Last week we our laser cutter caught on fire in the middle of cutting a Hexy kit. It was pretty bad:
The best we can guess is that someone at the hackerspace Artisans Asylum where we were operating the laser cutter shut off the air supply half-way through the middle of a cut, most likely because they thought the laser cutter was not on. Luckily, someone nearby was able to put it out with an extinguisher.
So now what?
Kits will still start shipping to you within the next few weeks. The fire does affect manufacturing, but not much more than ~3-4 weeks beyond the timelines in the previous post. We are very sorry for the delay.
Here’s our current production plan:
1.) Production is stalled until we get more laser cutters. But, thankfully…
2.) We were already leasing two more laser cutters, and they're on their way! This was originally to speed up production/start getting ready for retail orders. Those should arrive at the office within the next week or two. We will get back to full production then.
3.) The original cutter is down likely until the end of November. It’s being shipped back to the factory in Ohio for a massive over-haul. Thankfully, we should be able to get it back online cheaper than buying a new one. We have the other cutters coming though, so this isn't as huge an issue as it would have been otherwise.
4.) Electronics boards are done, and all the parts to stuff the boards have arrived at the factory. All that remains is assembling, programming/testing and shipping the Hexy kits. It should take about another two weeks for the finished electronics to arrive at our headquarters in Somerville, MA. Once these arrive, we can start shipping to you. We already have ~100 kits cut and stuffed, and will likely have another 100 cut and stuffed by the time the boards cut. Depending on how fast the new cutters are, we should be shipping an additional 20-50 kits a day after that.
As we’re quickly approaching the ship date, we’re making sure to get the assembly and operation guides done in time. We’ve got the leg and body guides up for you - enjoy! We’re currently working on the programming guides, both for the Servotor32 in Arduino and moves in Python.
We’ve just started to ship kits through Robot Shop. They're one of the first of hopefully many new partners in marketing and selling our retail kits - an amazing development made possible by your support! After a difficult decision-making process, we decided to ship these distributors a limited number of robots in the short-term only. We understand if some of you may be concerned about us shipping robots to online stores before the Kickstarter orders are fulfilled. There are several very important reasons we eventually chose this:
1.) Feasibility: This is the biggest reason. Given the electronics boards, it’s not possible to fulfill the kick Kickstarter starter orders immediately. Until the electronics from China arrive, each board currently has to be hand-soldered, which take an hour or more to solder each. It’s only possible to ship kits to distributors because we're shipping them limited quantities of these hand-soldered boards. While this is okay for a dozen or two robots at a time for stores, it becomes unfeasible for the ~730 kits ordered through Kickstarter. The boards for the Kickstarter orders will be fulfilled with the 1,000 boards that are coming from China, which are set to arrive in a couple weeks.
2.) Timelines/Contracts: We started building these distributor relationships back in August. We promised we'd start shipping them units by October, and agreements were made as to what dates they'd be delivered by. We weren't expecting things like laser cutter fires and last-minute electronics board redesigns, and we have to deliver by those dates regardless if we want to maintain those relationships, which are crucial to our long-term growth and development (i.e. MORE cheap robots for everyone). Although it shouldn't, we're very sorry if this causes any measurable delay in shipping the Kickstarter kits.
3.) Making Christmas sales: Christmas is a huge shopping season for the US, especially when it comes to more toy-ish and educational items like Hexy. If we were to wait until every last Kickstarter kit was shipped out (we're hoping by the end of November) to start shipping kits to distributors, we'd entirely miss the Christmas season, which we know will be a good time for cute-robot-kit-selling.
So in short, a few more weeks to go before we start shipping! We’re sure looking forward to getting these kits out. We’re especially excited to see what people are planning on doing with the kits. We’ve already got quite the community going on the forums. We hope to see you guys there when you get your kits! We know we’ll be there answering any questions you might have. We want to see as many up and running Hexys as possible, doing whatever crazy things you guys plan on doing ;)