AMT Tech Trends: Lubrication Man
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Release date: 11 October 2019
Ben kicks things off by explaining how consumerism could be harmful to industrial tools. Stephen provides a testbed update: despite an improved workholding strategy, he still potentially scrapped another piece of brass. Stephen also touches on his exciting trip to RGM Watches, just outside of Lancaster, PA. Hunker down for this one as Ben and Stephen cover two articles and two research papers! Topics include design for manufacturing, takeaways from a recent robotics conference, a NIST experiment involving hybrid manufacturing, and producing cutting tools with EDM.
Benjamin Moses: 00:10 Hello everybody, and welcome to the tech trends podcast. I am Benjamin Moses.
Stephen LaMarca: 00:14 And I am AMT’s manufacturing technology analyst, Steven LaMarca.
Benjamin Moses: 00:19 I forgot my title too. I’m the director of-
Stephen LaMarca: 00:21 You’re the director of tech of manufacturing technology.
Benjamin Moses: 00:24 Hello everybody. So how was your week Steve?
Stephen LaMarca: 00:28 My week was great. It’s been going great so far. Last week was great. I’ll get into the rest of it, any negatives and even the highlights about my weekend when we get to the test bed.
Benjamin Moses: 00:44 Okay, good.
Stephen LaMarca: 00:45 Everything’s good. I’m gravy.
Benjamin Moses: 00:46 I had some trials and tribulations. First one I’ll do in the show notes. I was going to talk about lubrication, but I put lubration.
Stephen LaMarca: 00:52 Lubration.
Benjamin Moses: 00:52 I don’t know.
Stephen LaMarca: 00:53 And I love that on your show notes it says lubration man. And at first it was like, “Okay, this is great. I’m going to learn about lubration, whatever lubration is.”
Benjamin Moses: 01:02 Who knows what that is?
Stephen LaMarca: 01:04 But now that I learned that, no, it was a typo for lubrication, and you wrote in the show notes, “lubrication man.” I have no idea what this is about. I have no idea where this is going to go.
Benjamin Moses: 01:15 Well, what I do want to talk about was the concern I have about consumerism getting into industrial tools. I was fighting my sprinkler system again. Front lawn is looking great. I’m meeting the HOA rules. There’s no weeds. It’s kind of green. There’s one patch on the side that has its own timer; I’ve got a three port timer and then a single port timer, and for some reason that grass is turning brown. I’m like, “Alright whatever. I guess something’s wrong with the timer again.” I look at the timer, and the battery is dead. Which really annoys me, by the way.
Benjamin Moses: 01:45 There’s a big push to make everything standalone, wireless and independent, which is a completely useless. It’s a sprinkler system I have to run hoses to it. Why can’t I just run a power plug to it? I would never have to change batteries. I don’t need a wireless timer system. I have to run hoses. Let me connect it with the power.
Stephen LaMarca: 02:04 You know, with exception to that article you touched on a couple episodes ago of operators having a mobile workstation, you go from machine to machine with a stack of car batteries wired up to power their station-
Benjamin Moses: 02:20 It needs to be mobile.
Stephen LaMarca: 02:21 That needs to be mobile. But I don’t see… Man, we’re pushing what needs to be wireless.
Benjamin Moses: 02:27 Yeah, too far.
Stephen LaMarca: 02:34 There’s stuff that doesn’t need to be… If it has hoses-
Benjamin Moses: 02:38 There’s no need for it to be.
Stephen LaMarca: 02:40 There’s no need for a wireless system.
Benjamin Moses: 02:41 And the part that really irritated me was the sensitivity of this unit to the battery. I have a bunch of rechargeable batteries. I think that’s more a green or environmentally friendly than constantly using alkaline batteries I throw away, so I popped in some rechargeable batteries and then it looked like was fine. Realized a couple of days later, the grass turned more brown. I thought, “The batteries must be dead again. This is weird. I put in fresh batteries.” So I took another set of rechargeable batteries, put that in and realized right away that it would recognize the batteries as dead. This can’t be right.
Stephen LaMarca: 03:13 It doesn’t like the rechargeable batteries.
Benjamin Moses: 03:15 I slapped a couple of alkaline batteries in and it worked. I was like, “Why would this happen?”
Stephen LaMarca: 03:18 That’s so lame, you know.
Benjamin Moses: 03:20 I almost threw it across to my neighbor’s house.
Stephen LaMarca: 03:21 No, because you’re trying to implement proper industrial automation in your home setting.
