Lifting ship hold

Two weeks after returning home from Thanksgiving, Mike and I have performed a 100% Dis-assembly, Re-inspection and Re-assembly of all kits in inventory.  We've also shuffled a lot of work around on our kitters and we took back over a lot of the menial chores with a "Git-r-done" mentality to  just knock stuff out.

The bad news is that for the past two weeks, I have not been able to touch the assembly documentation as much as I like.  KosselPro.com is still under password protection, as we are still working on the site, and I've made little progress on the build instructions.  There is, however, a good discussion going on the OpenBeam forum, and some of the early bird backers have been very helpful in helping with documentation.  Right now, my focus is trying to get kits out the door before I leave for Christmas.  I will be travelling to Malaysia for my cousins' wedding in Kuala Lumpur on Christmas Eve, returning via Singapore and Hong Kong on the week of Jan 5th.  My goal is to get all the missing pictures taken, and if necessary, update the final set of build documentation on the plane and on the ground in Kuala Lumpur.  Instructions and updates to the blog I can do remotely.  Wrapping motors in Geami wrap and messing up Mike's house requires my physical presence.  Mike too will be heading back to the Olympic Peninsula to spend Christmas with his family, so the drop dead date for us getting things out to UPS is Monday, Dec 22nd.

The good news though, is that as of tonight, we have 33 kits packed up.  Tomorrow at lunch we'll run back to Mike's house real quick, load up our 2 cars with printer, and haul them to the UPS store.

The 33 printers going out tomorrow, along with the 15 that we've already shipped, corresponds to roughly 1/3 of our Kickstarter and Preorder liabilities.  We would have built and shipped more, but at this time we are still depend on our kitters returning some of the parts back to us for QC.  We are still doing 100% IQC (Incoming Quality Control), but we are hoping to do a major push on getting parts built and out the door this coming week, during the week.  We've already calculated how many trips it'll take the two of us to run the remaining 90 printers (for both Kickstarter and ShopStarter Preorders) down to the UPS store...

UPS Labeled applied, all ready to go.  This is not including the kits that my wife and I took, for local deliveries and for international test shipment to make sure that all the customs declaration forms are filled out correctly.

UPS Labeled applied, all ready to go.  This is not including the kits that my wife and I took, for local deliveries and for international test shipment to make sure that all the customs declaration forms are filled out correctly.

Next week, we are going to try to get the rest of the kits out.  It will be a tough week, but we have a good shot at getting the majority of the outstanding printers out the door if our kitters can deliver.  We can't guarantee Christmas delivery, but it'd be a relief to get things out the door to our backers.

If you have not done so already, please look for the email from kickstarter@OpenBeamUSA.com and reply with an address confirmation.  We had to skip over quite a few of our Kickstarter backers today and we do not have the storage room to hold onto printers - if you have not confirmed your address, we go down the list and ship the printer to the next person that confirmed their shipping address.  The nice thing is, if you were in the US and  you confirmed your shipping address, you will be receiving your printer this coming week. 

And here's a few more pictures and videos from our kitting adventure this past week:

Mike and I took back over the cutting, stripping and tinning of the end effector fans.  In total, we were about to cut, strip and tin  over 300 fans in less than 3 man-hours of work. These fans go into our end effector kits, which is currently one of the hard gating items at the moment to get more printers out the door.  

Mike and I took back over the cutting, stripping and tinning of the end effector fans.  In total, we were about to cut, strip and tin  over 300 fans in less than 3 man-hours of work.

These fans go into our end effector kits, which is currently one of the hard gating items at the moment to get more printers out the door.  

This fixture is used for cutting the wires to length.  There is only one way to mount the fan onto this fixture block, and a pair of diagonal cutters (or a sharp razor blade) is used to cut the wires. Want to get better at designing fixtures?  Eat your own dog food.  After 90 minutes of using this fixture, trimming about 300 fans, I can think of some improvements for Version 2.  But that'd be another blog entry for another day.

