AMT Tech Trends: Printing Milestones
Updated: Jun 15
Release date: 12 June 2020
Episode 27: Stephen announces testbed operations will resume! Stephen then talks about the Swiss and their weird see-through face mask. Ben introduces a new way of thinking for additive. Stephen congratulates 3DEO for their accomplishments in additive. Benjamin talks of vision systems and AI. Stephen wraps things up with 4D printing.
Benjamin Moses: Hello, everybody. And welcome to The Tech Trends Podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing, technology, research and news. I'm Benjamin Moses, the Director of Manufacturing and Technology. And I'm here with-
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, the Technology Analyst.
Benjamin Moses: How's it going, Steve?
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, it's going great.
Benjamin Moses: It's a hot day today. What's going on at the test bed this week?
Stephen LaMarca: Nothing's really happening with the test bed as of yet, but the key word there being "yet," we've got big news, starting this time two weeks from now. Well, next week, the office is opening back up, which is a good sign for the test bed, and that means, two weeks from now, or by the next episode, we will have the test bed back up and running and fully operational again, so that's kind of big.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. You're excited to get out of the house for a little bit?
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, I am so excited to be at ... I mean, I've been getting out of the house. I went for a great long hike this past weekend. I've been doing a lot more walks in the morning just to get outside, especially when the weather's still decent, because right now, folks, if you were to go outside right now, it's disgusting.
Benjamin Moses: You would melt.
Stephen LaMarca: But yeah, the test bed really excited me. Oh, my God, I am going to be so pumped to have my bum back in a proper ergonomic desk chair.
Benjamin Moses: Not the turds that everyone buys for their house.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: These are the worst office chairs I've ever sat in, ever.
Stephen LaMarca: I mean, I don't have an office. I don't even have an office chair at my house. [inaudible 00:01:35] have room for an office, but I've got two amazing couches. The problem is, couches promote slouching. So literally, from nine to five, every weekday, working from home, I've been slouching. And my back? I'm going to do a chiropractor a lot of business when everything opens back up.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. When you get back to the office, the amount of dust that's going to be on the test bed is going to be the normal amount of dust in any factory. It's going to be an inch of dust, and you're going to shake it off. You're going to have to move it around. It's going to be awesome. Just like a normal factory.
Stephen LaMarca: I'm worried about my desk. Like, it's already dusty as it is, but whatever. That's neither here nor there.
Benjamin Moses: So what we got on the articles this week? I think you found a good one from a voice in Europe?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, yeah. So the Swiss, a Swiss company has developed a see-through mask. And leave it to the Swiss to design something, to act as a protective cover, but allow it to be see-through.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Immediately, the first thing that popped in my head was, because I collect watches and I love watches, I think of the exhibition case back, something that the Swiss did. So watches are powered by an intricate mechanical movement, and eventually, somebody was like, "Why are we covering this up?" There's a crystal piece of glass on the dial there, on the front, so you can see what it is. But what about the back? Watch movements are beautiful. It's an entire city of moving parts working every day, just to tell you the time. You should be able to see that. Well, anyway, before I get more anecdotal, it's cool that this Swiss company designed a see-through mask. It was brought up this morning in our all staff meeting. But some people are a little concerned and freaked out by it and think it's a little weird. And I think you told me earlier, that you think it's a little weird?
Benjamin Moses: I think it's a little weird. It looks not natural.
Stephen LaMarca: But what I like about it, what I really like about it is ... I'm a friendly person. At least I'd like to think I'm a friendly person.
Benjamin Moses: Sure, keep thinking that.
