Bad Quality Control

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Captain_E, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    I have hit the last straw with my E3D BigBox.

    If you are looking for a project that will take absurd amounts of time to decipher where parts are located in the 10+ boxes with 30+ bags, where these mystery parts then go that don't match instructions, have to guess how they are assembled, only to have all of the printed parts be 1mm or more off in critical dimensions is a colossal joke. While I respect what E3D has tried to do they have failed miserably on the execution. I don't care what the excuse is, I did not spend my money on a printer that is of this low quality. Every Assembly step is a fight, every piece assembled a minor miracle if nothing breaks and doesn't have to be disassembled multiple times to correct manufacturing flaws. I have had a colleague print every printed part that mates to a rod because the holes were 6.8mm at the largest (measured with digital calipers). Every part he has printed fits perfectly, with no issues. Three bearings were missing ($30 US), two printed parts are no where to be found (IR sensor & X-idler), and I am short multiple M3 and M4 machine screws and lock washers (yes I know there is a extras bag in the extra box, yes I know stuff had been shuffled from other bags to there too).

    Maybe my experience is the unique and special snowflake of the batch but I have been supremely disappointed by this experience.

    TLDR;

    Buyers beware, unless you have oodles of spare time to waste on a garage hobby that will ultimately collect dust, this is not for you. If you are using this for business, buy a commercial grade 3D printer that comes preassembled (or has a QC department) and has a proven track record of working.

    Edit:
    I received my printer in the July 2016 shipments and is what I believe is called the BigBox V1.1.
     
    #1 Captain_E, Sep 4, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  2. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    Here are some quick photos of the E3D parts (black) and parts printed on a Ultimaker 2 (red PLA) using the .STL files from E3D.

    IMG_2344.JPG IMG_2343.JPG IMG_2342.JPG
     
  3. Dr Jeep

    Dr Jeep Well-Known Member

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    Your printed parts (E3D supplied ones) look worse than mine, I was in a later batch of the original KS run. I wonder if in the stress of things and getting preorders out they weren't giving the print farm enough due care and attention and let things slip.

    Not making excuses, I can understand your dissatisfaction, just saying that all mine fitted (with the exception of the Hot end into the carriage, which did need some sanding out) and I had nothing missing and enough fixings to complete the build (by using the ones in the stretch box)

    I also agree with you on the bagging up, I thought this was a bit of a chore too, made worse in my case as a lot of the number stickers had fallen off the bags. As an aside I have just finished assembling a £150 arcade cabinet from a kit where all the fixings were supplied in a couple of cheap looking but nice plastic divider boxes, they look like the sort that cost about £1 in bulk but the time and energy it saved during the build was appreciated...if that's affordable on a £150 product then it should be on the BB too.

    The manual I think should have progressed more than it has, I think maybe having one manual for all variants is a mistake (and in reality because it's wiki based it'd be no more effort to maintain if it was broken up and shown as variant specific versions) I sort of put up with the unfinishedness of it during a KS campaign but yup again I have to agree with you, it could be better/clearer and why a set of light coloured parts wen't printed just for assembly photos rather than "impossible to photograph" black remains a mystery.

    The one part where we will have to disagree is on the final product, mine produced a very reasonable first print and is now well over 300 hours running with no problems or failures (other than ones I have created in experimenting with new filaments and beds etc) I haven't really had to tinker or recalibrate it at all beyond those experiments. My print failure rate is about 23% currently (and that is all due to experimentation with new materials)

    It IS a good printer once you have it dialled in, it's just the assembly and tuning was harder than I think it should/could be. Overall as a finished printer it is better than I imagined and an order of magnitude better than my old printer (3Drag/K8200)
     
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  4. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    I will count myself lucky as only one of my stickers had fallen off. I really wish the various types of small fixings weren't comingled in the bags.

    My colleague, who has years of 3D printing experience, said it appeared they were degrading the print quality to speed up print times and or not leveling the bed in between prints. One of the more rage inducing parts was the X-Carriage, the LM8LUU bearing clamp was oval shaped resulting in the bearing not fitting and the screw holes not lining up. Almost every other printed part has had to be drilled, trimmed, sanded, reprinted, ect.

    Next to the issue of the printed parts, the missing parts/pieces has been very annoying as I would get going on assembling and have to stop to find pieces that were no where to be found and make a trip to the store and hope they had equivalent hardware. Multiple assembly-disassembly-reassembly-disassembly-reassembly has been trying at times too (though some of those were due to my stupidity).

