Funded! This project was successfully funded on December 13, 2011.

Update #18

Shipping Update and Touchfire for iPad 3

Shipping Update

We will be shipping Touchfires to you the week of April 23! We will also be publishing more frequent updates as we count down to that week.

Touchfire for iPad 3

Touchfire will be coming in two models – one for the iPad 2 and one for the iPad 3. Both of these models will also work with the iPad 1. If you want the iPad 3 version, please tell us by April 9th – just send us a Kickstarter message or email us at info@touchfire.com.

If you want the iPad 2 version, you don’t have to do anything.

The Details

We are finally on the other side of getting Touchfire ready for mass production, and have dealt with some interesting and challenging issues along the way. Here’s a recap of what’s been happening over the last few months.

Touchfire is composed of a soft, flexible keypad area connected to some hard pieces we call the ears and the chin. The chin is the main structural component of Touchfire. It provides rigidity, holds several magnets and anchors Touchfire in place on the iPad.

The keypad area of Touchfire has been unchanged since January, when we made our first production test run. We are very happy with how the keys work, and that portion of the design has been completely frozen. The keypad is the heart of Touchfire, so we were thrilled to see how quickly it came together. This led us to believe that getting the rest of the design into production would also go relatively smoothly. Not quite what happened :-)

The keypad is made out of silicone, and we were originally planning on making the chin and ears out of a hard version of silicone as well. That worked great for the ears, but we could never get the chin stiff enough. So in February we switched to a specially engineered injection-molded plastic that our manufacturer suggested.

 This turned out to be a wonderful material, very tough and durable, and it generally goes back to its original shape when bent.

But changing material means a change to the manufacturing process; we have to build new chin and ear molds and modify the keypad mold to accommodate them. This takes us to mid-February. 

We are back down at the factory, ready to try it all out. We spent a couple of weeks debugging, optimizing the flow of material through our molds and fixing cosmetic issues. Everything looks great, except … our magnets in the chin and ears aren’t as strong as they should be. What’s going on here?

It turns out that the thermal conditions of our new manufacturing process are affecting our magnets, which don’t like too much heat. We are going to have to come up with a different approach for incorporating our magnets into Touchfire.

Brad redesigns the chin and ears to accommodate this, and we send the molds back to the mold maker for rework.

We now have pockets in the chin and ears for the magnets to go into. But we need to seal those pockets. We create some tiny covers that do the trick. Brad makes some hand sketches, Steve takes them to a local die maker, and we have finished prototype dies a day later.

They work great. Now all we need is a manufacturer who can make a lot of them in a short time. Luckily, we were already working with a company called Seal Methods, which is making the stickers that go on the back of our cover clips. We head on over to Seal, only a 15 minute drive from the factory. No problem; Seal can manufacture the tooling for our covers and be in production in less than a week.

Fast forward to mid-March. The molds are back, we are down at the factory again, ready to make our next trial run. And we have just gotten an iPad 3. All indications are that it will work fine with Touchfire, since the screen didn’t change at all and the iPad 3 uses the same Smart Cover as the iPad 2. 

Surprise! Apple made a change that nobody else seems to have picked up on – they reversed the magnetic polarity of the iPad 3’s speaker magnet.  This causes Touchfire to twist on an iPad 3. What are we going to do about this? We sit down and try and figure it out.

It turns out that all we have to do was reverse the polarity of some of our magnets to accommodate the iPad 3. We will need to have people specifically order the iPad 3 version, but no other changes. And the iPad 1 will work with either version. Hooray!

However, we did find another problem with the design; during the molding process silicone is leaking into the magnet pockets. Grrr! So we head off to our mold maker, Kingson Mold and Machine, to discuss.

Kinsgon is a pretty amazing operation. We showed you a computer-controlled machining center cutting a prototype mold back in Update 9. Kingson has rows and rows of these enormous machines growling away.

As always, they are very helpful, working with us to devise a fix. Our molds are once again in their shop.

Which brings us to today. We are very confident that these final changes are the last ones that we’ll have to make. After the molds come back from Kingson we will  test them out and get them textured (texturing adds the final finish to the parts). And then we will finally get into full production. Our schedule shows that we will be shipping out your Touchfires the week of April 23rd.

Thank you so much for bearing with us as we work through getting Touchfire into production! Our next update will be in a week.

Steve & Brad

Comments

    1. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on April 13, 2012

      @lizroverbailey - we are getting some critical timing information from our factory this afternoon that needs to be incorporated into the next Kickstarter update we send out. We will be posting that update shortly...

    2. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator lizroverbailey on April 13, 2012

      On March 30, you said "Our next update will be in a week." It's now April 13. What's up? Can I still expect a start-shipping date of 4/23?

    3. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on April 10, 2012

      @Abraham - we did get it; thanks.

    4. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Abraham Bell on April 10, 2012

      Haven't heard anything about the email I send you guys,just making sure you got it give me a reply back thank you

    5. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on April 9, 2012

      @Dorian - we got your message. You are good to go. Thanks!

