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Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST


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Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
1 hour ago, ultiarjan said:

Another question for Steve, do you do all machine types on the same line?  do you mix types or do you do larger batches of the same machine? Specifically, does the S5 fit on the existing conveyors.

Great question. We actually work in cells, with every operator trained and able to assemble every model of printer that we produce. They have work instructions for each printer and assemble one full printer at a time. This is a little different to line manufacturing that is often used for higher volume production. The S5 is transported to each cell using the same conveyor as all other products, but due to the size of the parts it requires a few extra trays per printer.

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    OK, I have a first question for Steve: What special challenges in production come with the new Ultimaker S5? I guess the significantly increased weight might be one of them? Maybe there are others?

    I always use this website when I am in doubt: https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/

    No, red shirts just die first...LOL ?

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    Posted (edited) · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    5 minutes ago, SandervG said:

     

    Hi @SteveH, are there standardized rules of measurement that help you determine whether or not a certain packaging passed the test, or is it mostly just our own subjective observation after unpacking? 

     

    and connecting to this: do you test boxes with e.g. dummy printers inside by shipping to a place where you know that the risk of damage is high?

    Edited by Dim3nsioneer
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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    2 minutes ago, SteveH said:

    Great question. We actually work in cells, with every operator trained and able to assemble every model of printer that we produce. They have work instructions for each printer and assemble one full printer at a time. This is a little different to line manufacturing that is often used for higher volume production. The S5 is transported to each cell using the same conveyor as all other products, but due to the size of the parts it requires a few extra trays per printer.

     

    So each printer is build by a single operator, but "not really" as the assembly is done based on pre assembled parts (sub-assemblies) right? like the main panels and the head and maybe some other stuff?

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    3 minutes ago, SandervG said:

     

    Hi @SteveH, are there standardized rules of measurement that help you determine whether or not a certain packaging passed the test, or is it mostly just our own subjective observation after unpacking? 

    The packaging is tested by an external certified body and it is an industry standard. Avoiding any damage to the printer is of course the basic requirement, but the packaging itself must also be able to withstand multiple impacts and still be intact.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    2 minutes ago, SteveH said:

    with every operator trained and able to assemble every model of printer that we produce. They have work instructions for each printer and assemble one full printer at a time

    Out of curiosity. Whats the average assembly time of an UM2go/UM2+/UM3/S5? Which model can be assembled the quickest? Whats the deciding factor? My guess would be that the time to assemble an UM3 and S5 would be similiar.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    4 minutes ago, fbrc8-erin said:

    @cjs Most of the printer is assembled by a single technician working at their desk, which is ESD safe. However, some parts of the printer are assembled separately ahead of time to help make the assembly process go more smoothly while the technician install it all into the printer. Many parts require specialized tooling and we have specialized pre-assembly areas set up with those parts and tools to keep the process as smooth as possible.

     

    And I could add to this response with the photo I posted earlier:

     

    1 hour ago, SandervG said:

    I asked Steve to send me a few photos of where he works. Here is one. I think it could be very interesting to get a peek inside the assembly facility. What do you think?

     

     1898092851_Ultimakerassembly.thumb.JPG.fe6db4a83a7ddc33947463bcf8a2109e.JPG

    1

     

    On here you see 7 Ultimaker S5's on a conveyer belt. Someone from assembly will take one Ultimaker S5, and in the stacked trays next to it are various (assembled) components that are used to build a complete Ultimaker S5. Some of them (like rods) are just the parts, other components (like feeders) are pre-assembled by another colleague. 

    We train our assembly workers so, that they can assemble all machines. On top of that, every station has all work instructions too. 

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    2 minutes ago, ultiarjan said:

     

    So each printer is build by a single operator, but "not really" as the assembly is done based on pre assembled parts (sub-assemblies) right? like the main panels and the head and maybe some other stuff?

    Hi @ultiarjan , yes. See my previous response. 

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    Just now, ultiarjan said:

     

    So each printer is build by a single operator, but "not really" as the assembly is done based on pre assembled parts (sub-assemblies) right? like the main panels and the head and maybe some other stuff?

    There are two flows of parts to the person who picks and populates the production trays for assembly. One flow is individual parts directly from the warehouse. The other flow is pre-assemblies, which we picked as parts and then assembled in to a combined part. The feeder for example is picked and produced from flow racks, then booked back on to a warehouse location before being re-picked as a single (assembled) part for main assemble the following day.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    Another one here from @kmanstudios: "Are the machines under a consistent upgrade to increase robustness? My UM3Es are a year apart and there is a difference between the two machines. One of the things is the printhead cable is a tad bit longer, allowing for less 'yank' or pull on the connector during operations. This seems to reduce printhead com errors. First machine ordered in November of 2016, received in January 2017 second machine ordered and received January 2018."

     

    Ultimaker is constantly working to improve the ease of use, reliability, and functionality of all of their machines. To this end, firmware undergoes regular updating, and new hardware may appear with minor changes over the course of months as well. We believe in constantly striving to improve all of the machines all the time based on real feedback we receive. Production, quality control, and tech support have a continuous line of communication.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    7 minutes ago, SteveH said:

    This is a little different to line manufacturing that is often used for higher volume production

    How do you deal with the demand? Reading interviews etc. the demand for Ultimaker printers is rapidly growing.

    Having to teach each assembly worker probably is a bottle neck?!

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    863254384_UltimakerAssembly2.thumb.JPG.7bbbfa6cf9eb111da1b6c8694b3eddc0.JPG

     

    Another interesting photo! 