    I can not emphasize the value of revision control enough, maybe this is because they drilled it into us in aerospace/defense like there is no tomorrow, as I find myself supremely confused and frustrated by:
    1. when opening my box no clue what printer version/variation I have as the documentation is sparse
    2. pictures not matching what I have (I have to agree black is a terrible choice in color for pictures)
    3. 4-5 versions/variations of instruction with not one matching the parts I have
    4. a forum search engine that is over zealous in returning results (looking for assembly help)
    5. a very sparse smattering of drawings/3-D models shown throughout with no revision control what so ever
    I have printed around 10 parts of various complexity with no failures yet, all in PLA. Dimensionally they have been satisfactory for what I am currently doing (mainly printing backup parts for the printer itself). I had hoped to transition this BigBox into my company once I had gotten my feet under me with regards to its operation. Unfortunately the BigBox assembly fight was taking too long and I ended up purchasing a Stratasys Object260 Connex3, which is moronically slow at printing and idiotically expensive but was required by a customer, not to mention the consumables must be disposed of as hazardous waste. If I could have gotten the BigBox up and running sooner I may have been able to dodge the Stratasys bullet.

    I have to commend E3D on the laser cutting of the acrylic, good clean crisp cuts with no issues what so ever. Also the design of the printed parts is clever and well thought out (taking advantage of printed vs machining capabilities). Over all the assembled printer looks polished/clean and something befitting the praise it has garnered. I am hoping with time my desire to smash it and throw it out a window will diminish and it will become a regularly functioning member of the garage equipment family.
     
  5. Kanedias

    Kanedias Well-Known Member

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    If your plan B was to buy a £60,000 alternative then perhaps you should have got a pre-assembled bigbox. The pictures you posted don't look good but hundreds of people have been able to build and operate their big boxes successfully using the available build info without any experience in aerospace/defence.
     
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  6. Dr Jeep

    Dr Jeep Well-Known Member

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    Not quite sure what point you are trying to make there, but a lot of the OP's comments are valid and justified IMO.

    Admittedly under the pressures of the KS campaign and a large backlog of preorders, but there is no doubt that many people have experienced QC issues (missing parts, parts with broken glass attached to them, faulty parts, incorrectly wired looms etc ) I think in the main E3D themselves recognise this which is why they are taking a breather now.

    Once you move out of the limited expectations everyone *should* have during a KS campaign into the real world of consumer rights and customers with higher expectations it's important these flaws are addressed. I think in the preorder phase more could have been communicated regarding the ongoing development of the product, so it was made absolutely 100% clear that some elements are still effectively WIP.

    Some kits are 100% and require no refinishing, have fully debugged build steps etc. Just because it is in kit form shouldn't lower the overall expectation of quality. The BB isn't *quite* there, it's a great printer once built, but it needs a final bit of polish around QC and the build steps, the team I think are doing this now and some of the excellent work done by the community has brought it on leaps and bounds.

    I had a good experience, but I think if I'd have bought one of the last preorder shipments, only to see the model I bought immediately discontinued (with some spares and upgrade parts temporarily withdrawn from sale) and then heard of a significant update on the horizon, with no news about when it will be available or how much it will cost me AND I was suffering ill fitting and missing parts during the build then I'd have posted something similar to the OP. :)
     
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  7. Henry feldman

    Henry feldman Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree. The excuse that "it's a kit" or "it's hackable" are irrelevant to quality. A quality kit has good up to date instructions that match the actual kit. A quality kit has parts that fit together (there was a lot of reaming/drilling/reordering of parts during the KS period too, I still have parts with glass in them). When it works this is a great printer, but yeah quality issues have been very frustrating (customer service was pretty good though). I can't count on a completed print from this, versus my Taz6 which is never as good a printer, but never jams, never fails to produce a print...
     
  8. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    Let me help you (Kanedias) with this as reading comprehension seems to be at a all time low. The Stratasys was requested by my customer (as I stated) due to their requirements, at no stage did a £60,000 3-D printer enter into my equation as a plan B. My point is if E3D are going to sell a "IKEA" kit make sure the parts you are manufacturing pass basic quality control (they wouldn't). I did not buy a kit that was assembly required and machining required. I bought the "some assembly required" as E3D recommended it for shipping purposes (to the states) as they have had shipping issues with assembled and assembly required printers.

    The issue is not with my ability to assemble the printer (the printer is assembled and currently prints), it is the time factor. I run a business, I have deadlines, I have clients that expect something of quality for their money (something many engineers & scientists have forgotten) I do not have 40+ hours to dedicate to something that will amount to collecting dust in my garage.

    The defense and aerospace industries have over the top document control practices. Every engineering/manufacturing company should have some form of revision control, if you don't understand why Google it. I see none at E3D. How am I supposed to know which replacement parts I need to order or print when there is no documentation (in the box or on the wiki) as to what I have or what any of the .STL files are.


    Edit:
    Henry, if you don't mind me asking, what are the issues you have been having with the E3D when printing? If you have chronicled it else where on the forum could you point me in the direction to read up on them? Thanks.
     
