On 18 November Frits Lyneborg of Let’s Make Robots fame posted a video featuring MakerBeam (after 2:43). Now it has almost been a month since his video ‘3D Carver of Invisible Stuff’ came online on the Make Magazine blog. And what a month it has been for a small webshop that is trying to build a name! We were overwhelmed by the demand that followed this video. The MakerBeam Starter Kits were flying of the shelfs that week in mid November. It was awesome!
Ofcourse we were pleasantly surprised. We had our worries too. We were contemplating to order a new batch just before. That week we knew we had to order. We tried to speed things up but there was a moment we were looking at almost empty boxes.
Luckily we had ordered longer beams before. We knew there was a demand for the 900mm beams. There were some people that even had requested this length. We were really happy these arrived. Meanwhile we also had to order bearings, eye plate kits, cap nuts and more.
Shortly after, the batch of beams we ordered arrived. With this arrival we were almost fully stocked again. Only the production of shorter beams (<150) was delayed and so we created a Longer Beam Starter Kit. It has proven to be a good substitute for some people or even more to their liking.
And the regular starter kits? We just have to wait a little longer. We still do not have a set date yet for the arrival of the shorter beams. The manufacturer expects them to have them ready before the holidays. Then they need to be shipped to us. We hope to be able to ship the starter kits early in the new year.
Do you send the starter kit in a storage box as shown in your demo kit posts we were asked. The answer is we do not. In order to ship the starter kit as an envelope we chose to pack the starter kit as neatly as possible. We want to ship the kit in an envelope because it really helps to keep the shipping cost reasonable. Especially since we want to ship MakerBeam throughout Europe. First we used cardboard envelopes to pack the starter kit. Now we have boxes with a lid that still fit a post box.
We find they look a bit better than the ones we used before. For the kit to arrive safely we need to keep everything in place. Padding material sometimes raises the lid a bit making it bulkier. This could prevent the package from fitting a post box. Since this is the most important requirement for a package to be shipped as an envelope we want to avoid that. We use gaffer tape instead. It does not really look nice but certainly does the trick and does not leave any sticky residu. Very important! Here is how it looks like. Pictured are a starter kit and a little extra: a hex nut driver and a package of bearings. This still all fits.
MakerBeam offers fitted button head screws with the Starter Kit. They are 6mm length M3 screws and especially made to fit the MakerBeam profile. Since MakerBeam is made to fit M3 we thought that finding other lengths would be easy. Just take some M3 button head screws and slide them into the MakerBeam profile. Unfortunately this has proven to be more difficult. Not all screws fitted in that nicely.
After some trial and error we thought we found the distributor with just the perfect screws. Socket Button Head Screws, M3, 12mm length. The screws we need to fit our bearings. We had some packages from one batch and one from another batch. And yes, you probably guessed it by now, these screws from a different batch did not match. Aaarghhh!!
We thought the problem was with the manufacturer not accurately applying the DIN standards. M3 socket button head screws adhere to DIN standard 7380. This standard stipulates meticulously most features of a M3 screw. But not all we found. The DIN standard does not stipulate the curvature of the button heads. That is what is the most critical for the MakerBeam profile.
We now have a limited number of screws that actually fit. For this reason we will reduce the number of screws we pack with our bearings from 15 to 12 until we have found a more durable solution. Right now we are working on an affordable custom made solution. Of course we will keep you posted.
James Hardiman made a x-y carriage using MakerBeam and the bearings we sell through our webshop. It is the world’s first MakerBeam x-y carriage. Or so we think. Let us know if we are wrong.
The design looks good. We do have some comments though. Here the bearings are on the inside of the frame. If you put them on the outside there is more space for the frame to move. Also if you use three bearings in one dimension it is stable. Then a single beam would be stable and you do not need a frame to realise stability.
James Hardiman is working on a book about 3d printers. He is also looking into the power of making. What is happening with 3d printing, homemade cnc machines, sites like etsy.com and makerfaires in various places is sometimes referred to as the industrial revolution 2.0 or micromanufacturing.
Johan and James met each other in the Netherland at ProtoSpace, the fablab in Utrecht. There Johan handed James a MakerBeam starter kit. The x-y carriage is James his first serious MakerBeam project in connection with his book on 3d printers. We love the initiative. Thank you James!!
We are about to ship out our second demo kit for educational use. We want to thank hogeschool InHolland Alkmaar (university of applied sciences) for ordering one. We hope that MakerBeam will meet their expectations!
Of course we have been tinkering with MakerBeam ourselves. What we noticed is that preparation will speed up the building process. It is so much easier to first prepare some brackets. The next step then becomes real easy. You just slide the beams into place.
We just shipped our first demo kit for educational use. We want to thank hogeschool Zeeland (university of applied sciences) for ordering one. They want to see whether MakerBeam suits their course ‘Engineering, Design and Innovation‘. To see if the beams will be just the right addition to their newly started course they want to tinker with our aluminum T-slotted beams . We hope MakerBeam is just their thing!
MakerBeam is wonderful construction material and accessories will only expand the possibilities. Movement suddenly becomes an option when you add bearings and that is why we were looking for ones to fit MakerBeam.
The search for the right size bearings moved up a bit on our list of priorities after meeting the guys behind Ultimaker. Building a 3d printer with Mini T-profiles now is feasible. Or maybe someone wants to build their own CNC-machine, just to name another popular possibility. There must be all sorts of projects that can benefit from these little wheels.
When you use bearings you will need longer bolts. Also we think self locking bolts will make your construction more rigid. Ideal for the machine of your choice in working mode. We made a small pack with 10 bearings, 15 M3 12mm bolts 15 M3 nuts and 15 M3 self locking nuts for €15,-. We hope you will have fun with our latest addition to our webshop!
We are proud to tell you that one of our starter kits found its way to the guys behind Ultimaker, Martijn and Erik. It was a nice surprise discovering Erik had ordered a kit. Ultimaker works together with Protospace FabLab Utrecht. When they learned we would give a lunch lecture there it was real easy for them to attend. It gave us the opportunity to personally hand them a starter kit and to shake hands.
The relationship Ultimaker has with MakerBeam goes back a few years. A 3d print of a makerbeam was made some years ago. Back then it was just an open source hardware project paying the other budding open source hardware project a compliment. Today it was time for a more serious introduction.
The Ultimaker of course is in full production. The process of improving the production process is ongoing as well. Especially the production of the wooden framework takes up a lot of time. There is definitely room for improvement there. Could the aluminum Mini-T profiles of Makerbeam fit in? We talked about it and the guys of Ultimaker took their starter kit home. So who knows what beautiful combination the future will bring!
Thursday September 1st we were at Protospace FabLab Utrecht to give a lunch lecture and introduce MakerBeam there. There is a lunch lecture every month at ProtoSpace. The topics vary widely. The lunch lecture is a very informal meeting. For us it was a good opportunity to introduce MakerBeam to a small but interested audience. We left one kit behind. FabLab’s well filled toolbox now has a new addition.
A FabLab offers the ideal environment for prototyping. Johan hoped to work on the Wandy lux after the lunch lecture. That did not work out that day. Instead he worked on sheaves to fit our aluminum Mini-T profiles. It gave us information about what size and shape we want. Now we are looking for sheaves we can buy of the shelf.
We feel that MakerBeam needs more accessories to truly make it irresistible material and are looking for accessories to complement the MakerBeam starter kit. We will keep you posted on this topic.
Johan his prototyping plan also did not work out because of a very interesting meeting we had with the guys from Ultimaker. In our next post we will tell you more about this spontaneous meeting of maker minds. It is this meeting what prompted the sheaves prototyping excercise.