AMT Tech Trends: Nothing Runs
Release date: 24 July 2020
Episode 29: Stephen opens with his upcoming work trip to New England to visit a museum and tour some factories. Ben brings up Porsche… again. Stephen talks about layering magnetized metal with AM. Ben emphasizes the importance of prototyping and material contamination. Stephen closes with John Deere’s use of AI.
- www.caranddriver.com/news/a33289636…ns-911-gt2-rs/ - www.laserfocusworld.com/lasers-source…erns-in-steel - www.pesmedia.com/prototyping-spec…-edm-technology/ - www.fierceelectronics.com/electronics/…t-good-at-ai
Benjamin Moses: Welcome to the Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology research and news. Today's episode is sponsored by IMTS, rebuilding the supply chain starts now. IMTS is building a knowledge warehouse to rethink, reengage and re-establish manufacturing and supply chain. The past few months have unveiled underlying issues with supply chain, and it's time to discuss these problems and how to move forward. Please visit imts.com/supplychain, for more info. If you go there, I highly recommend the interview with Roy Gentry from AZEK, and the article titled Rebuilding Supply Chain, and How Did We Get Here?
Benjamin Moses: I am Benjamin Moses, the director of manufacturing technology. I'm here with...
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, manufacturing technology analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, how are you doing today?
Stephen LaMarca: Awesome. Awesome. Better now.
Benjamin Moses: Better now? Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: It's late enough in the day that you're doing all right?
Stephen LaMarca: Late in the day, talking tech is like... It's certainly a lot better than having to work on it, but actually that's debatable, but this is more relaxing than actual work.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Yeah. We're recording a little bit early. Steve, you want to tell us why we're recording early?
Stephen LaMarca: We are. We are, for the IMTS network, actually. They are paying to send me on a trip up north, to New England. I'm going to be driving around different facilities in New England, specifically Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, I think I might be hitting New Jersey on the way back.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, I feel sorry for you there.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, whatever. Whatever. It's fun though. I love road tripping. I love going on factory tours. Honestly, even though it is work, it doesn't feel like work to me. We've been doing all of these meetings, like setting up the interviews and whatnot, and... Jules, who's organizing everything and absolutely crushing it, setting all this up for me, and making it as easy as possible for me. And our film crew, which they're doing all the hard work. I'm just the idiot on screen talking to the smart people.
Benjamin Moses: You're the eye candy?
Stephen LaMarca: Honestly, it doesn't feel like work to me. I'm going on a tour, it just so happens that there's cameras around. And I'm just asking the questions on... I love looking at metal, man. What can I say? Our first spot, we're hitting Windsor, Vermont, to visit the American Precision Museum.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: And even though I spent all my college years up in Vermont, I didn't even... Number one, I didn't even know that manufacturing... I didn't know the ins and outs of the manufacturing industry then. I had physics on my mind. But number two, I'm just glad to be going back Vermont without the stress of school burdening me, because I really think it's the most beautiful state in the country.
Benjamin Moses: Oh man. That's a bold statement. So more beautiful than Montana or Wyoming?
Stephen LaMarca: All right. So I haven't been to Montana.
Benjamin Moses: I haven't either. I've just seen them on TV.
Stephen LaMarca: I haven't heard that much niceness about Wyoming. I haven't heard that it's bad, but I've heard Montana's pretty awesome. I mean, all of the super car owners register their cars over there, that's for a different reason, but I digress. Vermont, what's so cool is driving up to Vermont. The first time I drove up to Vermont for school, for going to college up there, as you go north from DC, where we are, the DC area, where the air is somewhat clean, it's not Los Angeles, like all smoggy like at least LA used to be. But as you get further north, it starts getting dirtier, you get into Maryland and it's like, "Ugh." And then on top, that's also soiled by Maryland drivers, but I digress. Let's be nice. You get further north and you get in to Delaware. Then you get into New Jersey, which I don't know if you've ever driven up the turnpike before-
Benjamin Moses: That's not pleasurable.
