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December 2022 Production Updates

Hey everyone, here are the production updates for Dec 2022.

For all news and updates, please see our Blog.

Just as a reminder, if you’d like to get these updates as a weekly email newsletter, please subscribe here: https://sienci.us13.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=720f140325aaa668a8aa09916&id=e18d59a085

LongMill users on a map!

Using a new feature in our e-commerce sales tracking software, we can now look at all of our customers on a heatmap!

Here are some cool facts:

  • We have customers in 59 countries, including Aruba, the Faroe Islands, and Oman!
  • The United States represents our largest demographic, followed by Canada. We have customers in all 50 States!
  • We estimate that we have about 5000-6000 LongMill users in total!

LongMill and Extension Kit Orders

Last month we slowed down shipping due to a shortage of lead screws and linear guides. I’m happy to say that our new batch was expedited (at no small cost) and we are currently working to get through the current backlog. Although we expect to get through most of the backlog next week, we are currently keeping our 3-4 week lead time for the time being. Once the backlog is cleared orders should ship within 1-2 weeks. We will have an updated lead time once we have gone through initial quality checks today and early next week for the new batch of parts.

Batch 6, which consists of 1500 machines, is officially complete! New orders are now part of Batch 7. For changes and improvements we’ve made through Batch 6, check out the write-up from the last production update. Batch 7 consists of another 1500 LongMills.

Recently we had a few issues with bent lead screws. We’re currently working on testing all of them before shipping to make sure they are straight and don’t cause binding issues. Here we’re using an optical comparator to check how much deviation each screw has.

LaserBeam Orders

Orders for LaserBeams continue to ship as usual with fairly short lead times. Although we have stock, we are currently working on adding another 500 units to inventory.

End-of-Year Holidays

As we typically do, we are on closing for holidays from Dec 23rd to Jan 2nd. If you have any questions or need anything shipped out, please reach out to us before the 23rd. There may be some of us providing limited holiday support and getting ready for the new year, but the large majority of us will be on holiday.

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December 2 – December 9, 2022 “A Project That You Learned Something From Making It” Contest

Good Friday afternoon, everyone! Thank you to all the makers who entered the contest for this week. We loved seeing all of your furniture projects made with the help of your LongMill. It was hard for us to choose our favourite ones since all were perfect. These fantastic projects prove that the possibilities of creating are endless with a LongMill. It is always a pleasure to see projects shared within our community of creators.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Patrick Baerts, Ian Fraser, Modern Memories LLC, Justin Currie, Kevin Waddell, and Matt McMullen are the winners of the “A Project That is a Furniture Item” contest! Watch out for an amazing prize coming your way!


This Week’s Theme: A Project That You Learned Something From Making It

This week’s theme is a little different, but very interesting. We want you all to share a project that you have learned something from using your LongMill to make it. All you have to do is post your project and within the caption, share with us what you learned from doing it. We’ll choose our favourite projects and send awesome prizes to the creators.

Happy crafting!

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Updated Feeds and Speeds Resources and Tool Libraries for Fusion 360 and Vectric Software

Happy Monday folks. Over the last couple of weeks, our engineering team has been working on creating a standardized testing method and recording values to provide recommended feeds and speeds for a large number of end mills that we provide in our store.

Check out our resources page (https://resources.sienci.com/view/lmk2-feeds-and-speeds/) where you can find downloadable PDF guides for feeds and speeds and tool databases for Vectric and Fusion 360 software.

Our updated resources also provide additional learning and theory in choosing feeds and speeds, so make sure to take a look through!

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November 25 – December 2, 2022 “A Project That is a Furniture Item” Contest

Happy Friday, everyone! We want to give our utmost thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s contest. We had an immense amount of signs and clocks project submissions this week that made it by far the most difficult for us to choose our favourite ones since all signs and clocks projects were so cool and unique. It is always such a joy seeing all the projects shared within our community of creators.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Steven Parks, Kyle Black, Brad Olmstead, Daniel Kerr, Rick Gauthier, and Jim Baker are the winners of the “A Project That Is a Sign or Clock” contest! A prize is coming your way!


This Week’s Theme: A Project That is a Furniture Item

The theme of the week is “projects that are furniture”. Share with us your tables, chairs, cabinets, desks, beds, and other furniture-related projects that were made using the LongMill, and we will reward the ones we liked best with great prizes.

Happy making!

