Kickstarter Progress Update #5 and #6

I forgot to post up the new updates on the blog. Here they are. You can find the latest updates on Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sienci/longmill-benchtop-cnc-router/updates

Progress Update #5

We have a lot of news, a lot of updating to do! 

I will cover some of the details on how production is going for the LongMill. A lot of stuff here is an update on some things in progress from the last update.

Gantry plates

I’m happy to say that the first batch of the gantry plates have come in. We haven’t gotten around to checking them thoroughly yet, but we will do that in the next few days and start to pack them up. As so far as I can tell, they look great!

The remaining plates will be completed next week and will be sent in to be powder coated.

Stacking the first batch of plates in storage
Stacking the first batch of plates in storage
After gantry plates are loaded into the trunk, the car drops down by 6 inches
After gantry plates are loaded into the trunk, the car drops down by 6 inches

NEMA 23 stepper motors

Manufacturing for all of the stepper motors finished on Monday and are being prepared for shipping! Our plan is to ship part of the batch of around 400 motors through express shipping (1-2 weeks) so that we can pack and ship them immediately, and the remaining 1200 motors by boat (4 weeks) so that they will come in when by the time we get through to ship the first 100 machines. 

We have done extensive testing on these motors, and we are really happy to say that the quality of these motors and the performance we’ve been getting has surpassed the motors used on the beta testing machines. Not only do they provide more torque, they run cooler (after around 16 hours of running at full power, around 47-50 degrees for the new motors versus around 75 degrees on the old motors. We are using a new supplier that provides higher quality motors.

Power supplies

Testing is complete with the new sample power supply. We ran tests on it alongside our new board for 22 hours straight, as well as over the last two weeks on our LongMill. I am happy to say that the power supply has been working fantastic (running at around 39 to 42 degrees) and as so far, no issues. 

The power supplies have been ordered and should also arrive in a few weeks. We will continue to use the power supply to see if there is any other issues that crop up.

Control electronics

We have assembled our prototype CNC control board and have been putting it through rigorous testing. This includes running the board at full tilt overnight as well as using it on our LongMill for testing and cutting. The board has been working reliability with no issues so far.

The drivers that integrate with the board are expected to arrive on Thursday. We will make one final test prototype with some improvements that will improve safety, ease of use, and reliability before making the full batch. 

After hours of real world use
After hours of real world use

Packing progress

So…much…packing

We’ve been packing things as they have been trickling in. Some items include:

– Couplers

– Router mounts

– Aluminum standoffs

– Aluminum rails

and everything else that has been coming in.

We are trying to pack everything as soon as they come in and put them in storage so that they are ready to go ASAP once we have everything arrive.

If you’re in the KW area and want to come pack for us as well (during office hours 10AM to 5/6PM), send us an email at hi@sienci.com.

Rails in the process of getting packed
Rails in the process of getting packed
Wrapping and labeling aluminum router mounts
Wrapping and labeling aluminum router mounts

End Mills 

We also got in all of the end mills that are supposed to come with the Kickstarter LongMills. 

This includes: 

– Single flute 1/8 aluminum cutting end mills

– 1/4 inch upcut and downcut bits

– 1/8 flat and ball end mills

There are extra that we will put on the store so that people can order more if they want/need and we will provide a coupon code so that we will ship those items alongside the LongMills for free.

Documentation

We are slowly starting to work on documentation. That means everything from unboxing, assembly, to running your first job. This will be on our website, but we are still working on it. It will be in a similar format to the Mill One resources

One thing that we’ve been getting a lot of questions about is for the table design. Chris made a document to help people set up their table, which you can find here:  https://sienci.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Guide-Document-LongMill-Table-Preparation_Version-1.pdf 

Please note that these dimensions may change by a bit, and I would recommend waiting until the final CAD has been released (when machines start to ship) before building things for the machine if they rely on exact dimensions.

Wrapping up the update

Stay tuned for the next update and thanks for following along! Although we are a few weeks behind, thankfully things are moving along and we are still sticking to the plan. 

Thank you everyone for their patience and support, until next time.

Progress Update #6

Hi everyone! We are slowly reaching the final stages of our production, and we are working on the remaining details for the LongMill.

Here are the last remaining things that we are working on:

  • Finalizing the details and design of the LongMill shield before manufacturing. 
  • Complete packing for many of the parts
  • Continue 3D printing parts
  • Finalize the design of the dust shoe

Below are more details.

LongMill electronics

We have done extensive testing on the new electronics. We will call it the “LongBoard” for now. I don’t have a better name for it yet. It appears all of the functionality is working well. 

Before we go ahead with final production of the boards, we have made some small changes that improve the safety and reliability of the boards. The prototype boards are complete but we are still waiting on some of the components to come in to complete the board for final testing.

Packaging

We are going strong on the packaging, with two people working full time on all of the packaging, we will be implementing a second evening shift to increase our packing speed. We already have been working on packing all of the rails, gantries, fasteners, and other hardware. This week we should be seeing the remainder of the hardware such the lead screws, delrin v wheels, linear guides, and bearings. 

3D printing

We’ve put 3D printing on hold for about a week and a half since we have run out of filament. Our new batch of around 500kg is estimated to arrive in the next few days. We will continue to print components for the LongMill on an ongoing basis as we pack and ship units.

Dust shoe

We are making some changes to the dust shoe design to improve the performance and ease of use. We have found that prolonged use and vibration can cause the dust shoe to unclip from the front. The new design is significantly more robust and provides more flexibility on the Z axis to adjust the height of the shoe. We should be able to finalize the design this week and start working on printing the shoes for shipping.

————-

Some other news

New touch plate design

We felt like we could make a better touch plate so we did. Backers who placed an order for the touch plate will get the new and improved touch plate. 

This touch plate not only lets you find the Z height, but also find the corner of your part.

Here’s a video of the prototype.

 project video thumbnail

Design files

I feel like this is a good time as ever to make the design files public. You can find them here:  https://sienci.com/docs/longmill-benchtop-cnc/open-source/ 

Please note:

  • The only full complete assembly that reflects the final production machine is the one that is in the root directory (the 30×30). The full complete assembly of the 12×30 and 12×12 have not had a full assembly complete yet.
  • The parts and design files are a bit messy. Please use them at your own risk. They will be cleaned up and better documented over the next few weeks.
  • Some of the components may go through some iterations over time. 
  • The link to the open source documents may change.

If you have any questions about the design please hold them for now. We’ll be happy to answer any questions once the design files are complete complete once we start shipping.

Moving?

To add to the fray, we’ve been caught in the middle of a renovation project by the City of Kitchener to demolish our office space at 44 Gaukel to rebuild new offices on the first floor. Our current plan for moving is to go to the upstairs of the building. Moving is of course somewhat inconvenient, especially at this time.

We would still be able to keep the storage and packing space in the back of the building, but in the next couple weeks we will have to figure out where the future home will be for Sienci Labs.

For the time being, the Accelerator Centre and the City have agreed to help us coordinate and assist in the move. Chances are we will temporarily move our operations upstairs before finding a new, more permanent home for the company.

As we continue to move forward, we expect that the company to grow and expand, and that means having a space to house everyone. We’ve gone to a team of 2 to a team of 8 already, and our space is slowing becoming more and more cramped.

Stay tuned for more details!

Again, wrapping up this update.

This feels like a bit of a shorter update. Now that a lot of the leg work has been done, we’ve got a lot of tiny little things to sort out. Thank you to everyone for their support again, and I was very thankful for everyone who’ve been showing their support and excitement online and through messages. It’s also been pretty cool to meet a lot of excited backers who have been dropping by our office. 

Until next time.