Stephen LaMarca: [crosstalk 00:04:14] yourself. You look at the license plates that say, "New Jersey, the garden state." And it's like, then why does it smell like a dump? And then you see all these massive plants on the side of the road, with flames coming out of the smoke stacks. I digress. I'm being really mean right now. But anyway, you get to Connecticut. You get past New York and you get into Connecticut, and it's like, "Oh man, it's starting to look kind of nice." And then you get into Vermont and the air, the atmosphere just hits you. It's like driving into a wall of pine.
Benjamin Moses: Wow.
Stephen LaMarca: You just smell evergreen everywhere. You feel like you're not breathing as hard because the oxygen is so much more rich there, even though it's higher up, the elevation is higher. It's just the quality of the air there can change you.
Benjamin Moses: That's impressive. What's your favorite memory from back in the day, when you were back in school up in Vermont?
Stephen LaMarca: Oh man. I have to admit, we talked about this earlier and I've got so many fond memories. I think my favorite memory was the first snow fall in Vermont.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, that's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: Where all the Vermonters were like, "Oh, this is a light winter this year. The snow's up to my waist. It's a light snowfall this year." And I remember thinking to myself, growing up, raised by a bunch of boomers, one of the things that they loved saying was, "You know, back in my day, we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to get to school. And if you had to take piano lessons, you had to drag the piano with you." And they'd say a bunch of ridiculous stuff. And I just remember grinning to myself my first winter there. And it's like, "Dude, I'm walking to class every day uphill, in the snow, both ways." Because Vermont is just nothing but hills.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah? Nothing but hills and snow.
Stephen LaMarca: It's French for green mountain. So, I mean, it's just the green mountain state.
Benjamin Moses: I didn't know that.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's just green mountains everywhere.
Benjamin Moses: That's awesome.
Stephen LaMarca: And it was so cool. Another good memory. This is probably a bad memory for most people. Was I actually through my first rod in Vermont.
Benjamin Moses: Oh really?
Stephen LaMarca: I blew my first car's engine, not my first car, but I blew my first engine in Vermont because my college friends and I, my roommates and I, we really wanted Taco Bell, and I had the best running car at the time, not for very long. And even something as simple, and as you would imagine, as common as something like fast food, it seems like a McDonald's is right across the street from a McDonald's down here or a Starbucks, whatever you want. In Vermont, you have to drive either north or south 45 minutes to get to a Taco Bell.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, that's a little far.
Stephen LaMarca: We wanted some Taco Bell. And so it was like, "Are we going to go north or south? Are we going to go to Burlington? Or are we going to go to the border with New Hampshire?" So we're driving. And on the way down, I started hearing this kind of knocking. And I'm thinking, "Is that an exhaust leak?" And it starts progressively getting louder, and then I start sweating bullets because it's getting really loud now. And everybody else in the car is silent because they hear it too. And we have no idea what it is, but we know it's something more than an exhaust leak. So I end up turning around, and I'm driving back up north. This is Interstate 89, it's a 45 minute drive, there's only like four exits in that 45 minute drive. No joke. We have to get back to exit five. We turn around, we make a U-turn illegally, at one of those police turnarounds, right before exit three. So we might have been almost halfway there, and it's my car. I start heading back north towards school.
Stephen LaMarca: And no joke, I see the sign for exit five. There's just one more hill to go up. Right as we're cresting the top of that hill oil light comes on, RPMs drop to zero, and I lose power everything. I still have headlights on. I check the brakes and at first it was like, "Oh, the brakes are still responsive." And then I hit the brakes again, foot goes to the floor. They're still working, but I just lost the boosted breaks. And I'm like, "Oh my God, are we going to make it?" So the engine's dead-
Benjamin Moses: Completely dead.
Stephen LaMarca: It's a 1998 Toyota Camry.
Benjamin Moses: The square guy.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's an automatic, which bulletproof car, long story short-
Benjamin Moses: Until you drove it.