Benjamin Moses: 03:28 Trying to.
Stephen LaMarca: 03:28 And then they want a wireless system with a hose.
Benjamin Moses: 03:34 It’s irritating.
Stephen LaMarca: 03:38 This makes me think of the hi-fi audio industry. There’s sound engineers at Sennheiser, at Shore, at Audio-Technica that put years, decades of development in some of their high end headphones. And then consumers are like, “Well, I want this to be Bluetooth. I’m going to listen to music on YouTube, but I want the very best headphones you can buy.”
Benjamin Moses: 04:04 The lowest bit rate you can achieve.
Stephen LaMarca: 04:06 They’re crying, you know.
Benjamin Moses: 04:08 It’s a shame.
Stephen LaMarca: 04:09 All right.
Benjamin Moses: 04:09 All right. That’s enough complaining. Tell me about the test bed, man. Things are going well with the test bed?
Stephen LaMarca: 04:13 The test bed? Okay. Before I get into the failure on the test bed, let me talk about the wins first. So I restarted cutting brass. I want to turn these brass plate blanks into watch dials, and the last time I tried to do it, I ended up getting… The surface of the brass that I was milling when I was trying to put a design into the surface of the brass, the brass got really gummy. It looked like it was pilling. There were micro-burrs everywhere that were sticking up and it looked really gross. And I was like, “Well, no Swiss Watch manufacturer would ever have anything like this,” of a product that they were selling.
Stephen LaMarca: 04:56 I found out later that I’m running at this wrong feed rate. Doing a quick Google search found that, “Oh, cutting brass is similar to cutting aluminum, and you should be running 10 to 12,000 RPM.” And so I was like, “Oh man, I screwed up by cutting this brass plate the last time at 8,500 RPM,” which is the spindle speed that I use cutting Delrin and works great with Delrin. Brass needs to be at 10,000, which is the Pocket NC’s max.
Stephen LaMarca: 05:37 So I go back and also see that when I was cutting the brass the last time, it was uneven, so I needed to redo my workholding, too. Found out that if you’re only cutting, theoretically, one fixture, you can’t undo the fixture to take it out to show people the cuts you’ve made so far and then put it back. You’re defeating the purpose of one fix. So I learned the hard way that once the workpiece is in the workholding, leave it alone. Don’t take it out. If you take it out, you’re ruining the point of having one fixture.
Benjamin Moses: 06:12 Realistically, if you’re taking it out, you have to start from scratch on setting up that fixture.
Stephen LaMarca: 06:16 Exactly. [crosstalk 00:06:16] And I learned that the hard way. It’s never bitten me in the butt before and I learned it the hard way this time. So one fixture, one fixture only, please. One fixture of a ceiling. But that was a win. The next big win was getting the brass plate to stick to the Delrin workholding. I mill the little pocket, the little pocket that the brass plate sets in, last time I milled it perfectly so it snaps in, but it’s not enough to keep it in. So this time, I milled these adhesive channels, these circular adhesive channels, so when I go to put an adhesive on the Delrin, and then I squish the brass plate down onto it to hold the brass plate onto the Delrin, there’s no high spot on the brass plate, because those channels provide a place for the adhesive to expand and uniformly cover the contact patch between the brass and the Delrin. And that worked brilliantly.
Stephen LaMarca: 07:22 Just… The first thing, don’t touch the workholding. Second thing is these adhesive channels. I’m just getting two wins back to back.
Benjamin Moses: 07:29 Well just to recap. I mean, the reason for that is because you’re face milling. You’re cutting the face of that plate. The face of that brass plate and you can’t really cover it because you’re going to trim the edges off. Also on your base there’s going to be machining from edge to edge on that circular plate.
Stephen LaMarca: 07:43 Yes.
Benjamin Moses: 07:43 Okay, good.
Stephen LaMarca: 07:44 And then the next thing is, to even get more particular and specific, in the vice, which is when the machine is oriented how it’s going to be cut, the vice is horizontal and the Delrin work-holding, the soft jaw, is being gripped by the vice at a 45 degree angle. So the Delrin is a square piece, but it’s being held diagonal on 45 degree angle, so it looks like a diamond. The brass plate is being held by that horizontal again. So you have the corners of the brass plate overhanging off of the Delrin a little bit. So to minimize vibration and any harmonics, any sort of chatter whatsoever, to minimize that, but still be able to remove the brass plate when it’s done, I trimmed those tabs. I trimmed the corners overhanging into neat little tabs. So I have something to grip to rip off the brass plate when the time comes, but also to minimize any chatter that I get when cutting just the plate and there’s no Delrin behind it.
