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It's officially been four months since we've been out of stock of our magnetic aluminum beds, and it's been a rough four months. I know many of you have been waiting very patiently for the beds, and we are doing everything in our power to get them ready ASAP. However, we want to make sure the final product is one that we are proud of and one that will be worth the wait. We never want to compromise the quality of a product because we want to rush it to market. Thank you to all who have been patiently waiting, and this is the much-needed update post. Let's start with the good news first, what's new in V2.0?
We've reworked our manufacturing process to gain an even flatter end product. The raw aluminum sheets are sourced within a certain flatness from our supplier directly. Then, after the pockets for the magnets have been milled, they go through more flattening and heat-treating to relieve internal stresses. This process leaves a flatter plate and ensures that it stays flat after many, many heat cycles.
While the magnets on the V1.0 held the flex plates down just fine for all but the most warp-inducing prints, we did want to make them stronger. To make sure we got nothing but the best, we went straight to a magnet factory this time and sourced a custom run of N35UH magnets, good up to 180°C. While the minimum order quantity for this was 60k magnets, we feel it was well worth it. Not only does it hold down the flex plate much better, but it also has a satisfying tactile feel to it. The sound it makes when the flex plate snaps down is music to our ears. Any Prusa MK3 or Mini owners know what we are talking about here.
Stronger magnets are great and all, but we wanted to go the extra step and increase the number of magnets in each plate. We added more, mainly around the perimeter, to make sure the flex plate never lifts off the bed during printing. At this point, if any of you manage to do so, I will personally be very impressed. :)
Flex Plate Pins
We received a lot of feedback on this one, as aligning the flex plate on a large build plate can be annoying. We've added two pins to the back of the bed that will lock with our new custom flex plate. We also made sure to place them so that you could use a pre-existing Fula-Flex 2.0 plate and not have to spring for the new custom flex plate.
Integrated Strain Relief
The new integrated strain relief is another slight improvement we've made to improve the longevity of your machine. Coming off the back of the aluminum bed will be a tab to provide strain relief for the heater mat. We will be providing designs for strain reliefs and releasing dimensions to the community for those who want to design their own!
We initially skipped the ground terminal on V1.0 since the heater mat is an "isolated unit" and is considered safe enough not to need a grounding cable. However, many of you seem to prefer it in an abundance of caution, and I cannot blame you. We've gone ahead and added a threaded M3 tap for you to ground your bed. Our custom heaters will have this built-in (more on this later).
The new black anodization is a new aesthetic upgrade. While the original uncoated aluminum beds looked great, we think these look even better. And they match the color scheme of the Sidewinder & Genius, which is a plus. Moving forward, the bed will only be offered in black anodization.
Custom U.S Made Heater
While a great printer, the Artillery X1 does have its faults. Namely, in the heat bed department with cables wearing out, thermistors failing, and the occasional MOSFET gate burning open and uncontrollably heating the bed. We've partnered with another U.S. company based here in New York to develop custom AC beds. These will feature several upgrades over the stock bed, which will help with both performance and longevity. Here is a list of some of the enhancements:
- PTFE sleeved wires vs. the original silicone wires
- Integrated thermal fuse
- Capable of reaching and maintaining 150°C
- Mesh-sleeving tested to prevent wear out
- Larger dimensions to provide edge to edge heating
- Integrated ground cable in the sleeving for easy connection to the bed and power supply.
Expanding The Line-Up
Once customers started receiving their aluminum beds, we received an overwhelming number of requests to make this for other printers. At the launch of V2.0, we will be supporting the following printers, with many more coming later this year.
- Artillery Sidewinder X1
- Artillery Genius
- Artillery Hornet? (This one still needs more testing)
- Creality Ender 3 / V2 / Pro
- Creality Ender 5
Higher Temperature Glue
The maximum system temperature of V2.0 is being bumped up from 130°C to 150°C. While this doesn't seem like a significant amount, it allows those printing with exotic filaments to use all the heat they could need. However, finding a glue that can handle the extra 20° has been a challenge. We need an adhesive that can sustain these temperatures without nasty fumes or crazy curing methods. We have several epoxies going through the wringer right now and are confident that we will have a winner.
Why the delay?
The release of these beds has taken way longer than any of us, our suppliers, and manufacturers saw coming. I'm sure, as most of you know, the world's supply chains have been in chaos trying to recover from COVID-19, and the materials we need were directly affected, mainly aluminum (up almost 60% in cost this year) and the magnet materials. Thankfully, these issues are behind us now as the magnets have finished production and aluminum raw material has been sourced.
Validating a New Glue
While this may seem like an easy task, we wanted a glue that could sustain high temperatures for thousands of hours. We've been testing many types of glue over the last few months in constant heat and will decide on a winner soon. The two final options are both from Loctite and have shown very promising results.
Increasing the number and strength of the magnets has made a considerable difference in the feel and performance of the product. However, this has been a massive headache from a manufacturing standpoint. While the epoxy is placed in each pocket by an automatic machine, magnets still have to be inserted one by one. More magnets mean that each pocket is closer to surrounding pockets. If not placed carefully, magnets will jump out of their pocket, connecting to a neighboring magnet and set off a chain reaction of magnets flying everywhere. Add some epoxy to the mix, and you can see how this is a problem. We've worked out solutions to isolate the pockets from each other, but this has taken us a lot of testing. Even after the magnets have been laid down, the epoxy needs at least 24 hours to dry. We've been building custom racks that can store the plates efficiently while keeping them separated enough to where the magnets are not an issue. Even after fully cured, the plates need to be processed and specially packaged to prevent two plates from attracting together. You don't want to see what happens when two of these beds get too close to each other (ask me how I know). We already have special packaging in production to be used for customer shipping. This way, the magnets do not pose a danger during shipping or in the customer's home.
So when can we expect them?
We don't have an exact date. None of the delays we have faced was something we saw coming, and I wouldn't be surprised if more popped up. We hope to have them ready to go in August (if no more delays pop up). We might decide to open pre-orders once we have a more final, set in stone date, as we don't want a repeat of last time, where orders were delayed for 3-4 months. Once again, thank you all for your patience, and I am personally very proud of the coming product. I am sure once you have it in your hands, you will agree it was worth the wait!
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