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Tiko is the 3D printer you’ve been waiting for. Simple, accessible, and dependable, all for a pledge of $179.
Tiko is the 3D printer you’ve been waiting for. Simple, accessible, and dependable, all for a pledge of $179.
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16,538 backers pledged $2,950,874 to help bring this project to life.

Assemble the Fleet!

Posted by Tiko 3D (Creator)
287 likes
Hi Everyone!

Look at the time, it’s March already, and with another month comes another milestone. This time around, it’s the test rig, arguably one of the coolest. So without further adieu, let’s check it out! 

The Assembly Process 

We designed Tiko with manufacturability in mind, and not just the components, but the assembly process too. It’s easy to say that something is designed for assembly, but a whole ‘nother thing to experience it. Over the past few weeks we had the opportunity to experience the assembly process first hand as we assembled the test rig.

Cool, How’d it Go?

We found that many of the assembly steps were indeed quite straightforward (even when rushing), just as we had designed them to be. Tiko is mostly axi-symmetric on the inside, but every component still has a correct orientation and we implemented lots of little tabs to keep things aligned. Choices like that worked out great, most of the components can be assembled properly with everyday tools and almost no training.

A typical test assembly station. Exposed corrugated cardboard helped keep things in place, but we later found rubber mats to be even better.
A typical test assembly station. Exposed corrugated cardboard helped keep things in place, but we later found rubber mats to be even better.

Nonetheless the process was quite enlightening, and we discovered numerous ways to speed up / combine various steps. We also found steps that were sensitive to assembly error, but more on the those later. All in all, doing this ourselves has laid the foundation for a robust and consistent assembly process. 

So, How’s the Test Rig? 

See for yourself! :) It's just a sneak peak, but is it cool or what!

It's mind-blowing in person. For now, we'll tease you with that preview, as the big reveal will happen once we start printing with it. :)

Now, cool as it is to see 100 Tikos show off some basic motions, they aren’t yet fully operational. We found some problems in a couple of components / assembly steps, and had to hold off on completing assembly until they’ve been addressed. We’ll be running tests that work around these, but in the meantime let’s talk about our results thus far.

What We Found 

Accelerometers 

Back in July we posted a photo of Tiko’s flexible-PCB based accelerometer. The design worked perfectly, and so we left it alone. Come November, we confirmed they were safely RTMable and placed an order. Unfortunately, during those few months the project had changed hands and the new production team (still the same supplier) made a simple omission. They didn’t apply the hard backing underneath the accelerometer (see below), as it wasn’t explicitly stated in the PO. Simple mistake, nobody’s fault, but the consequences were significant. 

Production accelerometer, with the pre-pro sample below it.
Production accelerometer, with the pre-pro sample below it.

The problem is that we tape Tiko’s accelerometer to the Bowden tube, which bends the now completely-flexible accelerometer head. The tight diameter of this curve causes solder joints to regularly break free from the tiny little traces, which ruins the connections and renders the units unusable. 

This happened so frequently in fact that we stopped assembly of this component, worked out a plan with our supplier, and are now awaiting a fixed batch. This is why the test rig printers do not yet have Bowden tubes installed – because the accelerometer cannot be added in later.

Unfortunately, this gets in the way of testing auto-levelling, the liquefier (which we’ll start testing later this week on a smaller scale) and a few other functions. However, we have many other tests to run and can work around this issue for now. It's a shame, but hey, at least we caught it before shipping. It’s amazing how such tiny errors can have this big of an impact, and we’ve since incorporated many additional QC (quality control) steps into our assembly process as a result of this discovery.

Motor Carriages

Back in November we told you about the linear rails/bearings, and that we were perfecting the tolerances on them. The following update, we told you how we had finalized them. Indeed, we did, and it was great… or so we thought.

Those sub-assemblies were assembled by hand, so with a certain degree of care. We knew we’d use an adjustable torque electric screwdriver in production, so we figured that’d give us the level of consistency we needed. Oh boy, were we wrong. 

During test-assembly, we found that these assembly screwdrivers were not precise enough, leaving some units too loose (hurting print accuracy) and others too tight (causing binding/jamming). Once we powered up the test rig we found that a fraction of printers skipped steps, while others had loose-feeling kinematic assemblies. We marked the former with yellow cards. 

Now, it might sound like we’re in deep trouble, and we would be… if we didn’t have a plan B. 

Back in January, we actually started testing a new type of bearing. It started as purely experimental, but during testing numerous benefits became apparent. It proved to be quieter, more accurate, easier to assemble, and most importantly – seemingly un-jammable. So we took a gamble and continued its development. Shortly after Chinese New Year we decided to initiate tooling, even though we weren’t sure it would make it into production due to upcoming deadlines. 

