Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 15, 2011.

Update #6

major fabrication update !!!

First of all, thank you for continued patience.  We just got back from the craziest week of our lives.

We have an extensive and long overdue update so here's the short summary first. For those of you who want the full breath, please continue reading to the end.

Our original aim to get the pens out by mid September turned out to be far from realistic.  We were overzealous when we set that goal, and apologize for getting all of your hopes up.  After 4 rounds of production samples and small improvements in each round, we were still not happy with the quality of the pieces we were getting.  In an attempt to sort out the quality control issues, we paid a visit to our manufacturer in China this past week.  

In short, they are way in over their heads.  After a week of working with the factory, we were repeatedly mislead, met with errors and got all kinds of excuses for obvious attempts to cut corners.  With a significant amount of time and cash invested with this factory, on our last day in China we decided to cut our losses and arrange a meeting with a different manufacturer.

On the last morning of our trip we met with the new manufacturer.  By coincidence, one of their factories was only 15 minutes from where we were staying.  Meeting with them was an entirely different experience compared to everything that happened earlier in the week.  We walked through every step of the design and went over how each part would be produced.  They're a mix of Chinese and American engineers from Stanford, who understand what we mean when we talk about quality.  They also have a mission to improve the lives of their workers in China.

We left with smiles, knowing that we have the beginnings of what looks to be a mutually productive relationship.  So, we're behind schedule, but on our way to meet our goals.  At this moment, we still have a lot of details to work out before we can promise a delivery date, so we don't want to make that mistake again.  The pens will be ready when they are perfect.  Right now it looks like we're at least a month away from our first production run.

That's the short version. Here's the long version.

Rewinding to day 1… this is long, but might be interesting to some, especially those who make stuff!

The past few week was a roller coaster of insanity.  Our trip began with our frustration over receiving pre-production samples that continuously had small errors.  For each round, we were assured that the next would be perfect.  On our 4th sample, we decided it would be the quickest and most productive to pay a visit to the factory for a week and work out all the kinks to begin production.  Our factory assured us that by the time we landed, we would simply be there to check the quality of the final pre-production samples, and sign off on the first production run of 500 pieces.  So we arranged a time with our factory, booked our tickets and headed to China.  

The week of insanity started with Che-Wei getting stuck at the Hong Kong airport and having to spend the entire week in Macau.  He has a Taiwanese passport but was born in Japan, so China and Hong Kong don't recognize his passport and it was impossible to get him in the country.  Fortunately for the interwebs and skype...he was with us much of the time.

Adding to our good fortune, Che-Wei's Mom, Meiling had already arranged to fly in from Tokyo to join us on our journey for overall moral support and translation help.  We cannot express to you how much of a trooper she is and how lucky we were to have her as a sidekick.  On the first day she arranged to bring along a high-school friend of her brother's named KP who has 20+ years of experience with Chinese manufacturing.  KP was crucial in giving us the perspective we needed for the rest of our trip.

After our rocky start, things at the factory did not look up.  As a reminder, this is the factory that made our original prototypes, and they were close to perfect so we had no reason to think they were not capable of making the rest.  We will spare you all the details, but the number one pitfall was that the place was poorly managed and the engineers and the QC department that we had planned to meet there, simply did not exist.

Step by step manufacturing

One look at the factory floor and it was clear, they weren't even close to ready for production.  With nowhere to turn, we got straight to work.  We had to teach them how to setup a proper workflow to produce consistent pieces. Our first challenge was to go over each step to build every part and identify where things were going wrong.  With Che-Wei on Skype, and their engineers, we went over every process to devise jigs to ensure consistency and accelerate the manufacturing process.  This sounds a lot easier in writing than it was in practice.  We did our best and some progress was made.

