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Laser Cutters in Chicago

Lots of Inventables customers are interested in finding a shop where they can get some laser cutting done.  In this map below I am going to be adding locations where you can do laser cutting yourself or hire a company to do it for you in Chicago.  I'll be doing more cities soon.  If you know of a place I should add please comment at the bottom and I'll add it to the map.

Green pins represent places where you pay for laser cutting as a service
Blue pins represent places where the laser cutters are a communal tool typically as part of a membership to the space.


View Laser Cutting in Chicago in a larger map

Shapeoko Update #2 - Batch 1 Full and Premium Shipments

I just got back from the factory with some exciting news to report...the Full and Premium Kits from Shapeoko batch #1 have started shipping!  Below is a photo I took out on the dock right as I was leaving.  The boxes were stacked up waiting for the UPS truck to come.  You'll notice we've added the "Handle with Care" stickers in the hopes that UPS doesn't try to throw them like a football.


From the outside the kits look the same as the Mechanical kits but the inside is much different.


Here's a small taste of what you'll find inside.  The first thing is everyone got a power supply that works from 100v - 240v.  This made it possible for the same power supply to be used in every country.


We did a little research on the power plugs in each country and bought the appropriate plugs for everyone.  In the event that you take your machine to a different country or the place you are plugging in doesn't use the national standard we used standard computer power cables so you can just replace the cord with one you get locally.  Here's an example of the one we got for most European countries. 

The Full and Premium kits also got 2 additional bags one full of tools and one full of items for the electronics. We creatively named these bags "Tools" and "Electronics".



The actual electronics had their own packaging so we used it.  The grbl shield came in anti-static pink bubble wrap and the Arduino came in a nice cardboard box.  We did load the hex file onto all the Arduinos for everyone so if you notice a crease in the box it was because we had to put them back inside.  This should save lots of time and headache when you try to get up and running.


We have one surprise that wasn't included in the BOM.  We made a little stand for the electronics and the eStop.  The stand uses the eStop as a leg.  We are going to publish the files and folks can actually make fancier cases using their Shapeoko's as a first project.


Everyone got 3 motors.  The motors were wrapped in foam to make sure they stay protected during the journey from the factory to your door.  We also threw in 16 extra washers with the motors that are optional but could be used if you don't like the space in between the motors and the mount plates.  You don't need them but some people wanted them so we threw them in.  If you don't like how they look then save them for something else or throw them out.


If you are in batch #1 and got an email with your tracking number then your Shapeoko is on the way.  If not you'll get one very soon because all the labels have been printed and all the boxes are going through the final quality assurance step.  As soon as they are ready they go downstairs to the dock on this little cart.  Every batch #1 kit is scheduled to be picked up by UPS and USPS as they are complete all week!


Shapeoko Update

Over the last few weeks the team at Inventables has been working hard on the open source Shapeoko CNC Mill kits.  It has been one of the most exhilarating experiences in our history.  We closed the first Shapeoko campaign on April 23rd and promised the first batch of Shapeokos would ship within 60 days or by June 22nd.  


Today is June 12th and we're happy to report the first wave of shipments went out early!  

Let's start at the beginning and walk through how we got here.  First, Edward Ford the inventor of the Shapeoko came over to our office to show us his machine.  We were pretty excited and decided to work together to bring it to market with three version Mechanical, Full, and Premium.  The Mechanical kit is for experts that need the mechanical hardware but wanted to add their own stepper motors, Arduino, motor controllers, wires, power supply, and cables that you need to make the machine run.  The Full Kit was intended for folks that just want to follow the instructions to build their own, and the Premium Kit was outfitted with a bunch of materials and tool bits to get you going drawing and then cutting.  Edward send us a box of parts and we built one ourselves.




We created a spreadsheet with Edward outlining the bill of materials for each kit and started placing order for parts.  We took our Shapeoko out to Maker Faire and demo'd it in the GE Garage and got to spend some time with Edward debugging.


Soon after parts started to arrive in boxes and for the most part the vendors got it right the first time.

