Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 11, 2012.

Update #20

Making

Machining is wrapping up in the next week. Our anodizing vendors are taking longer than they committed, but the very last Dock body should have its surface finish applied in 3 weeks.

Here are some Docks on titanium racks, fresh out of the anodizing tanks and still about 200°F. Headed to lasering when they cool down:

Review in the wild. Here is a well shot video review by iMore.com. (This comes unsolicited from a backer, we haven't gave a single dock out to media.)

The rest of the review is here.

Apple Bumper. The Bumpers we have work great with the Dock, but a couple folks contacted us that their Bumper didn't fit well. We found that Apple made a tighter fitting version when the original iPhone4 launched and quietly changed it a few months later to the larger size that remains today. There are many Apple forums about it, a lot of people just shaved the opening larger so it worked with their 3rd party chargers and accessories without problem.

Perspective. For a reminder of our manufacturing scale - Docks we are making for Kickstarter backers could stack taller than 4 Empire State Buildings.

And these are not simple to produce plastic molded parts, but intricate, fully CNC machined parts, individually cut from solid billet. There is no precedent for any previous Kickstarter project or other startup we know to manufacture parts as precision as these, at this scale and speed. Especially done domestically.

Take care,

Casey & everyone at ElevationLab

(And again, if you need to contact us, please email kickstarter@elevationlab.com and not through the Kickstarter messenger. If you are asking about a date your dock will ship, we do not have a precise date, other than as fast as we can make them and within the range above.)

As always, informal updates and pics are on our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ElevationLab


Update #19

Making & Shipping

We have shipped thousands of Docks and are working to get the rest out as fast as possible. We know you are very eager to have them. Will be shipping about 500 per day through July to wrap this up.

We have been working through a bottleneck at bead blasting and anodizing - our vendor could not deliver at our planned and expected speed. We brought on another specialty metal finishing company, they have jumped on it very fast to match our finish quality and have already started delivering. 

All the docks you see on these anodizing racks represent about 1/7th of what gets machined, anodized, assembled, packaged and shipped everyday.

As you can imagine, there is some friction in going from zero to mass production with parts that require this much work and precision - any machine marks and burrs have to be reworked or scrapped, anodizing that leaves a streak or the color is off has to be stripped and redone, off lasering has to be redone, circuit board assemblies that don't work are unbolted and swapped out, etc. We have 10x less fail QC than when we started production - it takes continual process improvements.

All cylinders - Our machine shops run over a mile in toolpaths every day of the week. Our anodizers are now hitting 500+ capacity per day in each of their three steps of glass bead blasting, electro-chemical micro polishing and anodizing. Lasering is turning around everything they receive in one day. When finished dock bodies arrive at our shop, we have 9 people dedicated to assembly, packaging and shipping - finished Docks are going out within 24 hours of their bodies arriving here.

Our custom compact USB chargers for the Dock+ versions look and work great, very glad we went to the extra effort to get them made and not go with 3rd party chargers.

If you need to contact us for an address change or anything else, please do so through kickstarter@elevationlab.com and not through kickstarter messenger, so our team or people can get back to you. More informal updates are posted on our Facebook page.

Thanks,

Casey + Elevation Lab


Update #18 - For backers only

SwitchPad + Swapping USB cords

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Update #17

Real Artists Ship

Today is a big day, we have shipped the first batch of Elevation Docks.

These are from our growing stockpile of parts and the rest will be going out in the coming weeks as bodies come back from machining, anodizing, and lasering - literally assembled, packaged, and shipped the same day they come into our shop. Power adapters for the Dock+ versions should be coming in next week so we can start shipping those too.

Many many thanks to all the people and vendors involved to make this happen. Having designed products for a lot of different companies, I know few nimble or focused enough to bring something from concept to mass production this quickly, especially on a product that doesn’t lend itself to fast or simple manufacturing methods. And thank you for your patience. There are big reasons why you don’t see a lot of complicated machined products with custom connectors - it’s very difficult and expensive, especially when done 90% domestically. There are many methods, like plastic molding, that are 100x cheaper and 1000x quicker to make. You just can’t ever match the precision look and feel of a fully machined part - Apple certainly knew this when they started making unibody MacBook Pros. If you are ever bored, try taking apart an Apple remote to see how they machined them.

iPhone 5 - Rumors are heating up about an iPhone with 176 more vertical pixels and smaller connector. As we have said before, we will make available either a new bolt-in, swappable circuit board or a bolt-in mount for the end of the new cord so these are future proof. Width should not be an issue - going from a 3.5” to 4” screen adds less than .25” width wise, and even less if it does in fact go to a 16:9 viewing ratio and they don’t stray from 326ppi Retina Display. Wouldn’t bet against Johnny Ive cutting fat from the bezel thickness either.

Thanks again,

Casey


Update #16

Mfg + lasers

Manufacturing update

The plastic support piece, that we changed the steel mold on, is now fitting great. PCB board assemblies are now working great. Custom A/C adapters are in full production now, should be done by the end of the month. All will be air shipped to us. We should be able to have all the pieces at the end of the month and start shipping on the 5th.

That's our custom extrusion we are machining over a mile of docks from. Its just .03" oversize the profile of the docks and this cuts machining waste by about half. The docks themselves are made with recycled aluminum.

Lasering

We are opening our lasering web app to everyone - lasering.elevationlab.com. Thanks to the folks who had beta tested it. You can enter your Kickstarter email and postal code to see your pre-order (this may take a few seconds under load), choose your docks that you want lasered and optionally get more. On the next page you can select a location for the art and upload your pictures.

Easy way: You can upload a black on white image in jpeg or png formats, no grayscale or photos, and select the location you want it lasered. We can burn at 600dpi, so your art should be at that level for best detail - please don't use a little 200x50 logo saved off of your website. Something like 1000x1000 pixels would be better.

Advanced users: Use our .ai template to place your vector art exactly how you want it and we will laser it at max resolution. Remember to outline text in case we don't have your font.

Lasering leaves a matte white mark. It is a subtle look on the bead blasted docks and very high contrast on the MatteBlack and limited edition colors. On those colored docks, I would err on the side of very minimal lasering if you choose to do it.

If you don't want to laser, worry not, the docks look gorgeous as they are.  It is $25 for setup + $10/dock for custom lasering on either the front or top of the dock. $35 + $15/dock for both positions. 

The lasering site will be up until May 25th. We will then have to lock everything down to start shipping. 

OtterBox Defender

As promised in our FAQ, the OtterBox Defender fits in the dock when you snip off the bottom flap, if you want to still use your flap (its not going to save your phone from water), send us an email and we will mill out the front for it - kickstarter@elevationlab.com.

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Again, for shipping address changes, please send to kickstarter@elevationlab.com and not through the Kickstarter messenger. Laser related can be sent to lasering@elevationlab.com


Thanks again,

Casey


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