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A $99 consumer 3D printer with WiFi, USB, mobile support, auto bed leveling, & optional laser! Built by a proven and experienced team!
A $99 consumer 3D printer with WiFi, USB, mobile support, auto bed leveling, & optional laser! Built by a proven and experienced team!
3,213 backers pledged $771,191 to help bring this project to life.

Molded Parts, Help Us, Timeline with Realistic Goals, Addressing Concerns

Posted by Robotic Industries LLC (Creator)
125 likes

Molded Parts

We have continued to work on getting parts converted to and molds made for injection molding the plastic parts. All of our parts were designed with things in mind that would ensure they were not impossible to have injection molded - as there are some things you can do with 3D printing that you can't with injection molding. That said, only a few of the parts were initially designed specifically for injection molding - the corner brackets and the spindle holder - the rest we had originally planned to 3D print. That is why we've had to spend time reworking the other parts to be "more" injection friendly. This process has involved substantial back and forth with a few different injection molding companies - who's biggest concern has been that the parts are too thick and don't have enough voids in them, so they will warp when they cool - since injection molding cools all at once and rapidly, very much unlike 3D printing which cools slowly as the layers are built up. We've made progress on this and some other smaller injection molding issues - but the process has been slower then we can accept right now, and any time you are working with another company's engineers there is some question of "is this a change they want to make it easier for them, or better for us?"

We have decided to take a step back now (on this part of the process, and only this) - we have been in "go, go, go" mode for a lot longer than you folks or us expected to be - and so it is hard to not just push ahead and take what we can get from the factories. But - based on advice from people with more injection molding experience then us and failures we have seen in other projects with molding that has led to very long delays - we know that this is something we have to get right. We have a plan, and we are going to take one week and continue to get all the help we can from the factories but also from some outside engineers who specialize in this sort of thing.

Want to Help?

And because we know our backers collectively cover many fields and skills - we also want to invite anyone out there who is a mechanical engineer with injection molding experience - or just an injection molding expert to help us out!

If you would be interested in helping us out, have some time to spare in the next week, and have the qualifications to really steer us in the right direction, please do message us! We will be more than happy to compensate you for your time.

Of course  this is not the only route we are taking, as mentioned above we will continue to work with the factory engineers, as well as seeking the help of a few people we know who are mechanical engineers with extensive plastics experience.

We will be back during the week of the 15th-21st to update you on how this process is going.

Timeline

We have had an increasing number of requests for a timeline update. Quite frankly we're quite frustrated and disappointed that we haven't delivered a printer to you yet - and what is even more difficult is to not be able to say "we will start shipping approximately X" - but we completely understand that many feel a goal/estimate is better then nothing. So here we go:  

Remaining Items:  

  • Injection molding issues discussed above.  
  • Test of final injection molded parts and final circuit boards together with existing finalized printer.  
  • Final packaging design.  
  • Full scale assembly.  
  • Final shipping logistics (with some changes due to time and changing trade environment).  

So where do those place us as far as a timeline -

Realistic Goals

I'd like to do my best to set some truly realistic goals for getting us to completion, setting aside the best case and optimistic thinking which is key to keeping at it, but not very useful to all of you, our backers.

Injection molding issues discussed above - as detailed above, we are going full stop on these parts for the next week to see how much we can improve them before we have the remaining parts turned into molds. So that's a week, plus molding time and transit time of the new parts - this puts this at 2-4 weeks. 

Test of final injection molded parts and final circuits boards with the rest of the parts - the final circuit boards that remain will easily beat the injection molding parts, so this really depends on that. We will test with as-close-as possible 3D printed parts up until we have the injection parts which should be direct replacements mechanically. At this stage we would call the full assembly the "ready for production" sample. This is a week - we are reaching the point where nearly all parts involved are not functionally changing. Otherwise this would trigger an update.

Final package design - the ready for production samples go to the assembly and packaging factory - and they take the box we've picked out, the packing order we've spec-ed, and determine the foam inserts needed to pack it all in with the padding we've spec-ed. This is a matter of several days at most as it is something we can have our QA people on the ground in China approve, while we wait to receive the final samples.