Benjamin Moses: 08:54 Right. Because any type of overhang, even if it’s a thicker part, those things just vibrate and resonate. Well, generally it’s okay. Operators have a hell of a time with that. Because there was a couple of times in [Eaton 00:09:06] when I was machining basically form sheet metal, so we would form it and then trim the extra materials. It was a large plate. I had a ton of extra material because it was the first time I was forming, so I didn’t know what to do. I had a ton of extra material, and all we had to do is do a rectangular pattern, just trim all the extra material, and the trim section was just overhanging over the fixture. And the next day, operator’s like, “We can’t run the part again.” I was like, “What, did it break? Did that happen?” “No, it was just too loud.”
Stephen LaMarca: 09:31 Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: 09:32 It was just resonating. It was out of control.
Stephen LaMarca: 09:35 I get that. I’ve warned IT when I cut the brass yesterday that this is going to get loud. And I apologize in advance.
Benjamin Moses: 09:40 No, don’t apologize. Jesse’s loud enough.
Stephen LaMarca: 09:42 You’re right. But, anyway, so that was a nice little win. The tabs really helped. Trimming those tabs down really helps chatter. It was still loud, but at least it wasn’t grunting and bucking. It wasn’t [00:09:55 mimicking sound]. Instead it was just a loud, really loud hum. Yeah, loud hum is the best way to describe it.
Stephen LaMarca: 10:03 So I did the face milling yesterday, trying to get a nice surface finish, and it got pilly again. It wasn’t nearly as pilly and burred up and gummy as it was last time, but it just kind of let me down. It was a fail at the end of the day, because it’s not finished quality.
Stephen LaMarca: 10:25 And Sam Steel actually showed up yesterday and he was like, “Oh well, at the shop that I work in, we actually we work with brass a little bit and we don’t mill it.” And I’m like, “Really? You don’t mill it at all?” But yeah, we’ve never had good luck milling it. We can turn it in a lathe, and in a lathe it works okay, but milling it just, we’ve never figured it out.
Benjamin Moses: 10:56 Well, we were face milling too, so shoulder milling could be a little different.
Stephen LaMarca: 11:00 And shoulder milling, for me, that’s how I trimmed the tabs; I used the shoulder of a 16th inch ball end mill. So the ball really didn’t matter at all. It could have been square for all that matters. I just using the shoulder to essentially cut it, to shear it, and that worked brilliantly. I got a beautiful edge on that.
Stephen LaMarca: 11:19 Over the weekend, and this is still test bed related I promise, over the weekend, I went to Pennsylvania. Two hour drive from here. Went into just outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania to RGM.
Benjamin Moses: 11:31 Amish country.
Stephen LaMarca: 11:31 It’s Amish country. RGM is one of two actual still in-order US watchmakers.
Benjamin Moses: 11:43 So this is-
Stephen LaMarca: 11:44 That make every part of the watch in-house.
Benjamin Moses: 11:46 It’s not just assembly? They do-
Stephen LaMarca: 11:47 They don’t buy Swiss parts and then assemble it here like, cough, cough, Shinola. The watch is entirely made in the US. The only other company that does that… And I say “the only still in working order”… No, RGM isn’t an old company. Hamilton and [Elgan 00:12:11], or Elgin… Elgin’s a Chinese company now, and Hamilton is now owned by Swatch Group in Switzerland, so that’s not US based anymore. RGM is bringing watchmaking back to the US, which is really cool. So they know how to cut brass and that’s one of the reasons why I went up there. But the other company is Weiss Watches and they’re somewhere in California. And that guy was trained in Switzerland, so he knows his stuff.
Stephen LaMarca: 12:40 But anyway, go to RGM and it was a great experience. I learned a lot. I got to see a lot of manufacturing technology there. They actually have a 3D printer. It doesn’t touch the watches at all, but they do mock ups on it, and they do some workholding with the 3D printer and they made a really cool carbon fiber 3D printed loop that I have.
Benjamin Moses: 13:03 That’s cool.
