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April 2023 Production Updates

April fools

LongMill MK2

LongMills continue to ship out as usual. We received another batch of controllers after being out for another few days.

Batch 9 production continues and we continue to focus on getting some of the new things such as:

  • Spring-loaded anti-backlash nut
  • Injection molded feet
  • SuperLongboard

This also includes existing changes and improvements that already exist on the LongMills that are currently shipping.

  • Motor to leadscrew couplers using M5 hardware
  • New ACME locking nuts

To reflect the changes to the LongMill MK2, we will be calling this update the LongMill MK2.5.

We are expecting Batch 9 to start in June. At this point, we will increase pricing for the LongMill MK2 to the MK2.5 to reflect the addition of primarily the SuperLongBoard and other additions. Pricing for this new version is to increase by $150CAD/$110USD approximately.

LaserBeam and Vortex

LaserBeam and Vortex orders are shipping out as usual within a few days.

Ikenna and Abeku have been working on a magnetic mounting system for the LaserBeam to allow for faster and easier mounting and dismounting of the laser, and folks should expect more information to come out soon near the end of April. They also let me know that while the mount is suitable for the LongMill, they are continuing to work to improve the stability of the mount to work with AltMill and higher speeds.

The magnetic mounting system should work on all mounts either on the right or left side, or just on the front, depending on the version. More info to come soon.

Prototype magnetic mount


The AltMill can now be ordered on the AltMill product page.

Check out the Launch live stream below:

A couple of things going on with production:

  • Due a random failure with one of the closed-loop steppers used in testing, we have started testing motors from 4 different companies to nail down the highest quality motor for the AltMill and ensure that we can understand the reasons for the motor to stop working.
  • The gantries for the AltMill are done and have gone through an anodization process to make them black. This should improve the aesthetics of the machine and make it look more polished
  • We are testing and manufacturing the dust covers for the linear guides on the Y-axis. Based on our testing results, this may become a standard included part of the AltMill
  • We are working on testing a 4KW spindle to push the limits of the AltMill
  • Testing on the relay and power distribution control board are being tested now. This control board allows us to distribute power from the power supply to the motors and kill power in an emergency setting, improving the machine’s safety

Additional parts for the first 50 AltMills are expected to arrive mid-April and we will start assembly as soon as they arrive.

Test fit of new gantries

Sienci Router

The Sienci Router project continues to move along. We have now received two controller boards, but have not been satisfied by the level of speed response we’ve gotten. For a bit of context, traditional motors will slow down when under load. In the case for CNC milling, we don’t want our router or spindle speed to go down, as it increases the chipload. If an end mill rotates at a set speed, each rotation takes a certain amount of cut per pass. If the end mill rotates slower, then each cut has to remove a large amount of material, which can overload the bit and cause a crash.

With the first two boards, because the motor slows down too much under load, it would not be optimal for CNC. We believe that there were some communication issues and misunderstandings with the motor manufacturer for this requirement, and so after a lot of back and forth and some group testing on a video call, we were able to sort everything out and are expecting to test the third version soon.

What is exciting is that the manufacturer has been able to get a response time of around 40ms, which is faster than the original Makita RT0701 and its brushless motor counterpart. Although in practice, this probably won’t make too much of a difference since users are not likely to load their motors to the extent we had in testing, this in theory means that the cutting speeds and loads will stay more consistent.

There are still some details to iron out for the motor, however, primarily in the additional tuning of the motor.

We’ve started doing some testing of loading the motor a certain amount and releasing the load quickly. You can see there is an initial amount of time where the motor slows down at first, and then when the load is released, it speeds up for a moment before returning to its original speed. The main reason we suspect this is happening is because the tuning of the motor was originally done using a motor without the larger shaft holding the collet. Because the final assembly of the router has more inertia, the tuning of the motor is not correct.

To fix this issue, we’ve sent one of our prototypes to the manufacturer to do additional tuning to reduce this variation.

We believe that there may be some limitations in the technology on how quickly the motor can react to changes in load, and so we are exploring other methods such as using an encoder or speed sensor in line with the motor. However, we do believe that with proper tuning, the motor will be able to perform within the scope of this project.

In the meantime, our co-op students are building a bit of a makeshift dyno to test the routers and spindles.

Dyno project
RPM logging


Check out the completed SLB box, which will be the ones reaching the first 475 users soon! We have received our first batch of SLBs and are prepping them for shipping.

Due to some delays on the die for the box and the e-stop PCBs, there may be a few days we are waiting next week, but we are working on shipping the first 100 SLB before the end of the week if possible.

Testing jig for SLB

CO2 Laser

I’m excited to have witnessed the first firing and testing of the CO2 Laser currently in development. Ikenna will be making an update post soon so keep an eye out for that!

First burn tests and focusing on the UltraBeam