At oomlout we are focused on producing "delightfully fun open source products" this commitment to open source extends to our manufacturing process as well. So what follows is step by step what we go through to fulfill an order using our Arduino Controlled Servo Robot - (SERB) kit and an order size of 30 as an example.
You will find everything you need to get up and making your own SERB's in semi industrial volumes, ideally you won't decide to. the real purpose of this Instructable is to act as a repository for our methods, jigs, and tricks and to help anyone looking into producing similar style kits. (or simply for those who like to see how a product is made).
updates to come
This will be an evolving Instructable to be updated with new tricks as and when we come up with them. Hopefully slowly changing from the small tabletop factory we now operate towards something much grander.
The steps to follow
We have broken down our manufacturing process into five main categories each with sub-steps.
- Before we Start - Tools, materials and other little bits needed before commencing. (steps 1 - 3)
- Laser Cutting - Taking large 4' x 8' sheets of acrylic and turning them into the individual SERB parts squares. (steps 4 - 9)
- Hardware - All the supporting elements going from mad heaps of bolts and stacks of Arduinos into nicely labeled and organized envelopes. (steps 10 - 14)
- Instructions - From on screen to lovely printed booklets. (step 15)
- Packaging - Putting it all together and getting it ready to ship. (steps 16 - 18)
Not looking to build your own? Lovely pre-packaged kits are available from oomlout.com (here)
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Step 1: The Product
First off what we will be making.
We will be producing 30 Arduino Controlled Servo Robot - (SERB) - kits. The SERB is our open source Arduino powered robot platform.
Details on how to make your own can be found- (here)
Or if you'd like to purchase a kit they can be bought from our online store - (here)
Step 2: Tools
Laser Cutter - (Brightstar LG3040tt 35 watt Laser) (details)
- A lovely small laser cutter, a fraction of the price of the Epilog lasers with very similar functionality, and Jim at Brightstar is a star when it comes to helping out with any questions. Used to cut down 9.5" x 9.5" acrylic sheets to lovely collections of SERB parts.
- This is used to cut down the large sheets of acrylic we receive from our supplier into 9.5" squares.
- Used for printing out all the packaging as well as instruction manuals.
- An old ink-jet printer with the paper feed modified to allow the feeding of small envelopes.
- We use these to help with counting bolts and quality checking before we ship.
- drill press
- soldering iron
- wire snips
- screw driver
Wire Stripper - (a DIY wire stripper details found (here)
- This produces small strips of wire with the insulation removed from either end for plugging into breadboards.
- To lift the acrylic sheets out of the laser cutter we use a sticker sheet, to produce these we need to measure out 9.5" lengths. This machine makes that easy.
- Corel Draw 11 - What we use to design our products as well as prepare our packaging (an amazing open source equivalent is Inkscape (we are in the process of transitioning to this product))
- Adobe Acrobat - Used to convert our Corel Draw files into lovely PDFs
- Open Office - Used for note taking, spreadsheet'ing and the like
Step 3: Materials and Suppliers
In addition to the robot parts we need to throw in a few additional packaging items.
- Box - 10" x 10" Pizza Box (important to realize that a 10" pizza box will not in fact hold a full 10"s of pizza (or plastic for that matter)
- Envelopes - Large parts envelopes (#6 Coin Envelopes (3 3/8" x 6") and Small parts envelopes (#1 coin envelopes 2 1/4" x 3 1/2")
- Labels - Standard 1" x 2 5/8" Address Labels
Acrylic - Surrey Plastic Works
- our local plastics shop, more than happy to sell sheets of acrylic out of their inventory or order in any special requests.
- a standard box company of special interest because they keep the 10 inch pizza boxes we use in stock.
- For envelopes and labels
- an online industrial supply company with an amazing online catalog and surprisingly reasonable prices on metric hardware.
- The manufacturers of Arduino boards.
- they have continuous rotation servos custom made for them.
- For the electronic parts great prices and a wonderful inventory.