However, it’s now clear that it will. Tooling won’t be finished for another couple of weeks, but it could have been a lot longer if we didn’t get that head start! This is a textbook example of how your phenomenal support has allowed us to build a better Tiko. Every time we have a new idea, we can prototype it, just in case. That’s why in situations where others make compromises, we make improvements. :)

Extruder Infeed

More of an inconvenience than a problem, we found that if the infeed tube (the one into which you insert filament) was not correctly inserted into the extruder block, it left a gap that makes it difficult to insert filament. Not impossible, but difficult. 

Like the carriages, this is something that really only occurs during mass assembly, so we didn’t see it coming. Luckily the modification required to fix this is relatively minor, and we’re already adjusting the tool accordingly. 

OMG Tiko Is Doomed! 

Nah, it’s not so bad. Sure, it's inconvenient, but these are just growing pains. We expected this when going from prototype to pre-production, but we didn’t necessarily expect trouble when going from pre-production to mass production. 

It’s terrifying to think that we could have said “we’re ready” from a handful of pre-production samples. We can only imagine how many start-ups have made that very mistake, but thanks to the encouragement – and often valuable advice – that you’ve given us throughout this journey, we’ve managed to avoid this trap. 

Now we just need to implement these fixes (while searching hard for any other problems) and we’ll be underway. Ahh you can practically smell the PLA in the air. :)

What’s the Lesson Here?

The test rig has already proven to be a valuable tool in our pursuit of perfection, so our only regret is not having built it sooner. 

 Now, if you’re making a product, here’s a tip we’ve learned first hand. Even if you can’t realistically make 100 pre-production units, just try putting together your prototypes with barely any care. Just throw them together as fast as you can. Seriously, it’s odd, but that’s how it’s going to be done on an assembly line. Your product has to be resilient, even in the face of assembly errors… so don’t baby your prototypes too much. You need to get them ready for the real world. :)

What’s Next?

 First we have to receive and replace the offending components, then move on to the next phase of testing. In the meantime, we’ll prepare for production. 

One of the key objectives of the 100 printer test-assembly was to study the per-printer assembly time and from there, determine the rate at which we could assemble and ship your Tikos in production. During the campaign, we estimated 3000 units per month, but that was then and this is now. 

Now that we have the data, we have a clearer picture of how quickly we can assemble Tiko, and as it turns out, we can do a lot better than 3000 units per month. We’re not comfortable specifying an exact monthly capacity just yet, but what we can tell you is that the gap between early backers and late backers is going to be quite short. So if you’re in one of the later tiers, relax and breathe a sigh of relief. :)

Meanwhile, there are certain assembly steps that we know are “safe” (ie soldering of certain components) so over the coming weeks we’ll get a head start on those while we wait for test results to come in, that way part of the assembly process will already be finished and we’ll be able to produce the first few batches even quicker. Woohoo! 

Wrapping Up 

All in all, we know we’re close. Our focus at this stage is to iron out any remaining issues so that when we do ship out your printer, we can be proud to put the TIKO name on it! 

Besides that, it’s the same old grind for us. Test, improve, repeat until Tiko is up to our standard. And boy, what a standard that is.

In the meantime, we’ll be in the comments section as always, keeping you in the loop and answering your questions, so join us! Also, if you’re still having any issues with the backer survey, just PM us and we’ll get you up and running. 

Cheers! 

Team Tiko    

Fabian Alejandro Vargas, max, and 285 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. RoyT on

      @anna
      Sorry, last post not complete. If you have not received the shipping survey, just wait for it and enter new address there.

    2. RoyT on

      &anna
      Send a private message to Tiko using Kickstarter function

    3. Missing avatar

      2nd Layer on

      @david: "Bear in mind this is all still pretty experimental, but you've asked to see raw photos, so here you go:"

    4. Missing avatar

      david on

      Hello Tiko team.
      I understand that there can be delays to have a good quality product, but when I see the quality of the prints on the urls you give (http://s28.postimg.org/yf102sl59/20160402_181211.jpg) I see a horrible detail quality, it looks like the plastic is mixed with sand. I'm asking myself if this will be the final quality of the printer production.
      I was waiting Tiko to be my first 3d printer to practice 3d etc but if this bad quality of items is confirmed I'll quickly buy another one in the market to start. Thank you for the answer.

    5. Ben Vaterlaus
      Superbacker
      on

      It's already april. Can't wait for the next update! :)

    6. Anna Laskin on

      Hi! I just found out I'm moving, and I need to change my shipping address - how do I go about that?

