Don’t Slow Down
March 15, 2018
We bring you the latest news about Kniterate’s knitting machine, with an in-depth report of our progress during the first quarter of the year.
We maintain our estimate for shipping Early Bird units in June. Having said that, we want to reassess the accuracy of this timeline once a manufacturing engineer joins us. As a team, we’ve always had an optimistic bias (that’s why we started Kniterate, after all). With that in mind, we’ve learnt to adjust timelines by increasing around 20% our estimates. A new engineer in the team will help us produce forecasts more objectively.
Batch 1 will be shipped after the Early Birds have arrived to our first backers. We want to go through the entire manufacturing, shipping and delivery process with a smaller batch first. This will allows us to make sure that we understand perfectly the process, before scaling up. Our experience delivering our first 25 machines will give us invaluable insights when shipping bigger batches. Shipping a smaller batch also makes any potential hiccups more manageable.
We don’t expect anything to happen, and are constantly talking with our logistics partners. The value of the shipment does make us err on the side of caution, though.
This means that there will be a lag of about a month and a half between shipping Early Birds and Batch 1.
Hardware: The Knitting Machine
Knitting the Kickstarter reward scarves has been a great test for the machine. We’ve had it running for a long time and mechanically, it’s been smooth sailing. The test did unearth an issue with the electronics that caused the wrong needle to be selected. It took us around two weeks to understand what was happening, given how infrequent it was. A camera filming the machine knitting was an invaluable tool to spot the issue.
It turns out that noise was affecting communication between the carriage’s ‘brain’ and the boards which control needle selection. We’ve solved this problem in our current test machine. Now we have to do a small redesign of the electronics to fix it permanently. Intermittent faults are always the hardest to diagnose and fix. It’s been great to have the opportunity to do the same pattern with the scarves over and over again and compare the results.
Almost a year ago, during our Kickstarter campaign, we published a timelapse video of the scarf made with the Kniterate knitting machine we had at the time. That scarf was knitted at around 200 mm/s (8 in/s) and it took three hours.
During the last months, the machine has undergone significant mechanical redesigns. We’ve also developed completely new electronics, firmware and a K-code generator. Although there’s still some work to do, we are proud to share with you a new video. Here the same scarf is produced at 725 mm/s (28.5 in/s), taking under 50 minutes. We hope the wait was worthwhile!
We will keep stress testing the machine for many hours. More scarves and other test pieces will help us fine tune any remaining details. This will ensure that everything works perfectly well before we give the green light to manufacturing.
In the video you can see one of the scarves out of the dozen we’ve made. There are still plenty to knit to get to the 140 that backers are waiting for. We expect shipments to begin on April. Unlike you, we hope that it’s still cold by the time you get them. We can’t wait to see you wearing them! #Kniterate
Given that it’s the first time we work on some of these processes, we are taking a bit longer than we anticipated. Only if we knew what we don’t know, and we had known what we know now!
In any case, the development keeps moving forward at a good pace and we are very excited to be getting closer to sourcing the components to start manufacturing your Kniterate knitting machines.
There’s a caveat, though. Unexpected things happen in a project of this complexity, for example the aforementioned bug. With small issues appearing every now and then, we have used up much of the 20% buffer we gave ourselves. If there are similar hiccups during the remaining part of this stage, the manufacturing and shipping schedule will be affected.
To improve this dynamic we are bringing a manufacturing engineer from an engineering consultancy firm. He will bring years of Chinese manufacturing experience and work with us throughout the development, sourcing, manufacturing and shipping process.
Our industrial design has been through a few revisions by an expert and it’s getting closer to manufacture. Again, this has been slower than expected, but the time invested will result in a better casing coming out of the molds. We will do the final review with the incoming engineer before we place the order this month.
Many of you, have been asking us when you will have access to our app. Although we want to get this to you as soon as possible to improve it, we’ve had to take our foot off the pedal.
Software on the cloud can always be improved, but once we ship the knitting machines, that’s it. We don’t want to delay manufacturing any further or compromise the quality of the knitting machine by divesting focus and resources on an area where we have a bit more flexibility over the long term.
Our plan, if we find the developer this month, is to share the first prototype of the app with you in May.
Since our Kickstarter campaign ended we have used 21% of the cash received (from 14% three months ago). This means 79% (from 86%) of the funds are safely deposited. Again, most of these funds are earmarked for deployment in the manufacture of your Kniterate knitting machine.
A note on expenditure over the next months. The addition of a manufacturing engineer and a front end developer will increase our cash burn rate, but it will help us make progress at a much faster pace. The costs between maintaining our current expenditure and then taking +3 months longer to deliver is similar to adding two more members to our team now and delivering the product faster, but you will end up waiting less and we will deliver the best product we can.
We are in the process of filing our tax returns for 2017. On our next update we will provide you with more details on how your money was used last year and on our R&D tax rebate.
We expect to ship Batch 3 in October 2018. To make your waiting period easier, we only require you to put a deposit that locks in the current pre-order price. Payment of the remaining balance will happen closer to manufacturing.
Here are the new prices until we’ve sold 25 units or May 15, 2018 (whichever happens first):
|Pre-Order Price||$6,399 |||€6,669 (inc. VAT) |||£5,959 (inc. VAT)|||CAD 8,499|
|Pay Now||$1,500 |||€1,800 (inc. VAT) |||£1,800 (inc. VAT) |||CAD 1,500|
|Pay Later||$4,899 |||€4,869 (inc.VAT) |||£4,159 (inc. VAT) |||CAD 6,999|
|RETAIL PRICE||$7,499 |||€8,099 (inc. VAT) |||£7,199 (inc. VAT) |||CAD 9,780|