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November 18 – November 25, 2022 “A Project That Is a Sign or Clock” Contest

Good afternoon, everyone. We want to give a huge thanks to all makers who entered the contest for this week. We saw plenty of GOURDgeous autumn/thanksgiving themed projects made by all of you awesome creators. Thank you all for celebrating American Thanksgiving with our with us. It is such a pleasure seeing all the projects shared within our community of creators.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Jay Smith, Derek Carriere, Mark Van Hooren, Nick Nalbone, Steve Goodrich, and Nathan Weaver are the winners of the “A Project That is Autumn/Thanksgiving Themed” contest! Watch out for a prize coming your way!


This Week’s Theme: A Project That Is a Sign or Clock

This week’s theme is “projects that are signs or clocks”. Post your most creative signs/clocks projects that were made using your LongMill and share them with us for a chance to be one of the winners of this week’s contest and win free prizes!

Happy creating everyone! 

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General Tips on LongMill Troubleshooting

Hey everyone, it’s Andy here. Over the past few years, we’ve welcomed many thousands of CNC users into our community. Of course, with any electro-mechanical machine, some degree of troubleshooting is to be expected.

For the first year and a half since the launch of the LongMill, I had taken on the large majority of troubleshooting from customers directly through email. This was an excellent experience for me as it opened my eyes to observe almost all of the issues that were possible, as well as giving me the chance to learn and communicate with customers better. Even to this day, I am regularly checking on customer tickets and working with our support team to tackle new or more complicated support issues, although it’s typically no longer my day-to-day role.

What has been interesting to see over this period of time has been not just how we collect data and information about issues over time, but also our understanding of the human nature of users when it comes to identifying and troubleshooting issues.

One of the things we’ve come to recognize is that there are a number of misconceptions to address in terms of troubleshooting the LongMill. This article covers some of my personal recommendations for helping you troubleshoot issues on your LongMill.

Our custom dashboard tracking what types of tickets we receive and the frequency of certain issues

Tip 1: Listen and look at your machine carefully

Simply listening and looking at what your machine is doing can help a lot in identifying problems. Is the machine making a weird sound? Do you hear the motors stalling? Is the machine stopping and starting irregularly? Is there a component that is slipping? Making a close observation can help identify the cause of an issue.

It’s important to note that the large majority of issues for the LongMill are mechanical. This means that for most issues, you can physically, hear, or feel issues. A few extra tips for this tip:

  • Jog your machine manually on each axis and check for smooth motion. I recommend running at the highest speed for each axis as stalling is more likely at higher speeds
  • Run your project in the air. Look for any irregularities and odd behavior.
  • Try turning lead screws and moving your gantries by hand. This can help identify looseness or binding.

Tip 2: Most issues are simple issues

The large majority of issues are caused by something simple. Always start with simple fixes first before trying something more drastic. This will save you time and give you statistically the best chance in fixing your issue.

99% of issues that our users have can be found in the Common Issues and Fixes section of our resources. I encourage everyone to read through it carefully as it covers everything that we know that may help you solve your issues. This section is updated regularly with new issues and fixes when they are found.

From my experience, users often have a tendency to jump to the conclusion that if they run into an issue, it’s a rare, complicated, or unknown issue. Sort of like being a…LongMill hypochondriac? This means that many people try to troubleshoot their issues in the wrong place and become frustrated with the machine, rather than checking the most simple reasons for issues. For example, you’d be surprised at how many people reach out to us because their machine won’t work at all because they just never turned on the machine in the first place.

Tip 3: Mechanical and electrical issues happen randomly. Software issues happen exactly the same way over and over again.

The main differentiator between a mechanical and electrical issue versus a software issue is that mechanical and electrical issues seemly happen at random and software issues happen the same way over and over again.

While mechanical and electrical issues can be caused over time by loose fasteners and connectors, wear and tear, and power fluctuations which can happen seemly randomly, software works in a series of exact pieces of code that is rigidly defined. While double-checking firmware settings and reinstalling gSender can help eliminate those as being the issue, if your issue seems random, it’s more likely to be a mechanical issue and updating or reinstalling gSender will not help.

I sometimes joke to Chris that many users use gSender as a scapegoat, as many pin their issues on gSender when they aren’t sure what’s going on. I suspect it’s because its easy to blame something that people don’t feel as comfortable with (aka the software). Sometimes it feels like gSender is messing something up randomly, however, the reality is that the vast majority of issues come from something mechanical.

If you are running into issues with gSender, additional help and documentation can be found here: https://resources.sienci.com/view/gs-feedback/.

