On Wednesday, before I spoke at the Tijuana Innovadora conference, I dropped by the 3D Robotics factory there. This is our second factory, and it's now equaled the capacity of our San Diego plant. Guillermo ("Gigio") Romero, the operations lead there, has done a tremendous job bringing this factory up, building a top-notch pick-and-place and CNC operation and a staff of 20 in just a few months.

Here's a quick tour of how your APM 2.5s and ArduCopters are built!

Before 3D Robotics acquired it and it ramped up as a full factory, uDrones was a small stand-alone assembly operation doing early ArduCopters. Some of that history, as well as current products, are on display in the lobby. 

Here you can see the back of the factory. The ceiling of the overall space is very high and the entire space is not air-conditioned, so the manufacturing part is in a "building within a building". Behind those walls and hung celiling, everything is air-conditioned and the air is filtered (double-filtered in the CNC room).

Components and inventory is kept in a fenced-off area with strict controls. This allows us to keep tight reins on stock and our supply chain info. 

Boards start by going through this stencil printer. 

Then they go through the pick-and-place machine. This is the newest Manncorp, even better than the one we have in San Diego. 

Then on to the reflow oven, at right. 

All electronics workers wear anti-static pads on their shoes.

When the boards come out of the machines, they are put on a test jig and run through a full software test routine. 

A video of how the sensor testing works.

Visual inspection is a very important step of the QA process. Boards that fail here are reworked or binned. 

This is the station where ArduCopter PDBs and other solder rework is done. 

And this is the station where they do the hand soldering of connectors and other through-hole parts. 

A rack of APM 2.5s waiting for their pins!

Now for the CNC room, where ArduCopter parts are made. This is the bigger of the two CNC machines. He's holding part of a secret not-yet-announced camera gimbal design ;-)

Another CNC machine and operator. Because of the dust, masks, ventilation and filtering is really important in this room. 

Finished legs, ready for kits. 

Lots of instructions

There are lots of binders with really specific manufacturing instructions. We're going for ISO9000 compliance!

This is the room where the ArduCopter kits are assembled, tested and packed. 

Components. Inventory control is super important. All parts have check-in/check-out forms on the box and we have a custom ERP system. We'll be implementing bar-code scanning soon.

Part of the Admin area

This is the engineering area

Lissana will meet you at reception

Time for a group photo!

Go team! 

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Comment by Dany Thivierge on October 19, 2012 at 6:47am

Great to see you guys! (and girls!) 

I think you are running a really nice place, quality is really impressive from such a quick start.  I have to say that I was a bit concerned to see the factory move but after receiving tons of new parts with the Made in Mexico label I have to say that I am quite impressed.  Not only you kept (and increased the quality of the CNC parts) but you also have a strict quality control.  I only had a couple of bags with missing connectors and 1 cable and that was it.  

I am really proud to distribute your products in Canada, keep up the great work! 

Oh and as soon as you have that camera gimbal ready (nice picture of it on the monitor) I want it!  We have a lot of demand of a nice strong and efficient gimbal that will not break the bank.  

Again great work team! keep it up! I also see smiles so looks like Gigio is not to hard on you! :) 


Comment by John A. Malley on October 19, 2012 at 1:25pm

Thanks for sharing the tour and the great pictures.  And thanks to you all at 3D Robotics for your work and effort, it's much appreciated! May your business grow!

Comment by Anderl on November 30, 2012 at 5:04am

Thanks for these pictures! I'm grateful to know the team behind this work.

Muchas gracias a todos por vuestro increible trabajo.



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