Stephen LaMarca: Until I drove it because it had a really finicky dipstick that was hard to read, and it always looked like it had oil in it because one side of the dipstick would say full and the oil would be up to full. But on the other edge of the dipstick of the other side of the blade, if you would, it'd be an empty. And I realized I should have measured it so both sides said full. Anyway, lesson learned. Change your oil people. Anyway, engine blows, and we're just hitting exit five. And it's like lucky for us, the four of us, there's three other people in the car with me, it's all downhill to the house. And no joke, it's like five miles and it's all downhill. And we finally, we're almost home, there's one more heavy, steep, downhill with a runaway truck ramp and everything. And I'm like, "Dude, we got to maintain momentum," but at the same time, I don't want the car getting away from me.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh and there's no power steering either, so I'm putting my entire body into this thing. And anyway, we survived the downhill. We don't have to take the runaway truck ramp, even though I was planning on it. I'm putting all, at the time, 235 pounds, of my weight on the brake pedal with both feet, just trying to stay at a reasonable speed, not even stop. And we blow through the stop sign at the bottom of the intersection. And I turned the car left, and we're squealing, the tires trying to keep us from siding. And we come to a complete stop, we lose all momentum, probably about 100 feet from our house, and we push it the rest of the way. But it is the craziest story. It sounds too good to be true, but I have three other people who we can call right now and say that this is 100% fact.
Benjamin Moses: I believe you. I believe you.
Stephen LaMarca: That was probably my craziest moment in college.
Benjamin Moses: It's funny that you mentioned the Taco Bell, so in college I had a bunch of fun experiences like building computers, transitioning from console gaming to computer gaming, building my own off-the-wall, crazy gaming computers and then working at the hospital. But one of the interesting memories and ones that always cherish was I had a... So University of Maryland in College Park had a pretty big campus, and there was a slight hill to it. And in the junior and senior year, it was a more consolidated. So I only go to a couple of buildings. And that's when I found going from the engineering building to the math building, where there was a smallest Taco Bell you've ever seen. And I could get like a Loaded Nacho Supreme for like less than two bucks. So I ate there.
Stephen LaMarca: That's why you go, man.
Benjamin Moses: That's why you go. So I ate there for-
Stephen LaMarca: You're a broke college student.
Benjamin Moses: Yes. Lugging that to my propulsion class, trying to eat this before class started.
Stephen LaMarca: You're a broke college student and you want a hot plate, and you have nothing in the pantry at home, Taco Bell will always be there for you.
Benjamin Moses: It was always my friend.
Stephen LaMarca: That's why even as an adult, you still have to pay your respects every now and then and go back because Taco Bell was there for you.
Benjamin Moses: Or if you need to clean your stomach out, Taco Bell.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, you need to replace your lining.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. So that's a good memory.
Stephen LaMarca: Another crazy thing. Oh my God. No joke, and then to add insult to injury, I promise I'm almost done, then we can go on to the actual work at hand here. But I have the car towed to... Thank God for AAA. I had the car towed to the nearest Toyota dealership, which was 30 minutes away. And their service center, they wanted $100 to diagnose it. And I'm like, "Dude, I threw a rod. I blew the engine." It's like, "Yeah, it'll still be a $100 to diagnose it." And I'm like, "Come out here." Pop the hood of the engine. It's like, "I'm pretty sure they don't make exhibition case back. I'm pretty sure they don't put windows on the side of the engine block, and that little rod right there is supposed to be inside."
Benjamin Moses: That's funny.
Stephen LaMarca: First article.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: What do you got for us, Ben?
Benjamin Moses: Oh, you want me to kick it off? Sure. I got-
Stephen LaMarca: Wait a minute. Was I supposed to go first?
Benjamin Moses: I'll go first. That's fine.
Stephen LaMarca: You go first.
Benjamin Moses: I'll go first. So the past couple episodes we've talked a lot about Porsche. And again, they've come up on my feed. And actually I've found this both in our research and my buddy Scott sent this to me. Both car guys, talking about cars offline. And Porsche is doing something interesting. And hopefully it'll get to the consumer market sometime soon. But what they're doing is printing pistons for the engines. What they're doing is testing it out on the 911 GT2 RS, and it's really interesting. So they have these small pistons that they're printing. And the cool thing, so it's not a design they said, "Oh, we're doing it in subtractive. Let's take the exact same design and make it into additive." What they're doing is they're adding cooling ducts, and also made the pistons 10% lighter, which actually it's a really undervalued weight savings in pistons.