    The person on the right is doing quality control on an Ultimaker housing which was just built. He inspects every assembled frame that passes. On the left/middle, you see 2 workers at an assembly station for the housing of Ultimaker 3D printers. 

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    3 minutes ago, cjs said:

    Out of curiosity. Whats the average assembly time of an UM2go/UM2+/UM3/S5? Which model can be assembled the quickest? Whats the deciding factor? My guess would be that the time to assemble an UM3 and S5 would be similiar.

    The total throughput time including; picking, pre-assemblies, quality control and boxing ranges from 400-550 minutes. The Ultimaker 2+ is currently the most simple and quickest printer to assemble. The S5 is now quicker than the smaller dual extrusion UM3, because the manufacturing engineering team has made improvements to the assembly process.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    5 minutes ago, cjs said:

    How do you deal with the demand? Reading interviews etc. the demand for Ultimaker printers is rapidly growing.

    Having to teach each assembly worker probably is a bottle neck?!

    Assembly operators continually learn and as a result get more consistent and speed up, this has over the course of the last 18 months absorbed a lot of the increased demand. We do however recruit and train new employees on a regular basis and we have a really solid team of trainers who produce excellent work instructions for the operators to refer to while working.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    5 minutes ago, SandervG said:

    863254384_UltimakerAssembly2.thumb.JPG.7bbbfa6cf9eb111da1b6c8694b3eddc0.JPG

     

    Another interesting photo! 

    The person on the right is doing quality control on an Ultimaker which was just built. On the left/middle, you see 2 workers at an assembly station. 

     

    looking at that picture it's the sub-assembly station for the frame, before it moves to the stations where the components get put into it right... and the QC guy does QC on the frame before it enters the production....

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    @SandervG do you only have blue Ultimaker shirts as work clothing? So your workers can choose to there taste, preference, liking ?

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    7 hours ago, Dim3nsioneer said:

    OK, I have a first question for Steve: What special challenges in production come with the new Ultimaker S5? I guess the significantly increased weight might be one of them? Maybe there are others?

    The Ultimaker S5 is BIG! As well as allowing the customer to benefit from a larger print volume it also brings new challenges to how we move semi and finished products around. We have therefore developed lifts that also operate as trolleys, this allows the team to more easily and safely lift and move the S5 through the assembly process.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    Just now, cjs said:

    @SandervG do you only have blue Ultimaker shirts as work clothing? So your workers can choose to there taste, preference, liking ?

     

    Hah, nope! We have different colors that fit different roles. I believe Blue, Red and Black. @SteveH may have to correct me there. I believe the blue shirts are for production and are also ESD safe. Red shirts are for inbound quality control. Green is logistics and black are the teamleads. 

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    10 minutes ago, SandervG said:

    863254384_UltimakerAssembly2.thumb.JPG.7bbbfa6cf9eb111da1b6c8694b3eddc0.JPG

     

    Another interesting photo! 

    The person on the right is doing quality control on an Ultimaker housing which was just built. He inspects every assembled frame that passes. On the left/middle, you see 2 workers at an assembly station for the housing of Ultimaker 3D printers. 

     

    Take a note of the stone table next to the guy on the right. There every frame is tested to stand without play on a flat surface.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    6 minutes ago, SteveH said:

    The S5 is now quicker than the smaller dual extrusion UM3, because the manufacturing engineering team has made improvements to the assembly process.

    Can you share one or two improvements, which have reduced the assembly time, as from looking at it you would guess everything is pretty much the same?

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    and another a question about demand: do you produce on order or for stock?

    Of course a new product needs an amount to sent to resellers, but after the first launch.

     

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    1 minute ago, cjs said:

    Can you share one or two improvements, which have reduced the assembly time, as from looking at it you would guess everything is pretty much the same?

    The assembly of the housing was a significant improvement, with self locking flat head screws for speed and aesthetics. We can now use a single hand with an electric screwdriver, instead of having to use two hands to hold and tighten screws.

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    3 hours ago, cjs said:

    Why does Ultimaker not reuse for example the build platform from the UM3 on the UM2+ series? To me this would make sense as you would only need to stock, source and assemble one build platform. Maybe I'm missing something or there is some good reason to not do it?!

     

    Hi @cjs, not everything is as easy to retrofit as it may seem. And sometimes it may not always be necessary either. When something is changed, and especially a vital part like a build platform, it changes a lot of processes and requires a lot of new testing to ensure that we don't introduce any other problems or unwanted side-effects. We have to take a lot into account, more than just 'will it fit'. For that reason, it may be the case that it is decided not to retrofit certain parts. Especially when, in this case, the Ultimaker 2+ is already a work-horse! 

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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST
    2 minutes ago, peggyb said:

    and another a question about demand: do you produce on order or for stock?

    Of course a new product needs an amount to sent to resellers, but after the first launch.

     

    The established products have a more predictable sales pattern than new products. We do however use the insights of the sales team and their sales partners to produce to an acceptable stock level for all printers. Our goal is to always have printers available when a customer wants to purchase, we are prepared to invest in inventory to ensure this service level.

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    Posted (edited) · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    @steveh  Have the design guys given you any adjustment in the glass doors of the S5 during assembly?  Having those doors in good alignment with even gaps will give out the right premium quality message on this printer and, as a part that you've never had to deal with before, are there any other things you've had to do to take into account for handling these parts at the plant?

     

    Edited by SteveCox3D
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    Posted · Ultimaker AMA: Quality Control & Assembly - May 16th 5pm CEST

    What are the challenges with the new aluminium build plates? I heared that they were delayed because of issues in the supplie chain.

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