Name change, shipping crate engineering, source release, and a new documentation site.

As you may have noticed, the site of the name is changing to ztautomations.com.  

When Mike and I  decided to spin off the 3D Printer business to a separate business entity and allow OpenBeam to go back to its roots as a fast and nimble engineering organization, it should be noted that neither of us are particularly creative nor business minded.  With my first business, OpenBeam, the name came pretty easily:  It was an open source product, and it was aluminum beams, and the name stuck.  (We've even have people selling generic T-slot extrusions calling it OpenBeam as a fragrant misuse of our trademark in the reprap world, which is an annoying result of having made it for brand recognition).  

Mike, whose full name is Maciej Ziomkowski, had only one rule:  The business name should have a Z in it, since hardly anyone can pronounce his real name and he's been going by MikeZ in the nearly two decades since I've known him.

Well, since then, we've received plenty of polite feedback on how much the name sucks.  (we wanted to say that we are the A to Z in low cost automations, but being sued by a major online retailer isn't in my business plan either).  And since we're committed to sponsoring our local maker faire, we feel that a rebranding should probably occur before we sign the sponsorship check and get our logo and name plastered all over the web.

We're no more creative than we were a couple of months ago, so we'll do what another garage based startup did 76 years ago and name the company after the initials of its founder's last name.  All our kits and part numbers already starts with ZT as a part number prefix anyway, and it's unlikely anyone will give us too much grief on the new name.

Shipping Crate Engineering

We have a few preassembled printers from our Kickstarter campaign left.  In order to ensure that these printers make it to their backers in one piece, we've been engineering a shipping container to ship them fully assembled.

Here's a few Solidworks screenshots.  The red blocks are polyurethane foam, 2" thick, 4 x 4" in size.  The two halves of the crate slide together with 4 pieces of OpenBeam, and the cardboard box that it goes into have all corners reinforced with cardboard edge protectors to guard against damage.  The glass bed will also be removed, packed back into its custom foam insert (that we've been shipping with all new printer kits) on top of the crate.  We've shipped a Kossel Pro in similar configuration as checked luggage and are pretty confident that this is the way to go.

Kossel_Pro_Crated2.JPG

We are laser cutting the first articles this coming week and we'll try to ship one of the first assembled printers (to California) this coming week.  If all goes well, we'll ramp up shipping the week of 8/3.

Source files for the Kossel Pro:

Now that we've got most of our manufacturing figured out, here's a link to the source directory, in its uncleaned, and unkempt glory:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/seattleautomationzdocs/Kossel.zip

We will be cleaning up and releasing better documentation along the way as well, but for those who want it, there's the raw dump of the design folder.

New Documentation Project:

After getting the last of the prebuilt machines shipped, my focus will be split roughly 50-50 on the new Kossel 1.5 upgrade parts, which includes a solution for using FSR bed levelling with the heated bed and a simplified, machined end effector that can take an E3D V6 or the next version of our K-Head hot end.  These parts should fix the last nagging issues for the Kossel Pro and really get us to the point where the machine will print reliably and accurate for everyone out of the box.  

But designing a good machine is just half the story. Our documentation had been sorely lacking.  Now that we've had a chance to catch up on shipments, the other 50% of my time will be focused on improving the documentation on this project.  Our new documentation can be found here, and we'll be trying to do smaller and more incrememntal updates to the documentation instead of pushing major releases.  We've also enabled a wiki on the page to allow for user-contributed feedback on settings and such.

Finally we've invested in a new SSD based video monitor and recorder.  Traditionally, it's been really difficult to shoot instruction videos because I have a hard time seeing what's being recorded on video (and I don't have the benefit of a production team or even an assistant camera operator).  By mounting the camera overhead with the appropriate lens and mounting the Ninja2 nearby, I can remotely frame my shots and start the recording.  The device records in ProResHQ (a very disk intensive, but easy to edit format) directly onto an SSD that gets plugged into the computer for editing.  This allows us to turn around video clips faster than before.  An inexpensive wireless Sony Mic completes the audio capture setup for this rig.

 

You can see some of our new documentation (including our first video) here: 

http://ztautomations.dozuki.com/

Other adminstrative stuff:

Our primary kitter should be back from vacation this coming week and we should be able to start building more K-Heads, heater cartridges, and box up cooling fans to put onto Amazon.

That's all for this update.  

Links:

ZT Automations on Amazon: www.amazon.com/shops/zt-automations

Documentation: ztautomations.dozuki.com

 

-=- Terence & Mike

EDITED:  Fixed Mike's name's spelling.  Even after 18 years...