October 30, 2017
Here’s another update from Base Camp China, we hope you enjoy it!
Design For Manufacturing and Assembly
We have been hard at work, fine tuning our prototype to make it friendlier to the manufacturing process. We would like to show you our jig, which helps us assemble the knitting machine quicker and more reliably. See below our second iteration.
This image may seem a bit abstract at first, but here’s a clue: the knitting machine is assembled upside down. There are two reasons to do this.
First, the correct positioning of the needle beds is critical. It allows the carriage cams to engage properly with the needle butts. At the same time both needle beds have to face each other at the right angle and position, so that needles can meet correctly when they are raised to transfer stitches, from one needle bed to the opposite one (remember that it can do shaping!).
To get these positions right, you need reference surfaces to place both needle beds, and these references are found on the jig. Once the structure is assembled it will be removed from the jig, which will allow us to add the needle beds on top of the light gray extrusions you can see in the picture.
Calibration is a crucial step of the assembly process and the jig helps to put all of these pieces in the right place, consistently. Once the knitting machine is fully assembled, all the parts are perfectly aligned.
The second reason for an upside down assembly is because Kniterate is compact. For the first time this industrial technology has been taken outside the factory and into your workshop. To achieve this, we redesigned from scratch the internal parts and reorganized the placement of the components, creating a reduced form factor. Placing the components underneath the needle bed becomes easier if the knitting machine is upside down.
We’ve also been working on reducing the geometrical complexity of some parts, adding visual cues that will help workers understand how things fit together, subdividing the knitting machine in subassemblies, unifying the types of fasteners there are, etc.
Collectively, these changes will help our suppliers and the factory workers decrease the production and assembly time, while reducing the room for mistakes. This process is known as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)
Once assembled, the factory keeps its knitting machines running for a few days before preparing them for delivery. Our knitting machines will follow the same rigorous testing protocol to ensure the same quality.
Engaging With Suppliers
We’ve been working with suppliers, so that when we are ready to manufacture we can start placing the orders for the components fast. Before that, though, we want the knitting machine to have gone through more hours of testing.
We visited a few factories during the month of October. Below is a picture of a vacuum forming facility where parts of the casing of the knitting machine will be produced.
Visiting the factories that will be producing your product’s components is priceless. Meeting the managers (and sharing tea with them) allows us to ask hundreds of questions and get immediate answers. It also gives us a chance to visit the factory floor, seeing first hand what the working conditions are and ensuring that our standards are met.
The vacuum forming factory and our other suppliers are less than 30 minutes away by car from our factory, cutting down lead times and any potential troubleshooting.
So far, we haven’t found issues during the optimization process. Having said that, it has proved two weeks slower than expected. Because we had included buffer time in our timeline, our estimated delivery date remains unchanged.
It’s worthwhile noting that this optimization has led to a doubling of the knitting machines’ speed. How cool is that?
Currently we see two potential risks that could lead to a change on the delivery date.
- Higher speeds require more testing: We didn’t think the knitting machine could go this fast, so we need to take a close look at how the structure behaves when working for long hours. We will do this by performing enough testing before the end of the year. If during this process we find structural issues that hadn’t appeared on our slower model, we will need some time to troubleshoot.
- Factory schedule: The factory will start getting busy with its own orders again in March, if troubleshooting goes beyond January, manufacturing Kniterate could be a bit slower, due to a more restricted access to the factory’s workforce and machines.
We have been allocated engineering time, so that our designs can be reviewed by the factory team on a weekly basis.
We are very excited about how software development is progressing and are planning carefully the beta rollout to capture your insights and feedback. If you have backed us or pre-ordered and haven’t replied to our survey or done so anonymously you are still not in the Machine Backers forum and will not have access to this version. Please get in touch to fix this, it’s going to be a very private release!
Thanks to everyone who has joined our community, especially those who are playing an active role there. It’s the best place to ask us any questions you have.
We are also hoping to showcase members of our community and the reasons why they back Kniterate. So write us, share pictures and tell us your Kniterate story.
Our current offer will only last for 11 more days, after which we will raise the price. Expect further increases until we ship our first batch.
$4,999 | € 5,399 (inc.VAT) | £4,799 (inc.VAT)| CAD 6,250
$5,620 | € 5,989 (inc. VAT) | £5,375 (inc. VAT)| CAD 7,300
First Delivery Onwards
$7,499 | €8,099 (inc. VAT) | £7,199 (inc. VAT) | CAD 9,780
Building your business with Kniterate
Get in touch with us if you have any questions about our solutions to help your business.
That’s all for now,
-The Kniterate Team