Stephen LaMarca: 13:04 I made sure to take one home. But anyway, when I was talking with their manufacturing engineer, which they actually do have two CNCs onsite. Two CNC mills. I talked to their manufacturing engineer, a really cool guy, Ryan Hufford, I believe his name was. Anyway, I ask him, “When you cut brass, what feeds and speeds do you use? I need help here. I want to make sure I don’t scrap another piece,” which I ended up doing. And he’s like, “Oh, our machines, when we’re cutting brass, they don’t venture below 20,000 RPM.” So that’s already double what the Pocket NC can do, and I’m screwed. And then I was like, “All right, just for kicks, what feed rate do you run at 20,000 RPM when cutting brass?” And he’s like, “We cut one millimeter a minute. Real slow. We go real slow.” And I’m like, “Oh my God.” So even if I slowed down as far, it’s going to take a day to do one line, one pass on the brass.
Benjamin Moses: 14:05 And just imagine the pockets. He can go up to 20,000 RPMs with the version two?
Stephen LaMarca: 14:10 With the version two, it can go up to 50,000, but you need a compressed air system.
Benjamin Moses: 14:14 Yeah it’s using an air accelerator to speed up the [inaudible 00:14:18]. So it’s not electrically driven. So it’s accelerated through-
Stephen LaMarca: 14:22 Which, I’m sorry, for all intents and purposes, I love you Pocket NC, but if you need an air compressor to run it, it’s no longer a desktop CNC machine.
Benjamin Moses: 14:33 I’ll debate you on that.
Stephen LaMarca: 14:34 It’s tabletop maybe, but not a desk.
Benjamin Moses: 14:37 Okay I got you.
Stephen LaMarca: 14:37 Desktop implies office.
Benjamin Moses: 14:40 It’s a sound issue that you have.
Stephen LaMarca: 14:42 Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: 14:42 Okay. That’s good.
Stephen LaMarca: 14:44 But yet that’s where I made it with the test bed. Other than the test bed, it was a great trip to RGM though. Learned a lot, got to fulfill some of my passions. I photo dumped on our AMT Slack Channel and I got yelled at for that.
Benjamin Moses: 14:58 HR Manager did not approve.
Stephen LaMarca: 14:59 They did not like all the pictures that I took.
Benjamin Moses: 15:01 Well it’s the notifications they were getting on the weekend. That was the problem.
Stephen LaMarca: 15:05 I mean, who has their Slack notifications on on the weekend?
Benjamin Moses: 15:07 I mean, I got notified, but then I saw it was… I know how to work technology.
Stephen LaMarca: 15:11 You know how to do it. It’s all right.
Benjamin Moses: 15:13 I want to get into this article from Canadian Metalworking. My second favorite country in the world.
Stephen LaMarca: 15:19 Dude. That’s such a good publication. I know we’re an American association, but Canadian Metalworking is such an amazing website and publication.
Benjamin Moses: 15:28 I’ve been getting a lot of Canadian references on YouTube because I watch Linus TechTips.
Stephen LaMarca: 15:34 Oh my God.
Benjamin Moses: 15:36 [crosstalk 00:15:35].
Stephen LaMarca: 15:36 That guy I can’t stand.
Benjamin Moses: 15:37 So what they’re talking about are design for effective manufacturing. They’re getting into the concept of DFM, design for manufacturing. So you do you know what DFM is?
Stephen LaMarca: 15:46 Tell me what DFM is.
Benjamin Moses: 15:47 Good.
Stephen LaMarca: 15:47 I should know what it is.
Benjamin Moses: 15:49 No, not really. So the concept of design for manufacturing is embedding best practices and knowledge about the manufacturing process early in the design phase. For example, if I’m making a bushing or a cylinder that I need to press into an axle or something like that, I’m going to machine the cylinder.
Stephen LaMarca: 16:11 So is this like the cam?
Benjamin Moses: 16:12 Oh, we didn’t get there yet.
Stephen LaMarca: 16:13 No, not even there yet. Okay.
Benjamin Moses: 16:14 So I’m a design engineer. I’m saying, “Okay, I’ve got to press fit this cylinder into this housing, but I got to machine it, so what are some best practices about machining that I can put into the design itself?” For example, the radius of any edges, surface finishes, length tolerancing, diametrical tolerancing, all those features have best practices from a manufacturing house. If I’m a design making company, then my manufacturing facility, I’m including that. So like tolerancing, what are best practices for… You want a tolerance that you can accept in the design world, but also something you can manufacture. So the second part comes from the manufacturing group, but what they’re doing is embedding that early in the design phase so once they do the design, they say, “Which tolerance band do I need?” And then as they ship it into manufacturing, there’s not really an issue going into manufacturing, so they’ve embedded as much as they can.
Stephen LaMarca: 17:11 Yeah. Pre-processing, if you would?
