I've given a quick tour of the big 3D Robotics factory and R&D center in San Diego before (here), but as some of you may know, we've recently opened a second manufacturing facility 30 minutes across the border, in Tijuana, Mexico. The management team and I were down there this week reviewing operations, so here are some quickie photos so you can see what it looks like.
uDrones is now a subsidiary of 3D Robotics, so one thing the new facility does is the original uDrones function: assemble, test and ship complete UAVs (quads, hexas and planes). Above is the copter assembly line. At left is Lorenzo Lopez, Operations Manager of 3D Robotics, and Jordi Munoz, CEO.
Above: The administration area. Behind it is the PCB assembly line, with the pick-and-place machine and reflow oven at left, and the QA and hand-finishing line at right. This is the new function of the factory, and most of the APM boards are now made there. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it's identical to the pick-and-place line in San Diego, which looks like this:
The CNC room. This is where the 3DR ArduCopter frames are made.
We'll probably keep the uDrones name, but the website is being revamped, as are all the products. All the pre-made drones will now come with APM 2.x, with the copters defaulting to the uBlox GPS and the planes having a choice between uBlox and MTK. We might have some cool exclusive color schemes, too. Better instructions and support is coming too, as part of the ramping up of the facility.
The good news for everyone is that now that this facility is up and running, backlogs on boards should be much reduced if not eliminated. We have two full-time pick-and-place lines and we can add shifts in Tijuana as demand requires.
+1 for investigating better props, something quadcopter specific. Can't help but wonder if there isn't some improvement to be made focusing on 'copter specific application over more general purpose props.
With injection equipment online, please consider to manufacture decent props for quads up to 14".
Sami: We'll probably shift to injection molded nylon/fiber next. To really get economies of scale, you don't want to be cutting at all.
Jack: Not at all! We've doubled production capacity by adding Tijuana, not replaced it. All the production in San Diego remains. Here's a picture of just one corner of that:
Are there any parts in the frame that really _need_ a CNC mill to be made? Water jet cutting might be faster and cheaper depending on the amount of parts made...
Jan, Mexico is still recognised as a separate country. Please follow the roadmap, for peace.
But you could have guessed it from beginning since Jordi is Mexican.
The implication is just R&D is left in San Diego. Too bad manufacturing in San Diego proved economically unviable. The maker revolution can succeed to a certain point, beyond which competition forces you to either go to overseas manufacturing or pack up.