Within every part there were often details that needed to be worked out.  For example, the surface finish of the ruler case was not to spec.  We had specified a dull (Ra 3.2) finish that would resist nicks and scratches more than a polished surface.  But they couldn't get it right and kept over polishing it, leaving the grinder's finish, or rounding the corners from hand polishing it.  Another example, was a problem we had with the screw part.  In order to cut out the centered coin screw slot, you need to hold the screw in place while it's machined.  Up until that point, they were holding the screw in place with a clamp which was chewing away at the threads, then they would grid the chewed up screws to cover up their mistakes.  We had to devise a jig so that the coin screw slot could be cut without ruining the screw. *(see images below)

Quality Control

Moving along to QC, we decided that for the first 500 pieces every dimension must be individually measured, bagged and numbered so that we can identify the records of each measurement on a spreadsheet.  It might sound like an outlandish amount of work, but KP assured us that this is the way things are done. It is not out of the ordinary and it's the only way that we have a remote chance of getting the quality that we are looking for.  Once again, very grateful that KP was with us.

Aside from the jigs for constructing the pieces, we also had to devise go/no-go jigs to quickly check if each piece had met our tolerances.  Each piece has one or more go/no-go jig.  If it passes all its critical dimensions, it's measured to see if it meets the rest of the specs. If it fails, it gets tossed away.  We designed a set of jigs with our manufacturer and the plan is for us to have a duplicate set, so we can also run a secondary QC check in New York before the pens ship.

Outsourcing in China

On our last night on the mainland, Meiling and I were brought to what was supposed to be the factories that are laser etching the ruler and machining the screw.  It was a mad rush because it was past 9pm and everyone knew at this point that meeting our revised goal of having two perfect samples by the end of the day was far from realistic.  But hey, we had come all this way and it was our last night…so we chased the rabbit deeper into its hole.

As we got into the car to head to the other factories, the factory owner conveniently disappeared and we were whisked off with his assistant and a machinist.  It was unclear where we were going.  After a long drive, the car stopped and we were told to get out.  There was no factory.  

We were on a dark, narrow road where every storefront was some variation of a live/work machine shop.  Each one different.  Each one specialized.  A whole town of them, crammed side by side on narrow streets lit only by the glow of naked fluorescent bulbs.  Think Bladerunner meets pre-industrial metal shops.  The energy was palpable.  Clean? No.  Could we find it on a map?  No.  Could we have ever imagined that a factory work is outsourced to places like this? Definitely not.  And even though we had never seen anything like it before, we could recognize it straight away.  Every shop was run by highly skilled, passionate, self-taught makers.  A lot like the shops many of our friends back home run.  They are their own bosses.  They live for and are proud of their work.  This was nothing like the factory where we spent the past few days.  It was invigorating.

The man that machines the screw parts is awesome and his setup is incredible.  He has six CNC swiss screw machines in a storefront garage, in the back room is his office, a small kitchenette, a toilet (which you flush by pouring a bucket of water into it) and a small room off the back where he and his wife sleep.  

Do you know how many people would kill to have a setup like this in Brooklyn??? 

The screw parts were perfect! yes perfect.  We moved along (down the street) to the shop that was doing the ruler etching.  We were led to think we were going to a laser etching shop, but in fact it was chemical etching.  This was not what we had in mind, but it was really late and we had nothing to lose letting them try to etch our ruler.  They did their best but it was obvious that their hole-in-the-wall shop was definitely not set up to make 5000+ pieces.

This was an amazing part of the trip, we never imagined what it would mean for a factory in China to outsource its work to local fabricators.  The people that do this work are very skilled and proud of the work they do.  It is incredible to see.

The choice

After leaving the chemical etching place, the factory owner told us that he was at a place with a laser etching machine and that they were etching the pieces.  It was 11:30 at night and he promised to meet us there right away.  We show up a few minutes later at a machine shop with 2 CNC mills, not laser etchers.  And none of our samples were being etched.  Things were very tense at this point.  The factory owner tried to tell us that in China laser etching is synonymous with CNC milling.  We were not amused.  

It was obvious that we were not walking away with our pre-production samples.  The factory owner had mislead us in many ways before, but this was the last straw.  We had a pretty sour car ride back to the hotel.  We'll spare the details.

