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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.

Head unit design

Posted by Robotic Industries LLC (Creator)

Head unit design 

It took a few more days then we thought in our last update, and for that I apologize, but the head unit design is now fully functionally complete. Is it perfect? No - and we will be inviting several backers who have offered to help with injection molding design (thank you!) to contribute any improvements they have in the next few days, but otherwise it is functional design that ticks all the boxes and is ready for for full prototype testing.

This design had numerous challenges as it is the part that really ties everything together and also the part most effected by numerous other small changes that occurred to the other parts during the design process. The last obstacle to this part's completion was the locations where the belts attach - these have to be in the exact right spot and the last 5 days (and many before that in previous versions) have been spent working and reworking the locations and type of connection points for the belt in order to keep mold costs down, simplicity up, and stick to a minimum number of parts needed to complete the belt attachments. And this all has to be done ensuring the attachment points don't conflict with any other parts of the head unit or the ability to mold it.

What we finally settled on was making the mold slightly more complex by having four holes from the top down into the mold (the mold is a front/back mold) and then having M4 bolts go in those holes and a looped end of the belt attach to those bolts. This allows for easy shortening of the belt for increasing tension (and easy belt changes if ever needed) and the motors also can be slid forward or back in their mounts to increase tension in smaller amounts.

Here is a spinning video of it:

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  And here is a video showing ~15 of the more interesting saved copies of the model from iterations over the last several days - it might not all look like much as a lot of work was done between the files too - but it shows several different belt attachment systems being tried for conflicts with molding and other mounting points, being abandoned, and finally settling on the bolt setup explained above.

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 What else is going on with this head unit? The two tunnels through it hold the bearings that it travels on. The two semi circle mounts are for the head unit and the part fan. The part fan funnel has been removed so that you can use any (or just the fan) shape you want for part cooling and the funnel will be a pre-loaded first print if you want to use that.

The flat backside is the mounting for the Z probe for auto leveling and the laser unit for those who got that upgrade. That mounting location is also a great place to mount experimental user created add-ons.

What's Next

This is a list I've posted before - but with updates - last time we posted it we had a few complaints about "copying and pasting" but I think keeping this list updated is the best way we can show what's next/how much is ahead.

Last tweaks to designs - Over the weekend and early next week we'll do any last minute tweaks to everything (injection and acrylic parts) and take any contributions of tweaks to the head unit.

Test of final injection molded parts and final circuits boards with the final head unit - We have been testing these parts for some time but at this point we need to wrap them all together to get the "ready for production" sample. After that we'll do another set of testing with the first production mold samples. We'll likely start sending both of these types of prototypes to some backers for feedback and testing.

Final package design - the ready for production samples go to the assembly and packaging factory (while molds and such are being made for production) - 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.  

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 production 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.  

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." If it possible to ship to distributors - we're likely to do a short survey for EU backers (Something like: If we ship from within the EU you will have to prepay your customs tax of $X and shipping will take an extra 2 weeks vs shipping it from China and having that tax assessed by your country on arrival with any additional fees customs or couriers may charge in your area - which would you prefer?) Please DO NOT answer that in the comments and DO NOT send us a message - we'll ask it when the time comes. We'll probably have to go by a straight majority as to what we do. US shipments will be shipped from China almost for certain thanks to the 25% tariffs - the rest of the world we're still figuring out the final plan. 

Prototype Video

The head unit above is printing on a couple of our printers we use for prototype parts right now - we'll also try to get an SLA print of it soon. 

With that we'll start to assemble some latest prototypes/nearly completely final prototypes and get some video of where the printing is at now. That will be our next update.

Thank You

I wanted to take a moment at the end of this update to say thank you - while I've continued to push forward and work hard towards a good ready to ship printer - the most often understandable frustration, but increasingly personal and sometimes completely inappropriately personal attacks reached a chorus the last week or so that even got through the rather thick skin against the personal attacks many years of Kickstarter projects has given me.  (I don't need a thick skin for the very understandable and valid criticisms - I take the respectful ones to heart and work hard to make a success out of the project). In my last update I responded to some of these concerns and accusations, because I felt that was the best way to address them. I truly and whole heatedly appreciate the unexpected outpouring of encouragement and support I received after that. Thank you. 

