We have some updates for you! Let's start with the good news: Our toroid manufacturer has finally pulled it off! We got three beautiful samples on Wednesday, and we gave him the go-ahead for mass production.
What have we learned from this ordeal? First of all, it’s critical that your manufacturer have experience in exactly the process that you need. Our manufacturer is a reputable machinist, but did not have specific experience in metal stamping. What he thought was an easy job gave him a seven-month headache. We’re surprised that he pulled through, and didn’t give up and return our deposit. We had even gotten quotes from other manufacturers, prepared to start over right away if we got our money back.
There’s some bad news as well, which is the reason all the rewards haven’t been shipped yet. The manufacturer producing the laser cut chassis had a fire in his laser cutter, which is putting him out of commission for a month. This was the manufacturer that, according to our last update, we previously could not get in touch with. Strangely, despite being impossible to contact, he kept sending us 25-50 units per week. This rate is far too slow for our needs, but at least he didn’t just take our money and run. We were not very explicit about deadlines in our initial correspondence with him, so despite all our frustration with him, he was technically not violating any contract. When searching for suppliers many months ago, we had also gotten quotes and samples from a Chinese firm. We decided to quickly reach out to them so that we would minimize the delay in shipments. Our design had changed slightly since the spring, and he insisted on our approval of another round of samples before he started production of several hundred chassis. Those have arrived this week, so we’re working around the clock to fill the boxes we’ve got ready with the missing chassis and ship them out. Despite having paid for everything with the first manufacturer, we will probably have to commission several hundred more from overseas so that we don’t run into another roadblock with the last round of Kickstarter orders. We didn’t think it would be so complicated to find a reliable firm to do laser cutting of 1/8" acrylic sheet, but in truth you never know when you’ll run into a roadblock.
What have we learned from this?
- Ensure that your manufacturer is capable of handling your order volume. We got an excellent price and communicated easily with our first manufacturer to begin with, but now we’re under the impression that he only has a single small laser cutter. If we were to start again, we would demand more information about the production facility, such as pictures or an in-person visit.
- It would also have been nice to have found someone local to do the production, so that when he stopped replying to our emails and phone calls we could have knocked on his office door to ask what’s going on.
- You need to be explicit about deadlines with manufacturers, and set penalties for not meeting them.
The oneTesla team