  9. Henry feldman

    Henry feldman Well-Known Member

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    At the moment (It ran great for a long while as the original dual and I produced hundreds of great prints, even surviving the infamous nylon incident - which left it a pro instead of a dual) and have converted to the dual hybrid. I can't make the z-offset work (as in one print it grinds into the bed, and on a subsequent print after I cancel the bed grinding print it's printing in air); and yes, things are tight, set with blue-loctite and the bed is pretty level. I can't count on it not clogging (maybe 10% of the time) which it never did on the old dual. Several times recently the firmware seems to have lost its mind and stopped doing the leveling compensation (as in moving around the bed was not listening to the matrix from the MBL process - a reflash [again] fixed that). I have had several "communications failures" during prints where it just stops (and the menus freeze) since RC6, but most of the time that at least does work. I am hoping (when I get some time) to convert to @Chase.Wichert 's model dual, but ironically would have to print it on my Taz in the lab since I can't do it at home on the BB.
     
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  10. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    @Captain_E , you are right and we have made too may excuses on the forum for the BigBox, particularly on quality control. As for the documentation, its failure is due to having a relatively open wiki from the start, making it exceptionally difficult to maintain but that should not have stopped the production by BigBox of separate and clear version updates. @Henry feldman 's posts are worth the effort of reading as he approached this project from the standpoint of needing a machine to fulfil specific medical engineering tasks plus occasional fun applications. The early Build Help and Trouble-Shooting-Configuration threads highlight how things progressed (regressed??) and you will pick up the helpful experts from those threads.

    The BigBox is not a kit for the casual inexperienced builder, because a good appreciation of engineering processes is required to interpret the build instructions correctly. I am an Engineer and made mistakes and came across issues that my experience showed the route to take, yet others had to seek advice elsewhere. I also had the advantage of having built and used extensively another printer. The complexity is greatly increased with the slicer Simplify 3D that, while a very comprehensive slicer, requires a lot of deeper study and understanding of slicer and gcode principles with trial and error to master its complexities.

    If I was starting again, I would choose a different route with an extruded aluminium trussed frame and larger diameter rods, better bed support but keeping the E3D parts and avoiding Rumba. But, all this is in hindsight, the perfect science, and I am happy in the main with the "value-for-money" BigBox that has produced consistent quality prints with very few failures not attributed to me. Steep learning curves are everywhere in this technology!
     
  11. R Design

    R Design Well-Known Member

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    I've had a good BigBox experience and am generally grateful and delighted.

    No doubt all the individuals involved are legitimately rather occupied each day.

    However it's a complex project with infinite potential in a competitive marketplace:

    IMHO what's needed is someone to assume maniacal attention to detail regarding the parts and the whole. To then go around chivvying the rest.

    Actually it's a personality type rather than a job description and such people are quite rare (aka Steve Jobs).
     
  12. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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    Very rare and those personalities are not always welcome as they become protectionists, .a.k.a. SJ
     
  13. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    I am glad that there have been positive experiences out there with the BigBox.

    If you have time to generate solid model, you have time to do revision control as it is generally part of doing the solid model. Programs such as Solidworks (anything above standard) come with the Workgroup/Enterprise PDM that manages all of your revisions, solid models, and drawings at large (I know E3D does not use SolidWorks). Compared to many things that are manufactured successfully on a daily basis this printer is simple. From a solid model standpoint it is very simple, though it is time consuming to reverse engineer and generate a solid model. Time consuming does not equate to complex.

    I agree that the market is competitive (not close to being saturated), though E3D has a reputation for producing a very good hotend prior to making the BigBox and would have sold many printers based on that alone regardless of the printer design.

    There is no magical personality that is needed to implement what I have stated, it is simply a matter of doing it. There was no bigger proponent of anti-open source, anti-competition, profits above all else than Steve Jobs post the 1st Gen. iPhone. Not even sure protectionists describes what SJ and Apple have done post the iPhone being introduced. I do not get the protectionist vibe from E3D and appreciate the open source approach they have taken.
     
  14. Dr Jeep

    Dr Jeep Well-Known Member

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  15. Dr Jeep

    Dr Jeep Well-Known Member

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  16. mike01hu

    mike01hu Well-Known Member

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  17. Dr Jeep

    Dr Jeep Well-Known Member

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    Always...yes, I can't use stuff that's just "out there" with no statement attached as to who owns the rights and how they are extended to me and my customers. Legal would string me up :)
     
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  18. R Design

    R Design Well-Known Member

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  19. Henry feldman

    Henry feldman Well-Known Member

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    Sure, most of the products that I use commercially are open source and need license. RedHat linux is a perfect example...
     
  20. Captain_E

    Captain_E Member

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    Sure, in the 30 seconds I took to randomly click on files, looks light years ahead of E3D's documentation and drawings.
     

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