As mentioned we were surprised by the sudden influx in demand for the 200mm MakerBeamXL black anodised. Last Thursday April 9 we were sold out. New stock would come in June. A long wait. So we decided to have some beams cut at a different facility nearby and buy our own machinery for cutting and tapping. Normally our beams are cut and packed somewhere else. We thought we would be able to cater our customers and as a bonus we would finally be able to offer customers custom cut lengths at the end of this Voron ride.
A few days on and now we can say we underestimated the whole process and we are sorry to say that there are customers who are the unfortunate witnesses of our learning curve.
A few customers have come forward showing us beams that are not up to par and should not have been shipped. They will receive (a) new set(s) of beams.
The situation as it happened:
- There was a sudden big demand for 200mm MakerBeamXL black anodised. We sold out quickly and were expecting new stock to arrive in two months.
- We decided to have longer length beams cut into 200mm pieces at another nearby facility. They had on occassion cut beams for us before.
- We took the beams there, but could not agree on the price for cutting and tapping the beams. A pack costs €9,25. The sawing and tapping would cost on average €12,50 per pack.
- We decided to only have a small portion cut and tapped so we could cater to our customers and we could continue business.
- An investment in our own sawing and tapping machines was made.
- We created a workspace in our company.
- The machines arrived, but unfortunately not everything was right.
- The wrong tap was delivered.
- The wrong saw blade was delivered. The blade was not made for cutting aluminium.
- The second saw blade performed better.
- The second tap was the right one, M3.
- We started cutting and tapping because of demand, also from our resellers.
- The beams that were cut elsewhere returned. The quality was very poor. Visible difference in length, bad tapping, cutting angle, burred and overall finish.
- We sorted the beams to find the good ones. Cleaned these and shipped these beams.
- The rest was set aside. We expected to be able to saw the lengths into standard, shorter lengths.
- Meanwhile we were not entirely satisfied with the quality of our own cuts.
- We ordered a third saw blade. 250mm diameter, tooth distance of 3mm.
- This last saw blade results in good cuts.
After two weeks we reached the point where we are able to:
- make a clean square cut
- without burring
- can produce repeatable lengths
- tapping is now possible without any rims
What we have learned:
- We underestimated the whole cutting process. Especially with this high volume of cuts.
- The type of saw blade used is crucial.
- Once you have a good saw blade the process actually is as much about sawing as it is about cleaning and keeping the blade and tap well oiled.
- Cleaning the beams before you saw, when you are sawing and at least two times once you have finished is crucial.
- Shipping out beams while still tuning our own process was a very bad idea.
- Faulty beams need to get thrown away immediately. Setting aside can cause errors like these to be accidentally shipped out later.
- The logistics of the workspace, what beams need to be cut, are cut and need to be cleaned etc. is a very important matter.
- Our quality control was lacking. We focused on getting the cuts done and shipping the beams because of demand. Quality control got squashed somewhere in between.
- Our installation now is good enough to cater to the occassional demand for custom cut lengths. It is not suited for a high volume demand in a short period of time.
If you have bought 200mm MakerBeamXL black anodised beams from us between April 9 to April 24 2020 and you are unhappy with the quality of the beams please contact us. Send us pictures of your beams and we can send you a new set straightaway or later in June if you prefer.