We hope your 2015 is off to a flying start. Here at Kittyo, we have lots of progress to report.
We are just about complete with the T0 stage of the tooling process—a huge step forward as we move toward a mass manufacturing capability.
Our T0 stage injection molds allow us to create and test the 20+ different manufactured thermoplastic parts that will be assembled for each Kittyo device. In non-technical terms, each injection mold is just like a baking tin in that it allows us to shape each part to the exact specifications required. Please see below for a few photos detailing the complex and painstaking process of creating the custom tooling for Kittyo.
For the past year, we have been using 3D printing and advanced model making techniques for our prototypes. It has been extremely exciting to receive the test runs of some of our injection-molded parts (see photos below). In the next few weeks we’ll receive all of the tooled pieces of our finished product. At this point we’ll be able to do a complete product assembly with the printed circuit board and other components (such as laser, camera, servo motors and wifi module) to see how everything fits together and assess Kittyo’s aesthetics and functionality.
The next stage can be summed up in three words: Testing. Testing. Testing.
Even for long-established manufacturers, the T0 stage of tooling usually requires some degree of tweaking (the next stages being T1, T2, etc.). That’s why we want to make our testing as rigorous as possible so that we are able to make any and all manufacturing refinements as efficiently as possible.
We understand that our Kickstarter backers are anxious to get their hands on Kittyo as soon as possible. (And we love that enthusiasm.) But we do want to get our testing right. Above all, we don’t want to rush to market a product that we haven’t tested and retested as thoroughly as we possibly can.
Because of this testing process—and until we have a much clearer idea of what, if any, tweaks we need to make in our tooling process over the next month —we will have to wait till our next update to give you more specifics on our delivery date.
But, rest assured, things are cooking. And we are getting closer to manufacturing and shipping your Kittyo to you every day.
Thanks again for your support!
Introducing Kittyo – the only product of its kind that lets you remotely interact with your cat like never before. Read more
This project was successfully funded on May 23, 2014.
Hi Kickstarter –
The holiday season is getting underway and many people may be thinking about ‘winding down,’ spending time with family and friends, and curling up with their cats as the year draws to an end. At Kittyo, we’re doing the exact opposite. We’ll be working flat-out for the next few weeks (although we will allow ourselves a short break for Turkey Day!) as we gear up for our 2015 launch.
In this update, we’ll detail just a few of the things we’re working on:
1) As we mentioned last time, we have ordered the long lead-time parts. This was a crucial step as many of the parts we specified in our design are premium components needed to ensure optimal performance. Many major hardware companies also use these parts in complex processing systems and wireless devices, which means they are in high demand. So it was important for us not just to secure our parts but also to enter into long-term relationships with the suppliers and “book” production time in their factories to guarantee future supply. Placing orders for long lead-time parts now minimizes possible disruptions to our schedule and will help us get your Kittyo to you as quickly as possible.
2) We are now putting in our orders for our printed circuits board (PCB) fabrication. Because there will be more than 200 parts on or connected to our PCBs—including the laser and servos, Wifi, camera, microprocessors/support ICs, resistors, capacitors, wire harnesses/connectors, etc.—this is another crucial step that we absolutely have to get right. We are working diligently with our supply management team to source these parts from all over the world as we ramp up for production.
3) We are now deeply immersed in the process of creating and testing our plastic injection molds (the “tooling”). This is the most important step in making any new hardware product. The custom molds we are creating are unique to Kittyo and designed to produce both the plastic parts that define the stylish exterior and our product’s complex inner workings. Tooling for our project takes a long time as we are fabricating from specially hardened steel. We could have chosen to use mild steel (which is softer and faster and easier to machine) but we decided it was critical to use the best tools in the world to produce our product. After the expert toolmaker creates the computer numerical control (CNC) program that replicates the design concept, a tool and die maker or machinist needs to build each tool one at a time. The tools are cut or milled on a variety of high tech machines including lathes, machining centers, wire EDMs and surface grinders, and then submitted to the quality control department for confirmation. Some of Kittyo’s parts will be molded in standalone molds. Others will be molded in “family tools” which contain the part outline for several elements. Regardless, all will be molded from high quality molding compounds that meet international engineering and safety standards.
With Thanksgiving Day almost upon us here in the US, we’d like to thank you again for your support of Kittyo on Kickstarter. We’re excited by what we’re creating and working hard to get our product to you and your cats in the New Year.
Dear Kittyo backers,
Our new estimated shipping date is first quarter 2015.
We know many of you will be disappointed to hear this, but we hope you’ll agree it’s better to take the time to get everything right now than to risk the worst disappointment of all—a product that doesn’t fully meet all our expectations.
