Featured Image

AMT Tech Trends: The Taylor Swift of Manufacturing

Episode 111: Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Steve notes that Modern Machine Shop has been on a roll releasing banger after banger articles. Ben closes with an attempt to redefine robotics programming.
Jan 29, 2024

Looking For More?

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 Moses:

What's up? And I'm Benjamin. Hey, guys.

Elissa Davis:

Hey.

Benjamin Moses:

How's everyone doing?

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm doing well.

Elissa Davis:

Fantastic.

Benjamin Moses:

I heard you got some technology gifts.

Stephen LaMarca:

I did get some technology gifts. So, being a newlywed and also a new homeowner, of course, my beautiful wife got me for Christmas a power tool.

Benjamin Moses:

That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

She got me a Craftsman cordless battery operated leaf blower.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

We don't have to blow leaves because we have an HOA that covers all of that, but the leaves go into the garage sometimes, and she knows the garage is my baby. And I get really mad at the leaves, and it takes me way too long, longer than I'd care to admit to sweep the leaves out of the garage. So, bless her heart. She got me a leaf blower, and she got me a Craftsman because I think this is where your next question's going, what did you want to ask?

Benjamin Moses:

No, I was going to mention using a leaf blower to clean the garage is great. But also, your garage is freakishly clean and immaculate, so I just want to point that out there.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's like a living room.

Elissa Davis:

It's really clean.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's a living room with a really big door. And I have chairs in there because it's fun to hang out in there, and it's well lit. But, no, she got me a Craftsman because many years ago, she asked her dad for a tool kit. She was like, "I'm an adult. I want my own tools. I don't want to borrow tools from somebody else. I want to be responsible for my own things, and I want to hound people when they borrow my tools to make sure that they put them back." So, she asked her dad for a tool kit one year. He put together an awesome tool bag, and it came with a, well, he also threw in a really nice cordless power drill. I say really nice. I'm sure there's a lot of people who will judge it because Craftsman hasn't had the best track record over the years other than their accessibility and availability everywhere.

But he got her a Craftsman power drill, and it takes Craftsman batteries, so she got me a Craftsman leaf blower to take the same batteries. And so now, we're building our Craftsman ecosystem and have many Craftsman batteries, and so much so that I even got a really sketchy upgrade adapter kit from Amazon. So, to adapt, I've since installed it on our Dyson vacuum cleaner, a cordless Dyson. Now it takes Craftsman power tool batteries.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's [inaudible 00:02:45]. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

So, no longer are we waiting, doing 15 minutes of vacuuming and then having to wait an hour for it to recharge. We just swap out those batteries and we're ready to vacuum. We're ready to suck.

Benjamin Moses:

That is a fun experience of when you buy one device that's battery-powered, now you're basically stuck in the entire ecosystem unless you want to switch batteries.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Because I have some really old power equipment also, so it was like nickel versus [inaudible 00:03:14].

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, NiCad versus lithium ion versus lithium polymer. Whatever, man.

Benjamin Moses:

[inaudible 00:03:20] so old that it was part of that previous technology, and I want to buy some new batteries because that was going old, but I don't want to buy old batteries. And I did something shady also where I was like, this will kind of fit if you grind off a couple of edges, but the contacts are the same. I'm like, "These are batteries that could catch on fire. Your life is [inaudible 00:03:34]. You should have some better standard for this."

Stephen LaMarca:

To set the record straight, I just have to do this real quick. Anything that stores energy, energy does not want to be stored. If there's any form of storing energy, whether it's in the chemical form like with gasoline or electrical form, which still chemical with batteries, there is a chance it can catch fire. Energy will always want to catch fire somehow.

Benjamin Moses:

So, because of that, all my RC car batteries, they're actually very big. I put them in a fireproof case in my garage.

Elissa Davis:

Oh.

Stephen LaMarca:

Smart.

Elissa Davis:

That's smart. That's smart. I'm not that careful with my batteries.

Stephen LaMarca:

Our batteries are in the den. We should probably move them.

Elissa Davis:

Mine's in drunk drawers.

Ramia Lloyd:

Yeah, my batteries' [inaudible 00:04:15].

Benjamin Moses:

Everyone has that one kitchen drawer, right? That's got everything.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Stephen LaMarca:

For sure.

