Long Time No See

A project log for Modular Continuous Track System

A inexpensive modular tank track system that can be used for robotic and radio controlled vehicles.

jupdykejupdyke 12/08/2015 at 19:445 Comments

I am sorry for the delay in my posts. It has been a really hectic few weeks. This project has really started to expand now that I am getting my first few orders. As of my last post I had sold two orders. Which was barely enough to order another batch of resin. But it was the beginning of good things. Since those two orders, I have sold 6 more orders. For comparison, my first two orders totaled 180 links of track. These 6 orders combine to almost 900 links of track. WOW. Keep in mind that when I filled the first two orders I used my single mold which could make 5 parts per hour. That equates to 36 hours of work.

However, this was something I planned for. Before I started selling my track system I made sure to think about scaling up and what I would do as the orders increases. I started working with a small machine shop to machine more molds. They finished up the first mold and sent it to me for inspection. It was close, but the pins did not fit quite right. So I sent it back to them and they reworked it. I then placed a second order for another mold. So hopefully this weekend I will triple my production and be able to make 15 parts per hour.

One of my customers also requested a narrower track. So I am working on a 1.5" wide track system to compliment my current 3" wide track. A lot has been going on and hopefully I will be able to post some more content soon. Here is a sneak peak at some upcoming topics.

Thanks for following along, and as always leave me some feedback. I love to hear from you guys. A post is too boring without some photos. Here is some CAD work I am doing for a custom robot platform.


jupdyke wrote 12/08/2015 at 21:18 point

Outsourced overmolding is the next logical step. I have talked with injection molding companies and have some numbers. It boils down to costing about $23K to get 15,000 parts. I dont have the money up front yet, and I am not sure I can sell 15K of parts. Also, I would only be able to do one size, and black. I don't know what size would be best.  

Getting my own injection molding machine is another option. I actually have some santoprene TPE, and access to a Morgan Press machine. That was the way I wanted to go originally. Again, I probably can only do black that way since the colored TPE is much more expensive in small batches. My goal was to do resin molding to grow the product, and then outsource the bulk of it. Continue to do custom sizes and colors in house. 

I would love to get something like this working. But I have overmolded pins to worry about.

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Alex Rich wrote 12/08/2015 at 22:17 point

Yeah I hear you, volume and cash are the main issues I suppose, and resin is easy for low volume.  I have the same issue w/ Stickvise, I want to offer a bunch of accessory jaws but in order for the price to come in at a reasonable point you either have to tool up a mold or place a big CNC machining order.  But hey I guess you have to spend money to make money right?

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jupdyke wrote 12/08/2015 at 23:25 point


You are right about spending to make. I am happy that at least in a small amount I have some cash flow in. This is allowing me to order larger quantities of pins, chain and resin. Which lowers my production costs. Also right now I have labor built into my manufacturing costs. So while in small quantities the materials cost more, I am paying myself to fill the molds. As my quantities increase the my material cost goes down. At that point I can either pay someone the labor cost to fill the molds, or if I have enough confidence outsource to injection molding. The resin cost and labor costs I have now are within a few pennies of the per part cost of the injection molding quote. So essentially my profit margin remains constant. The only problem is the upfront cost of the mold tooling. 

I have about 8 customers now building robots, and I am hopeful to get some pictures and video. I was thinking of using that to run a kickstarter campaign to pre-sell several kits and hopefully get the upfront cost of injection molding taken care of. But kickstarter has some downsides too. 

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Alex Rich wrote 12/08/2015 at 22:21 point

BTW that molding machine is freaking beautiful but man, check out the company website:

Sometimes I wonder why asian websites are just so bad, do they not have web designers over there?  It's odd because the machine is gorgeous.

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Alex Rich wrote 12/08/2015 at 21:07 point

Looking awesome man, congrats on the orders.  Not sure if I asked this already, but have you considered evolving this to be a thermoplastic overmold?  The cycle time is just so much faster.  Also there is no mess with mixing, vacuum degassing, etc.  The down side is expensive equipment.

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