Planning & Strategy.
- Boston Dynamics finally has a commercial product, albeit one with decidedly opaque pricing. BD's "general guidance is that the total cost of the [Spot] early adopter program lease will be less than the price of a car - but how nice a car will depend on the number of Spots leased and how long the customer will be leasing the robot." Note that "the company is still 'in the early tens of [production quantity] robots.'"
- I *think* we all knew this (and intentionally looked the other way) at the time, but Tesla's SolarCity acquisition was pretty shady. Also, an NLRB judge ruled that Tesla & Musk broke the law in a couple of union-busting ways.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A nice little prototype of a wall-mounted carrier for cut tape SMT parts.
- A review site of quick-turn PCB manufacturers.
- ProvenCut is a company founded by John Saunders (of NYC CNC) which provides machining feed & speed recipes as a service. A clever idea, especially for small shops running relatively inexpensive equipment (Haas/Tormach) who don't have super stringent surface finish & efficiency requirements.
- On The Digital Factory podcast, a conversation about the sustainability (or lack thereof) of various 3D printing methods. I've long been suspicious of claims that digital (and distributed) manufacturing would actually lower environmental impact, and Faludi's work shows that, in many cases, the 3D printed part is significantly *less* sustainable than its conventional counterpart.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A 100 GB repository of recordings of malfunctioning industrial equipment. "This dataset is a sound dataset for malfunctioning industrial machine investigation and inspection...It contains the sounds generated from four types of industrial machines, i.e. valves, pumps, fans, and slide rails."
- A sea change in Chinese consumption of used goods: "Between 2014 and 2018, China’s secondhand market grew by more than 450%, to $100 billion...in key sectors Chinese are consuming less new stuff by volume thanks to rising prices. For example, the volume of clothing purchased between 2017 and 2018 declined by nearly 25%." Note, I started reading Adam's forthcoming book on secondhand goods last weekend and am *very* into it.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A 2005 column about FedEx's "just in case" fleet of Airbus A310s and the (ostensibly) resilient mid-aughts economy. At the time the fleet was made up of five jets (unclear if the quantity has changed, but the fleet now appears to be A300s and can be tracked today), and their job is to fly around the country - completely empty - and then divert to any FedEx hub which happens to be overbooked or experiencing a mechanical issue. "On a typical night, one of the five makes an unexpected stop to collect an overflow of packages, one lands to bail out a plane needing a repair, and three arrive in Memphis as empty as they were when they took off." Also, the idea of Alan Greenspan bumping into FedEx CEO Fred Smith at Redskins games is just too much.
- A nice, satisfying video of wind turbine components being packed onto a cargo ship.
- After a lot of bold rhetoric and a few tense moments, the US is set to *stay* in the United Postal Union under revised rules which allow, over a period of 5 years, for individual countries to set their own "terminal fees." In a week of... well, let's just call it interesting and troubling news re: the US's relationship with the rest of the world, this agreement strikes me as kind of a best possible outcome - and I dare say that Trump and Peter Navarro's bellicose approach (which I normally find unwise and unpleasant) seems to have been both warranted and effective here. For context on the UPU, I recommend this old Planet Money episode.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Photos of the tele-operated Tormach PCNC 770 at McMaster University, where radioactive parts (possibly including spent fuel rods) are machined for analysis. See also this video from the same facility, which shows other inspection equipment and remote manipulation of radioactive materials. On The Prepared's Slack instance (paid subscribers only), the chatter on this link was around a) how on earth you'd contain the radioactive dust/cuttings, and b) how you'd also need touch-less systems for replacing broken endmills, etc.
- Numina released their public API, which allows queries for street-level data like "how does building construction affect the percentage of pedestrians walking in the street?" This tool - the ability to extract and analyze data directly from the urban landscape - strikes me as totally essential for cities.
- At the SF Museum of Craft and Design, a cool looking exhibit on "a search for the ultimate machined object." I also recommend checking out the original 2009 PracticalMachinist thread on the subject, if only for a chance to revisit what I maintain was one of the most friendly and helpful web 2.0 communities.
- How paints mix. This article is way above my head, and "summarizes mathematical methods to characterize any palette of primary paints and decompose any digital color into an analog paint mix recipe, using Kubelka-Munk theory, Schmid color charts, and visible-light spectroscopy."
- A *very* good shell translator: Enter a bash command into the input box and syntactic element is explained. See also this .bashrc PS1 generator (from 2018-02-26), which creates the code that determines what your bash command prompt looks like.
- From worldislandinfo.com (I know, right??), a discovery: The new largest island on an island on an island in the world.
- Kenji Lopez-Alt cooks lots of boiled eggs; you should steam yours.
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