Full scale assembly - at this stage we'll be past the mass production hurdles of injection molding, circuit boards, and sourced parts - this is all about getting the first production runs of the parts and then answering questions about our assembly specs, quality control, and receiving the first many shipments (and random samples on an ongoing basis) ourselves, and checking them. These first shipments will effectively be the first public beta units in that we'll ship them out to backers in return for immediate feedback, this rolls into making any needed changes and continuing production. For this process to reach that point it will take 2-4 weeks after the last step above (some of this happens during the steps above).

Final shipping logistics - concurrent with the Full scale assembly we'll be taking the leads and research we have already and making the final choices of logistics - prices, tariffs, and freight shipment lead times are all over the place right now so there is really no good way to finalize the logistics patterns until we can say "we'll have either several hundred packages or a 20ft container in one week." I will say this about our logistics - the open questions that will remain are bulk shipment to EU (very likely) and bulk shipment to North America (looking much less likely - though bulk shipment into Canada instead of the US is a possibility that we will be working on). Nearly all other locations will receive direct shipments from Hong Kong/Shenzhen via DHL or a similar carrier, when possible selected for reliability first and ease of import a close second.

Today is July 8th - realistically this places shipments starting in 6-10 weeks (mid August to mid September) with a steady stream after they start, likely spanning a month to hit about 90% of shipments - by that we mean 6 weeks and 10 weeks are both realistic numbers, 6 isn't an optimistic everything goes perfectly number and between the 6 and 10 there isn't much we can accurately predict right now, so we better not try. Of course we will be doing absolutely everything we can to hit that 6 week number, and even more so to ensure we don't go past that 10 week number

We know this is not what you want to hear, and it is not what we want to have to say - but we think at this point a realistic timeline is the most important thing we can offer, in addition to our continued promise to continue to work hard until we deliver.

Addressing Some Concerns

I want to address several concerns that I have seen reoccurring in both comments and messages -

This project will be (nearly) a year late! - Yes it will, and for that I sincerely apologize. I understand the frustration that backers are feeling about the numerous delays - some of which should have been foreseen - no doubt, even after 5 other successful Kickstarters, making a 3D printer is harder then we could have known, and we knew it would be hard! We share that frustration with the delays, and it dictates what I do nearly every day until we deliver this printer. The team over at Kodama - who is also trying to deliver a $99 3D printer - has one complete printer project under their belt and they too have seen numerous delays and currently do not have a published shipment timeline of any sort (to the best of our knowledge). Making a $99 3D printer is harder then even those with more experience then us thought it would be - but we are getting close, we are solving the roadblocks, and we won't stop until we deliver printers to all of our backers.

Is this project vapor ware? - no it is not, this project and the companies (Digistump and Robotic Industries) involved are how I make a living and support my family, this is my full time job, and I will continue to work on this full time until it ships.

Will this run out of money before it ships? - we still have over $600k of the funds raised in our accounts or holding accounts with suppliers/factories - we have never been in a position, given the price point, to waste money or be able to afford overly expensive changes, but we have used the funds carefully in this slow march towards production and they will cover production and shipping.

How do I change my address? - we will send an email before we ship requiring you to confirm or change your address, there really is no need to worry about it at this time.

What are the exterior measurements? These have been posted in comments a few times - but here they are again - approximately 12x11x12 inches or 300x275x300mm without any spools or room for operation - suggested work area for it is 17x14x16 inches minimum for a single extruder setup.

We want to see more media! - understood, and we know we've been lacking here. Until the next week we are going to be working completely on the injection molding issues, when we come back with that next update we will start knocking items off this list based on suggestions recently in the comments - somewhat in order they are likely to get done (for a variety of reasons)

  • overall overview / look / pan around  
  • bed  
  • axis  
  • non-boaty prints  
  • circuit boards  
  • 3d scanner  
  • laser

Thank You

Thank you again for your patience, support, and feedback as we continue to work hard until we deliver a great 3D printer.

-Erik

Rocco Ianiello, Brian Riley, and 123 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Jordi Ubach on

      I am an expert in computer science, and I have experience in molding plastic pieces in 3D, I can be of help.

    2. Andrew Hitchcock on

      I'm a mechanical engineer that has spent the last 17 years designing complex injection molded parts using 3D CAD. I can probably help out.

    3. Missing avatar

      Larry on

      Erik, thank you for a detailed and Honest update, although I too would love to have my printer yesterday... getting an open and complete update clears the air of many of the " smoke and mirrors" feelings that I and others have held.
      Continue to strive for the best unit shipped in the quickest time, please keep updates ( and images) coming regularly...thank you.