Elissa Davis:

Yes, absolutely. I have two of them technically, because it didn't all fit in one drawer. So, I have another drawer that's got stuff like oven mitts and stuff in it, but then it's also got random crap, and I had to put little containers in there.

Stephen LaMarca:

When we moved into our house, the most important drawer we had to establish was the junk drawer.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

That was the first one that everybody knew where it was.

Benjamin Moses:

The menus?

Elissa Davis:

The menus.

Benjamin Moses:

Menus and...

Elissa Davis:

Loose pens.

Benjamin Moses:

Duck sauce.

Stephen LaMarca:

Instruction manuals for air fryers.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Ramia Lloyd:

I usually got four pairs of scissors in there.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. You got a little bit of everything. But my first toolkit I got when I was three or four years old, I was really little. And it was one of those, it's made for kids, but it still has a saw in it and a hammer, and it's like a legit tool kit. And my parents... So, I got it from my grandfather for Christmas, and I opened it and I was so excited. Before my parents gave it to me, they took the saw out and I had to ask permission to use it. And growing up, we still eat in front of the TV a lot. That's...

Benjamin Moses:

It's the thing.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah, whatever. We don't need a formal dining room table. There's seven of us. We won't all fit. So, we would eat at the little TV tray tables, and that was the only wood thing that we had in the house. And so, I would just take a hammer and nails and start nailing the legs of the TV tables. And at one point, I got the saw and started sawing it, and then I was not allowed to have the saw anymore. But I think it taught me a lot of really important skills that I didn't realize until later in life when I had to hang stuff up, or I was in wood shop and you have to use the saw for the first time. It's like, I already knew these basic skills that some other kids hadn't had because my first exposure to it was three or four years old. Granted, I made things less structurally sound, but still, it's the experience.

Stephen LaMarca:

Absolutely, yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

That's a good thing.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I think there's so much value in understanding, one, the name of tools.

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Stephen LaMarca:

Not even if you use it correctly, but knowing how to use it correctly, and just the safety related, because once you know how to use it, then you know how to use it safely. So, knowing the safety and just knowing the names of devices or tools gets you really, really far in life.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

There are a lot of controls and adjustments you can make to just a power drill that absolutely change the result that you get, right?

Elissa Davis:

Well, even with something as simple as a socket wrench.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Those things are down to the very minute measurements because you put the wrong one in and it just slips right off, and it's like, great, awesome.

Stephen LaMarca:

I think there's a meme page on Instagram. Well, there's definitely a meme page on Instagram that has dad memes, and there's one that always has, it's instinctual that when a guy picks up a stud finder, they have to put it on the chest. Found it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. Yeah. A lot of dad Home Depot jokes.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's another one. Oh, there's another great video. This one's not just a meme, but it's a video of, it's a pass fail thing. You hand somebody a power drill, what should be the first thing that they do?

Elissa Davis:

Okay. But I do, before we move on, I have a serious question.

Stephen LaMarca:

Okay.

Elissa Davis:

I have never used a stud finder before.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

If I'm just hanging stuff up like a picture or something...

Stephen LaMarca:

You don't need it.

Elissa Davis:

I don't need it. It's only for mounting stuff, right? If you're mounting a TV?

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, if you're mounting a TV, you want a stud finder and you want a good one.

Elissa Davis:

Okay.

Benjamin Moses:

If you need to carry weight-

Elissa Davis:

I usually hire someone to do that.

Benjamin Moses:

... If you...

Stephen LaMarca:

Smart.

Benjamin Moses:

A lot of the picture hooks will have a weight recommendation.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

If you go past that, then you should go into a stud.

Elissa Davis:

Okay, okay. Because I've never had to use one so far, and I was like, should I have been using one when I'm hanging up my heavy posters that are framed and stuff? I'm like, so... But, okay. That's good to know.

Benjamin Moses:

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

Ramia Lloyd:

Today's sponsor is Modern Machine Shop's Made in the USA Podcast. Tune in for 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 commentary 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 Podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify and all major podcast platforms. Follow and Modern Machine Shop on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Benjamin Moses:

Awesome. Thanks, Ramia.

Ramia Lloyd:

Anytime.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, one more thing.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

Now that you got some power tools, we're back in the office, we have a robotic arm that's waiting for you.