Are you totally completely annoyed and frustrated at how long this has taken? I expect most/many are, completely understand that, and apologize for it - and a special thanks to the many who have expressed those things with respect for everyone in this community. I always try to make a point to say - please do feel free to speak your mind, good or bad, about this project here and on our message board - I don't believe in censoring the bad or anything like that - but it is very much appreciated if it is done respectfully. 

Thank you all for the support and patience, I look forward to another update soon with some video of the latest prototype.

Jo G, Ian R, and 137 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Phillip a baird on

      Looking for an update 2/15/2019

    2. Missing avatar

      Travis Ferestad on

      So what happened to the 80% of the money not yet spent?

    3. Missing avatar

      vikram on

      Alright its hard to accept, but i think this project is no more active. No updates

    4. Missing avatar

      Dave Comer on

      Sandy enough, it's becoming obvious that this project may be going down the road of lessons learned. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably isn't (true).

    5. Nic Ashby on

      In one of your comments you mentioned the importance of more frequent updates however it’s been two months now without an update so you’ve literally decreased the frequency of your updates. Great job Erik. This is the third project of yours that I’ve backed and by far the furthest off schedule. You keep saying that this project is you’re number one priority however I find it inconceivable that you can’t find time, not even five minutes to write a short update of something… Anything

    6. Missing avatar

      Leslie J Troyer on

      It’s been over two months. How about a status update!!!

    7. Michael D. Snell on

      No update in December and it’s almost the end of January now - any forward progress you can report?

    8. Tamarinen on

      @Mogul lee
      It took 18 months to find out that the original design would be pretty much unusable at the advertised cost because the actual parts delivered for building it were of inferior quality to the bait and switch demo parts Erik was sent to begin with, and then to redesign the whole printer and make the new design work as a mass produced product.

    9. Missing avatar

      Mugul lee on

      What are they actually doing? modeling a parts for a year?? At the time when this project started, It looked like that would be delivered in several months.

      This project started in May 2017. They took 18 months to model.

    10. Ken King on

      @Bats - where is the main comments section you mention? I would love to get more frequent info, but hadn’t heard of this as an option.

    11. Ken King on

      To keep the natives from growing too restless, might I suggest that you so a weekly, SCRUM-style report?

      Nothing more than:
      -what we did this week (completed, made progress on, ...)
      -what didn’t get done this week (planned but not worked)
      -what we plan to do next week
      -what blockers you have encountered
      -what others can do to help remove the blockers (the injection molding issue would be a great example)

      5 short paragraphs each week. If it takes more than 10 min, you’re putting too much detail in. Save those longer comments for the “feature achieved” announcement. Those are mile-stones, these are more in the inch-pebble range.

      Pick a day of the week and do it before bed that night each and every week (schedule time in your calendar app, with an alert/alarm).

      Just a thought...

    12. Bats on

      @Norman: While we're obviously still waiting on a proper update, Eric has made a few posts this week over in the main comments thread.

    13. Missing avatar

      Ian Gibson on

      I'm trying to stay positive about this project but it gets more and more difficult if you can't be bothered to write even a few lines to let your backers know that you are still working on it....

    14. Norman Papernick on

      Can we get some kind of update? Even if it is just a "yes, we are alive" type?

    15. Martin

      This will be my 3rd 3D printer and probably the FIRST to be delivered, setup, and running.
      I am out big $$ from previous kickstarters and I rarely support any projects any more. I did support the TEENSY projects, as well as the Digi and OAK projects. I will patiently wait for Erik to come through with the quality I expect. Delivering quality is far more important then delivering quickly.
      Erik, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and keep up the great work!

    16. Norman Papernick on

      Can we expect an update before new years?

    17. Kevin Ernst on

      I too am excited to here the printer is almost a reality. You didn’t compromise as some other Kickstarter projects and just send out an incomplete and useless shipment. I have backed other printers and they went as cheap as they could meaning it was a cash grab.

      I truly hope that when this project is complete you can get close to that $99 build with quality. It is the only way to bring the price point down.

    18. Ruben van Tienen on

      Keep up the good work, As long as you do a weekly update, I think most of us are happy with the delay.

    19. Missing avatar

      La Monte Henry Piggy Yarroll on

      Keep up the good work. I'm happy to hear that you still have enough funds.

