The M3D Pro Update 4: Questionnaire, Highlights, and Exciting News

Outline:

  1. M3D Pro Filament and Accessory Questionnaire
  2. Timeline for Estimated Delivery
  3. Current Status and Highlights from Engineering
  4. Software Development and Advances in Firmware
  5. Not All That Glitters is GOLD!!!
  6. Other News

Hello Backers,

We are glad to share another update from the M3D office and show the current status of the project.

We have been working day and night the past few weeks to bring the Pro to fruition. We have tackled the challenges and made some exciting discoveries. The journey is coming to it's first major milestone as we begin the process of preparing the Early Release Tier. For this to happen, we need to hear from all our backers about their particular needs in a number of areas, including desired filaments with their order, and what colors we will need to stock up on to meet it. We also have many questions about accessories and payment preferences. We want to accommodate as many as possible, so please make sure you fill out our M3D Pro Filament and Accessory Questionnaire in section 1.

We know clicking though to a new site is different for this update. This is the M3D Blog. We will be posting all future updates here in the M3D Blog via invites from the Kickstarter Main project page. Welcome! We're glad to have you here. This move is allowing us to share media and update information easier and faster than through Kicksarter user interface.

Please read ahead and see all the news and exciting updates on the Pro!!

1. M3D Pro Filament and Accessory Questionnaire!!!!!

We are launching a backer questionnaire for filaments, accessories, and add-ons, with the purpose of helping us hone what we will offer. We need the best estimate of your needs and wants that we can get in order to be able to plan for sufficient inventory levels in a short period of time. Please fill out this questionnaire as soon as possible so we can finalize what is needed for our shipping survey options: https://surveyplanet.com/57ec9df80fd7773010cf2ad1

Please take the qustionnaire as soon as possible to ensure that we can meet your needs.

2. Timeline for Estimated Delivery

Progress is moving along and risks are low for any major issues, but that being said there is a lot of volume moving through supply chain + feedback + delivery time. This is causing a minor slowing down due to traffic volume. For that reason please see the estimated delivery status below for your tier.

  • November: Expect shipments to arrive at the end of November or very early December,
  • December: On schedule, backers should expect delivery around the 15th
  • January: Delivery expected throughout the month, as early as the second week if all goes well during the scale-up
  • February: On schedule
  • March: On schedule

3. Current Status and Highlights from Engineering

Engineering:

Below you will find a report on our progress from engineering. We have been making steady advances in all areas but as expected, some needed alterations or inspiration for improvements have happened. All in all, we would say that for every 3 steps forward we have to take one step back. Please see below for the details of these steps (separated by component systems) and the solutions that have gotten us moving forward again.

Gantry system:

Proper lead screws are in. They are straight, sturdy, pretty and precise. Y rods are straight and smooth. Gantries front and rear are precise.

However, the aluminium X rod is not stiff enough. So, our solution has been to source a stainless steel X rod. We are happy to report success and a stainless steel X rod has been ordered.

Drive system:

The belt samples have arrived. The Z belt is the perfect length and synchronizes Z motors very well.

Heated Bed:

Samples have arrived for heated element layer, glass layer, and PC substrate layer, bed heats up very evenly, and thermistor works well in testing. We did find in testing that the temperature didn’t quite get to 90C (~70C), even though our calculations said it could.

Resistance value was not to spec. To compensate, we are increasing the trace widths to get more heat. As you can see, power supply problem is fixed. The heat image above shows we are reaching higher temps as desired. The first assembly tests of the layers stacking are literally rough around the edges but, we will refine the look and polish more each test.

Cube box molds:

The full set of molds have been ordered, T1 mold shots of Cube front, rear, and columns came in, threaded inserts are well-installed. T1 molds need polishing, some rough edges on inside of the window, but T1 molds are always rough, and the first parts show great promise. They will refine and polish the molds, and we will be getting the remaining parts (base, fluff T1 samples) soon, so we can assemble a full cube ASAP!

Air flow:

We have had to change the design of the print head slightly to allow for increased airflow. See below for the new profile.

More progress: Production Tooling stamped sheet volume (see differences vs a lasercut prototype).

CNC milled printbeds, main substrate and backing film. The heater film and glass bed go on top of this. We have been ecstatic with this. It really came out better than expected in a lot of ways and needs very little refinement.

So many cables and more still to come. The first order already received at 1000 volume, and we need 100 parts more at the same volume before end of year. With 60 days to go, this is being monitored very closely.

4. Software Development and Advances in Firmware

We've tested out the processor-to-processor communications in the final electronics that will power the Pro. This communication was a relatively simple two-way command and control example and proves out a lot of the underlying interactions. This sets us up to implement drastically improved versions of the motion correction algorithms AKA Smart Recovery.

We've completed our first prints on the Pro prototypes using the M3D desktop software rather than by direct G-code. This is the same software that powers the Micro and a future test will be to make sure that both can be controlled simultaneously, but we're expecting that to be relatively low-risk as it works rather similar to multi-printer support already in the software.

5. Not All That Glitters is GOLD!!!

Like Brass! We have been looking at brass as a possible material for our threaded rods and many other components, for a number of reasons. We reached this possibility as a side effect of our drive for the best parts. As engineering was looking for higher and higher tolerances and straightness from suppliers, we got to see many material versions. When we saw the combination of the molded frame with the glass bed and the brass rods, we just had to share the possibility with you. Admittedly, we have always wanted to do a high end, futuristic steam punk looking device and with shiny glass, this puts us one step closer to that vision.

One of the first additional benefits we gain from brass, is its natural attributes. Brass is an antimicrobial material, which means that it will leave a cleaner environment in the print area. It also has a ridiculously high consistency compared to other tooled metals and an overall better cooling factor.

The second additional benefit we gain from using brass is the aesthetic properties. Brass blends can be varied from a deep nonreflective casting all the way up to a polished gold like finish. In relation to the black outer frame of the Pro, this creates a visually appealing machine as well as providing a contrast for observing and inspecting the drive systems.

We reached this possibility as a side effect of our drive for the best parts. As the team was looking for higher and higher tolerances and straightness from suppliers, we got to see many material versions. When we saw the combination of the molded frame, the glass bed, and the brass rods, we just had to share the possibility with you! What is the first material mechanical engineers turn to if they want something that is just going to work? They turn to Brass.

6. Other News

If you're interested in meeting the team in person we will be at the New Jersey Comic Expo, November 19th and 20th. There we will be showing how 3D printing can be of use to artists and collectors.

We have heard from some Backers that they would like to order additional Pro’s or that they have friends that missed out on the campaign but still wish to order one of the first units. We are happy to say that we have the pre-orders for the Pro open and available on Indiegogo InDemand.

Posted in News & Announcements on Oct 25, 2016

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