Stephen LaMarca: You're reducing a rotational mass, which means your engine can rev higher and faster. And it can come down faster too.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah. Your velocity of pistons can increase.
Stephen LaMarca: Which means you can shift gears faster.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. Everybody wins.
Stephen LaMarca: Everything wins, man.
Benjamin Moses: So before everyone gets too excited, it's still in the prototype phase. It's not like the [crosstalk 00:14:46] rotors we talked about a while ago. But they did been manufacturer a set of pistons, and ran them through a test bench. The test bench simulates 200 hours of an endurance race, which is amazing. That's a long time to be-
Stephen LaMarca: That is. Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: ... cycling anything through it. And it completed the test with no issues. The big results, so they did a test, they wanted to see if it works. The article claims that they dropped the cooling temperatures at the piston ring zone by 68 degrees fahrenheit. So that's a fairly big change in being able to reduce the temperature. In addition to that, getting the temperature down, they're able to squeeze an additional 30 horsepower by just making these changes to the piston.
Benjamin Moses: So overall, I mean, they're talking about a 600 horsepower engine, with these modifications and some increases getting to 700 horsepower and being more fuel efficient about it. So it's a very interesting look at getting to the core of the technology, and one of the riskier parts, right? You've got these wrought pistons, that you've got years and years of experience that probably these unique materials that no one else is using. Now you're going to switch to additive, which-
Stephen LaMarca: It's typically a forged component, especially in a performance car like this. It's a forged and milled component. It can't be done any other way. And then Porsche is like, "Hold my beer."
Benjamin Moses: So a Car and Driver talked about it. And it was a very good article about how additive is slowly getting into... I wouldn't say slowly, it's building the confidence, getting into the consumer market. And overall, I think Volkswagen and some other companies have done it on say noncritical parts. Even in aerospace Pratt & Whitney was doing that a couple of years ago on non-flight critical brackets. And now you're seeing a transition into critical hardware, which GE has kind of pioneered on some of the nozzles, things like that. But getting one the scale that they need to-
Stephen LaMarca: Nozzles and impeller blades.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. I wouldn't say Porsche is super high volume, but part of the Porsche group will definitely trickle down into some of the other groups, if they're able to prove some of the savings. So I wouldn't be surprised if you see little four cylinder engines with some printed pistons, that enable to crank out 500-600 horsepower at some point into the future.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God. I mean, yeah, it's insane how much a four cylinder makes today. Even the entry level Porsche's like the Boxster and the Cayman, which sadly are not entry level enough for me to own one.
Benjamin Moses: The likes of you.
Stephen LaMarca: But they're using four cylinders now and they're still making as much power if not more, certainly more torque, but just as much power with a turbo four than they would an NA, naturally aspirated flat six, boxer six, excuse me. But I do have to cry foul a little bit. Now look, let me ease into it. This is still an experimental stage.
Benjamin Moses: Correct.
Stephen LaMarca: And what's really cool is Porsche was totally open with releasing pictures, and really the nitty gritty details of their tests so far.
Benjamin Moses: They did, yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: So the proprietary aluminum alloy has come from the company MAHLE, MAHLE?
Benjamin Moses: Yes.
Stephen LaMarca: M-A-H-L-E. I don't know how to say their company. The alloy's called M174. And it is made up of aluminum, silicon, copper, nitrogen and manganese. I don't think that's manganese. Mg, is that a magnesium or manganese?
Benjamin Moses: That's magnesium.
Stephen LaMarca: Magnesium. Okay. That makes sense. Magnesium is much lighter than manganese or manganese. But anyway, you can tell in these pictures that there's a bit of porosity on the face of the piston, and there's some light cracking on the surface. It's only surface cracking around the joints of the wrist pins. But my actual beef is, and it's not with Porsche, it's actually the beef with Car and Driver, and publications in general. And they're glorifying the use of additive. When, I don't think additive should be the technology that's highlighted here.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, okay. Tell me.
