A lot of silence on the Move38 side of things as we have been heads down and getting everything in order to make sure Blinks are on the path to a bright future. We'd like to share a bit of how the cannoli is made, and while you will surely get beautiful photos and video of the manufacturing process, first we need to make sure our recipe is correct.
For a bit of a video update, enjoy the following :)
For a bit more detail:
Design for Manufacturing
From the start, I knew that our current Blinks design, one I am very fond of due to its simplicity and non-traditional nature, would not suffice for a commercial product for a number of reasons. Here are the main considerations for redesigning the enclosure of each Blink.
1. Robust tile-to-tile communications
2. Perfect button interaction and light diffusion
3. Simple reliable battery access
4. Straight forward to Manufacture and Assemble
Making one of something, or even a couple of hundred is one thing, but creating a workflow for others to be able to make hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of something requires careful consideration. To help in this process, the talented Bill Cowles of Fiftyswiss joined the Move38 team to redesign the Blinks enclosure given the above constraints. He proposed clean and clever solutions that we saw the value in immediately. His design, while introducing more parts and materials, was completely modular and considered the injection mold process as well as the assembly process. There were so many aspects to balance and I think we have done a wonderful job of arriving and a design that will impress both eyes and hands.
We didn’t want to lose the soft friendly touch of the original Blinks, so the top material will be a frosted TPU or silicone-like material that allows for the top to retain a friendly touch. The sides will be a hard plastic with perfectly vertical sides, making the satisfying clack reminiscent of domino tiles. The magnetic sides are composed of identical sub-units that will carry 2 magnets and be made of an IR transparent material, but opaque or close to opaque for visible light. We are keeping fingers crossed that this provides robust communication without the need for holes in the sides.
Our next steps will include getting quotes for manufacturing and a bunch of in house testing with the new design. Testing includes various lighting conditions, play testing, perhaps we can invite some local backers to be hands on with the new prototypes.
Shout out to all the Developers
In parallel, we’ve been moving right along with the Dev-Kits, and took the opportunity to light up our potential commercial run Blinks manufacturers as well. So let’s talk Dev-Kits.
With over 150 new developers joining the Blinks community, we have a lot of Blinks Dev-Kits to produce. We planned and backup planned the best ways to get these out as soon as possible. Here is a quick breakdown of the thought process:
One option was to orders all components as we have been doing and assemble the Blinks in-house, however, the cost of 3D printing the bases accounted for 60% of the cost of goods. Instead of ordering $10,000 worth of 3D printed parts, the cost of simply owning an SLS 3D printer, an option I heavily considered, this became an opportunity to learn about the injection molding process. My first Kickstarter included injection molded parts, however, the molds were for production units and cost around $5000 before even making parts. One great service, ProtoLabs, provides quick turn injection molding, for prototypes or short run products. Keeping in mind that the Dev-Kits design is not the same as the final design, spending a lot of money and time on tooling doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless we are learning something important for our final run. We have been talking with a number of manufacturers and started an exciting relationship with Genimex, a wonderful company based in China and in Brooklyn, NY. Before signing into a longer term relationship for Blinks production, I want to see what they can do, feel out how we work together, and understand the value of working with a team that has been doing this for 40 years.
To recap the options:
1. 3D prints and hand assemble at Move38
2. Purchase nice 3D printer for the above in house
3. Injection mold w/ ProtoLabs and hand assemble at Move38
4. Purchase small injection mold machine for the above in house
5. Work with Contract Manufacturer(CM) to do the Dev-Kits and determine if we work well as a team to do the production Blinks too
While working with a factory in China to make our Dev-Kits feels the most... for lack of better words, foreign, it is also the one with the opportunity to learn the most, a valuable opportunity we did not want to miss.
What does this mean for timeline… so far Genimex is pushing to get Dev Blinks to Move38 mid-June, we’ll then do our own inspections, finish assembly of your dev kits with programmers, cables, instructions and box those goodies to be shipped to you! We'll be receiving updates on the tooling, which we just approved, and will post updates here.
Wait, wait, there’s more!
Want to get your hands on the first Dev-Kits available? If you are still reading this, you are probably the perfect person to sign up for this. We will be ready to ship early Beta Dev-Kits in the beginning of June. This is the same hardware we have been testing with for ~ 9 months, with overly expensive but nice 3D printed bases will go to 10 lucky Dev-Kit backers. Sign up fast since we’ll pick from the list of sign ups by May 25th, we’ll be in contact with you to get your dev-kits first and are looking for active feedback from you as part of this select group.
When are you sending Surveys?
A couple of you have asked, and we'd love to be in touch, so there will be some surveys coming out for basic information, however, our main surveys will happen shortly before we are ready to ship, the survey will arrive via BackerKit, (shout out to BackerKit) our tool for managing pledges and allowing pre-orders while we make Blinks a reality.
Bay Area Maker Faire
If you are in the area, come say hello! Move38 will be at the Bay Area Maker Faire selling Troxes. If you'd like to help out at the booth, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll be sure to get you a free pass and some Move38 swag for helping out.
Last but not least
Our friends, CW&T, just launched their latest Kickstarter for Time Since Launch, we think you'll love it just as much as we do. Also, with only days/hours left, go support ELIA, another beautiful design project with a powerful mission to provide tactile literacy to the 99% that need it, with only days left, I've witnessed Andrew's hard work in bringing this project to life, keep their momentum going!
Our project was featured on First Backer Newsletter and we’d like to invite you to join its growing community of Kickstarter backers - You'll receive fresh Kickstarter amazing early bird offers and awesome freebies delivered right to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.
Looking forward to sending our next update, keeping you in the loop, and will try some new methods to let you peak into the process even more.
all our best,
Jonathan and the Move38 team