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Print your circuit boards, dispense solder paste, and reflow!  The Voltera V-One lets you go from concept to creation in minutes.
Print your circuit boards, dispense solder paste, and reflow!  The Voltera V-One lets you go from concept to creation in minutes.
Print your circuit boards, dispense solder paste, and reflow! The Voltera V-One lets you go from concept to creation in minutes.
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938 backers pledged $502,310 to help bring this project to life.

February Update 1 - Production Update

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Hey everyone!  

As you know, in December we shifted our focus to batch 2 and in the last few updates we shared some of the changes we are making. Although these changes will improve the product, if we're being honest, the additional effort is going to result in delays to this production run.

Let's rewind to give you a bit more insight into our product development journey and where we now stand.

Original Timeline (est. summer 2015)

When we began production last summer we expected to have batch 1 units shipped in the October/November time frame. Orders for batch 2 would be placed at that point and parts would ship from China to Canada in December/January. Assembly would commence here in Canada, and units would slowly begin rolling out thereafter.

Batch 1 Issues Began To Surface

During Batch 1 we faced a few issues. Quality is incredibly important to us, so we deliberately slowed production to deal with these problems, including: 

  • Low yields on our aluminum extrusion  
  • Sheet metal fasteners were not embedded properly  
  • Misalignment between the x and y axis  
  • Delays with wire harnesses  
  • Poor tolerances with CNC parts

Revised Timeline (est. fall 2015)

As we neared the end of batch 1 assembly we decided that longer-term solutions were needed to ensure higher quality parts, shorter assembly time, and less calibration (see previous updates for details).

We expected to have all the changes to the parts and assembly drawings done and prototyped by the Christmas holidays. Orders from our Chinese and North American factories would be placed at the end of December and everything would be shipped to us before Chinese New Year for assembly.

What we did not take into account was:  

  • The number of changes that we made was higher than expected 
  • The time it would take to move manufacturing processes like CNC machining and sheet metal to North America  
  • How much time shipping the Batch 1 printers would take  
  • How long it would take to develop a contract manufacturer (CM) relationship in China (we’re actually pretty excited about this and will have more info in the next update)
  • That all of these things would make us miss one of our biggest purchasing deadlines: Chinese New Year

China Has Their Own New Year?

Considering the electronics-savvy demographic of our backers, we’re sure most people have at least heard of Chinese New Year. It is a time of feasting, festivities, and fireworks. Want an intro to the fascinating Chinese holiday, culture, and history? HowStuffWorks has you covered.

The length of the vacation and the weeks during which the vacations happen vary by factory. Here is a diagram one of our engineers put together to illustrate his frustration:

As you can see, missing this deadline can be really disruptive to production schedules.

We’ve had at least one person from our team in China almost constantly since July 2014, so it’s not like we were unaware of this celebration. It seems like we just underestimated the number of improvements between batches and overestimated how much we could get done in the time frame we had.

Revised Timeline (est. winter 2016)

Since we’re making more changes than expected, we don’t feel comfortable building several hundred printers before validating the updates - ie: we don’t want to sacrifice quality to rush them out the door. That is why we will be building 50 units first to validate the changes.

The good news is that since we moved a lot of the higher risk items to North America, we can get started on those while we wait for our overseas factories to return from the holidays.

The first 50 units will be run through our rigorous quality control tests to ensure they meet our standards. If they pass, we will move forward. If not, we will fix the issues before producing the remainder of the batch. We know this is disappointing news, and trust us - no one is more disappointed than we are.

What You Can Expect Next

As mentioned earlier, the next update will discuss how a new relationship in China will be making manufacturing easier for us. Following that, we're going to update you on changes to two-layer printing that should be more reliable and more familiar to you.

We are also going to commit to posting a Kickstarter update every two weeks. We hope the level of detail works well for you, but if you ever have any questions please just ask!

Thanks for reading!

- The Voltera Team

Kevin Bates, Jason Ernst, and 13 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Voltera Creator on

      Hey everyone,
      Thanks for your support and understanding! We're really excited to get these printers to you, but want to make sure you get the best printer we can make.