    7. Missing avatar

      Jim on

      Team Tiko: Thank you for not lowering your standards. I want a reliable, robust tool, and am willing to wait for it. As for S&H-- flat rate is fine, and reasonable, considering what's being shipped. I look forward to your April update, and eventually the Tiko unit.

    8. RoyT on

      @ryan
      See my answer below your oost

    9. Ryan on

      Any update on delivery date?

    10. RoyT on

      No updates on delivery date.

      Questions about survey - send private message to Tiko3d using Kickstarter PM feature.

    11. Chris Johnson on

      Any updates on delivery dates?

    12. Alistair Blake on

      Hey, I just wondered when I will receive my survey?

    13. Damien Raynal on

      Your survey dont work for french !!!!!!! i have an error about the code post ! and i choose french please do something !!!! and answer to my message...

    14. Missing avatar

      Robert A Lynn on

      I'm backer
      I'm waiting for the survey.
      I have not received the survey.
      I have tried multiple ways to contact Tiko and have NOT RECEIVED A REPLY!
      I want someone from Tiko to contact me ASAP
      Since you can't seem to get emails out to others or to me someone needs to phone me.
      My cell phone is 805-320-0371
      Robert Lynn

    15. Missing avatar

      Ovidius Naso on

      So, March is gone but no TIKO - just a bunch of stories about things going wrong. Just to keep in mind: you guys already have got some 3.3 mil $ (2.95 + 0.35 pp), but all community is provided is about stories on a project not treated well and some trips to china.... Is there any information available your customers really can deal with ?

    16. Juan Fuentes on

      How is the testing going and have the current problems been resolved?

    17. Missing avatar

      Brad Shaw on

      @Joe Shonk, Stripe is hardly a company with "no history". It's over 4 years old, employs over 400 people, and I'd much rather use Stripe as a payment method these days than PayPal. PayPal is a horrible company with a terrible history, from both the customer's and merchant's perspectives.

    18. RoyT on

      @rich

      There isn't a delivery date available to update.

      Nice thought though.

    19. threed on

      Please update or reiterate the anticipated delivery dates at the top of each update. Some of us don't want to read detailed technical updates just looking for a new date, only to be disappointed. Most backers of 3d printers on kickstarter have already lost out, and failure to project a delivery date is a tell-tale sign that things are going badly. Extending it for good reason, however, is less of a problem.

    20. Eric Sabban on

      I'd like to wait until this product is ACTUALLY shipping before I give another $55 to get this shipped to me. I'm on the order detail page, and I'd like to know that I will still be able to send in shipping credit card information when the device is ready to ship.

    21. Missing avatar

      Michael Easter on

      Can we get pictures of stuff that isn't blurred. No one is going to steal your failing ideas before you launch if it's really this complicated.

    22. Missing avatar

      Saeed Khan on

      @Joe Shonk

      If you want to sell your pledge, I am definitely interested. Email me - tikotransfer@gmail.com

      Thanks

    23. Scott Gray on

      Thank you for this update. Watching your process (from a safe distance away!) has been fascinating. Watching your vision come to life -- via hard work, setbacks, struggle, and taking advantage of what opportunity comes -- is heartening.

    24. Rolts on

      @Joe Shonk:
      Shipping costs are as stated. If you think it is too expensive or risky, you can always sell your pledge via the backers' forum.
      Paypal is not available, although it was examined.
      Fuller explanations are in Tiko comments here:
      https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/tiko3d/comments

    25. Joe Shonk on

      Has the outrageous shipping costs been addressed yet? Has the payment methods been updated to include paypal? No many people want to hand over their CC information to a company with no history.

    26. Missing avatar

      M35K on

      Team Tiko, survey not received. Could you please resend?

    27. Missing avatar

      Saeed Khan on

      @Kevin

      Just contact @Tiko and arrange a time. I went on Tuesday as did one other backer. They were very open and welcoming. See my comments in the main Comments section for my thoughts after the visit. Your profile says you're in Whitby, so you are even closer to their office than me. I'm in Pickering.

      Saeed

    28. RoyT on

      @kevin
      A couple already took the tour

    29. Kevin Bell on

      When can we view the 100 unit test personally in Oshawa on Simcoe St. as you invited in the last update?

    30. Missing avatar

      Gregory Szematowicz on

      Amazing! Thanks for your hard work, and continuing improvements. In this age too many products are "Just slap it together, and get it out the door". Team Tiko, again, thank you! -Greg

    31. Missing avatar

      Brandon fuselier on

      Take your time guys I can wait extra time for a stable product.
      If anything I am used to setbacks and delays with kickstarter projects comes with the territory.
      Believe me after the Dust Tactics fiasco that I'm still waiting on over a year and a half after product should have been at my door; you guys are doing GREAT!

