Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 12, 2012.

Update #23

Project update - what we're doing to increase fulfillment speed

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I wanted to take some time to give a more in depth explanation of our current shipping delays, outline our plan of action to address this, and provide some additional background information on the project.

As a quick summary of this full update, I am bringing on an outside manufacturer to speed up production and dramatically increase delivery speed. If you'd like more specifics, please keep reading.

Why is this taking so long?

When I originally started this project, I was hoping to make 100 units with the help of friends and family. After doing the math and determining we could make 20-25 units a week, we could have fulfilled our backer pledges in just 4 weeks. At that quantity, production and assembly could be completed without any outside manufacturing, helping to keep costs down and allow us to add a lot of great features (for example, we upgraded the print head from 2.5" to 3.5").

As it became clear the project would do well over the original 100 units, I thought that with refinements in our process we could decrease assembly speed per unit to a reasonable time, and keep all assembly in-house. Ultimately, with over 700 units, that same assembly speed that we originally calculated would result in a total production time of nearly 28 weeks. Despite my best efforts (and many 16-18 hour work days), it's clearly evident that we need to make some immediate revisions to our manufacturing.

In addition to the slow assembly, as outlined in other updates, there were a number of delays in the design and parts procurement process. Most notably, getting the injection molds made took significantly longer than we were told by our vendor. The import process for the cases and other parts from China also took much longer than we had allocated in our production timeline, delaying many other steps of the process.

As previously noted in updates, the good news is that we have all the parts, cases, etc. and the last remaining hurdle is simply one of time.

Increasing shipments in the immediate future

Each unit is assembled and tested in-house, by hand. In the past several months of assembly, we have streamlined portions of this process which has increased assembly speed, but we are still limited by the number of circuit boards we can produce each week. Quite simply, we're unable to reach the internal goals we've set for production speed.

To immediately increase production speed, I am putting additional funds of my own into the project and we are contracting with a manufacturer to have all circuit boards assembled and delivered to us ready to drop into cases. This will allow us to dramatically increase our shipping speed and complete fulfillment more quickly. The timeline for the third-party assembly house to complete all board production is 4 weeks. Once we have received the completed circuit boards, we will be able to provide an updated shipping timeline.

In the interim, we will continue shipping as many units per week as we can produce in house and prepare what we can to expedite larger shipments once we receive the full circuit board order.

To give some insight into some of the hurdles we've experienced and as one example of optimizing the assembly process, I'll refer to one of the components in each printer: a wiring harness that connects the button board to the primary control board. We were making this custom cable assembly by hand. After further exploration, we found a company that could make the wiring harnesses for us at a cost only slightly more than we were spending on just the raw materials alone. Despite my wife becoming an expert at crimping connectors and stripping wires, considering time investment, it was an obvious decision to simply have the wiring harnesses made. As another example, we are moving the LED light ring to a process which uses surface mount parts that can be assembled by a machine, instead of traditional through-hole LEDs which each have to be soldered by hand.

What has the money been spent on?

Early on, I made a decision to spend more than we raised in order to create a product that could be sold beyond just Kickstarter.  As you can see in the amounts below, even with the amount raised, I have not personally profited at all, and am fully invested in mPrinter from both a time and monetary perspective.

Below is a quick breakdown of just some of the major costs. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and doesn't include dozens of smaller line items.

Funds raised
Total pledged: $88,018
Actual amount received after fees/non-billable backers: Approximately $74,000

Case design and manufacturing
3D-printed prototype units: $2,800
Case mold design: $5,200
Injection mold manufacturing: $16,000
Cases: $2,640

Components and parts
Circuit boards: $1,400
WiFi radios: $7,500
Print heads: $12,410
Other component parts (micro controllers, LEDs, etc.): $13,870
Wiring: $120

Shipping and packaging
Boxes and packing materials: $1,460
Shipping: $10,000

Tools and testing
Screws: $140
Assembly tools: $450
Test and programming jigs: $300
Pick and place machine: $4,400
Solder: $300

Misc.
Web hosting and servers: $2,790
Corporate registration and fees: $400
Import, customs bonds, and logistics fees: $3,000

Summary

I understand your frustrations with our fulfillment problems, and I am confident that our changes will allow us to successfully deliver all remaining backer pledges quickly and efficiently.

I apologize for the lack of recent updates - I've had my head down trying to find a balance of working full time to push all units out the door while maintaining some level of sanity, and supporting my family. If you have any direct concerns or questions, I setup a mailbox specifically for backers. Please email kickstarter@themprinter.com, and I'd be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you might have directly and individually with you.

I will keep all backers up to date on the delivery timeline for the parts that we are having manufactured, along with more detailed estimates of shipping volume as that date approaches. I'm working very hard to get everyones mPrinter unit in hand as soon as possible, so you can see what your pledge and patience have created.

Desktop pick-and-place that places the smaller surface mount parts
Desktop pick-and-place that places the smaller surface mount parts
Our custom-made cases after arriving from China
Our custom-made cases after arriving from China
Units being assembled
Units being assembled
Lots and lots of wiring harnesses.  Originally, we made these by hand, but recently outsourced their production to speed up assembly.
Lots and lots of wiring harnesses. Originally, we made these by hand, but recently outsourced their production to speed up assembly.
Internal view of an assembled unit
Internal view of an assembled unit
Bare circuit boards ready to be populated
Bare circuit boards ready to be populated
Nathan Young, Keagan, and 12 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Branden Wachtel on December 13

      With the complete lack of any info I am starting to feel scammed

    2. Missing_small

      Creator Gabriel pacheco on December 12

      Update is needed !