Stephen LaMarca:

It was waiting for me, and Chloe and I last Friday had it installed.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

The robot is mounted on our work bench, without improperly, this is not the way to do it, so don't do what I did. I did not ask my wife to borrow her power drill, and I brought the power drill into the office, and then Chloe and I... I did have the common courtesy to make sure to get a new drill bit from the hardware store and not tear up one of hers, and brought in the power drill. I asked Chloe to mark out on the work bench where we need to drill the holes. She did a great job. There were six red and green marks, six red marks, six green marks, green being go, red being no go, just to measure things up, size things up.

And then, she found our automatic centering punch, which is amazing tool I think everybody should have. It's an underrated tool. You push it into something where you need a mark or a hole where you're about to start a hole, and it leaves a perfect little indent. That's like a non-erasable mark, number one, so it's great for marking things. But number two, it's also great to start holes when you're about to drill a hole. And. Yeah, we drilled holes, and Chloe and I learned a lot about the proper settings that a drill should be set to. So, the numbers behind the chuck on a power drill are your clutch settings. Didn't even know there was a clutch in a power drill. But I'm glad there is because those numbers are great to prevent you from stripping the head of a screw.

So., If you're using it to drive a screw in, set it to one. You might need a little bit more than that depending on how dense the material is that you're screwing into or you're drilling into, no screwing. And that clutch is very important to prevent you from stripping things. But we were drilling something, so we learned pretty quickly that we had to set it to drill.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

Number two, there's a little number setting, a slider on top of most power drills. These are standardized features, by the way. This is not unique to Craftsman, and that is, you got a clutch in a power drill, there's also a transmission in a power drill. The thing on top changes your gears.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

So if it's set to one, it's a high torque application. And if it's set to two, you need a high speed application. And everybody told us opposite when I looked it up how to do it. Everybody says, "Oh, to drill through steel, you want high torque." But we got better holes when we set it to two and got that thing cooking a lot faster. It melted the steel, not literally, but it really went through there really easily. I also learned later that a hammer drill would've got us through there faster too.

Benjamin Moses:

Well, it depends. I mean, you don't need that much torque unless your [inaudible 00:11:51] are small, so that's...

Stephen LaMarca:

So, different from an impact wrench, which actually uses the hammers to apply more torque and pulse the torque, as for a drill is consistent, even torque. Impact wrench does pulsed torque. A hammer drill does your constant gentle, even torque application, but it has a solenoid hammer in the back of it pushing it in. So, if you ever are using a power drill and you're putting a hand on the back to push it in, a hammer drill will do that for you. It's really cool. But, yeah, the robot is mounted. We just need to plug it in now. I did plug in the E-stop button.

Benjamin Moses:

That's important.

Stephen LaMarca:

Most important button on any machine tool is the E-stop button. And even though it doesn't have power, we can stop it.

Elissa Davis:

Beautiful. Is it like a big red button?

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, yeah.

Elissa Davis:

That's just nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes. Yes. And machine tools are going, like CNC mills and whatnot, because of the younger workforce coming to work in the manufacturing industry and they're used to touch screens, CNC controllers are starting to go touch screen, but there's still one button, and it's a big red one. And so, the E-stop is never going.

Elissa Davis:

That's all you need. Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, and I feel like there's a lot of trust in terms of touch screen versus physical devices, but we'll get into that a different episode.

Elissa Davis:

I was just going to say that.

Benjamin Moses:

Elissa, I'm traveling next week. I'm going to the A3 Business Forum and the AIM committee, and tell me about how safe I'm going to be on a plane.

Elissa Davis:

Well, that depends on quite a few things, namely what plane you're flying. I will say... So, this is in reference to the Alaska Airlines flight that had its door ripped off about five minutes after takeoff, or I'm sorry, about 20 minutes after takeoff.

Benjamin Moses:

Terrifying video.

Elissa Davis:

It's five miles in the air. Yes. Those pilots though deserved a medal because they landed it safely. No one was harmed. It was also pure luck that no one was sitting in that exit seat row. That is the universe looking down and being like, "All right, trying to tell you something." But, so these were the 737 Max, I think is what they were called. So, these are new. This is the newest edition of the 737. And this plane had only had, had less than 150 flights. It was like 142.