Stephen LaMarca: And when I go out, and when I walk past somebody, if I like to smile and nod. And sometimes I don't nod. Sometimes I say hi, but contrary to what some of our podcast listeners may think, I don't like to talk all the time. So sometimes, most of the time, I just like to smile, as somebody walks past me. And I'm wearing sunglasses, so they can't see my eyes. But I'd like them. I think they can see my face. But I'm outside, and during the pandemic, we're wearing face masks. I get 10 feet past somebody, and then I realize, "You idiot. They said hi to you. And you didn't acknowledge their presence at all. You think you did, because you smiled, but then you forgot that you had a face mask on, covering your mouth." And I think that's what the Swiss are trying to get at. So good for them, for at least trying to be polite. Yeah, it might be weird, but they're just trying to be nice.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's a couple of takers. I mean, those are people that ... Like, within our office, there are people who are hard of hearing, that we're relying on reading lips as people talk. So talking through a mask is very difficult for them. But also, the big takeaway is the Swiss are [inaudible 00:05:01] showboats, right? They want to show off everything.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. The article I got is from Bill Herman from New Era Assessments. So they are published, or wrote an article for us and we published on AMTnews.org. And they talk about a new way of thinking for additive. And the big thing that I like about this is not just taking what existed before and converting it to a part that's grown. It's changing your entire mindset for additive. So everyone is really, really excited about talking about additive manufacturing, but this article breaks up. It breaks the concept into its core thoughts for business culture and product application. So if you take those three elements and break it and break Additive up into those segments, you get a new way to think about how it affects your business. So some of the early adopters of additive, were an aerospace and medical, right? So there's benefits of newly thought of designs that only additive parts can be, can be made where the designs can significantly harness the value of the designs. And that requires a new engineering approach. I think the key phrase that in the article that he mentions is he lets the part be what it wants. Yeah, it's a little abstract. But if you think about it, right, if I just put in the constraints, the external forces, the environmental conditions and the boundary conditions, and I said, "Add material we need where there's high stress, where there's a critical areas." You know, you let the part kind of define itself. I, that, that was an interesting way to get the full value of additive manufacturing.
Stephen LaMarca: One thing that, immediately, you mentioned aerospace, there's a lot of advanced and state-of-the-art rocket and jet engine nozzles. That wouldn't be possible without additive. What's that San Francisco startup, they're in a pink building. Tri-D Dynamics. I think.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Those guys, they use a method of additive manufacturing where they actually 3-D printed the nozzle to their-
Benjamin Moses: combustion chamber.
Stephen LaMarca: It's the way that they lay down their material is with a 3-D printed rocket nozzle. Essentially. I think one of them is an ex SpaceX employee or multiple of them, but it's wild stuff, but I can see more products and more industries utilizing additive for designs that just simply can't be produced otherwise in the future. One YouTube channel, I actually follow called NightHawkInLight did this awesome demonstration of basically how gas can pass through a channel more effectively if it has like this intricate looking design. And I thought to myself that would really be really cool for something like automotive exhaust scavenging to maximize efficiency and power output. But I only see something like that being made, at least if it's going to be lightweight, which is a huge consideration with an automotive application, if it's additively manufactured.
Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. Those are really interesting use cases. The thing that he finally ends with is connecting our new technology and manufacturing to design applications to what does the business actually need? What is the consumer going to actually consume? If you look at the ecosystem within manufacturing, if I grow this part and I've got to machine it at some point, do I have the clamp locations to hold apart to machine it. Now that I've machined it? How do I transport that part? A lot of the parts are bare minimums, right? Maybe you'd consider delicate cause I've designed it for an end use application, but I've, I designed it for the UPS guy to shuck it across the driveway, into the parking lot. There's a couple of things to keep in mind. What's the return on investment on this final design and will the consumer actually buy it? So you make some really interesting points about the life cycle of a grown part.
Stephen LaMarca: I never thought about the ... you think about in some forms of additive manufacturing, you not only print the part, but you also print the part supports, so it doesn't break during manufacturing. That, I never thought of actually keeping supports on for shipping purposes. But you know, having just ordered a couple of weeks ago, a gaming PC I actually had to, I didn't realize there was actually sticker before, like blocking the power plug saying that before you plug this in, you need to open this up and take this thing out. That's supporting all of the parts internally, because if you try to power it and it's for shipping protection, and if you try to power it up without taking that, everything's going to overheat and it's going to explode. Not really but you know ...