Tip 4: Static and EMF cannot cause a machine to lose steps

It is a common misconception that static and EMF can cause a machine to stall or lose steps. The main symptom of static and EMF is a complete disconnect between your machine and CNC. Issues caused by static and EMF will likely cause your machine to disconnect or stop completely. Additionally to note, due to the high draw of tools such as routers and dust collectors, its easy to mistake brown-outs for static and EMF, even though they are completely separate problems.

If your machine is losing position or steps randomly, it’s best to check out the mechanics of the machine first, as static and EMF does not cause the machine to lose its position. Use the process of elimination by turning on and off different tools and dust collectors in your shop while running your machine to identify the culprit.

Tip 5: Let us help you

Don’t forget that our technical support team is here to help answer any questions and help tackle technical issues. Sending us a message with detailed information, videos, and photos of your issue through our Contact Us page.

When you send a ticket, you’re talking to:

  • One of our team members or engineers who designed a certain part of the machine
  • Someone with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of CNC experience
  • The whole technical support team, as tickets and information can be shared between all members

We also use tickets to collect data and improve the quality of our products and make adjustments to our resources.

Reaching out directly to our technical support team is typically the fastest and most reliable way to solve technical issues.

A note from Jason Kent, our Customer Support Manager

Provide as much information as possible. Information such as recent changes or updates made to the machine or software is useful to include.  When reaching out for customer support, please add images or videos relevant to the issue. While family photos are cute, images of the issue help us to diagnose your problem faster.

TLDR:

Tip 1) Observe the mechanics of your machine carefully, such as the sound and the movement, as mechanical issues are the most common in LongMills.

Tip 2) It’s statistically more likely that an issue is caused by something simple. Always troubleshoot by checking basic things first. Troubleshooting guides in our Resources contain fixes for 99% of issues around the LongMill and are regularly updated.

Tip 3) Understand that if the problem happens randomly, it’s most likely a mechanical or electrical issue. Software does not cause random problems.

Tip 4) Static and EMF does not cause stalling or missing steps. Static and EMF causes the machine disconnects or to stop completely.

Tip 5) Don’t forget to reach out to us directly! We can help too!

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Sienci Labs Shop Tour 2022

Can you believe it’s been just over two years since we did our last shop tour? Since then we’ve expanded our shop and our team in leaps and bounds. Join me and Chris in our shop tour where we show you where we make our LongMills and other things at Sienci Labs!

Want to see our shop tour from 2020? Check it out below:

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November 11 – November 18, 2022 “A Project That is Autumn/Thanksgiving Themed” Contest

Sienci Labs would like to wish everyone a happy Remembrance Day (also known as Veterans Day). We want to appreciate and remember all our national heroes who fought for us on this day of celebration. Let’s come together to remember and honour those who have fallen.


Hey everyone. Thank you to the makers who participated in the contest for this week. We loved seeing all the laser projects and are glad you enjoy using your LaserBeam Laser System to create such unique projects. It is always a pleasure to see projects shared within our community of creators.


Last Week’s Winner

We are happy to announce that Jim Long, John Fischer, Koala Karvings, Mark Klement, Little Owl Craft Co, and Andrew Shortt are the winners of the “A Project That Uses the LaserBeam” contest! A prize is coming your way!


This Week’s Theme: A Project That is Autumn/Thanksgiving Themed

We want to wish our American neighbours a Happy Thanksgiving and are bringing back our Autumn/Thanksgiving theme this week to celebrate with them! Help us celebrate by sharing with us all of your amazing Autumn/Thanksgiving-inspired projects made on your LongMill. We’ll select our favourite ones to send cool stuff to.

Happy making everyone!

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November 4 – November 11, 2022 “A Project That Uses the LaserBeam” Contest

Happy Friday, everyone! We want to thank all who participated in the contest this week. We understand that this theme was a little harder than the others. Nonetheless, we’re proud of the outstanding workshop projects we’ve seen in our community of creators. We always look forward to seeing the projects shared within the community.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Jeff Richardson, Pop Culture Woodworking, Michael Trickey, Claude Knapp, Gary Bork, and Terry Babij are the winners of the “An Item That is Used for Your Workshop” contest! Watch out for a prize coming your way!


This Week’s Theme: A Project That Uses the LaserBeam

We have seen many of you enjoy using the LaserBeam. Now is your chance to win some free stuff with your LaserBeam project. Show off your best LaserBeam projects with us, and we will send makers of the ones we like awesome prizes!

Happy crafting!

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November 2022 Production Updates

Hey everyone, here is our Nov 2022 Production Updates.

I’m actually writing this update at the end of October since I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks, but this should lay out everything we’re working through this month. I’ll be in touch with the team on and off during this time, but figured I’d get this update ready to go.