Step 4: Laser Cutting - Large Sheets to Little Sheets
With everything prepared lets get going. (attached to this step is 03-OPNM-Acrylic Cut Summary.pdf this is the formalized steps we go through when manufacturing)
The first step involves taking the full 4' x 8' sheets of acrylic and reducing them to a stack of 9.5" x 9.5" sheets.
This is quite straightforward, if not slightly time consuming. Set the table saws guard to 9.55" (a little extra for safety) and saw away.
This creates quite a lot of plastic chips and an awful smell, so an exhaust fan is a must and vacuuming of each piece afterward is also called for.
Step 5: Bulk Stripping
With all of the rough handling done we remove the protective sheet from both sides of the acrylic.
This is one of the funner steps as you can make any number of bizarre noises by peeling it every which way.
Step 6: Sticker Sheet Cutting
Just one more step before we fire up the laser.
Removing pieces from the laser can be quite a struggle if done by hand. To get past this what we do is lift everything out by using a sheet of sticker. This makes removing the pieces from the laser quick, and also gives the final product a very neat feel, as all the extra acrylic bits are also shipped.
To cut these sheets we have a specially built machine to measure out 9.5" strips. (details can be found (here) ).
A quick video of it in action (here)
Step 7: Setting Up the Laser
- 1. Reset Laser
- 2. Tape down foundation (to bed not machine)
- 3. Tape down t-square blank
- 4. Jog Machine (300 mm left 270 mm down)
- 5. Focus Machine
- 6. Load T-Square pattern
- 7. Cut T-Square pattern (origin lower left)
- 8. Jog Machine (242 mm right 242 mm up)
- 9. Set Origin to top right
Step 8: Cutting
Finally the time has come.
Place in a sheet, close the top, and press start. What follows is ten hours of every ten minutes (60 sheets) lifting out the cut pieces, replacing with a fresh sheet and pressing go.
To help with timing we use a little program (egg timer) which plays a wav file when it runs out and allows you to do other things while the laser is at work.
(we fill all the little hardware envelopes)
Step 9: Finished Cutting
Ten hours has elapsed and you have completed all your cutting.
Step 10: Hardware - Printing Envelopes
We start by printing what is inside each envelope. As the envelopes we use (#1 and #6 Coin envelopes) are quite a bit smaller than normal mail envelopes finding a printer that will print them happily is nearly impossible. Our problem was solved when we happened across an old ink-jet printer at our local thrift store ($2.50). It's absence of a paper presence sensors, and easily modified paper feed tray made it perfect.
Quick Envelope Summary
ENV 01 3 mm Hardware - small
- BOL-03-10 3mmX10mm Machine Screw (x12 +2)
- BOL-03-15 3mmX15mm Machine Screw (x20 +4)
- NUT-03-01 3mm Hex Nut (x34 +4)
- WASH-03-01 3mm Washer (x12 +4)
- BOL-08-25 8mmX25mm Hex Bolt (x2)
- NUT-08-01 8mm Nut (x2)
- BEAR-01 Skate Bearing (x2)
- ELEC-01 Arduino Board (x1)
- ELEC-07 Breadboard (x1)
- ELEC-06 Quad AA Battery Box (x1)
- Wire-99-P-15 15 cm purple wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
- Wire-99-R-05 5 cm red wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
- Wire-99-B-15 15 cm black wire (22Awg Solid) (x1)
- Wire-99-B-05 5 cm black wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
- ELEC-09 2.1 mm Plug (x1)
- ELEC-10 9V Battery Cap (x1)
- ELEC-11 3 pin header (x2)
- SERV-03 Continuous Rotation Servo 2
- RING-01 11.7cm ID O-ring (3/16" bead) size 349 (x2)
- RING-02 2.2 ID O-ring (3/16" bead) size 315 (x1)
10-OPNM-Envelope Summary - Summary of each envelope's contents
(ENTL) - Large SERB Envelopes.cdr - Large Envelopes
(ENTS) - Small SERB Envelopes.cdr - Small Envelopes
Step 11: Nut and Bolts
Envelope #2 (8mm Hardware) - With only a couple of large items this envelope fills quickly
- BOL-03-10 3mmX10mm Machine Screw (x12 +2) 0.78g each (10.77g)
- BOL-03-15 3mmX15mm Machine Screw (x20 +4) 1.03g each (24.81g)
- NUT-03-01 3mm Hex Nut (x34 +4) 0.31g each (12.09g)
- WASH-03-01 3mm Washer (x12 +4) 0.12g each (1.99g)
(ACFU) - Acrylic Funnel For Bolt Handling.cdr - Acrylic funnel used to help with handling the small nuts and bolts
Step 12: Arduino and Breadboard
Envelope #3 (Arduino) - This envelope is slightly more complicated than the others in that we pre-load each Arduino with a test program. To do this we slice an opening in the antistatic package and load "_SERB_Test.pde" onto each board before sealing the opening with an oomlout sticker.
