Risks and challenges
As Kickstarter projects go, this is a low risk one. The design of the machine has been extensively tested and is ready for production. But the manufacturing processes so far are all one-off, custom made in and out of house. The funds from this Kickstarter will be used to go from prototype manufacturing to more automated production manufacturing. This is a pretty straightforward step in bringing a product like this to market. None of the production processes that will be used on making this product are unusual or excessively expensive. Everything needed can be found at your local Tech Shop.
The processes to migrate from prototype to production will include but not necessarily be limited to the following:
1. Have a jig made for pressing the NEMA 17 motor mounts.
2. Buy a 4’ x 4’ mill for the hotend mount, motor mounts, acrylic frame, etc.
3. Have the leadscrew nuts injection molded in Delrin.
4. Contract a metal fabrication shop to make the back access panel with an EMS cage.
5. Migrate most of the printed parts to either CNC metal fabrication or injection molding.
6. Buy a plastic heat bender for the acrylic frame fabrication.
7. Build a frame assembly jig
By bringing some of these processes in house and migrating others to automated CNC manufacturing, the production time and labor will be dramatically reduced. Migrating the 3D printed parts to injection molding or CNC milling out of aluminum will also speed up production and make beautifully finished parts.
Another reason we anticipate the transition going from prototype to production will go smoothly is that all of the parts were designed with ease of manufacturing in mind. For example, the 3D printed parts that attach to the top of the X and Y axis carriages to connect the channel chains were designed to be CNC milled out of a sheet aluminum and be folded with a bending brake. 3D printing is great when you’re still developing the design, but twenty of these parts could be made with a CNC mill in the same time it takes to 3D print one.
This is where a lot of companies have trouble with their Kickstarter campaigns. They wait until it’s time to go to production and then they realize they need to redesign many of their components for production manufacturing. The design process takes longer than most people anticipate and can lead to long delays in the project. Rest assured that this will not happen to us. We will be ready to hit the ground running ready to start setting up the new production machinery and processes.
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