For all news and updates, please see our Blog.

Just as a reminder, if you’d like to get these updates as a weekly email newsletter, please subscribe here: https://sienci.us13.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=720f140325aaa668a8aa09916&id=e18d59a085

Louis is back

After a 10-month hiatus, Louis, our CEO has returned from vacation.

LongMill MK2 and Extension Kit Orders

Production continues to move smoothly for all LongMill and Extension Kit orders. We paused production for about a week while we restocked on lead screws, but we have received the new batch and will continue to have machines go out the door at our regular pace. We’ve also restocked on a new batch of front and back steel feet, gantries, and rails. Lead times for this month should be around 1-2 weeks for most machines.

Batch 6 is nearly over with just over 100 machines left for this batch. Batch 7 will have essentially no differences since most improvements have been made gradually throughout Batch 6. Some of the improvements include:

  • Higher grade washers to prevent bending of the washers used with eccentric nuts
  • Custom machined v-wheels to higher tolerances
  • Additional QA processes including checking variance and tolerances throughout all of our aluminum extrusions

Additionally, we’ve implemented some process changes in the office such as:

  • Kanban for 3D printed parts and some assembled parts
  • Torque settable electric screwdrivers for XZ gantry assemblies to ensure all screws are tight before shipping
  • Specialized measuring tools for checking fit and tolerances
  • Additional foam padding in packaging to reduce denting and scratching
  • SOPs on tablets and QA databases
  • Version tracking for all variations of parts
  • New MRP systems to help keep track of inventory

Our operations team and our staff have generally noted that Batch 6 has been the smoothest batch we’ve had so far with minor issues (except maybe the big one at the start of 2022). We expect Batch 7 to be even better.

Currently, we are looking at seeing ourselves run low in the next few weeks on linear guides and a few small sets of hardware, but are expected to restock in mid-to-late November.

LaserBeam Orders

We are currently stocked on LaserBeams and most orders are going out within a few days. We are also expecting to complete the first batch of roughly 1000 units as well near the end of the year.

Black Friday Sales

As of this time, we do not have any sales planned for Black Friday. We simply believe that providing the same reasonable prices for our products at any time of the year is the best way to run our business. If you’re looking to get into CNCing, we recommend customers order their machines whenever they are ready. We suspect that most customers will find our pricing quite reasonable even when other companies are selling theirs at a discount.

We have never had a discount (with the exception of the Kickstarter campaign) on the LongMill since its release.

At the end of the day, we want people to have confidence that they are getting the best deal on their purchase no matter when they place their order, and we also want to focus more of our time on important stuff like designing machines and growing our community over focusing on selling more stuff.

Just a reminder for everyone to be nice

Something that I am continually grateful for is our active, healthy, and supportive community. We now have nearly 10,000 users across our platforms today from over 30 countries. For all of our amazing community members, thank you for being part of what we are today.

Based on feedback from our support staff and other members of our team, as hobby CNCing becomes more popular and prevalent in our society, expectations and demographics continue to change as well, introducing a wider audience beyond our early group of adopters. Over time, our groups have become more diverse demographically and what people are using their CNC machines for, which is amazing.

It should be noted that although we don’t personally post publically that often, many of us at the company personally stay active on the groups and read most of the posts that you make. I make it a habit to check the forums and Facebook group at least once or twice a day to see how things look in the community and see what’s new, even though it’s rare for me to post or comment in general.

But of course, with every large group, there can be some negativity. We welcome complaints and criticism, whether posted online or directed to us privately, we use these messages to make improvements to what we do on a continual basis. I also hope that customers give us a chance to help them and let us work out the kinks that may arise, as well as open to learning to work with us as we navigate to getting started in a new hobby.

That being said, with recent growth in the community, I have also seen the rate of negative commentary and harassment pointed at us and to the company directly increase as well. I do not accept harassment aimed toward our staff and I have continually been working to help our staff navigate these situations.

In response to this, we’ve worked to create some internal processes and policies to help take care of these matters, as well as post a Customer Support Terms of Service note at the end of our Contact Us page. For our online communities, thank you to our members who’ve stepped up to comment back when people have made negative and untrue comments.

We are people. We have feelings. We love and care about our community and we do our best to make this a fun and accessible ecosystem. Please remember to be nice to us and each other.

End-of-Year Holidays

As we typically do, we are on closing for holidays from Dec 23rd to Jan 2nd. If you have any questions or need anything shipped out, please reach out to us before the 23rd. There may be some of us providing limited holiday support and getting ready for the new year, but the large majority of us will be on holiday.