Envelope #4 (Breadboard) - Simply slip the breadboard into the envelope.
(V 1.0) SERB oomlout labels.cdr - Labels used to cover up the cut
Step 13: Wiring
- Apply double sided tape to the back of the battery box
- Strip and cut the wire pieces - (using our DIY Wire Cutter and Stripper (details)
- Solder the 9 volt battery clips to the 2.1mm plugs (using an acrylic soldering rig (attached))
- Ready to stuff
(BACL)-Battery Clip Jig.cdr - Used to help solder the 9 volt battery clips to the 2.1mm plugs
Step 14: Servos and O-rings
Envelope #6 (Servos) - Just one step before stuffing these in their envelope. Drill two 1/8" (3mm) holes in the servo horn to allow attaching to the SERB's wheels
Envelope #7 (O-rings) - Slip the O-rings in and close the flap.
Congrats your Envelopes are stuffed, your acrylic is cut, and you're ready to produce instruction booklets.
Step 15: Instructions - Printing the Booklets
Doing this takes only a few simple steps:
- 1. Print out the manual using Adobe Viewers "booklet" printing function"
- 2. Collate
- 3. Staple - this is a bit fun as it takes you back to elementary school when you were only very rarely allowed to use the long armed stapler. To make this process more precise we have also produced a jig to keep the spacing consistent. (attached)
- 4. Fold - Using the stapling jig as a guide fold the books in half.
(BOST)- Booklet Stapler- Jig to help with booklet stapling
04-(SERB)-Assembly Guide.pdf - The Assembly Guide
05-(SERB)-Wiring Diagram.pdf - The Wiring Diagram
05-(SERB)-Wiring Diagram (Cover).pdf - The Wiring Diagram Cover
Step 16: Packaging - Getting the Boxes Ready
First off the boxes.
- 1. Print out the cover sheets.
- 2. Glue a cover sheet on each box (it is much easier to do this before the boxes are folded)
- 3. Fold and stack your boxes (optional: pretend you own a pizza restaurant, it adds to the fun)
(V 1.0) SERB Packaging Cover.pdf - The Cover Packaging.
00-SERB Packing Summary.pdf - A summary of everything that is packaged inside each box.
Step 17: Putting Everything in the Boxes
- SERB-SQ-01 SERB Acrylic Square one
- SERB-SQ-02 SERB Acrylic Square two
- SERB-INST-01 SERB Instruction Booklet
- SERB-INST-02 SERB Wiring Guide
- ENV-01 3 mm Hardware
- ENV-02 8 mm Hardware
- ENV-03 Arduino
- ENV-04 Breadboard
- ENV-05 Wire
- ENV-06 Servo
- ENV-07 O-ring
Step 18: Final Quality Control
With the utmost care taken at every step this one is really not necessary. But in case a simple mistake was made and it is easy to catch we weigh each completed kit. As a result you can be certain that the kit you receive will weigh somewhere between 852g and 859g.
Step 19: Finished
You've done it, produced thirty kits, all that is left is shipping them out. I assure you the nuances of shipping require at the very least an Instructable to themselves so i will leave you with inventory.
If you have any questions, suggestions or would like clarification on anything please feel free to leave a message or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
or if you'd like to check out our delightfully fun open source projects trying visiting oomlout.com