Hi everyone, and apologies it's been so long since we last posted. We ran into one final, very disheartening delay from UL that's pushed us back another few weeks, but should start shipping either this week or next. Production is still flying along and in this update we'll go over the high - level overview of exactly what goes into making a unit. We're planning to get ~40-50 units per week out as soon as we start shipping, meaning all of our pre-orders will be shipped by April. And, we've finally finished our pellet prices, and are moving forward with new updates to the website (a forum, pellet sales, user manuals, open source stuff, etc) as quickly as possible. In that same order, we'll go over everything on more detail in this update:
We were extremely excited to ship out our first run units, and contacted UL for their final approval (they have to ensure we didn't "cheat" and build something different than we submitted). Unfortunately, at this point we found out that they would require us to HiPot test each unit before it left...something that was not mentioned anywhere in our certification directive, or ever mentioned before. In short, this means subjecting the device to significant over voltage, and ensuring it won't electrocute you. They perform this test as part of our certification, and we of course passed, but we've now been informed that we have to do the testing on every unit and that UL must verify our test procedure before we can ship anything. This ultimately meant we had to find a HiPot tester we could actually afford, have it calibrated and certified to our requirements, and have it shipped here. We were very excited to finally have gotten it last Thursday, and post the update saying we had everything and would begin shipping...until FedEx missed both our pickup and delivery. The good news is that it should arrive tomorrow (it's a holiday today), then UL can complete their inspection and we can start shipping out units and make a dent in our backlog!
Fedex missed our scheduled pickup of Wednesday, then claimed we were "unavailable" on Friday...despite us waiting at the door all day, and never even getting an attempted delivery slip! We're calling them first thing tomorrow morning when they open again to ensure it arrives tomorrow, and will keep everyone updated when it has.
Production process - what goes into making ProtoCycler
Given we're now building units regularly, we thought it would be interesting to start over-viewing the assembly process. After all, once we manufacture all our parts, we have to put them all together! This week will see a high level overview, and then we'll move into the specifics of each component as we go.
To make it much easier to install the grinder and extruder, we laser cut a special mounting plate that you can see in the previous two pictures. It has holes where all the screws go, so we can fasten things from underneath without having to support anything or build any complex jigs. Installing the grinder and extruder only takes a few minutes!
Once the core components are installed, we add the user interface panel and the side enclosure pieces. It's amazing what a difference these components make - ProtoCycler is now only missing it's lid and spooler!
Next up, some tests are run. Each unit undergoes a number of tests to ensure the diameter sensors are calibrated, the torque sensor reads properly, everything is correctly set up, and that it can properly extrude and spool filament. This includes startup and shut down, and of course "priming" the unit with either ABS or PLA!
We'll start digging things apart in reverse order next week, starting with the U.I. panel, the extruder, and then the grinder.
We'll be selling pellets in 250g and 500g amounts - this makes it easy to make as little or as much as you want, without worrying about moisture or waste. It will also let you pick different colours so you can really experiment with things. We'll be selling PLA in both 4043D and 3D850, and ABS in 250-X10. As mentioned in a previous post, all pellets will come individually packaged in Mylar bags for 100% moisture protection, and pre blended with the colour of your choice. We'll be selling them through Amazon to minimize shipping and fulfillment costs, and making it easy for you to buy them. The final cost will be 3$ / 250g, and 5$/500g. There's also a $3 fulfillment fee for each order (i.e. if you bought 2kg in 500 bags, it would be $23)...shipping should be free within the USA, Canada, and Europe, but we're still working with Amazon to confirm that. Once we've got everything completely finalized, we'll put up a link and you can start purchasing pellets!
Last but not least, we'll be updating our website as soon as we start shipping to include tons of support features, like a community forum, software downloads and updates, manuals, and of course a whole section for those that want to hack their ProtoCyclers, experiment with new plastics, etc. This will likely take about a month to get fully up to date as we're still very busy with production, but bear with us as we get all of these new features up and running and let us know if there's anything you'd like to see on the website that I haven't mentioned yet! Instructional videos, a special educators section...you name it, and we'll see what we can do.
That's it for this week. Apologies that UL has yet again put a kink in our plans, but units should be headed out the door right after we can show them our HiPot tester!
-The ReDeTec team