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.

8 thoughts on “MakerSlide delivery, and other news

  1. Congrats on your self-employment. I’d like to to something like this one day but giving up the financial security of a fixed income is not an easy decision. I hope this will work out for you.

    • It’s a bit stalled, to be honest, for lack of time. I still have two weeks of hard work ahead of me, then I can relax — by which I mean start building prototypes.

      I have a design worked out on paper. I need a day or two in front of a CAD program, followed by a day or two babysitting my eShapeoko while it cuts the parts for the prototype. Then assemble, test, think, and repeat at least once. I think I have the supply lined up for all components, but, funnily enough, packaging is going to take some effort to solve.

      • What CAD are you using? I’ve tried a few of the usual suspects superficially but so far nothing really stuck with me. I’m really bad with complicated keyboard/mouse controls so the one I felt most comfortable with was OpenSCAD. But that’s not really suitable for complicated models.

        • OpenSCAD is nice, but not for this. I used to use SketchUp for the 3D model and DraftSight (a free-to-use AutoCAD look-alike) for 2D drawings to the fabricators. I find the AutoCAD-style interface quite easy to use, once you get used to the basic idea. You type commands, and you have many ways to enter the arguments, all pretty logical and consistent. You mostly keep off the Shift, Ctrl and Alt keys. There are menus, but they’re redundant (but they’re a handy reminder of what commands you can type). The command entry window has very well designed prompts and defaults. They’re useful if you’re not yet fluent, and don’t get in the way if you are.

          I want to use something other than SketchUp this time, because it’s not quite what I need. Fusion 360 looks good.

          • I’ve never found any package more intuitive to use than Ashlar-Vellum’s Drawing Board. It really is just like sketching on the back of an envelope, but with full CAD services. Unfortunately, it’s so out of date that you need to run it on WinXP ….

          • I’ve attended a 1-day CNC crash course a few years back and the guy there demonstrated Autodesk Inventor which was at the time free for students. I was very impressed with this program but the guy was using a 3D Mouse with dozends of buttons. A entry model 3D mouse is only around 100€ but it’s still way too steep of a learning curve for hobbyists.

            Fusion 360 looks like a good entry-level package of CAD, CAE and CAM but I don’t like the Cloud aspect of it. “Cloud” means “someone elses computer” and “free registration” means “we’re going to make money from your data”.

            I had high hopes for FreeCAD but the documentation and usability are a nightmare.

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