Purchasing parts for the Sienci Mill One

So if you didn’t know, it takes Kickstarter and the payment system that it uses a couple of weeks to charge our backer’s credit cards and process the payments. So about two and a half weeks after our Kickstarter, we finally got that money.

This past week or so, we’ve been ordering stuff and getting prepared to start putting kits together. We’ve ordered a couple of things like the v wheels, header jumpers, CNC shields, bits and endmills, and some packaging materials, which will take between two to six week to arrive. We will be ordering everything else we will need over the next couple weeks and organizing everything into bags.

A couple of parts that come straight from manufacturers will most likely take the longest to process since we are negotiating shipping terms, packaging requirements, and checking specs so that we are 100% certain we are getting what we need.

On the local manufacturing side, we’re currently preparing to order materials for drilling and threading holes into the aluminum rails with a large shop that we’ve had the chance to visit during the summer. We’re waiting on them to send us the details we need for this shipping instructions, and we’ll get that material over to the manufacturer.

With the frame and gantry parts (the other major component that is manufactured locally) we are currently creating the appropriate files and documentation our manufacturers need, which will take a little while.

Our focus right now is on ordering all the parts we need from overseas as soon as we can since shipping times can be long. After, we will start having parts manufactured locally. Thankfully, the items to be made locally are not complicated and have fairly short lead times.


Day at the Entrepreneurship Society Startup Showcase

Chris and I were at the Startup Showcase at the University of Waterloo Student Life Centre to chat with students and faculty members about our company and projects. We met a lot of familiar faces as well as a lot of new people who we got to chat to about CNC technology. There were also a lot of great up and coming companies ranging developing technologies in VR, student housing communications platforms, multiplayer gaming platforms, 3D printing, and more!



While we were there, we also made a little pen holder for Lindsay who was at the booth for the Conrad Entrepreneurship and Business Centre.



Thank you everyone for coming out! It was a lot of fun! Also a special thank you to EntSoc for putting this event together!

Redesigned 3D Printed Angle Mount

Check out the new design on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1796494

We made some small changes to the design of the angle mount that connects the motor, frame, and aluminum rails together to be easier to 3D print and a bit stronger as well.

The previous version of the angle mount was designed to act as a mock up of the part made out of sheet metal to test how well the part would fit into the machine. However, a couple of weeks ago, our friends at Inksmith have offered to 3D print the parts for our first batch of Kickstarter machines, so we’ve changed the design slightly for 3D printing.

This part can drop in as a replacement for any Sienci Mill One out in the field and can be printed on most FDM 3D printers in 1-1.5 hours.



Sienci Mill One is open source

Hey everyone, if you haven’t noticed, we’ve been uploading a lot of files online for everyone who’s interested in building or modifying a Sienci Mill One. There are a lot of things to document, and we have a little more wading around to do in our files to make sure everything is up to date. Github is kind of tricky to figure out (according to Chris)

Why did we make our files available freely online? We believe that users should be able to modify their machines to the way that works for them, and for designers and inventors to build off of our designs and create even better CNC machines. That’s why we have done our best to optimize the design to be easy to manufacture, and the parts easy to find online or at the hardware store.

Here’s some links to where you can find files. Please use them at your own risk!

Github: https://github.com/SienciLabs/Sienci-Mill-One

Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/SienciLabs/designs

There are still a lot of things we need to put up online and a couple of design revisions since we have made these files available. Feel free to let us know if we’re missing anything, or need additional info.

More resources can be found here: https://sienci.com/resources/



A long to do list

It’s been a couple of days since the end of our Kickstarter, but there’s no time to celebrate. We have a pretty long to-do list to get through.

Stuff we’re working on now:

-Ordering parts from China:

There’s no denying the fact that there are huge savings in buying in bulk overseas. We are currently in the process of working with Jeremy from Inksmith (http://inksmith.co), a local 3D printing company, to put in a join order for parts. These parts can take 6 to 8 weeks to be delivered, so it’s our first priority to have the order put in place.


As Sienci Labs grows, keeping track of finances and taxes will become more and more important. We are meeting with accountants and talking with mentors to figure out our financial plans for the future.

-Open Source Documentation:

There are a few small design changes we are going to be making from the request of our beta test users. Some of these changes include a closed electronics box and a stronger angle brackets. You can find some STL files on Thingiverse now (http://www.thingiverse.com/SienciLabs/designs) but things may change! More documentation will continue to come out. Bill of Materials here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15G8NwAsjUysOSlhiqnWZDX9TDvD0P3QPFUiqYyDQw4E/edit?usp=sharing

-Local manufacturing

We’re finalizing numbers and some logistics with local manufacturers, and will begin contracting manufacturing once the money comes in from Kickstarter (it takes 2 weeks). We’ve been fortunate to have friends who have suggested some great shops around the area that they’ve been working at their own jobs. Thankfully the lead times for our parts are fairly short (1 to 2 weeks) so we are hoping we will not have bottlenecks there!

Sienci Labs at Maker Expo

Maker Expo was awesome! We love the maker community, and it was great to see so many people at Maker Expo in Kitchener this year. Thank you to the volunteers, organizers, and everyone who came out. There were so many amazing projects, and it’s so exciting to see the maker revolution change the way we make and create.