Also, so I was reading a USA Today article about the incident, and apparently there was a pressurization light, a warning light that came on three separate times before this occurred. So, in terms of my background with this, so my grandfather, the same one who gave me the tool set, he was an engineer for 40 years with Boeing. He was a lead engineer on the Boeing 757. He helped design the oxygen masks on airplanes, he helped design safety slides on airplanes. He worked there for a very long time. He was well respected. He loved his job.

He would, I already told you guys, I talked to my mom about this and she said he was a perfectionist. He measured things down to an eighth of an inch, and they were within an eighth of an inch in terms of all of his measurements. They were perfect. So, he would not send a plane up that was not perfect. So, knowing that the 737 has all these issues, because now all the 737 Maxes are grounded.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

And United has been doing checks on them, and they found at least nine planes have loose bolts in the doors, in the emergency exit doors. And just a little side note, the 757 was retired relatively recently in favor of the newer 737s. So, my grandfather's plane is, they don't really fly, they don't make new ones anymore in favor of the most more cost-efficient and fuel efficient 737, which are now having all these problems.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

Also, you cannot find anything about 757 anywhere, I'm just going to say.

Benjamin Moses:

There are a couple of key takeaways in the beginning portion of this, because I do remember-

Stephen LaMarca:

There's a lot of takeaways.

Benjamin Moses:

... One of the things I was starting to see recently is Boeing, the CEO of Boeing started making announcements about, one, acknowledging the issue, but also looking at going forward and the transparency related to this issue because this is affecting a lot of people.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

So, one of the interesting takeaways is the airlines around this issue, obviously Alaska and United, and that's one of the mechanics. So aerospace, there's a lot of misconceptions about aerospace. They're considered to be perfect.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Which is not true. There's a lot of recalls, there's a lot of failures in aerospace. And one thing that helps aerospace is their ability to contain it. So, understanding what is a scale. So, having United go through the entire fleet and say, "Do we have a problem," as part of general practices with the aerospace market. So, it will definitely see over time what the scale is. But I want to get your thoughts on this before [inaudible 00:16:44].

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. Going back, so you say that this is potentially due to cost-cutting, corners were cut?

Elissa Davis:

That's what I think.

Stephen LaMarca:

Skips were steps. Steps were skipped.

Elissa Davis:

I think so. I think that maybe some sort of quality check was skipped. I think that someone, they were like, "We need to get these out," because 737 has had many iterations. This is just the latest. And I think they wanted to get these out as fast as possible, and the quality fell by the wayside because of that. And I told you guys, my grandfather would've been the first to be like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's not okay." And I feel that probably most engineers working on these planes probably feel the same way, that you can't be cutting corners.

Because the thing is about aerospace is that, and about airplanes is that the engineers, they designed many fail-safes to prevent these kinds of things from happening. And the pressurization light, that's there for you to check it.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, that's something else I want to talk about.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And so, the fact that you're not checking it, that has more to do with, that also has to do with the airline being careless as well-

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

... because those fail safes are in place for you to be checking them and for you to be making sure that they're working.

Benjamin Moses:

And that is a good point. The resultant of the door coming off, or even the loose bolts, they found those bolts. That is the culmination of 10 different things to go wrong.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Right? So, you have the design, the manufacturing, and they're producing a ton of these aircraft, right? So, what happened in the whole process to figure out that, or to get to these loose bolts? And there's got to be multiple factors to get to that point.

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

The pressurization light, I didn't know about, and I've got things to say about that because I feel like it's worth diving into. Could this have been a cultural thing? Because I don't know how many Ubers and Lyfts I've got in, and I've seen on the dashboard-

Elissa Davis:

The check engine light.

Stephen LaMarca:

... Not the check... Well, the check engine light, that's a problem. But seeing the maintenance light-

Elissa Davis:

Oh, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

... or the tire low light as all modern cars have TPMS, tire pressure monitoring systems on them, and I've got beef with that because there's a whole meme in the car community of when awful accidents happen, that person's tire light was on. It's not actually true, but it's very hyperbolic. But that's the meme. And I don't want that. And I say it's cultural because people are just comfortable driving around with a low pressure light on their tires on, but that would insinuate that I'm speaking ill of the pilots. No, that's amazing that they brought that bird down safely, tens of thousands of feet up.

And it's not like you're just going to pull over at a cloud gas station and be like, "We're just going to fill... We got to check the pressure seals real quick." No, you're tens of thousands of feet up. That light probably came on... How far were they from their destination?