      To clear up some confusion, everything we're discussing now is batch 2 related. Batch 1 has shipped, so if you don't have a printer yet you're definitely in batch 2.

      Please know that even with the first 50 printers we won't be sending them to backers unless they completely meet our very high quality standards. That said, if you would like to ensure you receive a printer from the later production run please let us know. We will make note of who has mentioned wanting to delay to the later printers so far, and anyone else please send us a message.

      We do have rulers we can sell, and we are working on getting a web store up and running to facilitate this. I'm going to look into getting more t-shirts printed too.

      Regarding manufacturing in China, what we meant in the post is that there are a few steps we are moving away from China, not to. We have been manufacturing in China since 2014 with at least one person on the ground full-time in Shenzhen, and we are hand holding our manufacturers as much as possible. That said, the steps mentioned are being moved back to Canada because we just haven't been able to get the results we're looking for in China. The next update will have more details on the CM we're starting to work with who will be taking over some of the hand holding of factories moving forward. Keep in mind, we are manufacturing all the parts in China, but they get shipped to us in Canada to be assembled, so we will always have inspected the parts and the assembly before the printers go out to you.

      The extra time to manufacture the printers definitely involves added costs. Fortunately we anticipated some complications and built a buffer into our cost structure.

      I hope that's helpful! If you have any questions let us know!
      - The Voltera Team

    2. Missing avatar

      robert macarthur on

      Hi
      As someone who has started up a company, I am very aware of the problems of running late on a project, especially the financial problems - extra time generally means extra finance required. Would appreciate your comments!
      Good luck
      Robert

    3. Brett Douglas on

      So how will the first 50 units of batch 2 be allocated to the 277 of us who purchased one through the Batch 2 pledge? Can you omit yourself, because as others have said,I to would rather you iron even more kinks before i received my voltera.

      Looking forward to hearing how moving some of the manufacturing to China will make things easier? You're not building thousands of these units, just a few hundred, why not keep the manufacturing internally and build the business up.

      I'm a little surprised you could actually find a manufacturer in China who would be happy to take on such a low volume project, bravo. I hope it's not some bloke and his family in a shed and you've inspected the workshop.

      Moving manufacturing to China will bring a whole new level of detail and complexity to the project, Will someone in the Voltera team be stationed in China to over-sea manufacturing to make sure its up to scratch. That should of been done before you had all these metal work faults with batch 1. You can simply tell them what to do, give them detailed drawing, schematics, plans etc hand shake and leave, it will blow back in your face.

    4. Missing avatar

      ibyte on

      @Gary Batch One was 25 units and you would have it by now if you were in that group. Batch 2 is just over 300 units - this update is just telling everyone they will only be making 50 of those in March/April rather then all 300 at once. The rest will follow if when any further issues are dealt with. Lets hope things don't slip to fall 2016 - not sure where you got that date from.

    5. Missing avatar

      Gary Wolfe on

      Greetings,

      Does the new fall 2016 schedule include the batch 2? I saw a bunch of Jan comments indicating batch 2 was just getting ready to ship so there is a bit of confusion, at least for me, on this part.

      I believe I am batch 2, but haven't verified that yet. If I am, and batch 2 is on track to ship soonishly, what is the delta between these units and the units that should show up in the fall? I am wanting an as-fixed-as-possible unit rather than a more beta type. Is it possible to be put into a later batch?

      As Atomic Automation LTD mentioned, a shirt and ruler would be swell. I have emailed 2 separate times asking if I could purchase said items and while the responses weren't quite, "Go pound sand!", due to a complete lack of follow-through, they have effectively become that. Perhaps you could fill the 4 week down time with some traction on this?

      Thanks!

    6. Missing avatar

      Atomic Automation LTD on

      You are doing the right thing by taking your time, don't feel pressured / or push yourselves into releasing something your not confident in.
      Maybe flog a few more T-Shirts and Rulers??