Kickstarter Progress Update #2

This post has been copied over from Kickstarter (
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sienci/longmill-benchtop-cnc-router/posts/2512625 )

T-shirts

T-shirts have been ordered from DNA Screen Printing situated about a block from our office. Shirts should be ready at the end of the month and will be shipped out as soon as they are done. If you haven’t completed your survey yet AND YOU ARE A BACKER WHO ORDERED A SHIRT, please do so.

Also, just out of curiosity, is anyone interested in buying shirts from us? Should we make that available?

New printers in the 3D printing farm

We’ve added a bunch of new printers to our farm! We’re in the progress of testing all of them and setting up them to print parts for the LongMill. We will be making a couple of mods to the printer this coming week to ensure that they provide the best quality prints. 

We’ve ordered new filament to be shipped to us (about 500 rolls of filament), but chances are it will take a few weeks to show up. In the meantime, we’ll be ordering filament from a local supplier to keep the print farm running.

Aluminum rails

Material for the rails have been ordered and should be at the manufacturer at the start of this week. From there it should be a few weeks to have them all cut, drilled, and tapped. 

Gantries

Design for the Z axis gantry has been tested in steel (versus aluminum like in our last test). Seems a bit more solid which is promising. We are making some small changes to the X and Y axis gantries before having them sent out to be made. I am hoping that the small set of test parts will be ready to pick up this coming week. 

One thing that needs to be considered is the coating method for the gantries. Because there is an interface between the aluminum and the Y axis that needs to have fairly high tolerances. Here are some options that we have:

1) Powder coating: this was our initial coating option and the process we’ve used for the Mill Ones. However, it was brought up that the thickness of the coating can vary, and thus creates some uncertainty on how well the aluminum will fit. We can of course, estimate the coating thickness and make the gap slightly wider to accommodate, but of course we want to have the fit to be as close as possible.

2) Black oxide: this is a new process that was recommended by one of our manufacturers. Essentially, it’s the process of adding a black oxide layer to the steel. Most of the bolts used for our machines go through this treatment actually. While this is a good process is good for tolerances since the coating thickness is very very small, the potential downside is that often times a oil or wax coating is added to the material which can leave residues. 

3) Bare steel: all of the beta LongMills do not have any coating on the steel. This of course is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest option, but is probably the less attractive looking. From using our machines, there hasn’t been any rust, but of course the bare steel does…just look like bare steel.

I think that we will try to account for the thickness of the gap in powder coating, since according to our manufacturer has a variation of less than 3 thousandths of an inch, which should be small enough to not make that big of a difference, but it would suck to make around 800 plates to have them not fit properly.

We could potentially do the X and Z axis plates first and powder coat them, and throw in a couple of test Y axis plates into that batch, which may add two to three weeks to our schedule.

Ordering parts from China

Almost all of the parts have gotten ordered from China, there are a few more things to be ordered. We expect everything to show up around mid to late June. Some of the things have been pre-packaged for us in China, making it a little easier to do final assembly.

Final thoughts

We’ve definitely have had to be much more careful in ordering parts and manufacturing especially at the volume we are building, and that has slowed down things a little bit. We of course want to make sure that things are built at the highest quality possible, and done right the first time. Luckily we haven’t hit any major snags besides trying to take things at a quick but careful pace.

I think that I was expecting to have had ordered most parts from China about a week or two ago, but it took a little longer from trying to vet the quality of the parts and get the right quantities ordered. I just wanted to mention this so that people can get an idea on where we are along in the original schedule.

The stuff made in Canada is pretty much on schedule still.

Anyways, happy making!

PS. If you know other people want to get a LongMill that missed out on the Kickstarter, we have a pre-order page on our website available here:  https://sienci.com/product/longmill/