We know that many of you are seasoned Kickstarter backers who have lived through new product “delays” before. But for those who are new to Kickstarter—especially all the cat lovers who had hoped to receive Kittyo in time for the holidays—we want to offer a thorough explanation.
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in April, we were required to state an estimated shipping date. Clearly, picking a date several months in the future with such a complicated (and at the time, unfunded) project is not easy. No one is able to predict with certainty how long this process will take. Based on our progress at that point, everyone on the design team, along with our manufacturing consultants, agreed that November seemed like a realistic month for shipping.
The good news is that, as we’ve indicated in our past updates, everything is currently going smoothly and we have ordered the long lead time parts and are moving ahead toward manufacturing and delivery.
So why the “delay”?
Quite simply, our delay is because we have decided that we cannot afford to rush things. We are entering an absolutely critical stage of our launch and we want to be painstakingly thorough in every aspect of our plan.
We are currently finalizing details for the factory tooling. This is an expensive, one-time process and we have approached it with the abundance of care that it deserves. Once we manufacture our first Kittyos we will also put them through extensive quality testing. We are delivering Kittyos to cat owners around the world and we want to make completely sure that the Kittyo mobile app will work seamlessly with the in-home Kittyo device wherever the owner—and the cat--may be.
If you're new to Kickstarter, you might be interested to read this Kickstarter blog post that explains some reasons why many Kickstarter projects (including the launch of Kickstarter itself) push back their estimated delivery date:
Thanks again for both your support and your patience….
… as a Kickstarter backer, you made Kittyo possible…
… as a cat lover, we hope you understand how important it is to make Kittyo the best it can possibly be.
Hi Kickstarter - The Kittyo team has had a busy summer and here's some more information on our progress and how we are proceeding in bringing our product to the market. We are literally working around the clock. While our New York team is perfecting the software, finishing up the app development and implementing the server functionality, our overseas team is thoroughly addressing any design and engineering issues needed to perfect the manufacturing process. This update will give you an insider look at the headway we're making:
For those of you who are interested in more of the technical engineering details, please scroll down.
These images represent some of the issues being taken into consideration leading up to the creation of the tooling. This includes:
• Determining where the parting line will fall on the finished parts, taking into account the aesthetics of the finished unit and efficient throughput in the factory
• The feeding method, or how the resin will be injected into the mold
• What temperature, what pressure and what capacity of injection molding press is needed
• The properties of the resin being used, its flow characteristics, and the geometry of the finished parts
• Mold flow analysis - a series of engineering calculations to properly design the mold so that the resin fills it properly and is structurally sound without voids or bubbles in the molded plastic and the parts will release cleanly and easily when the mold opens
We’re happy to announce that we have achieved the first crucial milestone: we have selected Tranwo Technology (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. as our manufacturing partner. (http://tranwo.com/)
This was an important decision. As mentioned in our last update, we knew that because of the unique nature of Kittyo there was not a factory in the world that had made a product exactly like this before. It was crucial to us to find a partner with deep experience in similar products—and a track record of successful innovation and quality.
Tranwo fit the bill perfectly. The company’s headquarters and R&D center are located in Taiwan, one of the world’s top 10 innovative countries as ranked by Bloomberg, and its sophisticated contract manufacturing facilities are in Jiangsu Province, China.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT WORKING WITH TRANWO
Tranwo has a long history of building complex Internet-connected devices such as video baby monitors, residential security systems, WiFi and AV senders. The company also has broad domain knowledge of the underlying technologies contained in Kittyo.
Additionally, Tranwo is vertically integrated with electronic and mechanical design and fabrication facilities in-house. The company assembles all electronics in-house, utilizes lean manufacturing methods, and has the ability to perform all of the required FCC and electronic capability testing onsite.
An additional benefit is that Tranwo’s factory is located just thirty minutes away from the offices of Eastbridge Engineering, our supply chain partner. Eastbridge engineers will be able to stop by as needed to inspect the subassemblies, monitor progress and maintain our build schedule.
WHY TRANWO IS EXCITED ABOUT WORKING WITH KITTYO
Tranwo is pleased to be working with Kittyo as it allows them to extend their reach into a new product segment, the pet category. They’re also excited to be working on a new product that has already generated media attention around the world and succeeded so well through the crowd-funding cycle.
Tranwo is currently in the DFM phase (Design For Manufacturing). They have been busy the last few weeks studying the Kittyo CAD files and BOM (bill of materials) and building a few prototypes using high volume manufacturing methods. This is a necessary step to make certain they can make any necessary refinements before creating the plastic injection molds which are necessary for high volume production.
Stay tuned for additional updates as we hit each milestone and move Kittyo closer to market.
Thanks again for your support!