This fixture is used for cutting the wires to length.  There is only one way to mount the fan onto this fixture block, and a pair of diagonal cutters (or a sharp razor blade) is used to cut the wires.

Want to get better at designing fixtures?  Eat your own dog food.  After 90 minutes of using this fixture, trimming about 300 fans, I can think of some improvements for Version 2.  But that'd be another blog entry for another day.

Paladin #1113 Strapax Pro 6 wire stripping tool.  It's one of the most consistent strippers for finer gauge wire. and the orange strip depth control is very repeatable.  Here, I'm stripping 2 pieces of 24 or 26AWG wires at the same time without nicking any of the conductors.  Not cheap, at around $90.00 a pop and about $45 for a replacement set of blades, but very worth it if you do a lot of control wires.

Paladin #1113 Strapax Pro 6 wire stripping tool.  It's one of the most consistent strippers for finer gauge wire. and the orange strip depth control is very repeatable.  Here, I'm stripping 2 pieces of 24 or 26AWG wires at the same time without nicking any of the conductors.  Not cheap, at around $90.00 a pop and about $45 for a replacement set of blades, but very worth it if you do a lot of control wires.

To comply with EU RoHS and WEEE directives, we only use RoHS solders and materials.  However, not all RoHS solders are created equal.  Because some of our kitters have young children, I've chosen an antimony free solder.  This is a 3% silver bearing RoHS solder - more expensive to start for sure, but a bar goes a long way.

To comply with EU RoHS and WEEE directives, we only use RoHS solders and materials.  However, not all RoHS solders are created equal.  Because some of our kitters have young children, I've chosen an antimony free solder.  This is a 3% silver bearing RoHS solder - more expensive to start for sure, but a bar goes a long way.

Mike applying flux and tinning the fan cables.  It's much easier and faster with a solder pot, and it's much easier for the builder to deal with a tinned cable end.

An older video found on my phone - Laser cutting cardboard spacers and air duct for the Kossel Pro.

Mrs. OpenBeam doing the final QC inspection.  She's the one signing off on every kit's packing list.

Mrs. OpenBeam doing the final QC inspection.  She's the one signing off on every kit's packing list.

We look forward to having a shop one day.  Until then, Mike's kitchen floor is the final assembly line for building these printer kits.

We look forward to having a shop one day.  Until then, Mike's kitchen floor is the final assembly line for building these printer kits.

Finally, last but not least - here's the Brainwave Pro test fixture in action.  This is how we are able to speed up the testing and evaluation of our controller boards.  So far, we've tested about 90 of them, and in another evening Mike can easily test and program the rest of the boards to close out our Kickstarter campaign.

That's it for this update!  We'll be going radio silent for a little bit, and we've also won't be updating the public shipping status page for the next week or so, as we are going to be focused on getting kits packed, etc.

-=- Terence

 

Battlefield demotions

Mike and I have received our battle field demotions to grunt line workers this past week, and they will likely stay in effect all the way up to the week leading up to Christmas in our attempt to get all kits, Kickstarter & Preorders, out the door, to our backers.  

This is a list of the inventory of built and Q/Ced kits on storage shelves, and every kit that goes into a Kossel Pro HBP.  Brainwave Pros show zero qty at the moment because they have to be individually programmed and tested, and Oopsie Bags are being revved to ensure that even if we miscounted screws, there will be enough fasteners to complete the printer.  

ZT-KIT-00132 is our most complicated kit; it's the one box that contains all the parts required to build a Kossel Reprap.  Here we are tracking the subcomponents that makes up -132; we're waiting for Kemcor to deliver the soldered auto probe switch to build more auto probe kits and I'll probably have to take over the lubrication of the rails soon.

As of this moment, all mechanical only kits have been prepped, and we've shipped all the ones that have address confirmation.  (If you have not confirmed your address, please do so.  The email should have came from kickstarter@OpenBeamUSA.com).  We will likely push out a batch of printer kits next Monday or Tuesday, and we should be able to get the balance of the kits out the door shortly after that.  

Temporarily taking over Mike's living room.  Everything on the shelves have been through 100% Q/C inspections.  Ball joints, motors, power supply kits, bed clamps and build tools on the shelves.  250mm Glass Plate kits in the big stack by the fireplace.

To be honest, we were disappointed by the progress and accuracy by some of our kitters.  To fix this, we are throwing all the resources we can muster at the problem.  We have brought on additional kitters.  We now check every sub assembly that's coming in, either by weight against a golden sample on a 50mg resolution weight scale, or visual inspection if the weight deviates more than a certain percentage.  We are now personally kitting every single box that goes out the door to prevent kitting mistakes; we work in batches and we weight each kitted box again on the same precision scale after kitting to ensure that one of the packaging elfs didn't take a mental vacation halfway through the process.  We've paid a local contract manufacturer to get some of the cables crimped, and we personally crimped enough cable sets to hold us over until our contract manufacturer can deliver these cables.  

Stack of HBPs on Mike's staircase.  We've assigned this work over a month ago; Mike ended up taking it back and soldering each and every one of these boards in an afternoon.

Truth be told, we got into this mess by being too personal.  We thought we were helping out our friends financially by giving them the (well paying) work, but as the project leader I should have taken a more active role in managing this.  We got burned as they failed to deliver on a timely manner, and we are now doing everything we humanly can to get this fixed and get kits out the door.  

Anyway, I want to share some more pictures of the progress from last week.

My lovely wife Rachel helping with folding boxes.  3 people are about the max # of people that can work comfortably without stepping over each other.

100% QC, 95% reject.  Of all the kits, the ball joints had the worst issues.  We noted almost 95% reject rate due to the wrong screws being used, and on the kits that were about to go out, 2 out of 5 kits had mislabeled ball joint kits.  We already have to ship a replacement kit to New Zealand...

Mike prepping insulation for the thermistors for the HBP.  When you receive your HBP, look closely at the thermistor.  The legs are individually protected with PTFE insulation, before being soldered to the HBP board.

Working as a mini assembly line, it's quite possible to burn through parts quickly and efficiently.  Crimping 35 sets of cables took Mike and I about an hour or so, with us alternating on crimping and stripping.  And this is with relatively primitive, Chinese made tools and no fixtures.  Of course a shop like Kemcor can do this even faster, with automated stripping machines, but 2 man hour for 105 cables is still no slouch.

AC cables being crimped.  Next to it is our automated tape dispenser.  That machine was part of a very expensive "lesson learned" from our original OpenBeam Kickstarter campaign and paid for itself many, many times over during our current predicament.

By default, I am the Geami-elf, responsible for wrapping parts in its protective paper wrap.  

When you pay for bubble wrap, you're paying to transport air.  I wanted a more environmentally friendly way to package our products, and it also worked out well that the Geami wrap is stored and shipped in an un-expanded state, which greatly simplify material handling and storage requirements.  Storage space is always a premium for a startup.  The machine costs $7.00 per month to rent.

Here, Mike is taping and labeling a batch of HBPs.  I have already finished Geami and boxing the HBP with the cable set, and am about to start performing a 100% reinspection of the boxes by weighing them.  At this point we are weighing to see if we forgot a subassembly (such as the cable pack).  If the weight deviates by more than a certain amount, we unseal the box for a visual inspection.

Here, Mike is taping and labeling a batch of HBPs.  I have already finished Geami and boxing the HBP with the cable set, and am about to start performing a 100% reinspection of the boxes by weighing them.  At this point we are weighing to see if we forgot a subassembly (such as the cable pack).  If the weight deviates by more than a certain amount, we unseal the box for a visual inspection.

I've always built my fixtures as if I'm the one using them.  Funny, because I ended up using them quite a bit. :-P.  This is the fixture for cutting the bowden feed tube to length. 

From my days as a FIRST robotics mentor, an engineering team, just like an army, operates on its stomach.  Having good food helps with morale.  On a nostalgic note, I used to make a pot of curry like the one shown here when Mike and I first met in college, over a decade ago.  The only difference is I can afford better cuts of meat now in the curry pot. :-)

From my days as a FIRST robotics mentor, an engineering team, just like an army, operates on its stomach.  Having good food helps with morale.  On a nostalgic note, I used to make a pot of curry like the one shown here when Mike and I first met in college, over a decade ago.  The only difference is I can afford better cuts of meat now in the curry pot. :-)

Having a sense of humor helps too. :-)

Having a sense of humor helps too. :-)

That's it for this update!  Thanks for being patient with us, and we look forward to getting the kits into your hands!

-=- Terence, Rachel and Mike

PS:  Here's a reference to ZT-FUD-00101, for those interested.  All our part numbers are in the form of ZT-XXX-NNNNN, where XXX is a 3 letter prefix denoting the part family, followed by a 5 digit number.

PSS:  We have 5 machines left on this batch that we are building for our push out before Christmas, on our Shopstarter page.

Paying dues as a small business owner, ship holds, longshoremen labor disputes, and the importance of documentation and delegation.

I've always told people that until a child comes along, being a small business owner trying to make it doing boutique manufacturing here in the US has got to be one of the most educational and humbling experiences  I will have.  So let's take a look at some of the reasons why I have not quit my day job, and some of the challenges we've been overcoming in the last few weeks.

Ship Hold.

After multiple delays, we've started shipping Kossel Pros.  Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods.  While we've asked for, and received, and qualified assemblies with incredibly detailed documentation and a rigid first article inspection (FAI) process, we found an unacceptable amount of error in our final kitted printers.  

Now the printers do work well, and the feedback so far from everyone who had been able to get their hands on one, had been very positive.  (Here's a photo stream from one of our early bird backers, and here's another forum member who received printer 001 showing off his prints).  The bad news is that virtually every kit that we've shipped in the past week seemed to have errors, and we've spent many times the dollar amount shipping replacement parts to backers than what these parts are actually worth.  So we made the decision last week to stop shipping kits and perform a 100% inspection on all our inventory, as well as to disassemble all our kitted kits for 100% inspection.

What we found was that some kits were ok.  Some kits, about 10% error.  (For comparison, we expect from our overseas contract manufacturers a 98% yield, on a mature product, and we expect 100% of the failures to be caught by end-of-line testing, so that no bad product makes it into the hands of the consumer.  Higher volume manufacturers should have even higher yield percentages).  On our ball joints though, the failure rate was over 90% mistake.  (Wrong screws packaged with the kits).  Compounding the issue is that the Kossel Pro is a kit of kits; about 13 kits make up the Kossel Pro HBP, and a single error in one of the 13 kits is the difference between a happy customer and a frustrated one.  

Earlier today, myself, my lovely wife Rachel, and Mike spent the entire day recounting screws, plastic parts and bearings:

Frankly, the time for "all hands on deck" to fix the problem is long overdue (it didn't help that it was Thanksgiving week last week and most of us were scattered into the winds due to family obligations) and between Rachel, Mike and I, we managed to form and self-organize a miniature assembly line pretty well.  It was a long day of work, but we managed to get EVERY kit on that shelf inspected.  We also were able to put a significant dent in the kitting process to catch back up.  In the next few days I will be able to rework the ball joint parts and we should be able to lift the ship hold hopefully Wednesday or so.  

For those who are curious:  We did a 100% inspection on an average of 3-5 samples per assembly, then we  used a weight scale to get an average weight across a few assemblies.  We primarily used our 1.5 kg, 50mg resolution counting scale, but we also have at our disposal a 30kg, 1g resolution counting scale, as well as a 50g, 1mg resolution scale.  If the weight deviated by more than 1g, we would set it aside for a more detailed look (often a 100% visual inspection).

We primarily scan for missing plastic parts, missing specialty hardware, and missing hardware such as screws.  We weren't so concerned about fasteners covered by the fastener packs, or M3 nuts, for that matter.  What we'll do is we'll increase the fastener variety in the "Ooopsie Bag" and we'll use that to compensate for a miscount.  (For most of the assemblies, we've already included extra nuts in case the builder loses a fastener or two in building the kit, this would be an extra precaution).  

Finally, in for the next batch of printers that we'll build, we've already found a Chinese supplier that will offer counting and kitting of the fasteners.  Not surprisingly, they are able to offer all the fasteners, counted and kitted, at less than half the cost of us buying raw fasteners here in bulk (20,000+) in the US.  

We will resume shipping of kits this week and we'll give a progress update later this week on shipping progress.

Longshoremen Labor Dispute:

There is an ongoing, ugly labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), representing the longshoremen of the west coast ports, and the port operators.  In an effort to "negotiate", the union workers have been organizing labor "slowdowns", sometimes walking off halfway through a shift, etc.  

Now, I am a strong proponent of workers’ rights - paying a living wage, building a strong middle class, etc.  But it should be worth pointing out that Longshoremen are amongst the highest paid blue collar work force in the nation – a lot of these guys make as much, if not more money than the average Silicon Valley software developer.  The labor dispute is unlikely about pay – the last few labor disputes have been the union taking a hard line against deployment of automations and technology (which would make the port more efficient, but potentially taking jobs away from the union – and as a technologist, I have zero respect for anyone opposing the deployment of technology and the efficiency gains that comes with it for the greater good of a community in order to profit personally.  And, incidentally, this is the same union that refused to unload Bertha, the tunnel boring machine for digging the Alaskan viaduct replacement, unless members of their union were given high paying jobs unloading the dirt from said TBM.  )

In the case of our OpenBeam extrusions, our overseas vendor slipped the delivery by a week due to backlog from their summer vacation, and due to congestion, our merchandise sat on the outgoing cargo terminal for an extra week to wait for room on a cargo ship.  (These ships only sail once a week, so if you miss one, the next sailing is a full week away).  Although our merchandise was supposed to dock on Nov 9th, the severe port congestion caused the boat to sail away to offload at Vancouver BC, before returning a week later to unload, and it took an extra week to get our merchandise out of the docks.  (Fortunately, with Expeditors, they can perform customs clearance while the merchandise is out on the water).  So, a shipment with an original projected dock date of "End of October" didn't actually get delivered until two days after I left for Thanksgiving with my in-laws).  

(Above:  The suspension on Mike's Izusu Rodeo, before and after loading the OpenBeam shipment.   It took 3 trips to haul - it takes a lot of material to stay in stock consistently.  Thanks Mikey for moving all the goods while we were out of town! :-) ).

One of the things that we've done right, fortunately, was to build a strategic reserves of our biggest sellers.  We were successful in keeping on hand a backup supply of our signature 1m long extrusions, as well as our Mini Kossel kits.  In fact, we were able to sell a portion of our strategic reserves to the MakerLibre Kossel kick starter campaign ahead of the quoted end-of-October delivery schedule to help them get kits into their backer's hands.  Now that we've received our merchandise, we've trans-shipped these critical kits to Amazon's fulfillment centers already to guard against disruption to our ability to supply the market (ie, running out of stock).  We've also shipped the balance of MakerLibre's order.

Precut kits are a little harder for us, due to the fact that dealers carry this kit and it's much harder for us to make a projection on what our dealers will order.  We've ran out of Precut Kits (we've been out for a few weeks) and with kitting resources focused on the Kossel campaign, we'll try to get the precut kits back onto Amazon as soon as we can.  

Documentation (internal)

We've done a pretty good job with our kitting instruction and documentation, and as such we've already spun up additional kitting resources to help package these kits.  Due to the issues we've been having, Mike and I will perform 100% QC on all assemblies received from our kitters and we will perform the final kitting into the printer kits.  This is the only way we can be sure that the QC issues are behind us (at least for this batch of machines).  

Documentation (Customer Facing)

Before flying out to Chicago, I pulled an all nighter disassembling one of our test printers and photographing most of the steps in detail.  These pictures were uploaded to my OneDrive account, and brave early bird backers have been able to use some of these pictures to make good progress on their machines.  Between family obligations (and on the flights to and from Chicago) I was able to make some updates to the assembly instructions to the Kossel Pro.  

These documents are work in progress (hence the WR in the revision number, for "Working Revision".  We don't like publishing customer facing documentation without proof reading, but we also hate to imagine people staring at boxes without instructions, and we certainly don't want to replace any parts because someone built something wrong.  Over the next few days I'll continue to make stabs at these instructions to get them fleshed out.  (Today's work yielded lots of reject assemblies, which would also help with work instructions and illustrating some of the steps that were skipped.  We will eventually build these parts into the pre-built machines that we have promised for the kickstarter campaign, as well as for engineering testing).

We've opted for PowerPoint as the medium for our assembly instructions.  The thought here is that just about everyone owns a tablet or laptop, and PowerPoint formatted slides display much better on a landscape-oriented screen.  

Delegation

Remember those printers that went out to engineering partner companies?  They've now had some time with these printers and are doing really awesome things with them.   Early last week, MatterHackers returned some suggestions for firmware tuning, and we'll be testing them on our printer and loading this firmware onto outgoing Brainwave Pro boards.  We are also finding that with the HBP, we really do need an external fan aimed at the printer for print cooling.  I will share out our slicer profiles later this week, but in the meantime, enjoy the following pictures. all printed on the Kossel Pro with HBP:

That's it for this update.  We'll give as shorter update later in the week with an update on the shipping list.


Shipping! :-)

We have received our first batch of 9 kits back from our kitter, and these kits have all passed our First Article Inspection (FAI).  Of these 9 kits, 8 will go out on Wednesday to early bird full kit backers, the remaining one, after a brief photo shoot for additional kitting documentation, will head north to Canada as the second engineering evaluation unit kit for our friends at Solarbotics. 

Earlier tonight, I've also finished the electro-mechanical systems integration for the Brainwave Pro test fixture:

Mike over @ Z-Designs have been testing each outgoing board individually.  It is a slow and labor intensive process, especially hooking up the relatively high current connections for power and HBP.  We don't just look for a red blinky light when we ship a board - we actually load firmware, and run a G29 auto levelling routine and heat up the hot end and heated build platform before flashing the firmware meant for the particular printer kit onto the board before sending it out the door.  

Obviously, having a design engineer spend 15 minutes per board to test it is a big no-no.  (It also is a big road block to being able to ramp up shipping of the kits - and our goal is to ship all the kickstarter rewards and most of the preorders this month).  So, we built a custom bed-of-nails test fixture.  When the panini-press mechanism opens, you can see the board under test:

The board is guided into position by two ground steel pins that grabs it by the screw mounting holes.  We use drill blanks, as they are ground to a really precise diameter and we hand grind the round profile on a grinding wheel so it doesn't snag the edge of the PCB.

Underneath, a spring loaded plate protects the pogo pins.  When the Panini Press closes, it presses down on the plate and the pogos make contact:

Early on in the Brainwave Pro's design process, Mike and I sat down and came up with a test protocol.  We made a list of what we would like to test, and for certain functionality we added test points to the board that can be accessed by this bed-of-nail tester.  For example, we broke out a test pad for the Vref for all the stepper motor driver chips, so that we can adjust the holding current on this fixture.  (The top of the Panini Press also acts as a screw driver guide, and just to be sure, we will be issuing a ceramic, non-conducting screw driver to our kitter just to make sure we don't accidentally short something out.

