Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 16, 2011.

Update #15

Shipping today! 2/21/12

It's been a long time in coming, but the first shipment is going out today.  Woohoo

:-)

In the 2 months since my last update, I've been refining the process and I finally have it to a place where I'm happy with the output.  They really look good.

It's been a really wet couple of months for us in Austin, Tx (good), and that humidity causes problems with the dry powder coating paint that I'm using (bad), but I'm getting the hang of it.

Shipments will be going out today and tomorrow, and then every 2 weeks until they are in everybody's hands.

The last couple weeks, I have been transitioning out of prototype mode, and into production mode.  I've got the process and workflow done, now it's time to crank them out.

All the cutters in this batch were made entirely by me in the garage. Starting with the next batch, some friends will be volunteering some time to help me maximize the output.  I'll know more by the end of the next batch how long it will take to get everybody their cutters. 

Thanks soo much for the support and the patience.  I bit off a lot when I decided to make them myself.  I've learned so much in this process, and the cutters get more refined with each one I make. 

One of the benefits to making them myself is that I don't need to get a lot of money upfront to introduce new designs, and during the Christmas break I started playing around with a new cutter.

It's called the "Moon and Stars" design because it makes round and star shaped cookies, and it'll be the first design introduced when I launch the sales website.  I've got to work on it some more, but I've tabled it until I fulfill all the kickstarter orders.  It's not an original design. It's been around for a long time as an example of tessellation, but it's never been used as a cookie cutter and it'll be a great generic non-holiday design.  Let me know what you think about it.

Thanks again,

Keith


Update #14

Christmas update

It's time for a video update.

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Update #13

I think it's time for a long post...

I missed my Halloween deadline (which I'm really bummed about) and I need to bring you up speed where I'm at.

From the Beginning...

So, the project closes and we surpass the goal. Very exciting.

It's going to be about 3 weeks until the funds are released, but I have a lot to do. I find an engineer and he starts creating the CAD models for manufacturing.

I also need to start getting bids and estimates on all the other aspects(packaging, shipping, UPC codes, etc.). My head does not usually work in such an organized fashion, so I reached out to a friend (and backer) to help me. He put together this magical thing called a spreadsheet and we started going over the numbers.

About this time I was contacted by a writer for the Food Network magazine about putting the cutters in their December issue. Very cool. With the great support of the Kickstarters and now this outside confirmation we started looking at turning this into a real business. I have 10 designs total that I would like to sell, and with the focus and encouragement, I'm sure more would follow.

But there were 2 problems with making the cutters out of plastic. The setup costs are $3,000 to $5,000 for each cutter design, and the perceived value of plastic cutters is low because China cranks out millions of plastic cutters for pennies.

A Change in Course...

So, we looked into metal. The metal cutters looked and felt a lot better than the plastic cutters, and they had some other benefits. There was no huge setup fee, and no need to order thousands to keep the costs down.

We found a couple places in the US that could make them, and sent a design out for a bid. The bids came back higher than expected, and we realized that a lot of it had to do with the complexity of the design. A typical cookie cutter is a closed loop. They cut one length of metal, bend it into a shape, and weld the ends together. This is how they've set up their manufacturing process, and it works well for them. My Christmas cutter would be 6 pieces of metal and 7 weld spots. There's more labor involved, but the main difference is that the whole process is specialized for each cutter.

Not deterred, we got some metal and equipment, and made some prototypes. They looked good. The metal was too thin, we needed to clean up the edges and be more precise with our welds, but we felt confident that we could do the manufacturing in-house.


Time to Put the Pedal to the Metal...


The money is available and we order 200 pounds (half of what we need) of Stainless Steel. We buy a bunch of tools and equipment. The tools we really need won't fit into the budget, so we get creative.

Everything takes 2 weeks to get here.

We're getting samples of printing and shipping boxes. Writing a provisional patent application and researching bulk shipping requirements.

The metal comes in and we start to work with it. The weight and thickness feel really good, but the rigidity is making it harder to work with. We wanted it to be as rigid as possible, because with the repeating pattern in the shape, it needs to match up with each cut. We have to replace some equipment, and we start working on designing the most efficient process to build the cutters.

We make the printed package design and get it off to the printer, order supplies for level bonuses, and start baking test batches of cookies with the new prototypes.

We cut hundreds of lengths of metal and start to hem(top folded edge) and shape them. The edges that stick out have a sharp point on them and rounding them off with a grinder. The individual shaped pieces look great and are starting to pile up, but we're having problems with the welding.

The first spot welder we bought worked great on the thinner metal, but at the highest setting, it's not making a solid enough bond on the thicker material. We buy a second, more powerful spot welder, and it's scorching and melting the metal.

While going through that, the printing and supplies come in and look great. I get your addresses, and I'm ready to get product out in time for Halloween, but the welding thing has me stalled in the home stretch.

So, where are we...?

Once I get this welding problem cracked, we'll be able to start the final assembly and packaging for shipping. That's where 100% of my focus is right now.

We’ve accomplished a lot in 75 days, and we're getting there, I really appreciate your patience and support.

Thanks,
Keith
p.s. Oh, and sadly after working with them for a few weeks, they ended up cutting the piece in Food Network magazine. Kind of a bummer, but I have a contact over there, and I'll hit them up again in the spring with the new designs.  :o)


Update #12

Overdue update...

5 comments

Well, it seems that everything takes twice as long as your plan says it will... especially when you're spending a lot of time in completely new territory.

So we're putting in a lot of work, but we have not started shipping yet.

There have been a lot of issues with tweaking the final designs on the cutters and it affects things like the retail packaging and the shipping containers. 

The original size of the Christmas cutter was just a little too big to fit in a standard shipping box, and going up a size increased the cost a lot.

Once we worked through that issue, we could finalize the design of the retail packaging (see attached image) and place the order for the printing and the packaging supplies.

That stuff will start coming in Friday.

I'll be collecting addresses this week so I can start putting together shipping labels.

I appreciate your patience. 

This has turned into a second full time job.  I'm learning a lot about metal grades and thicknesses, manufacturing processes, packaging for retail, and packing and shipping rates...

It's a lot to absorb, and I'm really enjoying it... if only there were a few more hours in the day.  :o)

The next images I'll post will be the first assembled packages ready to ship... can't wait!

Thanks again.

Keith

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Update #11

A quick update...

Wow, I have a lot to report... 

But instead of having one really long post I'm going to break it up into a series that will be posted every few days starting today.

Here are the important things:

- The first batch of cutters will start shipping in the first week of October.

- The cookie cutters are going to be made out of metal, not plastic.  There is going to be a long post about why and how we're making a change, but you are going to love these cutters.  They cost a little more to produce, but they look and feel so much better than the plastic ones.

- We will have more designs available before Christmas (including a cool Jewish Star design) and Kickstarter supporters will be sent a special link to get it first and at a discount.

- There have been a lot of boring but necessary business things going on too. Provisional Patents filed, domains registered, business accounts set up... yikes...

That's all for now, I'll have a longer post out this weekend where I'll bring you up to speed on the decision to make the cutters out of metal.

Thanks again for your support!

Keith


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