Elissa Davis:

They'd only been there for about, they were still right outside of Portland. They'd only been in the there for about 20 minutes. They were about five miles above Portland when it happened, about 16,000 feet.

Stephen LaMarca:

And it's a big problem if a plane has to come back. The air carriers, I'm sure, no, under no circumstances will you turn it around and bring it back.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

I've been on the ground for hours on end. If there's the slightest thing on it, they just won't send it up.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

But I guess this came on midair, and that's...

Elissa Davis:

They came on midair three separate times.

Stephen LaMarca:

Three times? Wow.

Benjamin Moses:

And tying this back to manufacturing, one thing that we've done, so actually, I was involved in a failure investigation when I was at my previous company. One of the test aircraft, test aircraft two or three was doing I think a landing test, and it crashed and burned [inaudible 00:20:38]. So, the root cause analysis investigation is super robust. I mean, I wouldn't say, obviously nothing's error-proof completely, but-

Stephen LaMarca:

Right.

Benjamin Moses:

... the team that's going to be involved in working through this goes through every single document, every single process.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's where I think tying this back to manufacturing of, right, you give instructions to the operator, but what are those operations completed? Obviously not if there's loose bolts, right? But the documentation where we are in digital manufacturing, the traceability is very important in aerospace. And that's why it's so important of being... There was a problem on this one craft, one, understanding the scale of how many aircrafts did it, but then tying that back to, was it an operator issue? Was it a machine issue? Tying it back to a single scenario, and that's where we are today.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah. Well, I think it goes back to what you said is just, it's these 10 steps that happened that, these 10 random things that happened that led to this thing happening.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And like I was telling you guys, my papa always said, my mom was terrified of flying growing up, which is hilarious because her dad made airplanes. But she hates heights. So, he would always say to her to make her feel, he would try to make her feel better and be like, "Oh, well, don't worry. Most plane crashes are 90% human error." My mom's like, "There's someone flying the plane, isn't there? That's a human, right?" But I think it does come down to, that's the thing is that, yes, there was mechanical issues, but these humans are the ones who were either cutting corners or were not doing the proper checks or were not doing something correctly.

So, I think it's fair to put blame on Boeing to an extent, but I think there's a multitude of people who have to take responsibility in this issue.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

But I'm definitely disappointed in Boeing. My papa would've done better.

Stephen LaMarca:

Pappy wouldn't have been happy.

Elissa Davis:

No, he wouldn't have. He would've been really upset.

Benjamin Moses:

Could we transition to something a little different?

Elissa Davis:

Yes.

Benjamin Moses:

So, growth. We all have been talking about how cool Australia's defense area has been. I think the US has heard, and they want to spend a ton of money growing the industrial base. They just want to produce everything. So, I found an article from, it was a joint research between Additive Manufacturing Research Group and Velo. And it's interesting where they're looking at where defense is headed, and obviously we're seeing a lot of, with the new budgets coming out, tons of money being invested in defense, not only just sustaining purchasing current equipment, but new equipment that they're designing also.

And one thing related to Boeing's kind of journey, which you mentioned the 757 is, defense keeps their equipment for a really long time. It could sit on a shelf for 20 years before it gets used. So, the life cycle of a lot of this equipment is very, very long. And that gets into kind of a bunch of scenarios where we're seeing additive adding a lot of value to the defense industry. The research paper goes into what they're projecting obviously on the defense spending, and how that trickles down into different technologies that are currently being used in defense and where they're projecting to see those use cases, different technologies. So, they're talking about powder bed fusion, binder jet, and polymers versus metals. And they're definitely seeing a growth in just metal use cases.

And a couple of scenarios that have come up, one, is supply chain. One, timing of getting equipment, but also the availability of that equipment is becoming our current problem. So, right now, I see a lot of the research paper gets into a lot of use cases of, let's solve some current problems now. But as we're designing new things, there's going to be a new set of features, new designs are going to require additive. And it kind of balances the discussion of, okay, next 10, 15 years, we can't get a specific casting within a certain lead time because of broken or the supplier's out of business. So, they're using additive to support casting replacement, which is fair.

