First, I would like to thank everyone for being extremely patient. I know I have not done regular updates and I do realize it's been a lot longer of a wait for most of you to get a Bukobot than I originally expected...but we are in the final stretches. It's really been a struggle trying to manage a production business (I have 12 hour days since May) that I though was going to be much simpler than it really is and to do so much while trying to keep the product at very high quality. So I apologize for not doing updates as often as I should, but we do strive to give everyone the best 3D printer we can.
What's in this update:
- Reasons for some of the delays
- Cool new improvements - possibly included if you haven't gotten you kit yet
- Posted printable STL files of Bukobot parts on the wiki
- New things to come
Delays : (
Unfortunately, we had some issues with supplies in December that become worst than I expected. We almost had all the electronics (which was my mistake for assuming we were going to be ok) but a portion of them got delayed even until now. We (Roy from Panucatt and I) were expecting to get some of the electronics in late December like the manufactures said we would, but seem like they completely failed us in the delivery dates they promised. So after talking to Roy about this, the rest of my boards (controllers and platforms) to finish the last of the kickstarters should finally come in this week (after Chinese New Year apparently) and some more next week at the latest.
Since we have a bunch of Bukobots running pretty much everyday, we are able to see some types of long term failures that I felt we could prevent. So this sadly created another set back that I wasn't happy about (thanks to my lack of production skills). My intentions were good to try to make the best product possible, so I decided to make a few tweaks to make them better by modifying my stock pieces, which consequently took way longer the anticipated. Although most of you that already got your kits may never experience issues (because I'm sure no one would do as much printing as we are doing), I still wanted to make the nozzles better and more reliable. In addition, I made some bad quantity calculations on the ordering of some special parts of the nozzle and ended up a bit short to complete everything. When I later went to order more of these parts, everyone was out of stock and took about a few extra weeks to get what we needed.
So the situation is this: We shipped all that we could so far and now just waiting for some more final things to complete the rest of the rewards, but we have many boxes ready to ship as soon as we get the missing items so there should be a big wave of shipments in the next few weeks, which should take care of the remainder.
I did consider a suggestion about listing people that still need shipping in the forum but I think it's going to be a bit of a distraction at the moment for me and possibly confuse me even more. Since I'm the only one doing shipping right now, it's going to add another level of complications in my already tricky system.
For those that haven't received a kit yet, I do have a little proposal towards the end of this update that you may want to take advantage of, and if not, nothing changes and you'll get your kit as normal. BUT read about the new stuff first which may help you decide if you want to go along with it...
BUT there's some cool news....Improvements!
I do really feel bad about these delays and I'm definitely learning some big lessons in supplies and manufacturing....but, there is a silver lining to this that I hope everyone will welcome.
Bukobot Printed Parts
Every once in a while I actually have a couple hours (usually late at night when all is quiet) to work on making my Bukobot better. The best part of producing our own parts is that we get to implement them into the production without much disruption. So when we come up with some ideas to make something better, stronger, faster, easier..etc, we try to include them as soon as we test them out and feel confident about them. So you might notice some parts that look a little different from the instructions. If you were one of the early folks that got a Bukobot and want to get some of the new part designs, you can now visit the wiki (Bukobot.com) and actually print out the improved files that we have posted.
Bukobot Lasercut Parts
To help speed up some production, we have incorporated a lasercutter to our workflow. I have redesigned some parts (and in the process of working on more) that we can now make with a lasercutter. This method is much faster and in some cases can be even better than a printed part. Although the new files to make the parts are 2D for lasercutters, and I did say we wouldn't have laser cut parts, we do have the 3D printable versions so they can be printed too. Some parts we will be making with the lasercutter will be the Green/Mini/Bukito platforms, the azteeg board mount, endstop holders and possibly the Z motor mounts. Later we may decide to try some of the other major parts too.
The finally batches of electronics that will be included have some little improvements that Roy (Panucatt Devices) was able to sneak in at the last minute a few months ago.
Azteeg X1: This board is just so good that not many improvements can be made. The only difference will be the new MOSFETs (the heater transistors). Instead of the older big component style, Roy now made them surface mount which makes the board shorter overall with the board acting as the heat sink and looks cooler since you no longer see the big parts sticking up. There's no extra performance difference with this change, but it does help prevent things from touching the components and possibly shorting something out.
Azteeg X3: One of the new things of the X3 is the shield (the label graphics piece). Check this page for details because there's alot to explain. See "Expansion Shield V1.1" in the "Details" at : http://www.panucatt.com/Azteeg_X3_reprap_3d_printer_controller_p/ax33dp.htm
Stepper Drivers: The other new included improvement will be the new motor drivers from Panucatt which are called "SureStepr". They have a new chip that won't break a sweat at normal speeds, but now have 1/32 step option (previous was 1/16 max). See this page for more details on these: http://www.panucatt.com/product_p/sd8825.htm. Here at the shop, we have a test machine running the new drivers and we are able to easily run it at twice the speed when using 1/32 step mode! It's pretty impressive to watch and works pretty smooth, it's also a bit quieter too.
Any new kickstarter shipments will get these new boards and drivers as of this week!