When we arrived in China, the factory owner told us that tooling was well on its way and that we were very close to having the first 500 pieces complete and perfect.  Upon our arrival, we were completely blown away by the unprofessionalism and lack of preparedness of the factory.  There were no tools or jigs.  Everything was being made by hand.  And the factory owner continuously scrambled for excuses and assured us that everything was ok.  Everything was not ok.  And if we continued on this track, it would surely take years to get perfect merchandise (if ever).

That night we had to make a choice.  Spend our last day on the mainland beating a dead horse, or we could cut our losses and forge a relationship with a new factory.

We chose the latter.  That evening while we were out in post-apocalyptic bladerunner machinist land, Che-Wei was in Macau on Skype arranging for us to meet up with a different factory.

The next morning Sheng and Yoo Yo met us at our hotel.  We automatically got great vibes from them.  Sheng was born in China, in the area where we were, and his family immigrated to the US where he got his engineering degree.  We went over the details of the pen straight away.  Communication was clear and we are confident they will be able to produce the pens.  Things are finally looking up.

Conculsions

This has already been a long update.  Sheng and his crew are currently making the prototype.

We feel really lucky to have gotten the chance to sample the gamut of making in China.  Yes, we were only there for a week.  We barely skimmed the surface.  But for a short week we had an incredible and diverse learning experience.

We feel real pangs of anxiety / hair falling out each time we receive your "where are our pens?! arg" messages.  We completely understand your frustration and hopefully you trust that we really really want to deliver the pens as much as you want them.

We will have more progress to report within the next week.

Thank you for your continued support.  We really appreciate all of you who are familiar with our situation and understand what it takes to make something like this at such large scale.

Lots of love to you all and HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHE-WEI !!! yes it is today !

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Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Robert on October 20, 2011

      What are the chances of having these delivered before Christmas?

    2. Missing_small

      Creator Uncle GroOve on October 7, 2011

      @ Brian:

      nailed on the head - precisely...
      It's the "Value Proposition" that counts, not just the price. But the Perfect Consumer is a monster that just looks at the price tag and fails (miserably) to consider the added value to society at large (last but not least in form of higher tax revenues generated by the domestic workerrs ....).

      It's about your country's and your peoples' Values (=>*not* nationalism) and Value.

      Ciao

      Paul

    3. Missing_small

      Creator Jesse Holtslander on October 6, 2011

      My comment is not meant to be anything negative since I know bringing a new product to the market is difficult. In fact, I appreciate the lengths you have gone to in ensuring quality is delivered to the backers. That said, continual upates on the product are appreciated to keep everyone n the loop. According to the last upate, more would follow within a week. The timeline has lapsed and I was jsut wondering if there are any updates of significance. If not, that is fine too.

      Great work.. I cannot wait to get my type-a.

    4. Missing_small

      Creator Brian May on October 5, 2011

      Uncle Gro0ve, To bring back craftsmen work to the country we have to reclaim value! Quality over quantity and the vanquish the idea of disposable products. I have printing presses, on the "cutting edge of the turn of the century." They are cast iron and will work for another 100+ years when cared for, we build nothing today that can say that or stand that test of time.
      We need to reclaim that!
      Is my pen later than mid-Sept? Sure. Do I care? Nope, not when it is due to quality demands and not producing a shoddy product. It will get here, I already have refills so I don't mind waiting.

    5. Missing_small

      Creator Uncle GroOve on September 29, 2011

      @ Mickey Ly: Man, you're a poet! Our friends here @ A-pen should pay *you* for what you've written :-) !!

      @ Yong-Soo Chung: where are you from originally? Korea? (hope I'm nost sticking my foot in my mouth here)... it's sort of funny (in a nice way) - and then again it's positive - seeing that you perorate the cause of the Made in USA. In the music instrument industry this still has a "premium" connotation.... I just wonder why the Kickstarters seem to fail to acknowledge this fact.