    20. Max Aalderink on

      Since you took the time to thank us, let me actually take the time to comment for once.

      Although the delays are slightly annoying it has become expected with Kickstarter. But what is not so common is the detailed updates you provide.
      So let me thank you for that and I look forward to receiving my pledge in 2019!

    21. Missing avatar

      Greg Jury

      Don’t even listen to the hate comments. These people should be shopping Amazon, Walmart or some other retail establishment as they obviously don’t understand how Kickstarter works. When you become a backer of a project you are taking a risk along with the the project owner. These are products that DON’T exist in the market. What I and others should expect is.... good communication on the project and it’s process. These updates should come approx every 4 to 6 weeks or so. To date this project has done both of these things perfectly. Unfortunately some projects hit snags that delay the process. These are unforeseen and unfortunate, but it happens. As long as you get communication of these delays all is good and we have.

      So far from what I have seen this project is moving along nicely and the updates have been timely. Keep up the great work BuildOne team. Looking forward to receiving my printer once it is completed.

    22. Jim Vanderveen on

      I've backed many (most?) of Erik's projects, and he has *always* come through. This is by far the most challenging project I've seen from him and his team, so yeah it's slipped the ambitious schedule. But it looks like we will get a fantastic, hackable product out of it. I look forward to receiving it whenever it's ready. Erik, be sure to spend some time with your family and friends during the holidays! I won't begrudge you any of that time.

    23. Missing avatar

      Staffan Melin on

      I have no real problem with the delays. Crowfouning is a bit risky and I appreciate all your efforts. Thanks a lot!

    24. Andrew Graley on

      Nothing worth achieving is accomplished without some sacrifice.

      Keep up the good work.

    25. Missing avatar

      Thomas Cronholm on

      Do I understand, yes.
      Does the wait bother me, no not really.
      The only hiccup in all of this is that I now have to pay 25% more on top of what I have already paid, as Sweden now has a new way of handling packages, that did not exist when I ordered.
      Does this make me mad at you or your team, NO! Definitely not!
      Just keep up the good work and keep those updates coming!
      Love to you and your team!

    26. Missing avatar

      German Fabregat on

      Many of us understand that a new project is a challenging task., and you are doing your best to fullfill it. Many of us supported you at the begining of the project and many of us still support you. You are doing a great job.


    27. Defragster on

      Nice work Erik - on the part and the update. Hopefully your head unit prints prove out the effort to make it right - and then needed mods for best molding.

      Thanks for staying on the job and making sure it comes out right. I'll be much happier waiting to get a printer I can assemble and use on day 1. Printing the fan funnel will be a good test.

    28. Julian Bourne on

      Happy to have received a comprehensive update.
      Also happy to just patiently wait until it’s done.
      What’s the point in getting irate? It’ll be done when it’s done. Best wishes to all developers and backers.

    29. Anders Öster

      Great update. I hope that somebody can help with the head unit.

    30. Dan Gerson on

      Nice update and progress. Thanks for keeping me informed of your progress. I will have to really learn CAD!! Its going to be interesting.

    31. Steve Saville on

      Ignore the complainers! They never accomplish anything.
      I have a good background in plastic injection molded part design. I wish I could help but I do not have access to 3D CAD.
      A repeated flaw I see in the part design is the square edges and corners. They must be radiused and filleted to make a repeatable part that does not have serious internal stress.
      Best practice for design is to have no square edges.
      Another thing I would think about - Molded holes have knit lines where the plastic meets after traveling around the pins. These knit lines are a weak area in the design. If these holes are going to see a lot of stress it could cause problems. Inserting a metal sleeve can help with that. Post processing is not desirable, but drilling those holes would eliminate the knit lines.
      Another thing is the material flow on these parts seem long and tortuous. Unscrupulous Molders will gladly take your money and make a mold knowing that it will never make a good part. Make sure you have confidence in their ability to make the part. Mold flow analysis is good for that. I like using molding companies that also make the tooling so that you eliminate finger-pointing. A company that does both is much less likely to take on a job when they know that they have to be able to make the part.

    32. Missing avatar

      Bob Cunningham on

      Do you have a reference design for the hot-end mount? It looks a bit thin to me without supporting gussets above or below.