    32. Andreas Lindberg on

      @khell
      I've recently backed a project aiming to make an examination room at a child cancer clinic less frightening for the children... Hardly a purchase. I think the reward was a picture of the finished room but that was hardly the incentive to pledge. Search for "cancer" on Kickstarter if you feel like doing the same.

    33. Missing avatar

      Tsung-Hsiang Hsueh on

      It is true that the rewards are very relevant, however I consider this a chance to be an investor in a project that I care about. As with many new starts, the first project often takes longer than expected. As long as continuous progress is made, I remain optimistic and appreciate all of the efforts and updates from the team Tiko.

    34. Missing avatar

      Paul A. on

      @Khell: You're right that without the offer of some reward, nobody would provide funds for KS projects, but it's still not a purchase. It's an agreement. I will give you money because you say you will make your best endeavours to give me X (in this case a Tiko).

      It may work similarly to a pre-order hub, but it's not one.

      It's not a purchase however much you want to think it is. There's nothing lofty about it.

      If you're not happy, sell the pledge.

    35. Khell
      Superbacker
      on

      @Josh Simons
      I hope we all remember that Facebook is not a stand-in website for corporate PR or a message board for posting funny pictures. It is a narrow-focus networking site created to reconnect classmates years after graduation, and not people you didn't go to school with.

      ...or we can all admit that this "misunderstanding of the purpose of Kickstarter" BS is a straw man argument that barely held weight when the site was new, and completely irrelevant to what it has evolved into. Deny it all you want, but Kickstarter really is a pre-order hub. There isn't a single project I've backed - and this will be true of MOST backers here - where I would have given my money if I wasn't getting something in return. This lofty idea of making ideas come true has to fit within the reality that this also isn't a charity site. Why would people give money to a company so they can roll out a new product, unless said backers got something of value in trade.

    36. Tommy Frössman on

      Just make sure it works as it should when we get the printer in our own hands.. I don't mind some delay to get a stable and good product.

    37. Missing avatar

      Justin Kimball on

      Ballpark ETA would be nice -- but if things are too nebulous to give that -- then perhaps a rundown of where all the components are as far as 'readiness' goes would be helpful.

      I'm happy you guys are putting in the effort and gettings things fixed before shipping -- but I'm not super happy about missing the initial estimated timeframe.

      Can we expect to see our Tiko's at some point this year?

    38. Missing avatar

      P. D. Waltman
      Superbacker
      on

      I think it is great that they share so much of the issues, solutions and process. It is an extra benefit to backing the project. Too many kickstarter projects don't communicate issues at all, and just delay with little warning that there might be an issue. Anyone who backs a "design" kickstarter should be ready for delays, and there are things you see in prototypes that you don't see elsewhere.

    39. Missing avatar

      Paul A. on

      Every problem solved is a step closer to shipping. Whining about the issues on the journey and slipped dates does absolutely nothing to advance the project and ruins the journey we are all on.

    40. Wing Wong on

      It's an interesting balance of expectations.

      Tiko is working hard and being transparent about issues that arise, instead of clamming up and going silent/dark. I'm thankful for that.

      The fact that they are focusing on taking care of issues, issues which one would normally have to suss out themselves, if they buy an unassembled kit.

      I'm looking forward to my Tiko. With each update, I see why/how the setbacks occurred and understand that Tiko is taking ownership of it and being up front with issues as issues arise.

      As for delivery dates, dates slip and there were disclaimers prior to backing this or any other project that delivery dates can slip.

      Having said that, I'm _eager_ for my printer and with each issue that gets resolved/updated, I kinda expect the printer to be that much better. ;) Anyways, keep up the good work.

    41. Missing avatar

      Josh Simons on

      @RoyT If Tiko doesn't deliver, I'lll be just as annoyed as you. But based on the latest update, it sounds like the issues are under control so I think it unlikely we won't get a printer.

      I was aiming for "annoyed", not condescending. I've funded 27 projects so far and am losing patience with people who really shouldn't be backing projects -- I've seen it on every, single project...

    42. RoyT on

      &Josh

      My you do like the condescending tone!

      My view is less idealistic. I want a nice 3D printer but can't afford much. So I give Tiko my money in exchange for the printer. I know it's a risk. If it looks like my money goes up in smoke, then yes it's irritating and I will say so. If Tiko cannot keep to their promises on delivery date, then again I'm irritated and say so. So yes, I do understand Kickstarter model but I still want a printer and not have to wait forever for it.

