Hi makers, 2020 is finally behind us and we are three months into 2021. 2020 was a challenging year for Snapmaker and it must have been the same for all makers out there. The world was forever changed but on the bright side, we have touched on so many peoples’ lives and our mission at Snapmaker has proven to be more meaningful in the tough times than ever.
Without further introduction, let’s get into our yearly recap for 2020. Here is a quick rundown of the events listed by month.
Snapmaker’s 2020 event timeline (listed by month)
Snapamaker 2.0 won CES Innovation Awards.
Start shipping the first Snapmaker 2.0s
COVID-19 broke out in China, stopped production and started to work from home, which unfortunately led to production and shipping delay
Released the Snapmaker 2.0 enclosure, which comes with an exhaust fan and laser filtering side panels
Snapmaker Luban RAM Optimization and DXF support
Open source Snapmaker Luban and released luban.xyz
Despite the pandemic, we cooperated with more distributors (22 more in 2020).
COVID-19 worldwide breakout, we designed DIY protective gear, EVA goggles, Snap Face Shield, EVA Mask in the hope of alleviating the situation and reached out to our distributors in need.
Opened our EU online store, which is available to users in 27 EU countries
Further shipping delay for the Snapmaker 2.0, but we moved to a new warehouse to expand our production capacity.
New Laser & CNC G-code generator Workflow in Snapmaker Luban
Snapmaker Luban SVG editor functionality
Released Snapmaker Public Roadmap and new shipping schedule, more transparency and better communication with our backers
Attended TCT Asia 2020
Production planning, fulfillment, logistics and inventory capacity are significantly improved.
Shipped the last batch of Kickstarter orders for Snapmaker 2.0
Start shipping Pre-orders for Snapmaker 2.0
Fulfilled our second Kickstarter campaign
Snapmaker 2.0 Rotary Module revealed
Improved packaging for the Snapmaker 2.0 enclosure, which is more environmentally friendly and protective
2020 Chinese Education Equipment Exhibition
Multi-language support, Japanese and French for touchscreen and QSG respectively
Auto Update feature in Snapmaker Luban
Open source Snapmaker 2.0 controller firmware
We now have more than 100 employees.
Customer complaint rate has drastically decreased compared to last year.
Snapmaker 2.0 3D printing module optimization (improved airflow and less material waste, new design in production in February 2021)
New 3D Printing Settings and Manual Support feature in Snapmaker Luban
Finished shipping Snapmaker 2.0 pre-orders
Prepared to ship Snapmaker 2.0 locally worldwide
We have shipped over 20k Snapmaker Originals and 25k Snapmaker 2.0s in total.
Customer Service satisfaction rate increased to 98% (over 10% increase)
Snapmaker 2.0 (Modular 3-in-1 3D printer): For us, 2020 was the year of Snapmaker 2.0. We had an amazing campaign run on Kickstarter and raised over 7.8 million USD. We strived to deliver the product we promised, and so we did. We started shipping the first Snapmaker 2.0s back in January and continued to ship more units around the world. The Snapmaker 2.0 won the CES innovation awards and was featured and highly rated on All3DP and TechRadar. Since the launch of Snapmaker 2.0, we’ve made quite some adjustments to a couple of early issues with the Snapmaker 2.0. We’ve added 5×5 calibration to both auto and manual leveling and fixed the Wi-fi bug. We also upgraded our laser safety goggles. The ones that come with the Snapmaker 2.0 are among the best in its class in terms of laser filtering and cost.
Snapmaker 2.0 Enclosure (addon): The Snapmaker 2.0 Enclosure was released in February, 2020, and over 45% of our backers opted to purchase the addon. It provides excellent protection during machine operation, and has laser filtering side panels and many other benefits such as noise reduction and fumes extraction.
Snapmaker 2.0 Rotary Module (addon): In September 2020, the Snapmaker 2.0 Rotary module was announced for the first time and it was available for pre-order early January 2021 for our backers. It elevates your CNC making experience to another dimension figuratively and literally. It enables your Snapmaker 2.0 to rotary carve and laser with the 4th axis added. Detailed-focused CNC desktop applications are now made possible.
Snapmaker 2.0 Emergency Stop Button (addon): The Snapmaker Emergency Stop Button was released along with the Snapmaker 2.0 Rotary Module and provides an extra layer of safety for users and people around the machine. It helps prevent or stop further potential damage to the user or machine.
Needless to say, we have been spending a lot of time designing and refining our products to offer the most premium user experience to our users. At the core of Snapmaker, it is essential to listen to our users as best as we can. We don’t just call it the end of a purchase when your order sets sail, but instead it is the beginning of our journey together. With providing continuous support and updates in mind, we have been aiming to push software and firmware updates monthly since the launch of the Snapmaker 2.0, and along with the patches and hotfixes, many early bugs have been ironed out.
We made a number of changes and improvements to the Snapamker 2.0. The first change was the 3D printing module, which was redesigned to offer a better cooling solution. We optimized the airflow of the module and it is larger and cooler. The filament runout sensor is improved and the chances of erroneous warning are lowered. The thermal resistor and heating tube inside of the hot end are tied together so there is less of a chance of the thermal resistor accidentally falling out. The number of gears inside of the module was increased from 9 to 14 and their edges are smoother. The printing material is less likely to get stuck in the gaps between gears, which helps minimize material loss.