Also, not only for cast parts, but if it's unable to get certain parts where they can additively grow it and then machine it down, that's another scenario where it's physically impossible to get these machine components. And in the future, we're seeing talks about use cases of better fluid flow, or better, more resiliency in some components. So, it's a very interesting article and it definitely talks about the problems that transfer from the defense industry to automotive, to everything that we're seeing now of, I've got this really old thing, how do I replace these components?

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

I thought it was very interesting, the research paper.

Elissa Davis:

Well, it's interesting too because I know we've talked a lot about, in the last couple months about how much the Department of Defense and the different branches of the military are investing in additive manufacturing, and advancing their technologies in that way. So, because, I mean, I lived near the Air Force Academy, so obviously NORAD and all that stuff. And they're always on the cutting edge of technology. So, when you told me the Marine Corps and the Army, and I'm like, wait, not just the Air Force? So, that's really interesting. And they're looking to recycle the different... That'd be really cool.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep, yep. And so, that's not only on the early design of trying to get new components into the stuff they're building, but also at the forward operating base, kind of the repair cycle too. So, the whole ecosystem of, I'm on aircraft carrier, how do I replace components for a drone? We got to get it from a ship from the West Coast, ship it over, or do you have a printer that you can print and then modify to support repairs that way? So, we are seeing use cases like that. The Marines have been experimenting with that scenario too.

So, it raises a lot of interesting questions because the technology to support that, yeah, everyone talks about the physical asset to print something, the physical piece of equipment, but now how do you support the data architecture, the data to print something? So, if I have a drone blade that needs to replaced, I need the CAD model. Do I have the digital rights for that CAD model? Am I allowed to print it? Who's generating the revenue from that? So, there's still a lot of, these questions are raised about seven years ago when they started experimenting with this, and it hasn't been quite resolved yet, but it will get resolved at some point.

Stephen LaMarca:

But the DOD is getting a new chance with new equipment and new technology. So, before I get into that, I'll go back and say that, I remember the first time going to a trade show and seeing some 3D printing company with a good booth position, pretty close to the front of the show, and their 3D printer is a Connex. It's inside a Connex that's been adapted to be the enclosure of a machine tool.

Benjamin Moses:

A Connex is like a container.

Stephen LaMarca:

It means container for export, I think so?

Benjamin Moses:

Sure. It's a container like at the back of a tractor trailer.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's something that you'd see in a harbor-

Elissa Davis:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

... for shipping and receiving.

Elissa Davis:

Like a freight?

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, a freight container.

Elissa Davis:

Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:

That's what a Connex is. And it didn't... I just thought they were using it for, it's a standardized piece of metal equipment that can be used for anything, not just shipping and receiving. But then I realized, oh, this is meant to be airdropped over a place where they want to build a FOB, where the military wants to build a FOB. But going back to the rights issue of CAD models and stuff, I think the DODs did something very smart with awarding the half-million-dollar grant, which doesn't seem like much, to Optimech, because Optimech is the official 3D printer company that is certified and granted to repair F35 titanium blisks.

Benjamin Moses:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

So the titanium blisks, which are very expensive parts of the fighter jet, when they wear down, instead of replacing it and having to order a new blisk, Optimech's titanium metal 3D printer can repair it and then finish it to the spec that it needs to be, because it's a, I believe it's direct energy deposition for titanium? And it's a hybrid machine, so it can finish it, 5-Axis finish the blisk too.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fascinating.

Stephen LaMarca:

So, it's good that they thought about this.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

That makes me feel really good that the government thought ahead on something like this.

Benjamin Moses:

For once.

Elissa Davis:

It's definitely interesting because, we're preparing for Formnext Chicago 2025.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh my God. I thought she was going to say World War III.

Ramia Lloyd:

Whoa.

Elissa Davis:

No. And in that, obviously I work on the audience team, and we were talking to Dave Burns, because Dave Burns has been to every single Formnext.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

And he went to Formnext before it was Formnext. And so, he was discussing all the great parts about Formnext, and about how it's about community, and how you see everyone from all the different parts of it. But he spent 30 minutes just talking about how 3D printing goes from this one tiny little idea to how it becomes something, and that was fascinating. But he also specifically talked about how it can really improve supply chain issues, because it helps with nearshoring and re-shoring, because everything will be available at your fingertips.

Benjamin Moses:

Yep.