Stephen LaMarca: Because you and I know for a fact that this piston was designed with using some sort of generative design program.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, yeah. I see where you're headed. Potentially. Maybe. Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: It's just the means to which to produce a generative design is additive, is typically added, especially when we're talking about light-weighting.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I see your point there. So the idea, so additive's been around for awhile, it's a fairly robust process. But the big takeaway is that they're able to design something that is significantly more efficient, or they have certain parameters they're trying to achieve on the design side, and they're able to carry that design into the manufacturing process. So the fact that they use additive-
Stephen LaMarca: Ferdinand Porsche did not design this piston, an algorithm did.
Benjamin Moses: Potentially.
Stephen LaMarca: More than that. But that's my only beef, but it's so cool. I'm so excited for this. And Porsche's really been killing it lately with how crazy they're going. And that's the beauty of an independent car company.
Benjamin Moses: Just do whatever they want.
Stephen LaMarca: The lesser expensive version of Porsche is essentially Mazda because they're not controlled by anybody. Sadly, Porsche actually is controlled by Volkswagen Audi group, but the good news is Volkswagen and Audi, even though they own Porsche, they're still like, "Hey, you guys have been successful on your own. Keep doing what you do. We just want your share."
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. You have an article also on the additive, don't you?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Yeah. I've got an article on laser control in additive manufacturing leads to magnetic patterns in steel.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: So this team of material science researchers at EMPA Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology, in Dübendorf, Switzerland. They were studying the phenomena that varying the size of the steel, or varying the size of the melt pool in laser-based 3D printing metal additive changes the magnetic properties of the deposited steel. And this has typically been viewed as a disadvantage of using laser metal additive, laser metal AM. But this team has found out that if you tune the size of your melt pool and the speed at which the laser drags across your material, I forget the exact term for that. But essentially if you tune the, go figure, if you tune the speeds and feeds of metal AM just right, you can do some really cool things.
Stephen LaMarca: And additive is finally at that sort of level that subtractive has been at for like the longest time, in that we're figuring out the little minutia, the little just traits of AM. And they basically were able to... Using the speed and the size of the melt pool when printing certain alloys, certain metal alloys, you can adjust the magnetism of the layers down to like the micron. So basically stepping back to what does all this mean? Essentially, you can adjust, you can do layer upon layer of different treatments of micron thin layers of metal that are varying layer by layer. So it's just... I don't know. I'll stop, but it's just wild what they were able to do.
Stephen LaMarca: And the ability to produce, here's a quote, "The ability to produce different alloy compositions with micrometer precision in a single component could be, for example, be helpful in designing more efficient electric motors, as it's now possible to build the stator and the rotor of the electric motor from magnetically finely structured materials, making better use of geometry of the magnetic fields." It's wild how... I don't know, man. I don't even know what to say, how wild this is, because it's just another thing for generative design to take advantage of additive with.
Benjamin Moses: Well, it's an interesting concept because we've seen that a couple of times where they're able to vary the material properties within the material itself. So one of the earlier ones we saw were varying the hardness of the material within the growth pattern.
Stephen LaMarca: Like heat treatments and stuff?
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Exactly. And now they're able to apply magnetics to it. And then, still cutting edge is being able to grow glass, transparent glass, optically clear glass. And they're changing the refractory rates to that also. So it's a interesting process where everyone's concerned about how strong it is, or can I create cavities? But definitely see a wave of new products where they're varying... The shape is simple, but they're varying the properties through that shape. So I definitely see that-
Stephen LaMarca: And that's actually a perfect analogy bringing up glass because look at optics for crying out loud, like consumer optics. I mean the difference between a $200 set of binoculars and a $2,000 set of binoculars. You can get two of the same looking models. That price differential of $1,800, it's all in the glass. How it was manufactured and how crystal clear it is. And it's differences that most people's eyes can't even pick up. But some people really want to pay for it. But there's a really cool picture in this article that shows on an electron microscope level, the different magnetic fields in the steel as it's printed. And man, I remember not too long ago, the biggest fault of additive manufacturing was surface finish. And now they are down to precision levels that they can not only make the printed material smoother and cleaner, but looking at this picture, just let to you know, holy hell, they are a zeroing in on the magnetic properties, the alignments of electrons.
