There are so many things are happening here, that it will be enough to write a book about the iblazr product development process. So I decided to post several updates about the production and kickstarter fulfilment process.
Mass Production Preparation
We decided to prepare for the Chinese trip properly. Firstly, we finalize all the questions related to quality improvement and assembling process. One of the solutions that you will not see on the end device is the assembling method of the inner parts. At the beginning we were thinking to glue the optics and a reflector to the front iblazr housing. The quality was good, but there was a small probability, that some glue will overflow to the inner part of the lenses.
So, we came to the solution to use… the screws.
This is more technological way to keep everything tight inside the device, and now we don’t need glue for the optics.
Second task we solved before the trip, believe it or not, is logistics. We spent hundreds of hours to organize our backers database, correct all the mistakes you made in your shipping addresses (now we know the geography even better), to minimize the delivery errors.
After that we printed all the shipping labels by ourselves to have an opportunity to double check all the information and organize backers by their order type.
A bit routine work, but we still had fun because of the feeling that we came so close to the kickstarter fulfillment.
First Start of the Mass Production…
I arrived to the China at Wednesday 4th at 9:00am and went directly to the factory right from the airport. There where mainly good news, our factory made all the pre-production samples. Moreover, some of the parts were already fully produced (e.g iblazr lenses)
There were some remarks that we made for the product quality and approve the start of the assembling for the next day.
By the next day, we already produced hundreds of PCBs and… found that 40% of them didn’t turned on. We stopped the PCB assembling immediately and start searching for the reason of that problem. We checked all the components hundred times but can’t find any errors. Than, we contacted microcontroller supplier, but he ensured us that it is impossible to have such large amount of defects.
Two days we were looking for the reason of such large amount of defects and finally we find it. Simply, our programmer was not powerful enough.
We used the white one to program all the pre-production samples (it is a bit quicker for the mass production) and it appeared to be not powerful enough to program the large number of PCB’s. We bought a new one (black) and it is working great.
The solution came up at Saturday, 7th of December, so we decided to reschedule the start till the Monday morning.
We had one and a half day, which we spent on testing the quality. We performed thousands of button pushes and connections to the chargers, hours of work in the brightest constant light mode, and, probably, hundreds of falls form the one-meter height. After such hard tests we were ready to start the PCB production… once again.
Here We Go!
This time everything is going almost perfectly (if the perfect mass production ever exist). The PCB assembling line is working great. Our factory has a high performance Japanese equipment, so electronics will be made very fast. Here is a video from the iblazr assembling line (sorry for the noises).
The quality of housing is high for both plastic and anodized aluminum versions. We've tried to scratch them with coins to check quality of paint and anodizing and were really satisfied with the results. Another thing was to check the right raw components to minimize the translucence of white iblazr even before we paint it. Here is a difference:
We know that people are angry for the delays of kickstarter projects. I am a backer myself and had to wait almost one year extra for one of the products I ordered.
We put ourselves a very tight timeframe, to produce the product in only three month after the kickstarter campaign. You can deduct three weeks of amazon payments processing and one week of National Day in China. That leaves only two month to produce thousands of unique parts and make them work properly for the company, that is doing this for the first time.
Currently, I am sitting near the iblazr assembling line and feel very sad, that we will be late with most of our orders delivery.
I’ve talked with the logistics company several days ago. Their website shows 7-20 days to deliver each package, but the agent told me that it will take around one month on average for the shipment, due to seasonal overloads.
Honestly, the production could be started two weeks before, but that will significantly affect the quality of the product. We are trying our best to make a device that our backers will love and we will be proud to produce.
So, unless you would choose to get the unfinished product in time, we hope you will understand us and excuse a small delay.
You almost made it!
I believe that kickstarter fulfilment process, largely, is your merit, because each of you believed in our product and our team!
That is a short summary of what iblazr team and our partners are doing in order to fulfil the kickstarter pre-orders. I will provide more information on the mass-production process in the next update at the end of the week.
All the best,
P.S. Here is one of the pictures I made while testing the iblazr in different constant light modes.
I found that you can put any transparent subject on the top of it and you will receive a cool lamp!