There were a few vendors that made mistakes so we needed to send the parts back to get corrected.  Here's an example of one of the end plates that was put in a plastic bag before the paint had a chance to dry.  We had to send back a crate that weighed over 850 pounds back to the manufacturer to get sand blasted and repainted. 


Luckily all the bumps in the road got corrected and once we had all the components in hand we started putting together the kits at our factory.  Below is a picture of the room where all the bagging and kitting happened.  We had a team of about 15 people that helped us to everything from bagging small parts to kitting up the final assemblies.  Since we had so many orders they worked on putting together all the kits for about 4 weeks.

Each component in the Hardware Bag got it's own smaller bag with the part number and quantity labeled on it.  This will make it easier to do the build and identify what each part is.  First the bags got labeled and then the parts were filled inside.



After all the parts were bagged we had a long 20 foot table with tubs that included one bag of parts for each kit that will be assembled.
The next day 4 people in an assembly line added one bag of each part to create the Mechanical bag of parts.  


These filled up 2 huge boxes on 2 wooden skids.


Then it was time to take all of the larger components out of their bins and start kitting up the Mechanical kits.  Below you see the end plates in their plastic bags.


To prepare for kitting two workers assembled all the cardboard shipping containers and stacked them up.


Then an assembly line of workers cut the bubble wrap which will protect the parts and started kitting them one layer at a time in the boxes.


After the kitting station the boxes went to the quality assurance station.  Here each kit was examined to make sure it included the correct parts.  A letter from Edward and parts list was added.  




The boxes were then sealed up and the shipping label was added.


Boxes were stacked up and the UPS truck loaded them up for delivery!  International Mechanical Kits will ship tomorrow and the Full Kits and Premium kits are up next.




MakerSlide shipping update

First I want to thank everyone for making the first MakerSlide production run possible.  The open source hardware community, Bart Dring, and the active community over at Buildlog have exceed even our greatest expectations for MakerSlide.

We closed the orders for the first MakerSlide production run on  April 23rd and promised everyone that ordered that we would ship them within 45 days.  For those of you that don't know about MakerSlide it is an open source linear extrusion that combines a linear railing system with structural support.  The MakerSlide design was invented by Bart Dring. Here's what it looks like...



Now for the update.  We had a few bumps in the road during production.  The original die that we thought we could use to run the extrusion broke so we had to have a new die manufactured.  As you can see on the diagram above there is a new and improved design that makes the extrusion easier to run through the die.  The top cross section uses one less rib.  Bart had some MakerSlide in his garage so we hired a messenger service and 4 strong guys loaded it all onto a truck and then unloaded it at Inventables.  Here's what it looked like when it got to our office on Wednesday afternoon.




The new die took 2.5 weeks to manufacture and it took the extruder another 1.5 weeks to run the extrusions, cut the, and send them out to be anodized.  When they got back from the anodizer we paid for them to bag them in plastic bags to prevent scratches in shipping.  On Thursday the MakerSlide arrived at Inventables HQ, here's a picture of what it looked like:




Since the MakerSlide was sold in 1200mm and 2000mm sections we had to order expandable boxes that could be adjusted to either size MakerSlide. We hired 4 temporary workers to help use assemble the boxes because it was rather time consuming to build them.  After a day of building telescoping boxes we decided that tubes would have been a better solution.



 Here's what they looked like after we assembled the boxes...


International orders had to be cut down with the saw pictured below to fit into a smaller box because the post office would not allow international shipments with boxes this long to most countries. USPS dictates the following size standards:
    • Maximum length: 36 inches
    • Maximum length and girth combined: 79 inches.
    • Maximum weight limits vary by country.





We set up a station to pick and pack all the accessories and include them in the boxes with each MakerSlide.


We set them out on the dock in batches of 40-50 at a time and so far we have had 6 UPS trucks come by and pick up the packages.  Over 150 orders have shipped and we expect to finish the orders from the first batch on Monday.  


Thanks to everyone for all your patience and support as we went through this process for the first time.  We learned a lot and look forward to your feedback and see what everyone is going to make with their MakerSlide.  We'll do another update soon.  As you can see from the picture below...we're exhausted.