      A thin mount can have two issues: First, droop (with time or weight). Second, resonance and/or vibration. Now, it's only a 5" printer, so we're not looking at huge numbers here, but I'm wondering if this head unit design will survive moving to the up-size kit.

    33. Matthew Pawloski on

      Thanks for the update. Forget about the jerks who don't understand the difference between Kickstater and Walmart.

    34. Missing avatar

      Ed Doub on

      Thank You for the update.
      Squelch the volume on the naysayers, you guys/gals are succeeding in a most difficult project, balancing the imperatives for a quality product as a heretofore ridiculously low price point.
      Keep up the work and Happy Holidays!

    35. Ian White on

      All I had to do was click a couple buttons to back this project. Since then it’s been a rather leisurely process of reading updates and comments whenever I have nothing better to do. The slight impatience I feel when updates are a week later than promised is fleeting and childish in comparison to the constant pressure Erik and the rest of the team have endured, on top of doing all the actual work.

      I’ve backed some pretty frustrating campaigns, and this is not one of them. A couple of them have gone dark with no update or closure after more than a year. One of those two companies was discovered to have liquidated into oblivion, the other has since advertised the same vaporware on IGG and is still taking preorders through their website. Another project I’m backing was supposed to deliver in May and there have only been 23 updates, compared to the 54 here. This campaign seems to be doing just fine in my experience.

    36. Missing avatar

      HeyItsPK on

      Hey guys,
      I’ll be honest, I didnt expect much from a $100 3D printer but I was on a kickstarter binge so I backed you. I’ve been very patient, and impressed, with how you guys/gals have handled the project. I believe in you all and cant wait for your next update. I wish I could be involved with the project but I’ve been busy with work. I’m impressed with the way you’ve reached out to the community to reach your goal and I’m glad that other backers have taken the opportunity to help as well. Keep going! We (or at least a few of us) do believe that you will finish the project and deliver an amazing product.

    37. Missing avatar

      Ammon Mills on

      TBH, I don't care how long it takes, as long as it is a quality machine. Keep up the good work, Erik.

    38. Missing avatar

      Woody Kennedy on

      I am neither annoyed or frustrated with u. To me it is like placing a 200$ bet in Vegas but I am betting on you guys. I applaud your efforts.

      Keep focused and win


    39. Missing avatar

      Raphael on

      That second video gives a glimpse at the amount of work that goes silently to get things done. Thanks for the update!

    40. Adrian Kitson on

      Keep up the good work! Thank you :)

    41. Branko on

      The end is nigh!

      It’s great to see that we’re in the home stretch.

    42. Alex Van de Putte on

      Keep up the good work, and ignore the haters! I've backed a prior project of yours, and I know that you will deliver (eventually)!

    43. Robotic Industries LLC Creator on

      @Jo, Ron, John, Steve - thank you!
      @John - I won't commit to a weekly update, I know better then that, but I agree more frequent updates are needed especially at this stage so I will work towards fulfilling that goal

    44. Steve Thatcher on

      Erik, in my career as an electronics engineer, I have met and worked with many people. I have backed projects on Kickstarter and dealt with delays or no delivery on a few. This is the third campaign of yours that I have backed and it never crossed my mind that you would not deliver what you said you were going to do. I am looking forward to adding the BuildOne into the sea of 3d printers whose numbers are steadily increasing for me. I just wanted to say thank you for your high ethical standard. There are many who would have (and have) burned through the money and never delivered, Best regards, Steve Thatcher

    45. John Daniels on

      I would ignore any complaints about 'copy paste' updates: any regular update is good, even if it's largely a copy/paste from the last one. An update showing that you're still there and working (even if you have little to show) is far more valuable than an extended silence punctuated by infrequent "meaningful" posts.

      As you get closer to production, more frequent updates would be appreciated - many kickstarters have fallen at the final hurdle and a sudden silence just before shipping can be really concerning. Posting every week would be ideal, even if it's mostly to say "things continue on as before".

    46. Missing avatar

      Ron on

      Hurray! Good news indeed :) And Erik - you are awesome! It's creators like you that keep me coming back to Kickstarter.

    47. Jo G on

      Appreciate the update :)

      Just keep talking to us, and keep going.