Testing, Testing!

March 9th, 2017

We worry so you don’t have to.

Welcome to another Shaper development update! The team has been charging full steam ahead toward our Engineering Validation Test (EVT) build. We thought this would be a great opportunity to provide a peek behind the curtain, to show you what we’ve been up to and to give you a better idea of what component and sub-assembly lifetime durability testing looks like prior to production tooling kickoff.

But first… why do we test so much?

We get a lot of questions about the durability and reliability of Origin. Understandably, people want to be assured that Origin won't let them down. Fortunately, Shaper’s long journey from academic concept to commercial product has afforded us many opportunities to learn from successive generations and multiple iterations of prototypes. Along the way, we've learned as much about what does not work as we have about what does work. As an example - in our last update, we described how we redesigned the z-axis after it suffered mechanical failures from dust ingress in the bearings riding on the linear guide rail in an earlier iteration.

By now, we have a solid understanding of Origin’s common (and uncommon!) use cases. Accordingly, components have been carefully selected and specified based on conditions we anticipate Origin will encounter in the real world. But it’s a big step to move from theory to actual practice. Prior to committing to production tooling and component purchases, functional performance is validated, and electromechanical subsystems are subjected to strenuous durability testing.

Some durability tests (e.g. button presses) are fairly straightforward and well-understood in the product testing world. Techniques and protocols are established, and testing equipment is readily available. But developing robotic power tools from the future has necessitated dreaming up new ways to torture them. Have you ever seen a pressurized extreme dust exposure cabinet? We hadn’t either… so we had to create one - now lovingly known around ShaperHQ as “Meonji” (Korean for “dust”, and #shapermade, of course!).

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into our testing world. Rest assured, we're testing the heck out of Origin, so you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll be able to rely on it to tackle that tough job or project.

In a future update, we’ll look forward to filling you in more on system level functional and reliability testing of as-built devices in final production configuration; i.e., built with final engineering materials and manufacturing processes. Until then, feel free to hit us up with any questions or comments via email or on social media.