      I think that it would make perfectly sense to try to raise a higher pledge level, in favour of creating local (in your case USA) jobs instead of offshoring lige Big Corps are fond of doing.
      Who knows?
      Maybe us supporters could try to reverse this tide and bring back artisan jobs back home (USA; Europe, etc)

      Ciao

    6. Missing_small

      Creator Y. Chung on September 28, 2011

      What a great comment by Mickey Ly. I completely agree.

      On another note, I'm also somewhat disappointed & concerned about the conditions/quality control of these Chinese manufacturers. On one hand, it's great knowing that you guys have a high standard. But on the other hand, these could have been made in America and been easier to monitor quality, while creating more jobs for our ailing American economy.

      I guess at the end of the day, it's the quality of the pen that matters, since that is what I paid for. Please ensure that we get our pens, in the highest quality possible. I'll be willing to wait as long as it's the perfect pen that will be used by me, my kids, their kids, and their kids.

      Thank you for the update.

    7. Missing_small

      Creator Mickey Ly on September 27, 2011

      Thank you for the time and consideration.

      The biggest reason I backed this project, other than you guys being awesome, was because you guys said that this pen would be 'the' pen that you should treasure and maybe one day pass on to my kids and maybe they'd pass it on to their kids. That resonated deeply with me.

      The idea that a pen could be timeless and hold a heritage. The idea that the pen that I'll use to pen my ideas or sketch out my dreams, would be held and used by my ancestors to flesh out theirs, I love that sentiment. That there's an undying soul for the pen and that each generation will leave a little of their soul in the pen for the next person to inspire from, to guide their hand as it were.

      And it's because of that, that I'm really glad that you're taking the time and consideration to make this pen perfect.
      Because I want a perfect pen. I want to make my own dents and notches and scratches myself. I want to look at the pen after all the years of use and see these scratches as a story of all that I've lived through and experienced. All the crazy dreams I thought I'd aspire to, all the sad letters that I'd write and all the birthday cards I'd write to my kids. And I think there's something special in that.

      And yeah, people'll be disappointed that it didn't arrive on time but the flip side to that is that they're ready to wait now. So take your time and make this the best damn pen you can. Cos a month from now, or two or even year from now, I don't know when. But when I get that message that it's ready... I'll know I'll be in for something magical.

    8. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Marshall Jones on September 27, 2011

      Wow! What an update. This is absolutely out of my league though I have always been curious how people get things manufactured in China. I am just happy you are chasing a dream and I'll be happy receiving my pen when it finally meets your standards. We should all just thank you for our opportunity to own a Pen Type-A and to help make your dreams a reality. Best of luck with the new factory!

    9. Missing_small

      Creator Tobster on September 27, 2011

      Brilliant update!!! Thanks for taking the time to detail the full saga, it was certainly worth reading and let's us backers understand the problems you face. No problems with the delay, we all have other pens we can use until you get it right! ;-)

    10. Missing_small

      Creator bombonia on September 26, 2011

      Meiling rocks!

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      Creator Caleb on September 26, 2011

      How did you come to select the initial factory?

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      Creator Skullcat on September 26, 2011

      Your story would have been a great documentary.....if only you had a camera crew with you during your trip: How one Kickstarter project turned your lives into a different type of adventure.

      However, I do second the other posters: I would be very happy to pay a premium for a great product that was manufactured in North America. But, would others feel the same way, to eventually take your product into profitability?

      Regardless, I really think your whole story about your trip is valuable (as well as a reality check to other hopefuls) and I appreciate your openness!

    13. Me.small

      Creator Sameer Vasta on September 26, 2011

      Thanks for the updates! Glad things are going in the right direction now and thank you for your meticulous attention to quality and detail.

