This week we assembled a kit of parts for a MTM machine designed by MIT students a few years ago. Johnathan Ward, one of the designers, was on hand to help us through the process.
The system is essentially a kits of parts which can be (mostly) digitally fabricated and assembled with ease.
Since we did not design the machine and since it is a work in progress, I can be somewhat constructively critical from my experience. Jonathan and I talked about ways that he is improving the process and the product. Since we were a little dependent on the existing MTM machine as an example (and we still assembled some parts wrong) the obvious addition would be to add an assembly diagram or manual. This is in the works according to Jonathan.
Assembling the machine is a didactic process. Many of the mistakes come from the order of assembly which are not apparent while looking at the finished version. Once you go through the process you realize the problems and can do it again the correct way but this requires that you fail the first time.
Many of the problems associated with the parts were that they were either too similar or not similar enough. Some pieces are nearly identical with only minor differences to tell them apart. Jonathan suggested that one could even mill the same part to avoid confusion during the assembly process. The other option could be to to make parts more dissimilar. In this way pieces would not be confused or could only be assembled in the correct way. Barring a few minor setbacks though it was a relatively simple assembly process.