IVI: The Closed-Loop 3D Printer

Created by IVI 3D Printer

Easily achieve high-res 3D printing, laser engraving, CNC carving with IVI, the 10 microns’ repeatability, closed-loop 3D printer. Check project updates here: https://forum.ivi3d.com/c/general/kickstarter-updates

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Progress Update [Mid October]
6 months ago – Sun, Oct 18, 2020 at 01:08:32 AM

Dear IVIers,

The preparation of trial production is still on track. Here is recent progress to share with you.

Ⅰ. Control Board

We mentioned the chip problem of the CNC board in the last update, and it was solved by replacing the chip. The solution has been verified.

There was a small problem on the mainboard, that was the printer will power off automatically when upgrading the mainboard (Yes, the upgradability of mainboard is achieved.). To solve the problem, we added an MCU on the mainboard, and this caused a slight change in the mainboard design.

To prepare the trial production, we ordered raw materials for the control boards for the trial production. 6 pieces of board were made firstly for the final verification of the mainboard, and the verification is OK. Now the rest of the mainboards and CNC motor boards are being produced in the factory and we expect to receive them by next week.

The problem is that the tool-head boards (FDM&CNC&Laser) haven’t been produced yet due to the modification of the tool-head design. We expect to finalize the tool-head design this week. And the hardware engineer plan to update the board design by next Tuesday. And then we will start production of the tool-head boards. The expected delivery time is the end of October.

Ⅱ. Embedded Firmware

Both printer firmware and the firmware for the closed-loop system are finished.

Ⅲ. LCD & Slicer

Both the development of the LCD app and IVI 3licer are finished. All the necessary functions are achieved. And the testing engineer is running the full tests of the LCD app. We plan to work out the recommended printing parameter for IVI 3licer within this month.

Ⅳ. Mechanical Hardware

Most structural materials are received as planned. In the past few weeks, engineers were busy inspecting material production in the factories to ensure the quality and schedule.

Molding parts cost a longer time than other machining parts and sheet metal parts. And we spent a certain amount of time inspecting the molding process and fixed some problems on site. We expect to receive the first piece of the molded shell by next Monday. If they can fit, 10 days needed to produce rest shells.

Inspecting molding process
Machining parts & Hiwin linear guide
The front panel, build plate & touch screen
Direct-purchasing parts
Power supply & the cover

The major setback is that we haven’t finalized the tool-head design yet. The test result of the last FDM print head sample we received is not as good as we thought. There are over-extrusion and under-extrusion problems caused by the improper heat-sink structure. The engineer stayed in the company to optimize the print head during the national holidays in early October. Now the over-extrusion and under-extrusion problem are solved on the newest design. Since the design of the print head changed, we need to change the design of the CNC head and laser head accordingly. As mentioned, we expect to finalize the tool-head design this week. And then we will start production of tool-heads. The expected delivery time also is the end of October.

Regarding the package design, we received the sample as scheduled. But we need a printer with the newest design to verify the package design due to design change on the printer. After we received the shell materials next Monday, we plan to assemble 2 units of the printer using the newly received materials to verify the assembly and package design by next week.

Ⅴ. Testing

Regarding software testing, we are running full tests on the LCD app, and keep using IVI 3licer in house.

Regarding the hardware testing, we were busy with printing tests to verify the different versions of the FDM print head.

Ⅵ. Production

Overall, we are still following the schedule of receiving all the production material within October.

The contract with the assembly factory hasn’t been confirmed yet, since we are still negotiating on the quality agreement. The cooperation is expected to be confirmed by next week.

That’s all for recent progress. Thank you for your understanding and support as always. See you in the next update.

Schedule Update [Mid September]
7 months ago – Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 02:16:57 PM

Dear all,

We know that you’ve been waiting for this schedule update for a while. We will announce the revised timeline in this update. First of all, let’s check out our latest progress. 

Ⅰ. Control Board

The integrated mainboard and affiliated boards are under testing. So far, we found there is no inductance on the power supply during testing and will talk to the manufacturer on this problem to make sure the safety of the power supply.