    14. Missing_small

      Creator Uncle GroOve on September 26, 2011

      Hey Chris - thank you for pointing that out.
      IMHO if our friends had to cope with lines of credit & other assorted and costly niceties, that trip to China would have been expensive, and would probably have seen a different outcome (such as the one outlined in the Wired article).
      I have a friend who was working for a swiss financial software company that was having 2/3ds of their code done in India. In 5 years they never managed to get the basic coding done "right" - it always needed to be heavily debugged and retweaked. At the end the software company just decided it wasn't worth the effort.
      One one hand I do admire the chinese entrepreneurs working from their little dingy shacks.... should it surprise us that their prices are so low? Yet one thing is to be an artisan, turning out gizmos and doodads, yet another one is to be a Fine Craftsman - someone who can master a high level of quality and have a production process that hits that level consistently.
      And now my question is: was there really nobody in the USA who was capable of milling, boring, etching the Pen-A? In the USA you have some incredibly talented artisans (I know the electric guitar world pretty well) - and I am confident that a relatively simple item like this one could have been built domestically.
      Oh- in case you're thinking - yes, mine is a "political" point (but not a xenophobic rant) ... and it applies to Europe (where I live) as well.
      It would be great if the Kickstarter community could try to kickstart domestic production back to life - our G7 economies sorely depend on not losing the last vestiges of our manufacturing know-how!!

    15. Missing_small

      Creator Felix Chuang on September 26, 2011

      Thanks for the update. Sounds like a challenging odyssey.

      I appreciate the passion and energy.

      Personally, I'm not in any rush as I'd rather have you get it just right. :)

    16. Missing_small

      Creator Cyan Godfrey on September 26, 2011

      Thank you for the detailed update. 
      I'd be very interested to see a project on kickstarter that used the platform to research their manufacturing options. The project page could ask backers to choose between the product made in the US costing more and the same product made in China for less. At the end of the funding period, if enough backers had pledged the extra money for a US made product, then the project owner could confidently move ahead with production in the US. I know personally I'd be happy to pay more for 'made in the USA' and I'm sure I'm not alone!

    17. Missing_small

      Creator jcip on September 26, 2011

      wow, what an update
      thanks for the story behind all the madness
      keep up the good work
      i don't mind waiting longer for a perfect product
      thanks

    18. Yukumowall.small

      Creator Raymond Wong on September 26, 2011

      Thanks for your update. I DO understand the experience you lived through in your update. In fact, I will be surprised if something like that did not happen somewhere along your manufacturing process.
      To be frank, you are not out of the woods yet. Not to frighten you, but one of the following can happen:

      1. You specify 1000 pcs. They will produce 1500 pcs. Then sell the extra 500 pcs at a reduce price to people who do not want the pay the original price. Quality will be the same as the original.

      2. The Quality of the pens will be consistent right up to the point when they feel you trust them enough not to check. then am extremely horrible batch will be dropped onto your laps. After you have paid for them (Personal experience).

      However, with proper management, things can work out (Look at apple) and I hereby salute you for taking so much effort in ensuring the quality of the products you sell, and to salute you for the courage to relive the painful experience by updating us. This only makes me want the pens even more!

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      Creator Alvaro Peralta on September 25, 2011

      CW&T Thank You Very Much for The Great Customer Care and Concern you have for your Kickstarter Supporters! :-) I personally would like you to take all the time required to obtain the Quality your Pen deserves.
      Al

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      Creator Guillaume Perras on September 25, 2011

      Great to hear from you! Take your time and DO NOT rush the production scarifying quality. It is the attention to details witch has got all of those backers with you on this project.
      I'd also like to say that this update is very educative for us too and thank you for sharing these stories with us.
      Your backers love you too. :)

    21. Yosemite_avatar.small

      Creator John Ping on September 25, 2011

      Thanks for the update! I understand the startup process can be bumpy, and I'm looking forward to receiving my pens when they are perfect. All I would ask is a more frequent updates - maybe a quick update every week or two to keep us a little more in the loop?

    22. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Corey Menscher on September 25, 2011

      Woah you guys! CRAZY STORY! I'm in no hurry...make it perfect. If anyone can do it, you two can.

