2018-05-21 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • The government of Dubai claims that 25% of their buildings will be 3D printed (via concrete extrusion) by 2025. I will gladly bet against this. I'll also note that a trend toward more concrete construction may not be a good thing from a CO2 emissions standpoint; the global concrete industry is already one of the two largest producers of CO2. Worse yet, its CO2 emissions would only be partly mitigated by a shift to renewable energy, as half of them are a direct result of the chemical process of making cement. Note further that desert sand is typically unsuitable for concrete construction (the UAE imported $456MM worth of sand, rock, and gravel in 2014), meaning that Dubai's concrete would have additional logistics costs & embodied energy as well. In short, Dubai's plans would replace some amount of construction labor (Dubai's strategy site claims that "3D printing technology will cut construction costs by between 50% and 70%, and cut labour costs by 50% to 80%;" I don't buy it) and replace it with CO2 emissions and shipping, and in the end deliver a building that lacks all of the modularity and flexibility that steel and wood offer.
  • The SEC created a fake ICO site to help teach the public about ICO scams.
  • The driver who slammed into a parked fire truck at 60 mph in her Tesla Model S says that autopilot was on at the time.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • Eric Lundgren, whose company IT Asset Partners processes 41 million pounds of e-waste a year and built a little business selling system restore disks for old Windows systems, lost an appeal and must serve 15 months in prison.
  • Yesterday I spent an hour disassembling my laptop and replacing its integrated bottom-cover-and-multi-pouch-battery. I could have had the manufacturer replace it for $200, but instead bought a replacement for under a hundred and used iFixit's excellent toolkit & instructions to repair it myself. So, an endorsement: to saving a hundred bucks and getting to see the inside of your computer in the process :)

Distribution & Logistics.

  • A few weeks back I asked: "Will global shipping capacity increase more or less than global GDP over the next ten years?" The overwhelming response, by a factor of 10, was "more."

     A popular thread had to do with increasing prosperity in developing areas. As Doug noted, "As economies in Africa and underdeveloped parts of Asia mature, the critical mass of manufacturing sophistication in these regions will not increase as rapidly as consumers' means and desires."

    Wil also noted that "GDP and freight aren’t perfect ties, and more than 1% freight growth is required to generate 1% GDP because not all freight is positive (returns) or fully utilized (empty containers)."

     However, a few folks (Andre, Jon) pointed out that a better metric for my real question - whether distributed manufacturing really is a thing - would be measuring the number of product-miles traveled, or perhaps some derivative thereof. If anyone knows of an easy metric that would track this, let me know!
  • A train in Japan departed the station 25 seconds early.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


Inspecting gas mains with robots.

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