Benjamin Moses: 17:14 Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a good way to think of it. Pre-processing. Before getting into manufacturing, they’re putting in all their best practices. So the article talks about two interesting things that they would like to see more often to convey the concept of DFM. One is the digital twin. So the concept of the digital twins, fairly simple, is I have got an idea, I’m representing my idea and concept digitally. And so anytime you’re going to create a CAD model of it, you’ve got, for the most part, the foundation of a digital twin.
Benjamin Moses: 17:42 Now the extension of that nowadays is including kinematics, including motion, including the physical elements of that physical world in this 3D model space. They talk about as the quote, “With the digital twin, we duplicate everything in the virtual world. We can design in the virtual world, manufacture in the virtual world, and then even simulate aspects in the virtual world.”
Benjamin Moses: 18:07 So as they’re designing, I think the big takeaway here is simulating the manufacturing process as part of the design process. Instead of it being, “I designed something, then manufacturing does something,” and then that iteration occurs over a longer time, it’s compressing those iteration cycles so it’s almost back and forth quicker. So the early design phase, being able to simulate all my completed manufacturing processes that includes component design, assembly, manufacturer, and… I would say package and shipping, but in some cases, that is important also. So I think that’s pretty important, is being able to simulate the life cycle of manufacturing early in the design process.
Benjamin Moses: 18:48 And then the next thing they talk about are future trends, and they throw out the buzzword of generative design, which I’m okay with. I mean, the concept of generative design, of being able to iterate quickly on the design phase, I think the big takeaway here is including manufacturing information as part of the generative process. So I’m iterating to include my pressures and temperatures, my loads, forces, to either minimize weight or maximize a certain feature, but now I also have to include constraints from manufacturing world in that generative process and I think-
Stephen LaMarca: 19:19 The current state of generative design is, it only applies to additive manufacturing. And the reason for that is only additive manufacturing can physically produce these generative designs.
Benjamin Moses: 19:33 For the most part. The stuff that we’ve seen, there’s been a tight coupling of generative and additive, but I think we are missing the boat a little bit in terms of incorporating designs and features that can be subtractively manufactured. I think we jumped quickly from, “I want to do this quick, this new doo-hickey” into drawing the part. Sure you can additively design it, but did you take a second to say, “Can I subtractively manufacture it also?” So that was a cool article and they hit us on a couple of key points and they interviewed a bunch of people from Autodesk and OPEN MIND and then a couple of other people. What was your article about-
Stephen LaMarca: 20:07 Man, they’re a great publication. Those Canadians. My article was Top Six Business Takeaways from RoboBusiness 2019.
Benjamin Moses: 20:16 RoboBusiness.
Stephen LaMarca: 20:17 And I love articles like this because, first off, I didn’t know this conference, RoboBusiness 2019, or any RoboBusiness, for that matter. Didn’t know it was a thing. And I love articles like this because I appreciate to-the-point summary slash highlight of an event I couldn’t attend or didn’t attend. And I also like it because, this makes me feel old, but I appreciate a good listicle. And so let’s get into the top six business takeaways from this RoboBusiness 2019.
Benjamin Moses: 20:47 Do it.
Stephen LaMarca: 20:48 First one. Robots are creating jobs, not eliminating them. In our industry, everybody’s been trying to drive this point home for the past two, three years, if not more. At least two to three years from what I know-
Benjamin Moses: 21:03 In your early years.
Stephen LaMarca: 21:04 From what I remember, and I’ve been here for four years, so that’s not much. But in my opinion, and I agree with this obviously, but robots creating jobs, not eliminating them. I think personally, and this is my opinion, if anybody’s going to prove this, I think McDonald’s.
Benjamin Moses: 21:21 McDonald’s?
Stephen LaMarca: 21:22 Yeah. I mean, have you been to a McDonald’s lately?
Benjamin Moses: 21:24 Sure. I’ve been-
Stephen LaMarca: 21:26 One of the renovated ones.
Benjamin Moses: 21:27 Yeah, so they have the touch screen orders-
Stephen LaMarca: 21:29 They have the touch screen, and say what you want about the touch screen, a lot of articles have been coming out about those. But that’s a form of automation, and when you think about McDonald’s and of your past experience at McDonald’s and them screwing up orders, that’s not anybody’s fault. I mean it’s maybe the person taking the order, it’s their fault, but it’s not the person in the kitchen’s fault, because they’re just reading stuff off the screen. The person putting the stuff on the screen, it’s their fault. They didn’t hear you order properly.
