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The mPrinter is a small thermal printer that prints dynamic snippets of information we call mPrints.
The mPrinter is a small thermal printer that prints dynamic snippets of information we call mPrints.
706 backers pledged $88,018 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

November update

Greetings everyone.  We have been making a lot of progress and everything is on schedule.

First, I apologize if I have not been able to directly reply to all messages.  I often don't get alerts on Kickstarter messages, but will try to start replying to them daily.  You can reach us directly via email at info@themprinter.com and we'll reply as soon as possible.

We've been concurrently finalizing the case design, electrical design, and website.

Case design

We've been working closely with a very talented industrial designer to prepare the case for injection molding.  We are ordering the first rapid prototypes this week, and I'll be sure to post pictures as soon as we have them available.

After completing the initial design fitment and accurately modeling all the parts that went into the printer, we began refining the case.

There is an RGB LED light ring the extends around the top circumference of the case.  It will be used as a standard status indicator, as well as be controllable directly from mPrints.

Since this rendering was done, some aesthetic changes such as the thumb recesses have been changed.

The last week has been spent on making the case design fully manufacturable, and ready for rapid prototyping.  Once we have the prototypes (presumably within the next 10 days), we'll be checking everything for fit and function and make any necessary refinements.  I expect at least two rounds of prototype revisions.

Website

The website is nearing a phase where it will be made public to the early developers for testing and feedback.  We expect early developer access by Thanksgiving.  We will be publishing the preliminary API specifications by the end of November for feedback, and plan to open the website to all users by Christmas.

Electrical and firmware design

The electrical design has experienced very few changes since the last update.  The primary MCU is a PIC24F, with a Cortex M0 acting as a print head driver.  The largest change is that instead of a single RGB status LED, we have moved to a light ring with a minimum of 4 LEDs.  We will be confirming that provides adequate lighting, and have left room in the case for up to 8 individual LEDs.

The largest part of the electrical design remaining is continued firmware enhancements.  For example, currently when you first plugin in the mPrinter it creates an ad-hoc network named "MPRINTER", to which you can connect and configure the device.  You can leave it in ad-hoc mode, or connect it to an existing network.  We plan to also create a setup wizard that works over USB to perform these same functions.

Moving forward

As soon as we have the prototype cases ready, we'll have another update with more photos.  Everything is on track for the initial timelines, and we're doing everything we can to beat them.

Again, apologies if anyones messages were ignored or missed - we will be as proactive as possible with backer interaction and feedback moving forward.

-Andy

Two weeks out - where are we now?

Hi everyone.  It's been two weeks since we completed funding.  I wanted to give a quick update on some progress we've made.

Feature tweaks

We've had a lot of requests for an auto-cutting head.  We just received some sample units, and are testing them now.  In regards to the actual printing aspect of the new heads, they are identical to the current ones so very little change is required.  We are testing partial and full cut heads.  The downside to the auto-cutting heads is they are considerably more expensive.  We plan to offer the auto-cutter as an additional model, and if there is enough interest also offer an upgrade to existing backers.  Please give us some feedback if this is a feature that you'd use.

Case design

A CAD designer and industrial designer have been working on the case now for about a month.  We've had a lot of back and forth, and are ready to get the first test cases 3D printed this week for a fully functional prototype.  Once the designer has time to finish his magic and make aesthetic revisions, we'll get some renders up for feedback from everyone.

Electrical design

The electrical design is in it's final stages.  We've made several revisions, and are having final professional boards made for the test units now.  As briefly mentioned before, the final design uses a PIC 24F as the primary MCU, a small ARM Cortex M0 to drive the print head, and has other features such as an onboard stepper controller for the print head, the WiFi module, etc.

Board manufacturing

For the first run, we are trying to keep the board manufacturing local in Dallas.  I've meet with two possible firms and are confident either one could handle the job.  Finding a location that lets us take photos and show how the process works is a priority.

Website

Our website has taken a bit longer than expected to get live.  We should have something basic up by the end of this week.  Additionally, our blog will be live and I'll start posting lots of photos.

Order changes

A lot of international customers have asked how to add $20 for shipping they forgot.  Rest assured there will be a way to fix it.  Amazon Payments seems to block international payments directly to our account, so we're trying to find an alternative method to let you pay the difference.

We'll have another update at the beginning of next week with much more information, and hopefully our blog will be live by then so you can track things as they happen.

We appreciate your support!

7 hours to go - a quick update on labels

First, I'd like to thank everyone for their support.  

Next, we finally have some sample photos of printed labels.  We have not yet finalized the formats that will be available, but it is possible to print labels with the mPrinter.  A few samples are below.

We'll have another update once our blog is live and we'll be posting updates here throughout the development and manufacturing cycle.  Thanks for your support!

  • Image 158108 original

Watch an mPrint live

We've setup a few sample triggered mPrints:

  • Every time there's a new backer, a "receipt" is printed with a summary and your username
  • You can SMS your message to +1 (415) 523-8888 and we'll print it
  • Send us a Tweet to @themprinter, or tag your Tweets #mprinter or #themprinter and we'll print it

It takes a second for the camera to snap the photo and upload it, so be patient.  It's usually 1-2 minutes.

You can view the live feed at http://themprinter.com/feed/.  There's no timeline on how long this will stay live, but have fun while it's up!  Keep in mind this is all running on very beta equipment, so there may be unforeseen issues.

Nearly to $60,000 and going strong

I wanted to take a minute to give a few updates.  

First, we've been working with a product designer on finalizing the case design.  We hope to have that complete next week and start the 3D rapid prototyping phase.

While that's being done, we've been hard at work on additional electrical and functional prototypes.  Based on user feedback, we are definitely adding an audible buzzer to the design.  Also, we are probably going to have two buttons as opposed to one.  The secondary button will have a configurable function (for example, initiate a specific mPrint).

If we hit $75,000 in funding, we're going to add a controllable RGB LED status indicator - either as a "light ring" around the case, or in the area of the button.  In addition to standard indication like network connectivity and print queue status, you'll be able to set a custom color from Javascript mPrints.

We are working on getting our blog up and will provide the URL as soon as it's ready.

Please keep the great feedback coming.  Your support is truly appreciated.