As of today, the final Kickstarter machines have been built and are waiting for a Fedex pickup. To say that it took longer than expected is an understatement, we really appreciate your patience and understanding to get here.
What about my MEGA PACK?
We still owe a number of people a MEGA PACK. We were waiting on a delivery of Renshape that was in short supply nationwide, but that just got that delivered last week so with any luck we'll have more going out next week.
Vises are done and being sent out separately. We made them all in our shop, on our machining center, so we're really proud of them.
What about my flip jig?
Flip jigs were the last thing we got started on, and we think they are worth the wait. Apollo has been obsessed with his and turned out a lot of great work with it.
We've been making prototypes for a long time and we've often needed two-sided parts. We've never gotten better results than we have with the flip jig- it's a game changer. Jorge, who's never run that kind of job before, made perfect part after perfect part all weekend at Maker Faire last month.
Here's the bad part: nobody seems to stock the material we make them from. We've been rejected by a few suppliers but we're sure we can get it. With any luck, we'll have the material in the next week and then we can get started on them.
What's going to happen to Carbide 3D now?
We keep shipping machines! We've still got a healthy backlog of machines for people who preordered after Kickstarter, and now we're shipping the Shapeoko 3 machine as well. We expect Carbide 3D to go on for many years.
It's finally here, the countdown to the last Kickstarter machines to go out.
By now, everyone in INNER CIRCLE 4 has received a backer survey and we have almost all of them back. The last INNER CIRCLE 3 machines are being shipped out today.
What's Left to Ship?
40 INNER CIRCLE machines - We're going to do everything we can to ship these by Maker Faire so we're looking at about 3 weeks.
60 MEGA PACKS- The MEGA PACKS have a lot of material in them so it's a constant flow of cutters and materials coming in and getting packed up. We're one more order of cutters and wax away from having all of these done.
Approximately 60 Vises - We've already shipped about 80 vises and we have the next batch all machined. Apollo is dropping them off at the anodizer today so we should be ready to begin shipping these again in about a week.
Approximately 220 Flip jigs - We've been machining vise bodies for about a week and now we've shifted over to parts for the machine. Hopefully we'll get the design completely final for the flip jig next week and then order to material and make a lot of them.
Thanks for Your Patience
We don't say it enough, but we really appreciate your support and patience. We didn't expect to be four months behind on shipping when we launched this campaign but we think the machine that you'll get is worth the wait. The photos and feedback we get from our backers has been great and we look forward to seeing what you're doing with your Nomad.
We've been quiet for a while but the work has continued. We've shipped about two thirds of the Kickstarter machines so far and the day to day manufacturing is mostly drama-free compared to even a couple of months ago.
Right now, we're about 6 weeks from being done with Kickstarter shipments. This is totally dependent on our machine shop, and they've become increasingly unreliable in their deliveries.
Adding a second source doesn't make sense right now because we're making a number of changes to the machine to reduce the parts count and to reduce labor costs. We don't want to get another shop running on the current version only to change it a few weeks later.
It's likely that the modified version would be ready to begin production in about 6-8 weeks so we'll just keep pushing the current shop until then.
The Good Manufacturing News
We're now making 5 parts for each machine in our new Haas machining center. These parts are coming out really nice and are actually better than what we were getting from our vendors.
Our shop crew can pump out machines now. The number of frames that we get from the machine shop varies each week but, whatever the number, we know that they'll ship out in 5 days without any trouble.
Now that we've got a larger quantity of machines in the field, support has become a nearly full time job between getting new users up and running and handling sales questions. Our goal is to get all of the common questions documented so that we can hire a support person in the next month or so.
If You Need to Contact Us...
...shoot us an email at http://carbide3d.com/contact/ . We've got a proper support system running so, hopefully, no tickets will be lost and no emails will get missed. The Kickstarter comment area is tougher for us to manage so we don't answer as much there.
Carbide Motion V2 is available as a beta and we've been working with more advanced users to stress-test it before announcing it more broadly. So far, it's working well and we're getting support for Fusion 360, and the rest of the Autodesk CAM software, worked out. This should be done in the next few days.
Until Next Time...
If you don't have your machine yet, we apologize. The one consolation we can offer is that each batch of machines gets a little bit better, even if the changes are invisible to the end user. Check out http://community.carbide3d.com to see what some users are doing with their Nomads.
The biggest news this month is that we can finally announce a new partner at Carbide, Edward Ford, the creator of the Shapeoko CNC router. Ed was the first guy we approached to when we started Carbide but for a number of reasons, the timing didn't work out. We kept at it and managed to get him onboard 18 months later. Ed will continue to run the Shapeoko product from Carbide. The new Shapeoko 3 can be seen at http://www.shapeoko.com .
How will this affect the Nomad?
Adding a second product will help Carbide grow faster and add stability so we're not dependent on a single product. The new Shapeoko will not affect the delivery times of the Nomads; the crew that builds Nomads will not be involved with the Shapeoko until all of the current commitments are met. We expect both products to have a long life at Carbide.