    4. Missing avatar

      Jim van Zee on

      I ordered a B1 to play with, it is not essential to my life. The delivery time is of far less importance to me than having it work flawlessly out-of-the-box and thereafter. I think Erik is making good decisions and I applaud him for reaching out to the talent within the backer community itself. Brilliant!

    5. DKearns on

      Thanks for the extensive update.

    6. Missing avatar

      Rob on

      Erik- I am a design engineer with some experience with injection molded parts- but am not an expert in injection moldiong. I use Solidworks daily. I might be able to help with some parts that are not too complex.

    7. Missing avatar

      Ryan Kinnett on

      Good for all dozen or so of you die hards who reinstate your support after every update. Your commitment and patience is impressive.

      I can’t wait forever. Please promptly refund my pledge. Thank you kindly.

    8. Missing avatar

      Paul Warner on

      Thanks for the update - it all makes sense - looking forward to seeing the printer in my shop. All will be good.

    9. Tom aka "Original Timmy"
      Superbacker
      on

      @Eric, I backed both your campaign and Kodomas, I have more faith you will deliver than
      them!

      I was also expecting the timeline to be later in the year or early next year for delivery, so if you come through in Sept that will be great

    10. Robotic Industries LLC Creator on

      Thank you all for the support and understanding!

      @Bob - simscale is awesome, I didn't know of any free tools like that! thank you!
      I also really appreciate your offer to help - I am interested in talking more to you about how it once we get past a first round of changing the design with some injection molding engineers - a few have volunteered and we're working with a few others we know - once we get through that I'd be very interested in your feedback, thoughts, and expertise

    11. Kevin Long on

      Stay strong! I am so glad you are still going and getting it right!

    12. Missing avatar

      Ron on

      Actually sounds more like 8-12 weeks to me, but I'm fine with that too! Keep up the amazing work and looking forward to my first 3D print :)

    13. Missing avatar

      Tom Parsons
      Superbacker
      on

      Erik
      I really appreciate the update, even if it is not what I want to hear. You have proved your commitment to doing it the right way. Hang in there, I prefer a good quality printer even if takes a little longer.

    14. Missing avatar

      Bob Cunningham on

      One more thing: FEA can useful in multiple ways even late in the design process. SimScale (https://www.simscale.com/) may be the best FREE/cheap alternative for quickly analyzing simple parts in a time-crunched situation (cloud and browser based, so no setup hassles). SimScale imports STEP, IGES, BREP and STL geometry files.

    15. Missing avatar

      Markdand
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks so much for the update Erik. I know you want to get it right and I don't mind the delays.

    16. Missing avatar

      Bob Cunningham on

      Erik - I'd love to help!

      I'm no injection engineer, but I've done lots of design reviews on systems containing molded parts, and I've helped clean up the mess when things went wrong. I've done hands-on investigations to identify root causes of specific issues: In one case, the plastics vendor mislabeled pallets of pellets. In another, the cold-junction compensation for an entire set of molding machine thermocouples was off.

      I'm an R&D engineer who deep-dives to identify first principles for problems. I'm often the outsider, "unburdened" by convention or received knowledge. Meaning I get to ask lots of seemingly "stupid" questions. Like questioning product labels or "calibrated" temperature readings.

      The best way to use me may be as a monitor of ongoing work, doing continuous reviews. I'll keep the communications burden to a minimum until/unless I see something of concern, or you ask specific questions you'd like me to independently research.

      Let's start with an NDA ("I agree to keep all shared information private."). I'll work pro-bono for 5-10 hours per week until *after* I've delivered value you find worthy of compensation *or* you desire more of my time.

      Some "tricks" I've seen used to get out of injection molding design difficulties: 1) Have an ultrasonic welder handy. Many difficult parts become simpler and better when split in two for molding, then welded (or in some cases glued or press-fit) together. 2) If a part is securely mounted against a stationary flat surface, remove the part wall facing that surface. 3) Consider thermoset plastics when regular thermoplastics aren't suitable. 4) Don't forget about blow/vacuum molding (for hollow parts), and stamping/forging (for solid parts).

      While many parts designed for FDM can't directly be used to create injection molds, the reverse is not the case: Parts designed for injection molding can generally be produced by 3D printing (though not always FDM), though great care must be taken during the slicing and printing process to ensure the resulting print is a fair representation of the molded part.

