2021-01-25 4 min read


Notes, 2021-01-25.

I’m generally pretty skeptical of social media as a tool for good, but I've come to appreciate the way it holds me accountable to self-set goals. I’ve created some type of art and shared it online each week for over a year, and I find the regularity of doing so to be motivating and satisfying as I see myself slowly improve. One major lesson I’ve learned is the importance of occasionally backing away from any sort of creative work and reapproaching it with fresh eyes. After getting lost in the details for a while, stepping away - even for a minute - allows you to return with a fresh perspective that often leads you down a better path.

-Eric Weinhoffer

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~22% of opens) was on Disney's "go away green" paint color. This week in the 2021 Adhesive Cup we have painters tape vs. washi tape, duct tape vs. spray adhesive, and (the top seed) VHB tape vs. cryogenic epoxy.

Planning & Strategy.

  • I admire creators who use technology in fascinating ways that it wasn’t originally developed for. Artist Sougwen Chung customizes robot arms to learn her visual language and collaborate with her as she paints.
  • Protolabs has acquired 3D Hubs, consolidating the world of quick-turn manufacturing. These companies were on very different paths originally, so it’s interesting to see them come together. 3D Hubs, essentially a software company, started as a marketplace for hobby-scale fabrication and evolved into something of a fabless job shop. Meanwhile Protolabs, a manufacturing company at heart, fabricates everything themselves while developing their own software for automated quoting and fabrication. Going through the quoting process with each makes these focuses abundantly clear. Since the announcement makes it sound like their services will remain separate for now, I hope both will improve from the other: Protolabs improving their customer-facing software and 3D Hubs improving their design analysis and feedback tools.
  • I’ve long considered getting a Ham radio license, with emergency communication as a motivating factor. Michal Zalewski, author of a few fantastic online guides (machining fans will love this one), recently published a succinct two-way radio guide that covers key questions like “will they help me much?” and “do you really need a license?”
  • Imperial College London researchers are using drones to fire sensor-filled projectiles into trees for data collection. I love seeing creative uses of drones like this. Who would’ve thought that sticking sensors in trees was a problem that they could help solve?

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

  • Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit successfully reached orbit and deployed 10 cubesats with their air-launched LauncherOne vehicle. The recap video has an awesome shot of the vehicle dropping away from the 747 and igniting (around the 1 minute mark). Branson has now founded two companies that have reached orbit separately.
  • Data scientist Youyang Gu, who created one of the first accurate models of Covid 19 predictions, writes a compelling argument about how the US will hit herd immunity this summer through a mix of vaccine administration and natural infections.
  • Record-breaking consumer demand and labor shortages mean there are a lot of container ships waiting to dock off the coast of LA. The article is already over a week old, but I’m thankful it led to my discovery of a daily PDF report published by the Port of LA about their current traffic. Also on the rise as container shipping costs rise: Break bulk cargo 🤯.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


The Soviet Ekranoplan, a nuclear-capable “ground effect” vehicle, photographed from the inside.

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