Elissa Davis:

If we can obviously advance the technology to where it needs to be. You don't have to be waiting that extra six months for that part to get there. You can just print it. Obviously, there's a whole bunch of complications with that. But, yeah, it was a great conversation. I mean, he talked like 40 minutes, but it was all very informative.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Elissa Davis:

It super interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:

He has a lot to say, and he says it by telling a great story.

Elissa Davis:

Yes, and he was like, "I'm sorry I talked for 40 minutes." And I was like, "No, please don't apologize. I learned so much. It taught me a lot because he's the foremost authority, really, in how that works.

Benjamin Moses:

And that's where, to add to your point is, additive is kind of seen as the future. That's partially true, but all the technology supporting additive is going to drag it along.

Stephen LaMarca:

Oh, yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

The digital design that's required to get to getting the part quickly, right, but then the data coming off the machine and all the redundancies needed to reduce porosity or understand the thermal deflection as it's growing. So, there's a lot of underlying... And then, post-processing afterwards, let's not forget about that part of the additive. So, there's a lot of stuff that 3D printing will drag along for the future.

Stephen LaMarca:

Dave and I had a great conversation at FormNext because I was explaining to him how excited I was to see companies like Kennametal, Makino, GROB, conventional manufacturing companies, manufacturing technology builders at Formnext and additive show. And I was like, "Look at this. Are we finally watching the integration of additive in the rest of manufacturing?" And he was like, "Well, don't celebrate too much." It's a good and bad thing, because it's good that yes, you are seeing the integration finally of additive into the manufacturing industry. But it's sad in that there are not as many specialized additive companies at Formnext anymore to make room for these traditional manufacturing, conventional manufacturing companies-

Elissa Davis:

Right.

Stephen LaMarca:

... because they never pulled their head out of their bums. And they thought they would replace all of the entire manufacturing industry. They thought that, oh, the future is 3D printing, we're going to 3D print, all of the things like they do in Star Trek. I'm going to get my hot cocoa. Computer, hot cocoa. And then, it's just going to materialise out of nowhere. And it's like, that will never happen. Anybody with two brain cells knows that will never happen. But what needs to happen is the integration.

And because there are so many stubborn additive companies still, they're going to continue to go out of business. Hopefully, their worst case is they'll get bought by a conventional manufacturer. But you're not going to see any new additive companies become a new machine tool builder until they realize and openly accept that, okay, we need to play nice. And it goes both ways. Conventional manufacturing needs to play nice with additive too, which good job to Mazak and Okuma, being some of the first to do that, and DMG. But, yeah.

Elissa Davis:

I love the idea that additive companies are gatekeeping additive manufacturing.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's unbelievable. Why would you... Yeah. But, yeah.

Elissa Davis:

That's just hilarious to me, because I'm like, "Don't you want it to succeed?" It's like when movie stars get famous before they're famous.

Stephen LaMarca:

Do you want, and do you want everybody under you to have a future?

Benjamin Moses:

Guys, this was a great episode for 2024.

Elissa Davis:

First one.

Benjamin Moses:

First one. One in the can.

Elissa Davis:

Should talk about our new studio in the next episode, or our revamped studio.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Or Painted walls.

Elissa Davis:

Our painted walls.

Ramia Lloyd:

No more dungeon.

Stephen LaMarca:

I mean, soon it will be a renovated studio.

Elissa Davis:

Yes. We're getting there.

Benjamin Moses:

We'll get there.

Elissa Davis:

Step by step.

Benjamin Moses:

One episode at a time.

Elissa Davis:

Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:

Ramia, where can they find more info about us?

Ramia Lloyd:

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

Benjamin Moses:

Bye everyone.

Stephen LaMarca:

Bing bong.

Elissa Davis:

Bye.

Ramia Lloyd:

Bye.

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.
Similar News
undefined
International
By Arun Mahajan | Apr 24, 2024

How high will India’s PMI go? Passenger vehicle sales hit an all-time high, and opportunities in defense, energy, construction, and other sectors grow as the country’s robust markets thrive. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.

5 min
undefined
Technology
By Benjamin Moses | Apr 19, 2024

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.

29 min
undefined
Technology
By Stephen LaMarca | Apr 19, 2024

Stagnant talent dilemma. No retirement for Atlas. New tech for an old-people game. ABB found red October. Data irrigation.

6 min