Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3D Printer Update March

Production here got a little behind schedule the last few weeks.

I planned on 2 weeks to get this thing out. However my engineer had other ideas.  What was supposed to be some minor changes turned into 96 billable hours of engineering time.

A couple mods meant that a couple parts I had in stock will not work, so I have to order from China.

Another engineer I collaborate with, was going to Shanghai last week to buy parts... coincidently the very parts I use anyways. So I hurriedly emailed a shopping list to him.

We had some debate whether to build one printer and then ten or 11 at once.  The build one and then ten 3D printers won out the day.

I am having a hell of a time getting machining work done lately.  Had my usual shop (over priced) turn down the order after sitting on it for awhile.  I was asking for a discount cause they charged me $50 for a part that China makes for $15.  

Not to mention the China shop is more modern, cleaner and their employees actually wear shoes.  I have a hard time paying premium prices to a guy who does not wear shoes while working in a machine shop.  Sandals are not shoes.

However I really do not like buying from China any more than I have to, so I put put the call in social media looking for a machinist. Found one yesterday. A 2 man CNC shop running from his house in the Philippines. Apparently we have a lot of mutual friends in the knife, and shooting world.

The heated print beds are in.  I ditched the REPRAP standard and what everyone else uses, going with an industrial heater instead.  500 watts of power at 220 and 250 at 110.  All my machines are dual voltage.

Tomorrow the first batch of frames and parts arrive from laser and water jet. Then I run some water jet parts down to the machinist for finishing.

I rough cut some parts on water jet first before machining to save time and money.  

I have one of the prototype machines going out to customer Monday.  It was a pretty messed up deal there.  I had a partner last year, he took the order, never filled the order and declared it was not his problem.  

We kicked out the partner, and basically had to re-start from the very beginning with R&D.  We lost a boatload of cash with that guy last year.  

The prototype machine is pretty much identical to the production machine except where the electronics are placed and no LCD screen.  It has been run maybe 15 hours of testing time.  

All my printers are run thru their paces before going out with at least 10 hours printing.

I am working on the color scheme this week.  This is pretty close to what it will be. Some of the gantry parts will be black color as well.  I am unable to get the print bed made with the pretty lettering right now.  I will have to wait until I get a CNC router of my own in.

I was going to powder cost and laser it, but turns out powder coating will not last long at the print bed temps.

Regarding build area I'm pushing 14x16 inches on the X,Y axis and 12 on he Z axis.

It is turning into a beast of a machine.

We will be doing a live webcast with the product announcement as soon as it is done.


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