Stephen LaMarca: 21:59 So if you’re the person putting your order on the screen, you get two benefits. Number one, you’re getting your order perfectly, and the person who’s putting it together is going to see your screen, exactly what your order is, so there’s going to be very little loss compared to having to go through a middle man who was the person taking your order in the past. Number two, you get to see all of the other options that you could have instead, and you get unlimited time. You’re not wasting somebody’s time. Now, you’re wasting a computer’s time, which isn’t time wasted at all, because they don’t have a life.
Benjamin Moses: 22:37 I think you do bring up two key things. At my daughter’s [SAB 00:22:40] School that I was teaching the other day, we played Operator, and of course, the game of Operator, we have five or six kids, you start with a message and see what the message is at the end of the line. Of course, it’s always different. The second kid in, the message is already screwed up. And it’s a simple, it’s a three word phrase. And of course the giggling, they’re not paying attention. I mean the automation that they have highlights that, getting rid of the chain dependency.
Benjamin Moses: 23:04 Also, it highlights another key issue where a lot of people forget, is software automation, right? Everyone’s very, very focused on physical automation, but I think software automation is-
Stephen LaMarca: 23:14 But right now, we’re only digressing on how great computers and machines can be and we’re missing the point on the value of humans still. So, go to McDonald’s. You now have these touch screens that you can get your order perfect on, and order some things that you didn’t know existed before because now it’s listed in front of you. The menu screen, when you’re standing at the counter, can only be so big. If you can swipe through different screens, now you can see everything. Anyway, so now this frees up what people used to be cashiers, now they don’t have to be a cashier anymore. So now the three people that would be behind the counter, plus the one person who’s a runner slash manager, making sure the three people behind the counter are doing right, now there’s three people are freed up, and now you have… One of the three is standing by the touchscreens, helping people use the touch screens.
Stephen LaMarca: 24:11 That’s incredible. The second person is bringing your order to you. Once you finish your order, you’ve paid, you go sit down. You don’t have to stand and wait. They will find you. They will bring you your food, That’s the second person. And the third person that used to be standing behind the counter and now has a better job is going around the restaurant, seeing if anybody needs anything else. You know, “Can we fix it?”
Stephen LaMarca: 24:35 So now you don’t have to stand and wait at the counter, you can sit with your order and just wait for somebody to come by.
Benjamin Moses: 24:42 So the pivot is-
Stephen LaMarca: 24:42 It’s made jobs. It’s made McDonald’s a fast food chain that used to be, you stand, order, wait, go eat… Now, it’s order, sit down, and wait for all of your service. A cheap fast food chain now feels just a little bit more like a restaurant. They can find some way to automate the cleaning of the bathrooms, then they’re golden. But again, going back to the first takeaway of this event, robots are creating jobs, not eliminating. If anybody’s going to prove that, I mean, I swear, I’m on board that it’s going to be McDonald’s to prove this.
Stephen LaMarca: 25:21 Second takeaway is, innovators need to take risks to gain market traction. So innovators in robotics. You know how they’re going to make the biggest traction? Making their robotics cheaper. If the robots are cheaper, more people can buy them. They will take a bigger market segment out of that side of the industry of robotics.
Benjamin Moses: 25:41 It’s the same for everything, though.
Stephen LaMarca: 25:41 It’s as easy as that. That was my takeaway from IMTS 2018-
Benjamin Moses: 25:45 You want cheaper robotics?
Stephen LaMarca: 25:46 Was, I think robots are going to get cheaper before… They’re already super accurate, they’re already quick, and they’re already safe, thanks to collaborative robots. They can’t get much better. The only way they’re going to get better is, I think they’re going to get cheaper next.
Stephen LaMarca: 26:03 Take away number three, the people who use robots should be more involved in their development. Absolutely. What kind of CEO just goes out and buys a handful, five robots and then takes them into the factory and be like, “Implement these.” Okay, maybe I would be surprised, but am I right, or am I right? Truth or fact? It would be better if the person who’s going to use the robots has a say in what robot you buy.
Benjamin Moses: 26:30 Yeah, that’s much more effective implementation that I’ve seen, if they’re involved.
Stephen LaMarca: 26:34 The fourth takeaway, reaching potential… well, let me make sure I got them in the right order. Okay. Yeah. Fourth takeaway. Reaching potential customers is a challenge for engineers.