    3. Kennsunhead.small

      Creator Ken Nickerson on December 2

      It's almost a new year... an update on eta would be appreciated.

    4. 2fac.small

      Creator Daniel Amos on November 15

      I do not want your printer. Do not send it to me. I want my money back.

    5. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Kevin Cooney on November 14

      Andy, as 2 weeks have passed since this update, can we get a follow-up? You mentioned you'd "keep all backers up to date on the delivery timeline for the parts that we are having manufactured," so I think it'd be great to hear how it's going.

      Also, any word on why the manage.themprinter.com site hasn't been able to generate prints in a while?

      (Sorry for not using the "kickstarter@themprinter.com" email address, but I'd prefer to post here, as the email doesn't do any of the other backers any good, as they can't see any responses )

    6. Andy.small

      Creator Andy Muldowney on October 31

      Sorry about the email address issue, it's been fixed. I setup a multi-user group to make sure everyone gets replied to, and it was configured incorrectly. You can now email kickstarter@themprinter.com again.

    7. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Cade Collister on October 31

      Andy - I've received great (detailed) shipping update emails from other projects I've backed and I'd love to see one from you. Specifically, when will my printer ship? :) I understand that KS projects grow bigger than almost any creator can imagine or expect, but communication is a MUST. Please continue to talk to us!

      That said, I'm very excited and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my mPrinter. Thanks for pushing forward and not abandoning the project.

    8. Stepanka.small

      Creator badger on October 31

      @Daniel:
      It's a known problem in google groups. In this case it's not Andy's fault.
      I'd say try another email. From some of my emails it doesn't bounce back.

    9. 2fac.small

      Creator Daniel Amos on October 30

      I emailed the address provided and it bounced back. I am so over this. I want my refund.

    10. Missing_small

      Creator John Stryker on October 30

      Andy, thank you for the (long-awaited) update. I am content to wait for a great product, but please don't disappear for months at a time again! Keeping us in the loop will keep us patient. My faith in this project has been restored.

    11. Dsc_0040_3.small

      Creator Peter Pawlowski on October 30

      Thanks for the update, Andy, I'm still so excited to get the mPrinter, and I don't mind waiting as long as it takes... this is Kickstarter after all! But please, keep up the communication from here on out.

    12. Missing_small

      Creator Kevin on October 30

      We trust you to make us the best mPrinter possible so keep the mood ! Thanks for the update.

    13. Missing_small

      Creator Jason on October 30

      Glad to hear that things are still moving along. Will there be any additional delays for those of us who also purchased the battery add-on?

    14. Stepanka.small

      Creator badger on October 30

      @Andy:
      I'm still offering help with debugging firwmare. You can just contact me and we can discuss how can I help. ;)

    15. Missing_small

      Creator meier stefan on October 30

      Thank you for the Update:-)

    16. Avatar.small

      Creator henrikberg on October 30

      I don't mind waiting. You're doing good. I'm just worried Sweden is about to outlaw the type of paper these printers use because it contains BPA. That would be just terrific.... Maybe i should stock up.

    17. Missing_small

      Creator Larry Kluger on October 30

      C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S on your successes and progress up through this point. Thank you for the update and for your additional investments in your venture. I wish you continued success and 100% agree that shipping high quality late is far far better than shipping low quality sooner.

    18. Portrait_tobi.small

      Creator Tobias Edelberg on October 30

      Hey Andy. Tanks for your update.
      I totally understand your situation and in my opinion you do the right thing. It's much better to take the time you need to make a good quality product instead of sending out only a beta product.

      So yes I wait for my mprinter, but I trust you to get the best mprinter you can do! :-)

      Best regards and thanks for you being honest with this update!

      Tobi

    19. Missing_small

      Creator Chris Tuffin on October 29

      Thank you for the update - appreciate the struggles. Really appreciate the detail... you've put a lot of minds at rest!

    20. Mymanga_-_new.small

      Creator Gui Ambros on October 29

      Hey Andy, seems the email kickstarter@themprinter.com is bouncing back. Got a bounce from Google Apps/Groups.

      Anyway, I was writing just to thank you for the update, and to wish good luck on these last steps. It is truly hard to get a new product from paper to a fully functional version, and glad to see mPrinter going all the way through.

      After all your effort, I sincerely hope you succeed in making mPrinter a mainstream product, and are able to profit - emotionally and financially - from this effort. Thanks!

    21. Aegis.small

      Creator Jerish Brown on October 29

      Thanks for the update, Andy. Can't wait to get mine in the mail!

    22. Markwallace.small

      Creator Mark Wallace on October 29

      I can sum up the problems succinctly: Shit happens.

      I'm not worried at all. It'd rather have it done right.

    23. Murakami-pink1.small

      Creator Jeremy Chien on October 29

      Nice to hear from you Andy!! I was losing all hope on this project. If you can keep us more updated in the future, I'm sure more people will be happy!!!

    24. Ibinoys.small

      Creator Binoy Xavier Joy on October 29

      Good to see you updating in detail. But you could have replied to backer comments to avoid chaos. Also what about mPrinter firmware issues? Keeping my fingers crossed.

    25. Andy.small

      Creator Andy Muldowney on October 29

      Grant - You're welcome. Happy to answer any other questions you might have.
      Tyler - Thank you for backing the project. I'm working really hard to get everyones unit to them as soon as possible.

    26. Missing_small

      Creator Tyler on October 29

      Thank-you thank-you THANK-YOU for the update! I was starting to get a little worried, but I just KNEW you would come through eventually. Even then, I'm still waiting...

    27. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Grant Takemoto on October 29

      Thank you for the in depth update -

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