    23. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Brian Yu on September 25, 2011

      Got to be very careful workin with people in mainland. They will promise you for everything, even if they can't deliver.

    24. Olli_avatar.small

      Creator Oliver Hofmann on September 25, 2011

      Congratulations, you made it into Hacker News: http://news.ycombinator.com/item…

      ;-)

    25. Missing_small

      Creator Sean Wood on September 25, 2011

      Wonderful of you to provide all the details. It makes a great read. You had a real adventure and learned a lot. Your approach to making this is spot on. Take your time to make it perfect. Doing this will pay off to no end in the future. Looking forward to having a pen - when it's ready :-)

    26. Missing_small

      Creator Gary Chappell on September 25, 2011

      1) "Anal retentive does not have a hyphen" :)
      2) "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades (A-bombs being large hand-grenades)" ;>)
      3) Absolutely fabulous update, and sincere appreciation for your commitment to product excellence. Sounds like you also got quite the education, which will no doubt serve you well for this and future products. Will wait patiently for the final result, knowing that it will be perfect!

    27. Missing_small

      Creator Chin Hong on September 25, 2011

      Thanks for the detailed update to share your experience in China. This makes our involvement with your project that much more interesting. Good luck with the new manufacturer. I rather wait for a quality product!

    28. Skydiving%20icon%20small.small

      Creator mamojo on September 25, 2011

      Great update! And I agree with a lot of the other commenters...I would rather wait longer to get a better quality product. Glad that you found a good manufacturer. :)

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      Creator Thomas Nijzink on September 25, 2011

      Sidenote: it is a bit disappointing to see people nag about not buying American/keeping production in the USA. One of the amazing things about Kickstarter (in my opinion) is that people from all over the world can fund through this platform.

      Typed in Europe on an Asian phone using American software ;)

    30. Thomas%2002.small

      Creator Thomas Nijzink on September 25, 2011

      Thanks for the update guys. It is a shame you ran into those problems but like many others have said before me: knowing what goes on with a project is part of the fun of backing through Kickstarter. We'll wait for our awesome pens to be ready when they are.

    31. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Anthony Warn on September 25, 2011

      Feel for you guys ... welcome to manufacturing. It didn't kill you, so you'll be stronger, wiser and in the end we'll get a pen that'll last forever, beautiful and precise ... as it should be. Don't compromise your vision ... people bought in as much for why your doing this as for what you're doing.

      I'd almost pay the price of a pen for a full recount of that story ... sounds like there's much more to tell one day!

      As for all the couda, shouda, wouda comments ... well the only thing I hold you to account for is a beautiful pen ... how you get there are your choices.

    32. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Andrey Petrov on September 25, 2011

      Thank you for your dedicating to producing a beautiful high quality product. I'm happy to wait as long as it takes for you to achieve your vision so that you can share it with me. :)

    33. Missing_small

      Creator Markus on September 25, 2011

      Shame on those countries that shipped there whole manufacturing base abroad and thought they could live of ideas and fancy financial products alone. This post is a direct outcome of those decisions that started to be made in the 70s and 80s.
      I'm personally getting my money's worth if you keep sharing your experience with us and as many people as possible. Who knows,it might even change a few minds of those that thought that knowledgeable and smart manufacturing should not be part of this country.
      I continue to wish you best of luck and hope that you will find the right shop over there that measures up to the quality bar you set and know can be delivered.

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      Creator Josh Seiden on September 25, 2011

      Agree with Jono. What an awesome update. Keep the updates and learning coming. They are (almost) as good as having the pen. Good luck!

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      Creator Jono Lee on September 25, 2011

      Wow, this has got to be one of the most awesome and informative Kickstart updates I have ever received. I don't mind delays at all, not only because I'm an anal retentive perfectionist myself but because your updates are like crash courses on manufacturing in China. Keep it up.

