MakerSlide delivery, and other news

Many things have happened since I last wrote here, but few that affected the store or the products directly.

Late last year I quit my day job, partly so I could focus more on this business. I still have a few essential things to sort out, so I’m still working what amounts to a full-time job, but that’s for a limited time. By the end of March, I should be able to dedicate myself to designing and selling CNC machines, including the long-promised MegaRail-based machine.

As you probably noticed, some sizes of MakerSlide had been out of stock. Last November, the fabricator and I realized that there had been some confusion, and they produced less MakerSlide than I had ordered, so they had almost none left to cut for me. I had a new batch extruded, and it arrived, unannounced, last week.

Delivery of eight pallets of MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion

That’s eight pallets of MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion on my driveway. I had to scramble to get it out of the rain (and snow) and into the garage immediately.

First, I built one of these:A new rack for MakerSlide, empty

That’s a pallet, some plywood, six or seven lengths of CLS timber, about 80 screws, some wood glue, and three or four hours of my time. By storing the rail vertically, I can load four to six pallets worth of MakerSlide into the space taken by a single pallet — and it’s easily accessible too.

Both the old and the new rack, with MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion

Here’s the new, larger rack (on the right) with the contents of six of those pallets, plus most of the older stock; and the old rack with the remaining two pallets and a lot of empty space (which I’m going to use for MegaRail 80). The shorter lengths of MakerSlide are stacked vertically in twos and threes, to save space. Thankfully, the MakerSlide profile makes this arrangement quite stable. In fact, when I moved two years ago, I hired a van with a tail lift, I borrowed a hand pallet truck, and I loaded the smaller rack straight into the van, with some 500 m of MakerSlide on it (and plenty of packing to keep it from moving about).

All MakerSlide sizes are available: 250 mm, 375 mm, 500 mm, 750 mm, 1000 mm, 1500 mm, 2000 mm. We still can’t cut custom lengths, but we’re getting there.

20 mm × 40 mm T-slot extrusion is also back in stock in all sizes: 435 mm*, 560 mm*, 670 mm, 810 mm*, 920 mm, 1060 mm*, 1420 mm. The odd lengths are because that is what we need for the various sizes of eShapeoko; it doesn’t make economic sense to stock other lengths. Sizes marked with an asterisk are also available with pre-drilled access holes for blind joints, as required for the “deluxe” eShapeoko frame.

One more thing: we’ve got some very nice 625-2RS bearings, with less axial play than all I’ve seen elsewhere, including some fairly expensive brand-name bearings. Standard 625 bearings tend to be quite loose, even those used inside NEMA 17 motors (those are preloaded, though). All eShapeoko kits now include the upgraded bearings at no extra cost. The better spec bearings should translate into more rigidity in the YZ and XY planes.

The new bearings are also available in the shop.

MegaRail 80 and MegaRail Z Have Arrived!

I got the MegaRail 80 and the MegaRail Z from the supplier. They look great! They’re both very beefy. They’ll be a huge improvement in rigidity over MakerSlide.

I have added them to the store, pretty much at the price I had anticipated a while back. The listing is very bare-bones at the moment, but I’ll add drawings and more information about the features and uses of the profiles as I find time over the next few days. In the meantime, here are some older posts: a description of both profiles, the two candidate MegaRail Z profiles (I chose the one at the top), and the post where I guess at prices.

Many people have asked whether I will design and sell a machine using MegaRail. Yes, I will! I have already started, in fact. (More on it soon.)

MakerSlide back in stock

500 mm and 750 mm MakerSlide are back in stock.

All lengths are now available: 250 mm, 375 mm, 500 mm, 750 mm, 1000 mm, 1500 mm and 2000 mm.

I’m able to cut MakerSlide accurately now, so I’m considering offering a cutting service again. I need to make some room for the saw and the facing machine (and add chip collection to both, because they make a horrendous mess). Even so, it’s a bit of a hassle. If I do it, the price of the cutting service will reflect my dislike of doing it.

MakerSlide Camera Slider updated

The popular MakerSlide camera slider is now a little better: the carriage plate is 4 mm instead of 3 mm aluminium, making it more than twice as stiff.

Both the motorized camera slider (motor and electronics not included) and the basic slider (which is just a carriage with four V-wheels) are also available now without MakerSlide, as a courtesy to our Australian friends. The kits without rail can be posted inexpensively, and they can buy the MakerSlide locally. Belt (for the motorized slider) must be ordered separately, 100 mm longer than the rail.

Store shipping fixed

Shipping to the UK had been broken for a few days. After some debugging, I figured out that our shipping quote provider had stopped accepting decimals in the package dimensions as of 20 December — but only for destinations within the UK. Shipping a 42.0 cm long box abroad was fine, but it had to be 42 cm for the UK.

Also fixed shipping to Northern Ireland, which had been broken for two weeks (an upgrade had overwritten my old fix).

Everything works properly again.

eShapeoko kits back in stock

The eShapeoko kits are back in stock (with a lead time of about three weeks). After more than a year, I have decommissioned the reservation form!

MakerSlide should be back in stock in January.

The store is closed for Christmas. You can place orders any time, though, and we’ll resume shipping on 29 or 30 December.

Enjoy the holidays!

Update

We return on the 2nd of January (unexpected change of flight dates).

MakerSlide Update

Well, it’s December and MakerSlide isn’t here yet. The fabricator are telling me their saw had been broken for more than a week back in November, which wrecked their schedule. They can’t even tell me when they might start working on my order. Meanwhile, gleaming new MakerSlide sits on a rack in their warehouse, extruded and anodized but uncut — and our store is empty.

I’m doing two things to work around this: setting up an alternate supplier (long in the works, but these things take time); and re-cutting lengths with defects. I have many pieces of MakerSlide that I rejected because of a single dent or scratch. They can be cut into shorter lengths around the defect — they are otherwise perfectly good. I’m working on cutting MakerSlide for the existing eShapeoko orders, so there may not be a lot left for the store, though. I’ll keep you posted.

One can cut MakerSlide with a chop saw, but it’s hard to get a consistently straight, flat and square cut without spending a lot of money on the saw. I’d rather not do that, but I want an accurate cut with a good finish, so I’m doing it in two steps: I cut it slightly long with a half-decent chop saw, then I face it very precisely with a milling machine I built for this purpose. In true RepRap form, the MakerSlide facing machine is built with MakerSlide. I’ll post some pictures soon — right now I have rail to cut and kits to ship.