May Update 1 — Production
This week we’re back with news you’ve all been waiting for — what’s happening with production! You may remember that after Batch 1 we made several changes to the printer and started rewriting the software to be more scalable. About 20 of the 50 printers in batch 2 (the small test run for the new changes) will be going out to backers, and the remaining orders will go out in Batch 3.
The majority of the parts coming from China are here! They arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada by sea freight, were loaded onto trains, and then finally were delivered to our office over the last week. Pat’s parents happen to live near the port and they took this picture of some of our parts arriving.
So far we have sheet metal, CNC parts, turned parts, wire harnesses, shafts, and motors for batch 2, and PCBAs, plastics, linear bearings, bearings, belts, and pulleys for batch 2 and 3. Our team has been busy organizing the parts into the order we need them for production.
Of course once the parts started rolling in our team couldn’t wait to get started and immediately began unpacking and spot checking for quality. PCBs and wiring harnesses that used to have a 75% yield with our old suppliers are significantly improved! Looks like we’re already seeing the payoff of switching to working with Seeed’s network of suppliers.
Many of the changes we made to the printer after batch 1 were intended to make the assembly process much smoother, and not only has the entire process become more straightforward but components that used to be problematic require far less knowledge of their assembly nuances. This is all great news for our new hire, Mike!
With many, many more printers to assemble this time around, we know we are going to need some help. We are excited to welcome Mike to our team in the role of Assembly Technician! Mike has been assembling and disassembling printers like a master since he started last week.
Even the best laid plans have snags
Things are moving along nicely, but not perfectly. Here are a couple issues we’re taking care of right now.
The first issue is with the heated plate — we’ve noticed the anodizing is showing streaks, so we are working with our supplier to come up with a solution to fix this. Our heated plate supplier is in North America, so we’ll be able to get new parts fairly quickly and this won’t significantly delay production.
Vanishing parts is another concern we weren’t expecting to have. Power entry connectors and gears were supposed to be part of the shipment we just received from China, but they didn’t arrive at our office! We’re talking to our shipping provider about how this could happen, but in the meantime we are moving forward by ordering connectors from Digikey (at twice the price — ouch!), and we’re looking into expediting an order of gears to replace the missing ones. Thankfully the new, modular design of the printer means we can assemble many of the other parts while waiting for the replacement connectors and gears to arrive.
We mentioned in a previous update that we were looking into using a camera to automate printer calibration that used to add 30–60 minutes to assembly time. Thanks to Alex, our software co-op last term, this is now a reality! The new process uses a camera to measure key distances, allowing us to account for axis skew and automatically update each printer’s firmware accordingly in a matter of minutes.
All this is a long way of saying we are getting even closer to being able to ship batch 2 printers. We’re still waiting on a few key parts before we can move into full production mode, but every day we get several steps closer to getting printers out the door! We will be reaching out to people soon to confirm shipping details.
Elsewhere in Voltera
- Software development — we are about 3/4 of the way through rebuilding the core features, and we are confident the new software will be ready by the time batch 2 printers are ready to ship.
- Marketing — our new website has moved into the technical development phase, and is expected to launch by the end of the month! One aspect of the website we are particularly excited about is the addition of a web forum where V-One users and those interested in the V-One will be able to talk and share projects.
Thanks for reading, let us know what you think!
- The Voltera Team
Originally published at www.kickstarter.com.