We got the chance to meet several of our backers on Kickstarter who got to see the Sienci Mill One running live for the first time and could not wait get their own machines on their desks. Thank you to all of our backers for coming out to see our machine, checking out our samples, and chatting with us. We also had a chance to record a quick interview with Woot Suit Riot. You can check out the podcast here at: http://wootsuitriot.com/sienci-mill/

Now all that there is to do is count down the days till the next Maker Expo!




In the Field: Sienci Mill One at Medella Health

We reached out to one of the owners of the preproduction Sienci Mill One to see what they have been doing with their machine. Huayi Gao, co-founder of Medella Health, showed us some cool things he’s been working on for Project Lano over the last couple of weeks.

Medella Health is building a wearable technology solution that continuously and non-invasively monitors blood glucose levels and communicates the data with a mobile device, so patients can better manage their diabetes. (Source: Velocity)

wafer testing on the Sienci Mill One


In this image, Huayi is testing sensors built onto wafers by probing each one using the Sienci Mill One. These sensors are designed to determine the composition of chemicals in basal tears. By programming the machine to probe them in the right sequence, Huayi can automatically test all of the sensors over an extended period of time.

Each wafer contains 44 sensors and requires extensive testing to measure a host of parameters to determine the performance of every single sensor. This implementation of the Sienci Mill One saves an enormous amount of time and money over using lab probing stations that cost thousands of dollars and require manual control.

He plans to integrate a microfluidics system and a microscope onto the Sienci Mill One for additional functionality, as well as milling wood and other materials in his spare time.

From customer discovery to Kickstarter: Sienci Labs in Enterprise Co-op 

Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/conrad-business-entrepreneurship-technology/blog/post/customer-discovery-kickstarter-sienci-labs-enterprise-co-op

Written by: Andy Lee

Edited by: Lindsay Kroes

Andy Lee’s Enterprise Co-op term is coming to an end this month, but he and his co-founders at Sienci Labs are busier than ever with the launch of their Kickstarter campaign. The campaign aims to bring the Sienci Mill One, an affordable and user-friendly desktop CNC milling machine, into the hands of creative makers across the world.

Over the course of the term, the Sienci Mill One has undergone eight iterations of design, with continuous improvements for performance, affordability, and ease-of-use. In this blog, Andy describes how getting outside the building and talking to customers has helped the team create a better product — one that people can’t wait to use!

When my co-founders and I started Sienci Labs, we began with the purpose of making mechanical systems in rapid prototyping and fabrication tools (such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC milling machines) more affordable and easier to use in consumer applications. Over time, the team decided to create our own machines using the systems that we had developed. As a proof of concept and first product, we developed a desktop sized CNC milling machine.

During our Enterprise Co-op term, we headed out the door with our early prototype machines to answer the two questions that all startups need to ask themselves: “Who are our customers?” and “what do they want to buy?”

Find your customers where they hang out

At first, we planned to market the product to low budget makers, hobbyists, and artists who want to turn their digital 3D models into real objects in materials like wood, plastic, and metal at a touch of a button. Events like Hamilton Maker Faire and Toronto Maker Festival put us in front of hundreds of interested people in our target demographic and helped us to develop customer archetypes and figure out what type of people needed our products.

At these events, we showed off our newly-developed desktop CNC machine to people who do everything from leatherworking, to electronics, to 3D printing, and woodworking. The purpose was to connect directly to our target market and get their thoughts and feedback as well as garner interest in the company.

Our initial method of testing customer interest was to mill examples of some of the things our customers were looking for. Whether it was Teflon sensor holders or model cars, we were able to focus on the features that were key in making what they needed.

Be flexible to feedback

After several of these events, we discovered that our users were mostly small businesses who wanted to make custom parts for themselves to save substantial amounts of money, or wanted to create products to sell.

While we had initially believed that makers and hobbyists would purchase this machine for personal use, we discovered that businesses and organizations were more willing to put the money down to get one of our machines. This is not to say there weren’t a lot of makers and hobbyists who were interested, but we realized that marketing to small businesses would yield the most traction.

Solve customers’ problems

With all of the people wanting to purchase and distribute the Sienci Mill One, we knew that we had figured out who our customers would be and that what we had created fit their needs.

If you’re starting a business, go out and see what people want to pay for! Ask them what they need. Help them solve their problems, and create something new that can make their lives better. Keep iterating!

Check out Sienci Labs’ Kickstarter campaign, and keep up with them through their mailing list!

Tight nuts, better precision, nicer PCBs

PCB milling is a really useful thing to do on a CNC machine because you can build really nice, complicated electric circuits. And unlike chemical etching, which only makes the traces, a CNC machine drill holes for through hole components and cut and trim the copper clad board. Quite a few people asked about whether or not the Sienci Mill One was able to do PCB milling. So we gave it a shot.

Our first few tries were not great, since we had traces of varying sizes, even though they were all supposed to be the same. While milling large objects, a high degree of precision is not needed. But for milling PCBs with features that are fractions of a millimetre, high precision is critical.

Then we found the issue that was causing us to have sub-par boards. The nuts for the lead screws were coming loose from the gantry, and that extra bit of wiggle was causing the positioning of the machine to be off. So we tightened those screws and made sure that they wouldn’t come loose over time.

And that made a huge huge impact on the quality of our traces! Check it out: