Update #7: Tooling Launch, new parts, webstore and more!

Hello Kickstarter! As we sail pass the 200% funded mark tonight, I'd like to turn our attention back to the engineering side and share some cool news with you all:


What you are looking at is the CAD screenshot for the injection mold for OpenBeam. The yellow and green parts represents the steel core and cavity that will be used to form the plastic parts; the red pins are the "ejection pins" that pushes the parts out of the mold when the mold opens; and the area in the top is the nozzle where plastic is injected. The forces involved in the process is measured in tens of tonnes, so as you can imagine, the mold has to be built out of very, very strong materials.

Two nights ago I signed off on the mold designs; our friends at the injection molder had done a fantastic job with the tooling design and finished this phase of the project 5 days ahead of schedule. If you look at the Gantt chart on the previous update, this means we can start the injection mold fabrication five days earlier. At this rate, we should be able to have injection molded first samples at Seattle Maker Faire.

Eagle-eyed readers might notice that there are extra parts in the mold:


Thanks to all of your support, I was able to add two more parts into the OpenBeam system at launch time. Can you see them in the mold cavity drawings above?

The new parts are:

A feet / end cap


And a 608 bearing to NEMA 17 adapter


The feet end caps are pretty straight forward. You can attach them to either the end of an extrusion or to the side of an extrusion, like so. The screw sit in a counterbore in the part, and you have the option of sticking a 3M Bumpon into the big circular recess to make the part non-skid:


The 608 Bearing to NEMA 17 mount adapter is designed with robotics and machine builders in mind. It allows you to put a 608 bearing (aka rollerblade bearing, one of the most common and least expensive ball bearings on the market) concentric to a NEMA17 motor shaft using the same mounting brackets easily. This allows pulleys, support bearings, idler wheels, etc to be added without much trouble.

The shaft clamp got a slight make-over too, based on usability studies on the 3D printed models:


Now, a single size shaft clamp will clamp on a shaft all the way from 7 to 15mm. Also, a separate screw clamps the shaft clamp to the beam; the inner screws are strictly for clamping onto the shaft. This will make it much easier to work with the shaft clamp and for repositioning things.

The "L plate" got a face lift as well:

TL625-000100-001-A - L Plate, OpenBeam 1515

The additional hole now allows the plate to be in a 45 degree gusset brace:


I couldn't have made the improvements without your support, so it's only fair that these changes are reflected in your reward packages. Every reward package will receive a number of the feet pieces; if your reward package came with NEMA 17 motor mount plates, you'll be receiving the 608 bearing adapters as well.

In other engineering news; some of you have been asking for structural analysis data on OpenBeam. My engineering buddy Jared will be helping me run some simulations - since I lack the necessary FEA package in my version of Solidworks to do so, and I've been pretty swamped with business startup tasks. If you're into racing cars, you should check out Jared's website here. He does some amazing work, and we should get some nice engineering data from Jared in a week or so.

Other business startup tasks:

You may have noticed the URL in the screenshots that's molded into each of the plastic parts. As I mentioned in the Kickstarter video - it doesn't do anyone any good if you cannot buy the components on an individual, a-la-carte basis after the project is over.

OpenBeamUSA.com is currently under development to be the webstore and knowledge base for this product. There, you will find project blogs, application notes, how-to videos, and eventually, the design files for OpenBeam. (Please no-one laugh at the URL, it's very, very much under development at this point. And please don't try placing orders. It *will* break. In fact, I will be switching ecommerce host in the next few days).

I am also happy to announce that we have signed up our first retail storefront partnership. Metrix: Create Space will be a stocking distributor here in Seattle; seven days a week, noon till midnight, you will be able to walk in and buy OpenBeam components and extrusions from them. We look forward to announcing more retail partnerships soon. Online dealerships and international sales channels are also in the works.

It's been a pretty incredible journey so far; every day brings new challenges, new problems to solve - but that's a subject for the next update. My focus remains the same - to get these parts into your hands as soon as possible, and to show this at as many Maker Fares as I can, and spread the word far and wide. I really look forward to seeing what each of you will be building with this product!

Thank you for your support on OpenBeam,

-=- Terence

(+ somewhat annoyed & neglected girlfriend, and her furry monster puppy)