Benjamin Moses: 26:46 Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: 26:46 Fifth takeaway. The robotics industry needs universal interfaces. Absolutely. You’ve got organizations like Ross, and you’ve got our organization, MTConnect, man, they’re really focusing on robotics right now.
Stephen LaMarca: 27:02 Sixth takeaway and final takeaway, the challenge of getting from five to 500 robots.
Benjamin Moses: 27:08 Yeah. That problem of scaling up is common, yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: 27:09 Scaling… You know, you can start with one robot and implement it on a test bed, see how useful it is, you can get the robot working perfect for you, “Okay, let’s get a robot in every cell,” and you start with five cells. Now, get more robots. Then the trouble is going, “Let’s automate all of the things.”
Benjamin Moses: 27:30 Agreed. I think the biggest takeaway from that, for me, is the return on investment. Understanding once I have five robots, how much money am I saving, or pivoting employees do other things.
Stephen LaMarca: 27:39 Pivoting employees to maintaining and fixing.
Benjamin Moses: 27:42 Yeah. And then being able to duplicate that same return on investment as you scale up to, I wouldn’t say 500, but yeah, scaling up accordingly.
Stephen LaMarca: 27:49 Yeah, that’s just the takeaway from this event.
Benjamin Moses: 27:51 I mean, if we got 500, we could just put them on the wall and just put them on your desk, they’re just hanging around like a jungle gym.
Stephen LaMarca: 27:55 Yeah, but this sounds like a great event. It may be worth attending one of these days, maybe next year.
Benjamin Moses: 27:59 Maybe.
Stephen LaMarca: 28:00 Maybe. And even better, the summary, this article highlight. This was really good. I feel like I attended that event.
Benjamin Moses: 28:07 I have some research I want to talk about. So I’ve got two research papers. One is from NIST, and it talks about force modeling of hybrid manufacturing. So the idea here was, they have… 17-4 is the material that they’re using, precipitate hardening 17-4, a good strong material. We use that quite a bit. The nice thing about it is you can work-
Stephen LaMarca: 28:30 Is that a steel, or is that an Inconel?
Benjamin Moses: 28:32 Yeah, it’s a stainless steel, and what they’re doing is… So the base material is wrought 17-4, and they’re growing ribs, additively growing ribs on it. And the idea is, they wanted to see what are the influences to cutting forces of the material itself. So they’ve grown the part and then what they want to see is, if I anneal the part, does it affect-
Stephen LaMarca: 28:52 Make deflection?
Benjamin Moses: 28:53 Does it affect the cutting forces? Fairly straightforward. You can see that on wrought material also, but they were looking specifically on additive. So what they did is, they had one pair of annealed, and the other pair was maintained as as-produced state. So they grew the rib, say vertically, they took one off and they annealed it. Do you know what annealing is, Steve?
Stephen LaMarca: 29:15 Man, I’ve heard it so many times and I’ve read it before, but give me the best layman’s description, an up to speed definition, if you would.
Benjamin Moses: 29:22 Sure. So the Ben definition is, I put something in the oven, so I’m raising the temperature to reduce the strength of the steel.
Stephen LaMarca: 29:34 Oh, okay.
Benjamin Moses: 29:35 So it’s more to either improve ductility or approve cutting ability. So if in this case is 17-4 it’s very strong and as-produced, so if I anneal it, the theory is, I can-
Stephen LaMarca: 29:46 To avoid hard milling.
Benjamin Moses: 29:48 Yeah, exactly. To avoid hard milling. I could bend it easier or I can cut it easier.
Stephen LaMarca: 29:53 So it’s almost like one of the steps in tempering, going to old-school, blacksmithing swords, they put the steel in the fire to get it soft and then they hammer it down. The softening part is annealing?
Benjamin Moses: 30:05 Exactly.
Stephen LaMarca: 30:06 Okay.
Benjamin Moses: 30:06 So they anneal one piece of it and then they test it. It’s a pretty robust research paper. They add a bunch of sensors to measure the cutting forces of the machine, and as they cut the part, they wanted to see what the effect was of annealing for the additive part. And of course, they see that the strongest effect was annealing, compared to other variations. The as- machine part required more force to cut, as opposed to the grown part that was annealed, and it matches the prediction. So the key part was that they did a bunch of predictions to see what was the predicted force of the as-grown part versus the annealed part, and they’re using some equations that they developed in the process and they were able to see some really good fit. The power law fit was the predictive tool, predictive equation that they used. So I think conceptually, the main takeaway was that they had a tool to predict what the cutting force would be, and it was pretty spot on. So that was pretty good.