    43. Missing avatar

      Josh Simons on

      While I understand the frustrations people are expressing relative to delivery, I think those complaints also illustrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of Kickstarter. You are not ordering a product. You are funding the development of a project by people who have a vision of something they would like to create. Those people have widely varying degrees of experience with design and manufacturing and I have yet to see a single instance in which a Kickstarter project of any complexity was able to anticipate every problem up front and correctly estimate the date they would deliver to backers. Often, as with this project, the unintended delays are a result of the complexities of having to design for manufacturability -- this latest Tiko update does a great job of illustrating the kinds of issues that arise.

      I, for one, find these updates -- and the problems encountered -- tremendously useful and interesting. As someone who might like eventually to run a project himself, I deeply appreciate hearing about all of the issues that arise. Sure, I'd like a Tiko soon. But I am much more interested in this team producing a product that they are proud to send to us and that they can successfully sell to others. THAT defines a successful Kickstarter project -- not whether they meet the deadlines they set before they had been exposed to the full complexity of the task they had set themselves.

      Our roles as backers is much more like that of an investor in a company than as a customer purchasing a product. If you want a 3D printer, go buy one. If you bought into the vision of this Kickstarter team and you want to see them succeed, then encourage them. But carping about delays and misestimated deadlines just speaks to your (perhaps willful) lack of understanding of the Kickstarter model.

    44. Missing avatar

      Carlos on

      Hello, I still have not received any response from my PMs. I need my shipping survey sent out to me and I've been trying to contact you since February 28th.

    45. Missing avatar

      Magnus Wikström on

      Great work team Tiko! I love that you're careful with the details! I rather have my Tiko late and working properly, than in a haste but faulty. Keep up the good work!

    46. Damian Vila on

      "When the going gets rough, the rough get going" (or, as we say in Spanish, "al mal tiempo, buena cara"). :)
      Cheers.

    47. David Horton on

      Team Tiko, great update! Please keep up the good work. Video will be exciting!

    48. Khell
      Superbacker
      on

      @John Carbasse, there is a huge difference between people not being happy about delays, and people not expressing their displeasure about the delays.

      I for one am not pleased at all in the setbacks Tiko is suffering. I too am quite sick of Kickstarter backers always being so forgiving and nonplussed about the vast majority of project creators never hitting the deadlines they themselves determined. And I am sick of excuses, the worst of which being the "unforeseeable" nature of the Chinese Lunar New Year...after all, it's not like that event happens every year, right?

      And I am fed up with optimistic fulfillment dates that project creators go in knowing they won't hit. A project I backed, Airinum's breathing mask, was an outright lie to backers from day 1. Funded at the end of last December with fulfillment for Feb2016, on the 25th of Feb they posted their production timeline and *gasp* "Unfortunately things have not worked out as we initially planned and the delivery of the mask will therefore be delayed." Looking at their "revised" schedule, I know they were lying from day one - tooling alone will be four months, and even if that was the unexpected delay, it's three more months after that for manufacturing. No way they ever could have hit Feb2016, not with seven months of work from New Years on.

      Tiko is no different. I don't grant them any special forgiveness for their delays. But you have to look at the bigger picture. All that pissing and moaning I did above isn't going to change anything - not for my Airinum mask, not for Tiko, or for the Reaper CAV Bones project that was my first ever Kickstart and still hasn't arrived after SEVENTEEN MONTHS since pledging (or seven months past due). Bottom line is, Tiko, like my CAV, are priced such that even with hair-pulling aggravation over delays, it's worth it. Two hundred bucks for a 3D printer when comparable models start in the 1K+ range, that buys a fair bit of willingness to wait. If that waiting goes beyond my tolerance, I at any time can force a refund of my pledge because they did not hold up their end of the deal, so the power is in my hands to back out at any time before actual shipment proceeds. But b*tching out the creators doesn't help any. They know we're upset - they're not so happy themselves - and the reasons for this delay are again, part of the bigger picture. A couple months delay, or a product that could crap out on you within a day of unpacking. Not a hard decision there, right?

      It's the contractor's pyramid;
      You can have it fast and inexpensive, but no quality.
      You can have it fast and high quality, but pay out the arse.
      You can have it inexpensive and high quality, but not fast.
      Tiko is the third one, and I for one wouldn't go for the other two.

    49. Sven Hansen on

      Wow, what a great, honest, detailed update, I love that. I am so glad to hear that you are trying to improve the TIKO product as you go through the development cycle; and now would be the time to do it before the final production runs are committed. No point in rushing the last quality control steps just to satisfy a few people who can't wait. The TIKO unlike most other Delta printers is a new unique product that requires more time to get it right.