Problems in manufacturing
Based on our testing, and feedback from the beta testers, we have identified some manufacturing issues on the main board.
As soon as we received the shipment from China we quickly found beta testers to test the RigidBot with the purpose to find out any glitches or problems before we ship-out all of the printers. It has been a great experience and we have received very good responses from each one. In the beginning (first couple of weeks) we had not found any major problems and the RigidBot was printing great, however we started to see some unique behaviors that affected some beta testers.
The two problems were found in the RigidBoard (main board):
- Power Switch - The power switches sometimes mechanically fail closed, and do not allow turning off the machine.
- Motor Current POTs - The POTs lack end-stops, and have reduced range and occasional dead spots, making motor current adjustments difficult and intermittent.
The original "First Articles" and following samples from the factory were made correctly with the correct components, however the production boards were populated with non-approved inferior replacements of the power switch and motor current POTs.
We have done extensive testing (at a great cost) of the production main board and have found that the other components are correct and that the only problem parts are the power switch and motor current POTs. All of the integrated circuits are correct. We are working with the factory to have the boards reworked to fix the problems, and replace the parts with the proper components. We work with a US based rep of the factory and they told us that the factory will fix the problem and we will have it solved quickly.
Additionally, since they will already be making changes to the boards, we have identified a couple of non-critical infrequent glitches that can be improved by some minor component changes and wiring rework. One of them addresses a very rare power-on initialization glitch, and the other will improve the dynamic torque in the stepper motors.
We have reworked the beta tester's boards with correct parts and they have then been printing as fast and as much as they can to test the rework. It has worked great! I am sure you all have all seen the pictures we have posted.
How does this affect the shipping schedule / the shipments on the water?
The 300 boards that arrived with the first 300 printers have been sent back to the manufacturer.
For the 1300 kits that are on the water now, the manufacture will return the bad boards to the factory. The factory is currently reworking the 900 boards that are still in China and they are going to Air Ship them once they have completed the rework. The factory has committed to providing 2500 correct boards even before they receive all of the bad boards.
Why did you take so long to tell us?
This is a very new problem and we wanted to have a solution to the problem before we brought it to our backers. It has taken us a couple of weeks to figure out the problem and come to a final solution, and then test the results.
We will keep everyone posted and we expect to receive the reworked boards BEFORE we receive the containers from China.
The assembled printers are completed in our warehouse except for the main board, final wiring and calibration. As soon as we receive the reworked main boards we will start shipping machines.
Beta Tester Reviews
I have asked the beta testers to write a review on the RigidBot. I have received three so far and I will post them as I have received them. I certainly don't have them held to any NDA (non disclosure agreement) and they are free to communicate with anyone they would like, however I cannot force them to talk on any of the groups, it will be up to them if they would like to comment on the public forums. They have printed 100's of hours of prints and we have posted most of them on our weekly updates. I would like to personally thank our beta testers as they have spend a lot of time on this, for all of us.
Beta Tester 1 - RigidBot 10x10x10 KIT with z-rod upgrade.
"I am loving my RigidBot! Assembly was quick and painless. It is so reliable, I don't wait around to make sure the print starts correctly like I used to on my old printer. I load the gcode, press print and walk away!
The biggest thing I want is a way to attach a part fan for PLA prints."
Beta Tester 2 - RigidBot Big 12x16x10 with z-rod upgrade and dual extruder.
"The RigidBot is a great printer, not to mention the low price. The print quality is great, especially once you take the time to tune parameters (temperature, speed, motor current, etc.), and thoroughly clean the z-rods. In many ways the prints are comparable to my MakerBot (Replicator 2).
The lack of part fan does make overhangs in PLA more difficult, but the heated bed makes it possible to reliably print ABS, which is not possible on my MakerBot. I have experimented with adding a part fan, and it seems to help with PLA, and there is already a fan connector on the head PCB, so that makes it a more easy DIY upgrade.
Assembly of the kit did take a while, but was not particularly difficult, and the finished printer is pretty solid. Wiring connections are straightforward, but takes a little work to make the routing clean (mainly because of the open frame). Software setup was fairly easy (Cura and Pronterface), though some of the dual extruder features have some minor bugs or annoyances (not the fault of the RigidBot).
The dual extruder beta option is pretty cool, but has the same issues as most dual extruder systems, like oozing from the idle nozzle, alignment calibration, reduced X travel (about 100mm less), etc. Some of these things can be alleviated by software features (like an ooze shield). Printing with ABS for the main part and PLA for the support works pretty well, and allows the support to be very easily removed (PLA and ABS don't like to stick together).
Overall it is a worthwhile investment, and well exceeded my expectations."
Beta Tester 3 - RigidBot 10x10x10 with z-rod upgrade
This person provided me a very formal PDF and I have linked it here.
One of the biggest responses that I have received from beta testers is how nice the z-rod upgrade is. It really helps provide for a less complicated installation and calibration process. Even after assembly, the z-rod upgrade provides better prints and more reliability. (All have said it is very well worth the upgrade cost).
More Beta Tester Prints
Technical and Production:
1. Do the assembly instructions you linked us meet the shipping requirements of various countries that require a manual (once it has been translated)? As far as we know they do.
2. How is a usage / safety manual coming along? We believe this is needed at the very least for the assembled printers? We will be providing a basic usage safety manual online for all users.
3. Any chance we can have a RigidBoard electronic layout with pinouts, or even just pinouts for all the connectors, so we can begin our customization plans? Yes, it will take me a little time as this is not top priority.
4. What size/voltage is the fan for the RigidBoard case? Will the fan sold on your website fit? It is a 50mm fan at 24v. The fan sold on the website is not the same size.
5. Is the nozzle standard to any other printer? We are hoping to find some with larger/smaller orifices (e.g.: 0.5mm, 0.3mm, etc.) The RigidBot nozzle is a standard design and other nozzles should fit without problems.
1. (Hopefully, we’re done with this section ;-) ) Unfortunately not... see above.
Delivery to Backers:
1. Based on a previous update , all filament is in Utah. Will all “extra” rolls of filament be shipped out of Utah (including non-North America)? We have found it easier to ship the spools out of China at this point. The international (non North American) spools have been delivered to our Chinese kitting factory.
2. Did you determine if you will be able to notify individuals that their RigidBot shipment is nearing shipment? This would help those that are changing address in the near future, but are not sure they will have moved prior to shipment. We are still working on the software for this and hope to have it done this week. So yes we will provide this service.
1. What’s left to be done? Can the community help? It is a great community! We thank you for your support and can't wait to ship out the RigidBot. We ask that you continue to support us as we find unexpected problems. There is no advantage to us in "holding your machine hostage" or sitting on machines. I know it is individually frustrating for each of you with the delays but it gets compounded 1952+ times for us.
2. Do you have the vessel names that the containers are shipping on? We ask only because it would be fun to track progress via a site like https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ I have asked our shipping partner to provide this information and as soon as they send it I will get it on an update.
3. Have you finalized as the Google hangout date and time for the online build party with either your staff and or the beta testers? Not yet... As soon as we receive the reworked main board we will plan the hangout party as well as the local build party.
We work everyday to get the RigidBot out the door. Many very late days and long hours, we are committed to quality and getting you a machine that will meet and exceed your expectations. It takes time, but we are confident that you will love your RigidBot. We are in the final hours and will soon be shipping machines. We want to keep an open line of communication even when the communication is not what we all want to hear.
Thank you for your support and understanding!
Michael and Team