and they said that they have a company that they're specifically looking to work with. And this company is actually specifically training people to then be able to work with Habitat for Humanity to 3D print the homes. And they're expecting their first graduates of that program in 2024.

Benjamin Moses:

That's cool.

Elissa Davis:

So hopefully next year they'll be able to start doing the program and start help them with the housing crisis in Colorado. Shout out to Colorado. Beautiful sunsets. Nothing beats a Colorado sunset or sunrise. But it's definitely not Northern Virginia, I can say that much.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fair. Cool. Awesome guys. Ramia, where can they find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd:

amtonline.org/resources. Like or subscribe.

Elissa Davis:

Bing bong.

Ramia Lloyd:

Miss you, Steven.

Benjamin Moses:

Bye everyone.

PicturePicture
Author
Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
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.
Episode 115: The gang talks about dogs and other furry friends. Elissa reports that Japan’s about to land on the moon. Ben discusses stainless steel corrosion. Stephen closes with an “ICYMI” on everything we may have missed with the Boeing situation.
Episode 114: Steve talks about jarred tomato sauce and hardware store struggles. Elissa reports on Boeing’s purchase of Spirit AeroSystems (not to be confused with the airlines). Stephen found out what the next milsurp machine tool is.
Episode 113: The team discusses what works and what doesn’t with the sales of Girl Scout Cookies. Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Elissa talks about how women could get burnt out in STEM.
Episode 112: The Tech Frends reintroduce themselves, the purpose of this podcast, and walk through each of their backgrounds laying out how they got where they are today.
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