Benjamin Moses: Right. Yep. Awesome. The last article I've got here is about a prototype shop. So an interesting article, they're heavily focusing on implementing wire EDM in the shop. And this is from Precision Engineering Solutions website. But there's a couple of key takeaways that I got from the article. So the article talks about this prototype shop over in the UK and how they've progressed or increased their capabilities, the technology capabilities in their facility. So early in their development, early in the company, they started adding 3D printers for plastics, for polymers. And then [inaudible 00:26:08] like 10, 12 machines.
Stephen LaMarca: Is this the UK company Linear?
Benjamin Moses: Potentially. I'm not sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Is it the PVC company?
Benjamin Moses: No. No, it's a different company.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, okay.
Benjamin Moses: So what they've done is they first started adding 3D printers for polymers. And then they started adding a bunch of different materials. So most recently their equipment includes adding 3D printers. So they actually added a couple of years ago and aluminum was their first one, for printing aluminum, I'm sorry. They added second for printing just 3/16" stainless steel, which is interesting. I'm not sure why they chose just that material, but they have a separate machine for that. And then they added another machine recently for printing titanium. Steve, guess how much that printer costed?
Stephen LaMarca: I'm assuming a whole lot.
Benjamin Moses: The article mentions £1.8 million, since they're UK. $2 million of real money.
Stephen LaMarca: 2 million plus in real currency.
Benjamin Moses: In real currency. So those are real heavy investment, but they saw a path of... An inserting a path that they took of segregating machines by material type, which is pretty common in welding applications. My previous world, we had specific equipment for handling stainless steels and Inconels. And then a different set of material for handling Inconel. And then we weren't even allowed to bring any aluminum material to weld in that specific shop. Aluminum had to be physically segregated, since we're processing stainless steels and titanium. We didn't want to get cross-contamination [crosstalk 00:27:43].
Stephen LaMarca: What was the danger in that?
Benjamin Moses: It's the way you process aluminum, and cross-contamination of getting that infiltrated in the stainless or in the titanium. Most of our tooling was aluminum, but being able to process that aluminum was different than how we process the other materials.
Stephen LaMarca: So you would put the structural integrity, molecular integrity, of the material you want at risk by accidentally contaminating them?
Benjamin Moses: Yep. Correct. Correct.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay. I understand now.
Benjamin Moses: And of course, since you're printing the parts, you're going to have to do some type of post-processing subtractive manufacturing to those [inaudible 00:28:21] parts. And they have a large five-axis universal machining center, which is great. I think that's a great way to handle these unique parts. And of course recently actually, the article gets into adding EDM capabilities, specifically wire EDM. And the big takeaway is mapping out the capability growth. So they started off with... I would say, they're fairly cutting edge. They're taking a fair amount of risk of buying the machines early. But they mapped out a progression path,
probably based on their customer demand and how they handled materials.
Benjamin Moses: So if you're a subtractive shop getting into additive, now you're handling powder materials, so there's a safety risk of that. And now you've got to handle cross-contamination issues. So it's a fair amount of thought in terms of their technology path of integrating these new machines. And of course the 3D printers in the machine isn't useful by itself. It's always post-processing that you're going to have to do. So even though now they're a prototype shop that can 3D print, now they're machining those. So another path for other companies would be to start machining 3D printed parts with the companies that are only printing. So it-
Stephen LaMarca: Do you think moving the workpiece from your additive machine into a subtractive machine?
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So I thought it was a very interesting look of handling different materials within your own shop, technology progression. And in the end, you're trying to achieve what the market can bear, and it's a really interesting look of prototype shop being successful at being flexible.
Stephen LaMarca: Now, let me ask before we move on. I know you mentioned welding. Sometimes you'd have welders that only work with one particular material. They could do another material, but they focus on that one to minimize the risk of contamination. Was it ever done that way with subtractive? Would you ever have a machining center that... Sure, a machining center can handle multiple materials, but this particular machine only does the stainless steel coming out of...