    6. Odd.small

      Creator Rian on April 9, 2012

      @Steve Could you check my message went through properly? I was going to ask for iPad 3 version. Thanks.

    7. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on April 6, 2012

      @Tara - yes, exactly. Variety pack folks will get a black and a white Touchfire.

    8. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Tara Johnson on April 6, 2012

      Cool, thanks! So the $80 level will still get one of each color then?

    9. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on April 6, 2012

      @Ippe - just send us a Kickstarter message with your new address.
      @Tara - yes, we are still doing black and white colors for the chin and ears.

    10. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Tara Johnson on April 6, 2012

      Are the keyboards still coming in two different colors?

    11. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Ippei Nishida on April 2, 2012

      It's too late because I moved into different place.
      Could you tell me how I can change the address information for the shipment?

    12. Missing_small

      Creator Andrew Chang on April 1, 2012

      @Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon

      Ah ok, gotcha. I'd like the iPad 3 version then—will be sure to send a message.

    13. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Ron Melmon on March 31, 2012

      Great going guys! Thanks so much for all the updates. Great tenacity! Looking forward to your continued success.
      Ron Melmoni

    14. Missing_small

      Creator Tvartist on March 31, 2012

      Thanks for the updates and please switch me to an iPad 3 version.

    15. Missing_small

      Creator andrew wald on March 31, 2012

      Hi again
      thanks for the update
      I would like the IPad 3 version please
      Andrew Wald
      andrewwald@mac.com

    16. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on March 31, 2012

      @Wilfred - we are assuming that Touchfire is attached to the magnets in the iPad, and therefore the speaker is on the left.
      @Mike - we will mark you down as wanting an iPad 3 Touchfire.

    17. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Wilfred Phua on March 31, 2012

      It's a bummer to know that we can't use one TouchFire across iPads 2 & 3.
      Are you assuming that the iPad 's speaker will always be on the left of the user when typing?

    18. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Mike Filsaime on March 31, 2012

      Updates are appreciated. I now have the NEW iPad (iPad 3) - I assume this will work.

    19. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on March 30, 2012

      @Nancy, @Arthur, @Shona - We really appreciate your comments!
      @Andrew - the article you reference is about the iPad's sleep/wake magnet. That magnet is not an issue for Touchfire.There are many other magnets in an iPad besides that one...

    20. Missing_small

      Creator Andrew Chang on March 30, 2012

      Thanks for the update. One question—why can't you create a version that works with the iPad 2 and the 3? My smart cover works fine with both and it seems that 3rd party cases work fine so long as the magnet polarity is aligned in the correct direction. As I own both, I'd love for this to be the case for the TouchFire as well. This article http://markshangout.com/blog/2012/3/17/ipad-3-smart-cover-sleepwake-feature-not-working.html states that the iPad 2 "is not sensitive to polarity".

    21. Missing_small

      Creator Shona Fox on March 30, 2012

      Wow! Lots of ups and downs during this process. It is wonderful to see how resilient and resourceful you guys are to be rolling with the punches!! I think this is such a great journey for a fantastic product. Thanks for also doing such a great job keeping all your backers in the loop.
      Mahalo!!!!

    22. Missing_small

      Creator Arthur Carter on March 30, 2012

      Thanks again for the update. Very interesting hearing about the design/production challenges. I will let you know shortly about whether I would like iPad 3.

      Cheers,
      Mac Carter

    23. Missing_small

      Creator Nancy J Groover on March 30, 2012

      Way to go!! Can't wait to receive my Touchfire. You two have done a great job with keeping the backers updated. Keep up the good work.

    24. Steve_and_brad_clipped_1.small

      Creator Steve Isaac & Brad Melmon on March 30, 2012

      @Jesse - the iPad 3 version of Touchfire will not work with an iPad 2, and the iPad 2 version of Touchfire will not work with an iPad 3. Apple reversed the magnetic polarity of their speaker magnet between the iPad 2 and 3, so the wrong version of Touchfire will not sit on the iPad correctly.
      @Wilfred - please send us a Kickstarter message with your new address.
      @Sydney, David - thanks!

    25. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Wilfred Phua on March 30, 2012

      What if I need to update my shipping address, is that possible?

    26. Missing_small

      Creator Jesse Horner on March 30, 2012

      I ordered two and one of them is going to my brother who might possibly buy an iPad 3 but already owns an iPad 2. My question is what are the differences between the two keyboard models? Will one meant for the iPad 3 still work properly on the iPad 2?

    27. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator David Wohl on March 30, 2012

      Quite the saga! Next installment: Finally released from Circe's clutches, Odysseus returned to his ship, only to find that the gods had played another cruel trick.... But, seriously, better right than fast. Thanks for the updates!

    28. Missing_small

      Creator Sydney Ely on March 30, 2012

      Thank you so much for the update. I've been among the critics of the inordinate delay in getting this product out but your update has given a valuable insight into the challenges you've had to deal with. Best of luck with completing the closing stages!

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