Stephen LaMarca: 31:16 What kind of tool was it? Were they implementing machine learning, or-
Benjamin Moses: 31:19 No, it was just an equation.
Stephen LaMarca: 31:21 Insert buzzword here, okay. Just an algorithm.
Benjamin Moses: 31:25 Yeah, just an equation that they used.
Stephen LaMarca: 31:27 That’s awesome. I love NIST. Everything they do is awesome.
Benjamin Moses: 31:27 The last paper I wanted to talk about was electro-erosion edge honing of cutting tools. So this is another research carried out from Canada. McMaster University. So what they’re doing is using a Sink EDM to define the cutting edge of a tool. So in the paper they talk about the value of the cutting edge… and to be clear, let’s talk about some actual numbers. On a insert, let’s say, a insert for turning, they have the edge itself, the roundness of the edge, they want to be able to control that more. So you can grind an edge, you can poly, blast an edge. There’s a lot of ways to achieve that edge. What they’re proposing to do is create a counter sink, and using EDM to actually drop the cutting edge into that counter-sink. Then as it’s, discharging it takes a form of that counter-sink.
Benjamin Moses: 32:31 The reason for that is, they’re talking pretty small edges, so the inserts that they’re talking about are from basically 3/10s of an inch, and they want to increase it to a control of basically 1/1000 of an inch. Very, very small cutting edge, and being able to control that… So what they’ve seen is being able to control that closer to that 1/1000 of an inch as opposed to sharper, you actually get better tool life. So there’s a bunch of research that was done before this to say, “If I can control this edge and get it to a number that I want, I can basically double the life of the insert.”
Benjamin Moses: 33:08 What they’ve done is, they have a couple of edge preps that they did, but the key takeaway is they are using EDM, and they’re using the base of the EDM, not a wire EDM, it’s a Sink EDM, so they have a contour in the base of it, and as they’re bringing the insert into it, the discharging occurs on different surfaces as it’s eroding. They found that they’re able to achieve a very, very accurate part with minimal erosion on the countersink itself.
Benjamin Moses: 33:37 So it was very interesting that they had this process and it’s research done from a couple of years ago.
Stephen LaMarca: 33:42 Did they change up the equation with respect to the purpose of the individual cutting tool?
Benjamin Moses: 33:48 [crosstalk 00:33:48].
Stephen LaMarca: 33:48 So like if the cutting tool’s made to cut aluminum or Inconel, or a steel, they can modify that?
Benjamin Moses: 33:57 Exactly.
Stephen LaMarca: 33:57 That is a variable.
Benjamin Moses: 33:58 Yeah. So they can modify it.
Stephen LaMarca: 33:59 Cool.
Benjamin Moses: 33:59 The key thing is, it’s a constant curvature, or the constant form, so they can vary that form to meet… If you want a larger radius or smaller, you can vary that accordingly. But the takeaway, the application here was for machining hard materials or very, very hard inserts. What they would like to do in the future state is explore what it’s like to do diamond, polycrystalline diamond inserts. It’s electrically non-conductive fade. So they have issues, of course, transmitting a charge-
Stephen LaMarca: 34:35 Is that a coating, or is that the full material?
Benjamin Moses: 34:36 That’s the base material.
Stephen LaMarca: 34:37 Wow!
Benjamin Moses: 34:38 So I thought that was really fascinating. So to get that super critical edge, EDM. Sink EDM.
Stephen LaMarca: 34:45 That’s wild. Man, we got heavy real quick.
Benjamin Moses: 34:48 Two research, all research.
Stephen LaMarca: 34:51 Serious research. All right.
Benjamin Moses: 34:53 Yeah. Awesome. That was a great episode, Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: 34:54 I think so.
Benjamin Moses: 34:55 How do you feel about it?
Stephen LaMarca: 34:55 I feel really good about that content. How can people get to us if they need some feedback or if they want some more information on these?
Benjamin Moses: 35:03 Yeah, good question, Steve. So, they can follow me on LinkedIn. Look for Benjamin Moses. I’ll put a link in the show notes too. How about you Steve? How can people follow you?
Stephen LaMarca: 35:09 They can follow all my activities and shenanigans on the test bed at swarfysteve.blogspot.com. It sounds like a headache, but we’ll put that in the description as well.
Benjamin Moses: 35:20 Awesome, Steve, have a good day.
Stephen LaMarca: 35:22 See my blog. See you, everybody.
Benjamin Moses: 35:23 Bye.