      I'd strongly recommend using a local 3D print house to make quick-turn prototypes of injection molding designs (those serving the medical industry are best). Such parts aren't cheap, but are a bargain compared to bad molds or production parts, or schedule delays. Then send the final approved prototypes to China to serve as calibration references for the molded parts.

      In cases where FDM works for prototyping it can be superior: You can get custom filament made using any specific injection molding plastic identified for your parts (so long as it is a thermoplastic and not a thermoset plastic). Proto-pasta (https://www.proto-pasta.com/) isn't that far from you!

    17. Missing avatar

      Nathan Nelson on

      So I'm not sure of everyone else, but I backed this thing thinking it'd be optimistically a year late. Though you could inform the customer base better, this is truly a business for you and you're out more money than anyone else if it fails. That all said, you started Kickstarter with a design in mind and changed things many times during the process, I'm happy to say this is one of the most ambitious products I've ever seen, I was expecting a "some assembly required" pitch, even now though you're doing your best. Thanks for all the hard work!

    18. Mark S on

      Erik: I have followed and backed many tech projects and you come across as one of the top creators who is concerned with the output result, showing the process clearly, and I can say the delay is minor compared to many others in the same situation.
      I hope you make time for your family as well as our 1st-world product dramas! ;-)

    19. Missing avatar

      Leonid Nemiro on

      Hi Erik, Thanks for the update. I have sent you a message regarding helping out!

    20. Patrick Robbe
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the honest update! I'm really looking forward to receiving my printer. My previous one is almost non-functional but I'd rather stay a couple of months printer-less than get a crappy product. Keep up the work, guys!

    21. Adam McClendon on

      To be honest I was skeptical of the timeline from the getgo :) 1 year for a quality product is totally worth the wait. Thanks for the update!

    22. Steve Thatcher on

      Eric & team, thanks for the update and honest assessment of where things are at. I know you will deliver a quality printer when you can, so keep up the faith and we will be here waiting.

    23. Alan Salls on

      No vapor-ware fears here! You guys are doing the best you can and I have total faith in you. Make it RIGHT, not fast. Keep the updates coming & keep up the good work.

    24. Missing avatar

      Heshie Bee on

      Keep it up! Looking fwd!

    25. Rob oppers on

      Thanks for the update! Looking forward to print with it.

    26. Peter Tosi on

      I find the whole process fascinating. I think it's going to be great

    27. Missing avatar

      san tran on

      Good luck! My boys are 3 and half and 8 months old, as long as you get it done before they turn teenagers and no longer want to play with me, take your time :) 👍

    28. Missing avatar

      dave king on

      Thanks for the update.
      As for myself, I am of the "Take the time to do it right and not do it fast" group of backers.
      We are talking about a couple of months, so it's all good with me.
      Dave

    29. Kev S on

      Assuming this is allowed by the Kickstarter rules.... Does anyone want to buy my pledge? (Ultimate Edition)?

      I naïvely backed this for a project I needed a printer for, but have since bought a printer for that role. My need for this printer is now redundant.

      I'm not "throwing my toys out of the pram", it's just a case of over optimistic backing from a Kickstarter newbie. You live and learn. I have nothing against the team and am willing them towards the finish line. I know they'll succeed but if anyone needs another printer, I'm happy to sell my pledge to them. Just let me know in these comments 🙂

    30. Lewis Harrison-Wood
      Superbacker
      on

      Fantastic update, thanks for your communication, honesty and hard work in producing a great 3D printer.

      Delays are to be expected on Kickstarter, as long as the communication continues, then most people will be happy. 😀

    31. Missing avatar

      Martijn on

      @Erik and team, though of course I'd like to have my printer yesterday... I would prefer it to be thought out and basically a good product.

      Your latest update is great in the sense that it keeps us informed, shows what you're working on and what the current concerns are.

      I for one continue to have faith in your ability to finish this project and deliver something nice. For me, 6-10 weeks is fine. Take that time to make sure you don't burn out and deliver the great product that we're hoping for.

      I will anxiously await next week's update and look forward to heaps of pictures and videos to satisfy my curiosity untill the nice box arrives at my door.

    32. Missing avatar

      Grossholtz Cyrille on

      You guys are great, take your time and make the best printer you can 👍