Benjamin Moses: Back at my previous company, they had checklists for everything. They're big corporations. They had checklists for just coming into work, but they had design checklists. And some of it was carried over from like the electronics divisions and packaging was one of the design checklists and were designing these big pneumatic tool, nomadic duct systems. So put it in a box and ship it. That was their instructions. But there are certain things that are, you have to be more delicate. We did get a few parts back that were dented, either it moved to the shipping or the packaging move around, or we didn't package it properly where this 0-28 stainless steel wall tubing got hit with a forklift. So there's cases like that where you have to consider packaging and shipping and handling logistics as a design requirement.
Stephen LaMarca: What was the ... This is a kind of tangent, but well, it's definitely a tangent, but what's the most broken thing you've ever received in the mail?
Benjamin Moses: Other than actually not receiving the package or a hub drive?
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Like truly made it to you, but you look at the box and it's just like, "That's not going to work right. It's broken."
Benjamin Moses: That's a good question. Personally, probably something, some furniture that had glass I've received stuff where the glass is broken. Professionally, probably test equipment that didn't work. We've bought like hydraulic clamps that don't actuate or some parts that don't fit properly. Because for whatever reason, that's the biggest failure is probably commercial tooling that doesn't fit. That's probably out of spec.
Stephen LaMarca: Got it, got it. I have seen, ordering car parts, you can go with some companies and they put all of the R and D into the product design and then when it gets in the box and makes it to you, it's like what happened?
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: Clearly all of the money went into something else. I've got friends, who've received suspension components. And like half of their shock absorber was through the cardboard box.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. That does remind me. I bought a speaker like a bookshelf speaker and there was like a hole the size of my head in the box. And it's not a big box. I mean, the box itself is two size of my head. So half the box is gone and I look at it and the entire back panel of the bookshelf speakers gone, either someone just curb stomped it or ran it over with the car or something.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God.
Benjamin Moses: Okay. So tell me, you've got some other additive news about shipping, a lot of parts.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Big news from 3DEO who I'm sure their companies constantly mispronounced is like 3-D-O but 3DEO. They recently well, huge company in industry. If you don't know already, or don't know by now. Huge, huge metal additive company in our industry. And they are so huge. In fact, they just announced, I say just, was that two days ago. I think it was Monday. They just announced that they have officially shipped their first 150,000 parts.
Benjamin Moses: Wow that's awesome. That's a big milestone.
Stephen LaMarca: Wild. We're talking metal, additive parts. 150,000. Metal additive is still like, pretty smoking, not smoking mirrors. That's the wrong, it's still pretty advanced technology. It's still some exotic stuff going on with metal additive. But to have, dare I say, mass produced 150,000 metal additive parts. That's wild and the president of 3DEO, Matt Sand is on record quoted that their goal is to get not only into like the 1 million, but into the millions of parts by next year.
Benjamin Moses: That's awesome. That's great news.
Stephen LaMarca: Which is an awesome goal. I am pulling for them.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, absolutely. It's good to see that they're on a system where there's need for that, right. Someone asks for 100,000 parts and then pretty soon there will be a need for a million parts that-
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, there's definitely a need for it out there because the metal AM industry is 130 billion in the U.S. alone.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. So connecting it back to the New Era Assessment articles that they've been producing that part for about four years now. So I think you mentioned about since 2016 that they've been producing that profitably for past couple years. And I think that's really good, robust business sense that yeah. Anyone in manufacturing could produce one thing one time, but to produce it so the business stays intact for that long. I think that's really awesome. Great.
Stephen LaMarca: The English about that, the English, I think a lot of auto reporters and auto journalists have said that the English make the perfect cars.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: But if you ask them to make more than one of it.
Benjamin Moses: It's a problem.