We've been on a wild ride of hiring and firing assembly people. Trying to outsource more of the CNC routing we were doing in-house. Demanding more frames from our machine shop, then resorting to begging.
We seem to be at the point that we can ship approximately 15 machines per week if the machine shop can keep up. Delays from the machine shop are a recurring complaint for us. The quality has been so good that we accept the delays with hopes that we can keep pushing them.
15 per week is below what we'd like but it's the best we've been able to do, each week another limiter pops up. We're still working on getting above 15 but that's where we are now.
If you haven't received your machine yet, you can expect to receive a survey before we ship to confirm your address and the enclosure type. Once you get the survey, you should get your machine in the next 30 days, depending on where you fall in the queue. We won't ship a machine until we hear from you, so don't worry if you've moved since you backed us.
Right now, we're shipping MAKER and INNER CIRCLE 2 machines. If the machine shop keeps up, we'll ship most of them by the end of the year.
We bought our own Christmas gift.
We mentioned a few times that we were trying to get our own machining center to become less dependent on other shops. Word finally came back from our Haas rep that our machine, a 4-axis VF-2SS, should be complete this week and delivered next week (the benefit of being an hour from the factory).
Once we get it up and running, we'll start making the flip jigs and vises in-house and get those sent out. We'll get them added to the web store shortly after that if anyone needs to buy one (we'll figure out pricing once we know the machining time).
After we get extra inventory of the accessories done, we'll take a look at what parts we can make here for the machine itself to speed up production.
I'm sure question number one for everyone is, "How many have you shipped?" As of today we've shipped about 27 units. They've gone out slower than we'd like but we've made changes to try to increase the pace. (More on that in a bit)
As of right now, we've shipped most of the EARLY BIRDS, some INVENTORS, and a few in the later batches. We ended up shipping out of order because we had delays getting boxes and foam, so we contacted locals who could pickup their machines. We also had some who wanted amber bamboo, so we skipped ahead to backers who wanted natural bamboo or HDPE. We also had a couple of backers with an upcoming move who preferred to get a machine later to avoid having to move it.
We now have all of the shipping materials we need and we received a big batch of amber bamboo that we're finishing right now. With any luck, our first couple of amber machines will go out tomorrow.
A few other shipping notes:
Vises and flip jigs will ship later, in a separate box. We haven't wanted to divert machining attention from the machines themselves
If you're INNER CIRCLE, your cutters and materials will come in a separate box. It's a lot of extra stuff.
Save the shipping box. It's the only way to ship a machine back if it needs service
We've posted a few versions of Carbide Motion and MeshCAM with the Carbide 3D plugin. We have people using them both right now and providing feedback. Because I wrote it, it's perfect and the feedback has reflected this. You can get a look at both of them at: http://carbide3d.com/docs/tutorials/ .
In the unlikely event that a bug is found, we'll try to get it stomped out quickly.
Maybe I'm biased ( you should skip this part ) but the whole system works really well in our testing. We knew the concept of integrating the CAM software with a mill would be a winner but it's great to see how well it works in practice.
We're reduced the user burden to the point that you can get a working toolpath with only three pieces of information: The tool you'd like to use, the material, and the quality level. Maybe the most encouraging thing is how much room we see to take the concept further.
One of the things that limited production was space. We stuffed our old shop with Nomad parts and production to the point that it was almost impossible to move around. Over the weekend we moved to our new shop in Torrance, CA. We've got over double the space and we now have a layout that cuts down on the amount of time we spend moving parts and work-in-progress from one bench to another.
This new location should be big enough for us to host a couple of open houses to show off the machines to locals. If you came by the old shop then you know this wasn't going to work there.
We hired our first full-time person to work on nothing but assembly about three weeks ago and we had another part-timer start yesterday. Before the first hire, the work seemed simple. As we've watched the learning curve, we've been surprised at how much we took for granted when we built the machines.
We'll continue to add more people once we get our current people up to speed. (And when we can get consistent deliveries from our machine shop).
We've tried to listen
We were having a hard time handling communication with users, backers, and potential customers in between building machines and writing software. Maybe you fell into this black hole if you emailed us, if so we apologize. We ended up setting a support system to reduce confusion on our end. If you need to contact us, just email Support at our domain and you'll be entered in the system with a ticket. This has gone a long way to eliminate "HEY JORGE (yelling across the shop)- Did you reply to ____?".
Odds and Ends
Our machine shop continues to deliver great quality at an inconsistent pace. We should be getting another 30 frames on Friday. Time will tell.
Backers have asked if we'll be selling additional cutters, materials, and consumables. Yes we will- http://shop.carbide3d.com . It's minimal right now but we needed to get it up and running to support the machines shipping right now.
We got our first totally custom cutter from our supplier a week ago. We asked for something really special at a low price. They took a few months to think about it and we just got a few prototypes. We probably need a few changes so we don't want to post photos yet, but it's good. (I've been accused of having a monotone, understated delivery so assume that when I say "it's good" that it's OMG-good)