Besides, the CNC board is failed due to the new driver chip we picked. We changed the chip to adapt to the mechanical design of tool-heads. Clearly, this is a mistake we made because we are over-optimistic to the new chip. We will be more careful with any change to the design in the future because any change that not being verified has its risks.

We plan to finish the testing in 2 weeks and start PCB trial production at the end of September. We can expect to receive the trail produced boards by the middle of October.

Ⅱ. Embedded Firmware

We optimized some functions and added some new functions, such as:

1. Added filament runout recovery;

2. Optimized pause and resume function;

3. Added first layer calibration by finetuning Z-offset to decrease print failure caused by improper Z offset;

4. Added Axis movement limitation protection. When the target coordinate point exceeds its limitation, the printer will go to the max point allowed.

Ⅲ. LCD & Slicer

We fixed most bugs found on LCD in August. Based on the new functions added by embedded software, we started the development of those functions and optimized some interface design for a better user experience. LCD app is expected to be ready by this month.

The testing engineer tested IVI Slicer thoroughly in August and found some minor bugs. We are still optimizing IVI Slicer. It is expected to be ready by this month. We appreciate that there is one backer proposed help testing the Beta version of IVI Slicer. We will consider inviting backers to experience IVI Slicer ahead after it is ready.  

Ⅳ. Mechanical Hardware

Except for tool-heads, almost mechanical parts design is confirmed. We started molding in August as planned, including die-casting parts, plastic parts, and stamping parts, and started trial production of machining parts and sheet metal parts.

As for the new tool-heads, the laser head is so far so good, but we found the extrusion resistance on the print head is too big, thus we need to optimize print head design again. Regarding the CNC head, as we mentioned the drive chip problem, we need to change the drive chip and the mechanical design of the CNC head is likely to change based on the change of board design.

Based on the current situation, our plan on mechanical hardware is as bellow:

1. Fix the problems of tool-heads within this month and start production by the end of September;

2. Start package design, making proof and production;

3. Inspect the production of molds, machining parts, and sheet metal parts to ensure the quality and schedule.

Ⅴ. Testing

We finished the second round printing testing in three weeks as planned. The printer's performance is stable and good. And we started testing the printer equipped with integrated boards this week and plan to finish testing in 2 weeks.

Ⅵ. Production

1. Reviewed and confirmed the manufacture specification of some newly confirmed components;

2. Updated the SOP of tool-heads;

3. Finished preliminary selection of assembly factories and plan to inspect factories and confirm the cooperation factory next week.

Based on the molding timeline and the to-do list before shipping, the revised timeline to start shipping is December 2020. The work plan is as below:

1. Finish the preparation of manufacturing materials——Late October

2. Assemble and test 1 unit IVI 3D printer in-house——Mid November

3.  Finish the trial production of 30 units——Late November

4. Finish the testing of trial-produced printers——Mid December

5. Finish the shipping of trial-produced printer——Late December

6. Evaluate the shipping schedule for all-tier backers——Late December

We will show you the progress of molding via texts & pictures in the future updates. Thank you for your understanding and support as always. 

Progress Update [Early August]
8 months ago – Sun, Aug 09, 2020 at 12:34:51 AM

Dear IVIers,

We are deeply sorry for keeping you waiting. As time goes on, we feel stressed and apologetic more than ever. The expectations, the delays, the obstacles, the mistakes, the risks, all of these are the must-do we have to go through along this journey. Our faith won’t change, that is no matter what, our team will keep working hard on delivering IVI to backers. We won't stop till we make it.

The first round testing of final prototypes was finished at the end of July. We will introduce the details in the Testing sector below. Let’s start from the control board to see what we’ve done in the past weeks.