The linear module will soon receive an upgrade too. We started to perform aging and other tests on the linear module back in April last year. We ran 40 machines for hundreds of hours continuously at the highest speed to check for consistency. We replaced and ran comparison tests between 5 different springs and recorded the results in terms of current, force, internal temperature, noise level, and position accuracy. A better design for the linear module was found and the new version would have an even smaller variance in printing size capacities.
Another focus was to eliminate the noise made by the linear module, which was reported by some of our users. We started experimenting with different driver chips and tested their power output, force output, and heat dissipation. According to our findings, our alternative driver chip passed our internal tests while running more quietly. The overall noise reduction is expected to be 3-4 dBs. Users will enjoy all these upgrades in the new Snapmaker 2.0 for the same price. We are also bringing improvements to the power supply. More updates will be released later this year.
Firmware and software
In June, the Snapmaker 2.0 controller firmware received a complete overhaul and its code was refactored based on FreeRTOS V10.3. The new operating system controls the workflow of multitasking between machine components. It opens the door for maker enthusiasts for making addons of their own. Over the past couple of months we’ve brought various bug fixes and new privacy settings to the firmware. Users have a better and more robust 3D printing experience when using the new firmware. The data transmission and wireless experience have also been improved. In November, we fulfilled our promise and the Snapmaker 2.0 controller firmware is officially open source and you can access its GitHub page here.
The module firmware became open source in October 2020. The potential of controller and module firmware both being open source is unfathomable. We are also developing Snap-star, a standalone piece of hardware that is essentially a “translator” for the machine. Users can DIY addons themselves by connecting to the ports on Snap-star. It’s possible that you can control your Snapmaker 2.0 with a gamepad one day.
We put in a lot of effort optimizing and improving the slicing, SVG editing, and 4th axis CNC functionalities in Snapmaker Luban as well. And we are fairly content with the result. Although some of the features are still lacking, we believe we are in the right direction and Snapmaker Luban is only getting better. In 2020, we added RAM optimization and support for DXF files. We also added an SVG editor so you can create basic shapes and text within Snapmaker Luban with only a few clicks. A new laser and CNC G-code generator workflow was implemented and the “Laser G-code Generator” and “CNC G-code Generator” are split into two tabs “Edit” and “Process”. The interface is more intuitive now and easier to work with. There are many more changes and improvements made to the Snapmaker Luban and they are listed here on our forum thread.
A significant change to the Snapmaker Luban, however, is that it became open source in March 2020. We made a dedicated website luban.xyz for it. We hope that the Snapmaker Luban will grow better with the help of yours. In return, the software will benefit both the maker community and Snapmaker in the long run. The Snapmaker Luban is free and open source and will stay that way.
Improved customer support with 98% satisfaction rate and better communication
We have grown considerably in 2020 and now have over 100 employees. Our customer support department expanded, and we, as a team, focused a lot more on customer support in 2020. Compared to 2019, we received 258% more tickets and inquiries in 2020, and our customer support team is better trained to provide more optimal resolutions. Because of that, both the response rate and efficiency have increased. Our customer support satisfaction rate is now at 98%, which is the highest it has ever been.
Moreover, we’ve much enhanced our communication with our users through newsletter, blog, forum, Facebook groups, and other social media platforms. Pre-order status lookup page was released in October for pre-order customers. It shows information about your pre-order status, shipping date, shipping method and tracking number. The page link was sent to all pre-order users through our newsletter. We also increased our email sending frequencies last year from monthly to semi-monthly. So be sure to sign up for our newsletter or join our Facebook groups for the latest news.
New warehouse and reliable suppliers
Last year, we moved our production to a new warehouse that is 5 times as big as before. We have 3.3 times as many personnel on site. The production capacity is 4 times larger. This helps us accommodate the much higher demand. We are also planning on making our machines, addons and accessories available on Amazon to users in North America, Europe, and Japan in March.
Not only that, we improved our quality assurance for incoming supply once again, and we sent our staff members to oversee our suppliers to ensure their SOPs and production procedures follow our guides and meet our set standards. As a result, the average passing rate for material has increased. On our end, we added 36 more inspection tools for our production line and increased our inspection range as well as precision.
All these improvements translate to a higher machine quality for our users. In 2019 we were praised for high quality products, and we made further improvements based on feedback we received.
Our plans for 2021
For 2021, we’ve got some exciting activities and programs for you. Snapmaker Academy would be one of our regular beginner/intermediate series for 3D printing, laser engraving, and CNC carving. We are going to pump out new content and ideas every video to assist you with your making journey. If you are a beginner and just started your making journey, regular video tutorials and guides will be released as well so our content will be suitable for all ranges of audience.
Next up, we are hosting the Snapmaking Contest periodically. It’s going to have a different theme every time and contestants will have a chance to win special prizes. The fifth Snapmaking Contest is over and the projects were really impressive.
In 2021, we will release more addons for the Snapmaker 2.0. This was and has been the goal of Snapmaker 2.0, which is to become a modular making system. The Snapmaker 2.0 has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and it has served as a central hub for creation for many of our users. We are planning on developing and/or releasing the Snapmaker 2.0 Rotary Module (already available for pre-order), air purifier, high power laser module, and dual-extruder module. We can’t wait to show you guys more about these modules in the second and third quarters of 2021, so stay tuned!
Year 2020 was tough. It was a struggle for all of us and we are glad that we have pulled through. Not only that, we’ve also made tremendous progress on the areas we’ve touched on in this recap and we are excited for the new challenges ahead. Thank you for your support in 2020 and as always, let’s make something wonderful in 2021!
Stay safe and have a prosperous year,