It's no coincident that all the cables coming out emulate the Brainwave Pro's output connectors.  It is a design decision - this allows us to take any production printer, disconnect the board, plug the motor / end stop / end effector connections into our test fixture, and use that combination as our production test fixture.  

Next Steps

Mike will continue to manage fulfillment, and occasionally I'll step in to make sure that the supply chain stuff is going ok.  Meanwhile, I will switch my focus on the kit assembly documentation.  

Still lots to do, but we are getting there.

-=- Terence & Mike.

The Final Countdown and Eating Our Own Dogfood

Three very important milestones this past week.

1)  We've finally received all goods on our dock, to start kickstarter fulfilment.  After multiple nightmares with import shipping, we can finally start cranking kits out.

Over half a metric *tonne* of air cargo.  This was a VERY expensive lesson on Chinese export laws.

Over half a metric *tonne* of air cargo.  This was a VERY expensive lesson on Chinese export laws.

2)  As mentioned in previous blog post, we've selected a backer that is local to the Seattle area from the Early Bird full kit pool as our lucky guinea pig.  Last weekend, we got his printer printing.  Initial reports are positive, and based on his feedback we've made some final, small tweaks to the production kits - mostly add a few screws and washers here and there.  Our backer is now happily printing on his printer, which is exactly what we'd want to hear.

One other huge relief, was that our pre-compiled Marlin firmware on the Brainwave Pro worked flawlessly out of the box, including the notoriously difficult to tune auto-leveling probe code.  We actually found that there is a version conflict between the Brainwave Arduino Bundle that Matthew Wilson worked on and our copy of Marlin firmware source that resulted in some USB communication error.  We were able to switch out control boards and get our backer to print shortly after.  

3)  We shipped an additional 4 printer kits.  The majority of these kits went to our development partners - two machines to Matter Hackers, who are developing a customized version of Matter Control for us, and one machine to Solarbotics, our Canadian distributor who have been running Kossels pretty much non-stop since May.  (The 4th kit went to a Brazillian backer who is visiting the US.  It was too good an opportunity to pass up to not have to ship an international kit and all the associated customs paperwork...)

My Mazda5 can use a bit of love after this project is over.

My Mazda5 can use a bit of love after this project is over.

I kitted these kits personally, which is not the best use of my time.  We have transferred top level kitting instructions and responsibility to our kitter.  While we've had parts stuck in Chinese customs, our kitter had been busy building up our subassembly reserves..  We have between 20-60 of each ASY and each kit kitted up.  Our goal is to aim to ship all the early bird mechanical and all the early bird full kits next Monday. 

 A big huge thanks to Eryn Martin, our inventory manager and head kit maker. :-P

 A big huge thanks to Eryn Martin, our inventory manager and head kit maker. :-P

More goodies.

More goodies.

Once these kits are underway, we'll ramp up kitting and shipping.  The goal is to ship all kickstarter kit rewards and start shipping all the original September pre-orders in the month of November.  We believe that this is a realistic goal and we will, if necessary, bring on additional kitting resources to get this thing out the door.

Finally, we've started eating our own dogfood.  (This is an engineering term - it means we use the product that we engineer ourselves, which is the best way to get an engineering team to improve their product).  While we are still dialing in the printing profiles, the parts that we are getting are quite acceptable to use as fixtures - specifically potting fixtures for potting the thermistor in on our hot ends:

ZT-PFX-00123 - Production Fixture, Thermistor Potting, J-Head Nozzle.  You'll be seeing a lot of these parts, as we ramp production on our spin of the J-Head nozzles.

ZT-PFX-00123 - Production Fixture, Thermistor Potting, J-Head Nozzle.  You'll be seeing a lot of these parts, as we ramp production on our spin of the J-Head nozzles.

And here are a few more pictures from this week.  Enjoy!