Ⅰ. Control Board

Except for motor boards and tool-head boards, we had another 3 boards in our previous PCB design: the mainboard for controlling the printer, A33 control board for controlling LCD, and CAN board for controlling tool-head. To save cost and simplify assembly, we integrated the mainboard, A33 board, and CAN board into 1 PCB during the process of optimization. We contacted @Josh, @Robin, and @Ian for design review as soon as we finished the new design. Proofing was started after we got positive feedback from them. The new PCB was received two days ago. We’ve tested the power supply on the board, and the board can boot up. Now, the embedded software engineer is debugging.

Besides, we expect to receive the optimized tool-head boards by the middle of August.

Ⅱ. Embedded Firmware

After the development of the basic version of printer firmware, we are mainly working on debugging and optimize the firmware for 3D printing, laser, and CNC. The achievement includes:

1. Enable the closed-loop motor reacts more correctly when crashing something unexpectedly. And so the safety performance enhanced;

2. Improved the precision and the speed of laser engraving;

3. Optimized the communication protocol between the mainboard and CAN board;

4. Optimized the working speed of CNC to support low-speed mode;

5. Optimized the effect of printer calibration and PAUSE function;

6. Enabled the mainboard upgrade function by adding BootLoader on the mainboard.

Ⅲ. LCD & Slicer

LCD is under debugging. We plan to develop the upgrade function after debugging. Users will be able to upgrade the printer system after they received printers with the upgradability.

IVI slicer is in the optimization phase. So far, most of the prototypes were operated with IVI slicer. We’ve updated 5 editions. The engineer will keep optimizing slicer before shipping.

Ⅳ. Mechanical Hardware

1. We found the smoke may adhere to the focus lens and cause weaken power when using laser function. And the fan on carbon rob may cause the heated bed cannot reach the highest temperature. So we upgraded the heat-sink design of print & CNC & laser heads based on the testing result. We plan to start proofing new design by next Monday;

2. Regarding the metal plate base cover we mentioned in the last update, we found that plastic cover has better heat-insulating performance, thus we plan to use plastic base cover;

3. Debug the problems related to structural design and export part drawing for trial production;

4. Confirm the suppliers for molding, and discuss DFM with them. We plan to confirm all molding cooperation by the end of August.

Ⅴ. Testing

The testing engineer finished the functional testing of 2 final prototypes. Since the printing test is time-consuming, we arranged 24 *7 testing to make sure the prototypes are always under testing. The testing result is as below:

1. 39 test items were tested on each prototype:

There are 16 FDM 3D printing function test items, including heating-up, printing precision, auto-leveling function, boundary-value, filament loading & unloading, filament longtime extruding & extracting, print head recognition, PAUSE function, printing tests, and etc.

There are 11 laser function items, including max circle cutting, stop function, PAUSE function, different modes of engraving/cutting, and etc.

There are 12 CNC function items, including max circle carving, carving precision, stop function, PAUSE function, different modes of engraving/cutting, and etc.

2. Till now, 35 bugs were exposed to the current prototypes.

28 bugs were exposed during the first round of testing, including 19 3D printing-related bugs, 3 laser function-related bugs, 4 CNC function-related bug, and 2 general bugs. Later, 7 new bugs were found after the first ground of functional testing.

3. Till now, 18 bugs were solved.

Till now, 18 bugs were solved. 5 bugs are under testing after the replacement of faulty parts. Regarding the rest 12 bugs, we are still looking for the causes.

Below are some of the tested models to share with you:

3D Printing: Layer precision, XY length
3D Printing: Auto-leveling, Z height
3D printing: Printing precision test collection
3D Printing: Printing precision
3D Printing: Before debugging V.S. After debugging
3D Printing: Assembly precision
3D Printing: Nylon(PA) & PETG & ABS
Laser: Max circle cutting, vector cutting, text cutting, text engraving
Laser: Black&white engraving, greyscale engraving, pause and resume
Laser: Greyscale engraving
Laser: Black&white engraving and greyscale engraving on fabric, black&white engraving on acrylic
CNC: Carving precision, max circle carving, vector carving
CNC: Relief carving
CNC: Relief carving on epoxy tooling board & acrylic

Currently, the testing engineer is verifying solutions on the bugs. Next, we plan to use 3 final prototypes to conduct aging tests to test the stability of the printer, including 3D printing, CNC carving, and laser engraving functions.