Stephen LaMarca: They're going to sweat.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. I got an article here, it's a mix of technologies. So it's a research group that incorporate a computer vision into robotic prosthetics, but also they added uncertainty information to the artificial intelligence that the prosthetic is using to help actuate itself. So the underlying thing is that's great that they did the computer vision and the prosthetic, but what they're allowing the artificial intelligence model to do is if the clouds can't classify something, it takes a step back and asks the user for assistance. This has been a concern of mine for some time as a lot of the AI models that have been incorporated is if it doesn't know what to do, it classifies it into the wrong location. It doesn't put into an unknown area. And I think that's one thing that the data scientists use in the development of the algorithm. But once it's in a production mode, it's something that isn't missed. So in this case, the use case in this article is a robotic prosthetic with a vision system that's driving this behavior. The goal is to have this integration is to make the robotic prosthetic or exoskeleton walk safer and appear more natural to the user. So if this is traversing terrain and allows the user or the prosthetic to adjust itself, as it's moving up and down stairs or uneven terrain. So I've got a couple of quotes here from the researcher. So we came up with a better way to teach deep learning systems, how to evaluate and quantify uncertainty in a way that allows the system to incorporate uncertainty into its decision making. This is certainly relevant for robotic prosthetics ware, but our work here could be applied to any type of deep learning system. So it's looking ahead, if the person's walking, they incorporate [inaudible 00:17:21] say in a knee, right? They have a prosthetic and for a lower limb and is looking ahead, maybe looking at the sidewalk and it's helping the actuation of the system, tell me where it needs a step. If the degree of uncertainty is too high, the AI isn't forced to make a questionable decision. It could instead notify the user that it doesn't have enough confidence in its prediction to act, or it could create a default safe mode. I found this really interesting that, and the article came from Tech Explorer that it's incorporating the best of both worlds, right? The AI is doing 80% of the work, but in the few corner cases where it's like, "I don't know what to do. Let me just not make a bad decision here."It refers back to the human, which I've seen a couple of use cases actually. There was a use case that I've seen a couple of years ago where a robotic company was integrating, say a sorting of like, t-shirts. They had a bunch of tee shirts coming in there. The robotic arm with the vision system was sorting into the correct bins and-
Stephen LaMarca: [inaudible 00:18:28].
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, exactly. And anytime I ran into an issue, the system was monitored by a remote user where the remote user could tap in and say, "Yes, put this in a specific location. Or this is where it's supposed to belong. Or this is the classifier. This is a blue shirt. This is where it's supposed to go." The user stepped in and said, this is the information. And it took that information and put it back into the algorithm. So I find this a really interesting approach for implementing artificial intelligence into the production world to compliment human in their day to day activities.
Stephen LaMarca: Absolutely.
Benjamin Moses: Why don't we end with the article you got on 4-D printing.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay, man, I'm still thinking that's wild. I like that. 4-D printing. So I saw this article from Miragenews.com. They said lab makes 4-D printing more practical. And the first thing that I think most people are asking themselves, "Dude, what is 4-D printing? What's our fourth dimension? You know, you've got X, Y, Z, what's number four? And fortunately, to answer everybody's question, you can watch a video if you click on the link below, but they are basically doing regular 3-D printing with materials that like meta materials or smart materials that react to some sort of other input. So the video, it's like a minute and twenty second video that shows parts that were 3-D printed. They look like Palmer parts, but printed parts, but they react to either light sources and different light intensities, and changed shape based on the light they're exposed to or heating and cooling. So they're temperature and light reactive parts. And it made me kind of think that, Toyota's been doing this since the eighties with the Camry. People even around everywhere with the Toyota Camry is a dent and like the rear quarter of the car. Everybody's seen that YouTube video of you just take a pot of boiling water and you throw it on the big dent in the back of a plastic bumper. And it pops right out. It looks like nothing ever happened.
Benjamin Moses: Meta materials, man, been around since the 1980s on Camrys.
Stephen LaMarca: Toyota's man. Toyota's more advanced than people think.
Benjamin Moses: I'll tell you what. That was my first adventure as a transition from a young boy into a man, the drive around in a Camry, the oldest square Camry you could ever find. That was fun times.
Stephen LaMarca: Mandatory Camry deck, the options checked off when you leave the dealership.
Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. Awesome Steve, this is a great episode. Where can they find more information about us?
Stephen LaMarca: Easy. AMTnews.org/subscribe. That's where not only ... You could just go to AMTnews.org to get all of this information, including the podcast and the description of the podcast, which will have links to all of the articles we talked about, but AMTnews.org/subscribe, we'll allow our listeners to subscribe to all things AMT news-related including our weekly tech report.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome Steve. That was great.
Stephen LaMarca: Very well.
Benjamin Moses: Take care everyone.
Stephen LaMarca: Bye bye.