    36. Missing_small

      Creator Brian May on September 25, 2011

      I worked for a manufacturing company that specializes in water/air purification lamps. My main job was operating a custom built machine to apply ceramic glaze to the ceramic end caps. The caps came from a Chinese manufacturer and as time progressed the quality we were receiving was declining, to the point where I was QC'ing 10-15% out of the box before even running them in production due to a variety of problems, most significantly was being out of round.
      We also purchased steel pins for the caps so the lamps could be plugged in. We had to QC them as we used them due to solid steel pics being thrown into our orders, incase you are wondering most lamp pins are hollow and a solid pin quite literally blew our tooling right out of the machines.

      I know this is not the average for the Chinese manufacturing community but I am glad you opted to find a new company and I truly appreciate that. The company I worked for didn't want to spend the time and effort to get a new supplier.

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      Creator Francesco V. on September 25, 2011

      We all are with you guys. Keep it up!

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      Creator Tsun on September 25, 2011

      Your insistence of quality really impress me, we are here to support you, not just financially but also spiritually, mentally. The kickstarters are with you all the time, we are willing to wait for the best. Once again, thank you.

    39. Missing_small

      Creator FERNANDO F. on September 25, 2011

      I heard comments from manufacturers that they end saving money when working with American enterprises because China is not up to par when talking about Quality. For them is more "it works! what's your problem?" attitude. I'm convince that for the US to fix their problems people has to buy American. I prefer to pay more (no, I'm not that kind of rich) if the product is made in the USA. You might want to consider that next time (maybe running a little poll between people interested).
      Thanks for all your work.

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      Creator James on September 25, 2011

      I appreciate the honesty in your write-up and your unwillingness to compromise on quality

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      Creator Merrilyn Romen on September 25, 2011

      You made this comment in your post: "A lot like the shops many of our friends back home run." I must say I am terribly disappointed that you chose to have these made in China rather than by people in America who could sorely use the work! Had I known these were to be produced in China, I would never have invested! With over a quarter of a million dollars to invest, surely you could have thought more highly of American workers. At at a cost of $50/pen, you could surely have raised the price to $75 to cover the additional labor costs. There's not much difference when you are willing to spend $50 on a great pen, you might as well be spending $75. I am disappointed....truly.

    42. Missing_small

      Creator pewhitfield on September 25, 2011

      Thanks for your stewardship and rigorous attention to detail. Anxious to see the perfected, finished product. Good work.

    43. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator lisa mckinley on September 25, 2011

      thanks for the update! I don't mind waiting for a superior product! I like the updates pics though so keep em coming! :D

    44. Jimmy%20smile.small

      Creator James Almeida on September 25, 2011

      thanks for letting us know how its going for real. im really looking forward to getting my pen but i really appreciate the attention to detail!

    45. Missing_small

      Creator Alex on September 25, 2011

      Woah, thanks a lot. What an excellent and really interesting write-up. Your attitude and persistence is so refreshing to see in the days on Walmart. I personally do not mind a bit that it takes longer (or much longer) as long as the final product is _perfect_. Take your time and get it 100% right.

      Cheers.

    46. Img_9684.small

      Creator Marc Aafjes on September 25, 2011

      Thanks for such a full update - interesting to read! Good luck with everything and hopefully things will go a bit smoother now (not least of all because I really look forward to receiving the pen once it's done...)

    47. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Steven Cavalieri on September 25, 2011

      I've had similar experiences with manufacturing and printing packaging in China. Classic.

    48. Missing_small

      Creator John on September 25, 2011

      I feel bad for you, reading this update. I can't help but think how hard it is to write an update like this. But at least you're being honest about the pitfalls you've faced.

      I would have thought for the price you plan to sell these for, it would have been realistic to have them machined in the US. If nothing else, couldn't you have them laser etched in the US? With the relatively low price of Epilog and other similar laser engravers, it seems like plenty of people have this capability in the US. At some point, it might be worth an increase in engraving costs to not have to deal with all this mess, no? Hell, how much does it really cost to buy a laser engraver to do it yourself?

    49. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Ross Hattori on September 25, 2011

      I wil cherish this pen that much more because of this post.

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