Ⅵ. Production

1. Reviewed and confirmed the manufacture specification of new PCB design and prepare the raw materials for the trial production;

2. Updated BOM list and SOP based on the design change;

3. Contacted assembly plants for cooperation conditions and details.

We should be able to share the revised timeline with you after we confirmed the die molding cooperation with suppliers by the end of August. Thank you again for your support. See you in the next update.

Status Update [Mid-July]
9 months ago – Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 08:14:46 PM

Dear IVIers,

We upgraded the rest 6 prototypes in early July as planned. Currently, we are busy with the joint debugging and testing of the final prototypes. The comprehensive testing is time-consuming. Please give us some extra time to get a final conclusion for the testing. Every sector related to product design is working tightly with the testing group to debug, offer solutions, and coordinate with other groups for joint problems.

We will update you with the testing result once we completed the testing.

Status Update [Mid-June]
10 months ago – Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 11:55:00 PM

Dear IVIers,

Here is a status update to share with you.

1.Control Board

We mentioned that we received the redesigned control board in the last update. Soon after, we received the affiliated boards. Some minor problems related to design, soldering, and layout were found on the boards, but those problems won’t affect testing. Thus we plan to solve them after testing finished.

Both the redesigned control board and affiliated boards were installed on the printer. Laser engraving functions well. CNC can function as well, but the motion shifts after a long time running. We are troubleshooting now. Next, we will test the FDM 3D printing function with the redesigned board. Before we tested the FDM 3D printing function with the development board and the performance was good.

Besides, we plan to finish the cost accounting of the PCB hardware, the optimization of electronic component selection, supplier selection, BOM list V1.0 sorting by the end of June.

2.Embedded Firmware

The basic version of the printer firmware was implanted on the redesigned board and a series of testing was conducted based on the firmware, including the signal transmission of FDM, Laser, and CNC, the heating, extruding function of FDM, engraving function of laser, carving function of CNC (it is still under debugging.).

Besides, we added sensors on the firmware and wait for testing, including tool head recognition sensor, filament sensor, auto-leveling sensor, door sensor, weight sensor, temperature & humidity sensor. The last sensor, acceleration sensor was added but hasn’t be demarcated yet.

The first round development of closed-loop motor firmware was finished. We are verifying and debugging the firmware, and expect to finish it by next week.

3.LCD & Slicer

We finished first-round debugging of LCD APP by inputting virtual command before joint debugging with the printer. 

The slicer consists of 4 parts: FDM, Laser, CNC, and the host computer. We tested and debugged Laser & the host computer along with the printer. These 2 parts were verified as OK. And we are waiting for more final prototypes to test the rest parts: FDM & CNC.

4.Mechanical Hardware

A. The optimized print head was received last week and was installed on the printer. The performance will be verified in the following printing tests;

B. Metal plate base cover has an overheating problem. The solution we tried failed in the testing since adding insulating materials is not effective. We revised the solution accordingly soonest, planing to dissipate heat by enlarging the gap between the heated bed and the base cover, designing ventilation holes on the base cover, and adding silicone pads for insulation. We expect to receive the new base cover and test the effect by next week;

C. There is only 1 final prototype in use for developing & debugging now. We plan to optimize the rest 6 units of the old prototype to meet the requirements as the final prototype so that we can speed up with the debugging. Some old parts on the old prototypes need to be replaced. We plan to finish the optimization of the rest 6 prototypes by early July. 

5.Testing & Production

So far, most testings we conducted are for design verification and software verification. Currently, we are working on the test specification for full printer testing. We will start full testing after we optimized the old prototypes.

NPI is sorting the whole BOM list to prepare mass production, including electronics hardware, mechanical parts.

The above is our recent work. We plan to share solid pictures/videos in the next progress update. Welcome to leave your comments below. Thank you for your support as always.