Benjamin Moses: You could. So there's two say driving factors for that. There's the machine capability. So if you're cutting aluminum, you want something probably a higher spindle speed, you don't need as much horsepower. You can traverse faster and things like that. So you want to chew through that material as fast as possible. But as soon as you get into super alloys or hard milling, then you need higher horsepower, it's probably a bigger machine, you need different tapers. So that kind of defines it.
Benjamin Moses: The other thing that you want to be cautious of is getting the scrap material. So if you're cutting aluminum, the scrap material value isn't super high, so if it gets a little contamination, it's probably not a big issue. So if you have a couple of grades of aluminum, or maybe if you happen to get some stainless steel in a part changeover into the scrap bin, it's not as bad as if you're handling pure nickel alloys, where the scrap rate is significantly higher. And if you get any contamination, your scrap rate takes a big dive, right? So that's a big driver in your cost analysis.
Stephen LaMarca: Right. Okay. Wow.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. So Steve, on your last article I heard you got something about John Deere.
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, John Deere, man. The title of the article was How John Deere Got Good at AI.
Benjamin Moses: I feel like they would enjoy that article too. It's not slanderous towards them or anything.
Stephen LaMarca: I think they would, man. John Deere's an awesome company. I've got fond memories of a classmate in high school who was seemingly, when other students were talking about what their dream car was, and he was drooling over whatever the latest Porsche super car was, mention them again. There was this one guy who was very country, and his name was TJ. When we were in civilian clothes because it was a military school, he was always repping something that was John Deere. Nothing runs like a Deere. I know that motto only because of TJ. But anyway, yeah, man.
Stephen LaMarca: John Deere, we use an AI and basically going back to machining a little bit, one of your favorite topics, minimum quantity lubrication.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Definitely. That's my favorite.
Stephen LaMarca: The concept of minimum quantity lubrication is sending cutting fluid exactly where it needs to be, and just the right amount. So, no, you're not wasting any fluid and it's not going on anything that's not supposed to be on. John Deere is actually taking a similar approach to their use of herbicides and pesticides, and they're utilizing AI by a means of using it to figure out where to disperse their chemicals appropriately, so they don't get chemicals where it shouldn't be, and to not overuse it. Because I'm sure a lot of people, especially supermarkets could probably tell you how you want to buy organic because they don't use as much pesticides or whatever. But there's other ways to doing this. And John Deere's basically taking that approach, we get it. They get it. There's too much chemicals going on to produce and whatnot, but you still need the stuff. So they are using AI to figure out how to use the right amount, and to send it where it needs to be. So good on John Deere for doing that.
Benjamin Moses: That's a fascinating approach because I do like the idea that if you harvest the right historical data both inputs, and outputs, and successes, and kind of being able to correlate the two inputs and output, and helping that to train your data sets. That's underlying problem when talking to data scientists, is yeah, we can help solve a business needs and help make more money. But in the end, how do you train the algorithm to help solve that problem if you don't have the data, right? So being able to make sure the data is clean, make sure that the data is correct. And then being able to connect that with the business problem.
Benjamin Moses: I'm glad to see John Deere branching out a little bit, not just producing equipment, but also getting into helping the individual consumer, in this case an individual farmer with his business need and his problem statement of, "Hey, we got this cool widget. Let's help you solve the pesticide problem," or, "Help you reduce the cost basically. Instead of applying it to the entire field, apply it to just where it's needed." I thought was an awesome approach.
Stephen LaMarca: That's right. Nothing runs like a Deere.
Benjamin Moses: Nothing runs like a Deere.
Stephen LaMarca: Never thought we would be applying that to program code, but now we are.
Benjamin Moses: Using that on the podcast. That's...
Stephen LaMarca: So awesome.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Today's episode was sponsored by IMTS. Please check out imts.com/supplychain, for more information about rebuilding supply chain. Steve, where can they find more info about us?
Stephen LaMarca: They can find more info about us by going to amtnews.org, and they can also find out more about me and the testbed by visiting The Amateur Machinist Blog at swarfysteve.blogspot.com. And you can listen to more of these podcasts by using your favorite podcast app and searching AMT Tech Trends.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. It was a great episode, Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: It was fun.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. Bye everybody.
Stephen LaMarca: See you.