A New Extruder is coming
The "Bukoschnozzle" (which is our derivative of the "Budaschonzzle" from Lulzbot http://reprap.org/wiki/LulzBot/Budaschnozzle) is a great nozzle and has worked pretty well...but we wanted to go further. We are now working on a new extruder setup for 2 reasons: #1 we want to go faster and the best way to do that is with higher temperatures, #2 we want to use polycarbonate and nylon which also need higher temperatures. Currently, we can extrude just a little faster with the Bukoschnozzle, but the higher temperatures we want would be getting close to a dangerous zone because it has a teflon (PTFE) tube inside that can be a bit unsafe if you heat it beyond 260c degrees (this is a reason for the fan). So the new extruder (no name yet, suggestion welcome) will be pretty much all metal and should be able to reach at least 320c with no issues. We have a rough prototype running here at the shop and we have actually printed some polycarbonate and nylon test parts. The results so far are pretty cool and very promising. It's still a couple weeks until it's ready to actually produce but if all goes well, we are going to phase out the Bukoschnozzle with the new one. The cool part about it is that I'll have an upgrade kit you can get (with a discount for kickstarters of course) for anyone that wants to get the new nozzle once it's ready. In addition to the higher temperatures, here's a break down of features we want the new nozzle to have (hopefully we can implement all of them)
- Uses the same motor and "Tatsu" drive gear, so if you already have a Bukobot, there will be an simple upgrade for it to swap out the old extruder body and nozzle.
- Easier nozzle swap and cleaning.
- Simpler parts and easier to get manufactured.
- No PLA leaking at high temperatures.
- Mostly metal design to run higher temperatures without issues, no PEEK or PTFE (teflon).
- More compact and shorter nozzle, which means you can go dual with the Bukobot 8 Vanilla or 8 Green without losing much build volume: 8x8x8 will become something like 7x8x9 with dual extruders.
- More compact also means the duo's will have a TRIPLE extruder upgrade available! When combined with the new "Extension Shield" for the X3, you'll be able to add the necessary drivers and heat controls.
- We will be able to offer 3mm or 1.75mm size nozzles a lot easier.
- Higher temperature capacity means faster speeds possible!
- Easier to level dual extruders
Posted STL Files
So keeping true to the open source concept, we have finally post all the parts from our latest version of the kits. It took us a while because unfortunately I'm a perfectionist and I don't like to share things that are not..well perfect. I know things will never be perfect, but it's high quality enough to be posted at this point and you can find them as links in "Parts List" http://www.bukobot.com/bukobot-parts-list and in the "3D Object Files" page at http://www.bukobot.com/bukobot-3d-object-files. If we ever have some extra time or if anyone requests the source of some specific parts we can try to clean those up to post them as well.
New things to come
We are the type that like to constantly improve or try new things, but this project has been so challenging and time consuming that we haven't had time to come up with next big thing...yet. We are kind of working on (mostly in our minds) a Bukobot v1.5 that will combine most of the new improvements in addition to some other ones. We also do have some great ideas we want to try but it until you guys are taken care of, I don't want to be too distracted. A few ideas we are going to look into is some 3D scanning, extruding food products (like chocolate..yum), bigger build area and some other little stuff. So if things start to move a little faster in production, we will be able to try some of these things out.
The Bukitos and Assembled Rewards
I know we haven't sent out the surveys yet, but we will very soon. We had the intentions to make a cool little Bukobot (the Bukito) with a lower cost, and it look great on paper, but when I started to put it together, I realized it was a bit more complicated and time consuming than expected. So the Bukitos rewards are almost ready but will actually now be more similar to the Bukobot Mini but with a few different parts, but will be more upgradable than before.
For the assembled rewards, these will also be coming soon, but we are expecting to have most of the new improvements incorporated, including the new nozzle I mentioned above.
A simple proposal for those that have not received a kit yet...
As you read above, we have some new improvements coming and I want you guys to have a chance to get them. If you have not gotten a "bukobot shipped to you" message with tracking info, then you can take advantage of this option. So here's the deal: We still have a bunch of the regular nozzles (bukoschnozzle) that we are going to use for the next shipments (kickstarters and pre-orders after that), but if you want the new nozzle and some of the other new improvements without any extra cost, I will give you guys first pick to get them...WITH SMALL CONDITIONS: First off, the new nozzles seems to work great at the moment but will be considered "experimental" until more long term testing is done and can possibly be a little challenging to setup at first until we have the best settings for you. Second, your shipment will be delayed longer because they will take a few more weeks to get them ready for kits.
So to sum up this deal:
If you want the new nozzles (which does higher temperatures, faster, and does polycarbonate & nylon too) and some new improvements AND you don't mind a longer wait time (a few more weeks at least), then contact me and say "YES, please delay my reward to get the new nozzle".
If you rather not wait any longer, it's not a problem and you will get your reward as soon as we can ship it in the next few batches.
For kickstarters that already got their kits and want the new nozzle, I will give you a personal discount code if you email me when we have the upgrade option on the online store or announce it on another update.
Back to work...
It has taking the span of a few days to write this update and to be honest, I have never been so exhausted in my life as I have been in these last few months. You can ask anyone about my schedule and they will tell you that I come to the shop and work at least 12 hours everyday to try to survive and grow this endeavor. But I'm not mentioning this to sound like there's any regrets or to get sympathy, but more to let everyone know that I'm fully dedicate to make this business succeed and hopefully grow beyond this project. I know I'm definitely far from perfect, but I'm trying the best I know how to make things work and in trying to make everyone happy. Even after spending everyday in the last few months thinking, talking and breathing 3D printing, I still think it's this is coolest thing ever and I hope to create great 3D printers to unleash everybody creativity and passions as it has mine. So once again, I apologize greatly for those that have not received your reward yet, but I promise you'll get it soon and I hope you will hang in there with me.
(Sorry no pictures, I haven't even had time or energy to take any...but hopefully will post some soon.)