Timeline update and Scarves

May 10, 2018

News

Kniterate Timeline Changes

The bad news first, here’s our new timeline for shipping:

  • Early Bird – November 2018
  • Batch 1 – 50 units – December 2018
  • Batch 1- 50 units – January 2019
  • Batch 2 – March 2019
  • Batch 3 – April 2019

Why has this happened?

The machine is faster and better than it has ever been. If you stay with us throughout the update you will see how! Yet, to deliver a high-quality product to you, we need to complete a few more steps. Each step comes with its own set of challenges, some of which we didn’t anticipate. We are working on solving each and everyone, but it’s taking us longer than we forecasted.

Furthermore, after testing the assembly process, we have observed inconsistencies between units. We’ve realized that the approach we had planned to use for production, the use of a jig to calibrate the machines, is not reliable enough. Given that calibration is crucial for an industrial knitting machine, we are working on some changes to the manufacturing process that will address this. Inevitably, this has added to the delay.

We want to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this is causing and hope you believe that our efforts are worth the extra waiting time.  Throughout the next months we will be working non-stop to deliver on this new timeline.

To avoid any future surprises of this kind, we are sharing a timeline with the main tasks ahead on our private Machine Backers forum. From now on, if you are a backer, you will be able to follow our progress until the delivery of your machine. This timeline will be updated weekly, and you can ask about any changes on the forum.

We hope this improves transparency and timeliness with the community of backers. You will  now have a better idea of our efforts and it will give you a birds’-eye view of what it takes to develop and manufacture Kniterate. If you have any questions or suggestions, please share them with us on the forum.

Below is our current position on the development timeline:

Mechanics

This is the area with the main challenges of the project. There are two fronts, the jig to calibrate the machine in the production process, and of course, the machine itself.

We’ve started working full-time with an experienced China-based design and manufacturing consultancy. This has been going on for a month now, and we’ve made great progress so far.

We have redefined the jig and the calibration process. It will involve a more labour intensive approach that guarantees that the structure of the machine is perfectly calibrated before moving on to the next step. Production of the new assembly tools is underway.

We’ve also made other smaller improvements to the machine and we will soon order a new set of parts to build a new prototype. On the timeline, you will see that we’ve planned this prototype and the development and production of two more.

We are getting close to a final version of the machine and a couple of prototypes more should be enough. Having said that, experience tells us that there is always an unknown and unaccountable variable, so we’ve added the production of a third prototype as a buffer.

Casing

We’ve been reviewing this for a while, showing it to industrial designers and making the necessary improvements. We are currently finalizing the design and we expect to start ordering the first batch of parts in a couple of weeks.

We will order all the sheet metal parts and more or less half of the vacuum forming parts. The nuisance here is that vacuum formed parts require a mold to be machined and our parts are quite large. It takes around 25 days since the order is placed to get the samples.

We’ve decided to order the vacuum forming parts in two batches, so we can make sure that we are doing things the right way, before ordering all the parts.

Electronics

A new iteration of the carriage boards has been ordered this week. We’ve been working on getting rid of the interference issue we discussed on the previous update.

We’ve moved from 2-layer PCBs to 4-layer PCBs for the carriage. This improves signal integrity and reduces interference levels. It has also allowed us to reduce the form factor of the electronics box, and as a consequence, its weight. This off-loads work from the carrier motor.

Firmware

Rewriting the firmware has been arduous. Fine tuning parameters, so that everything works smoothly in all possible scenarios, is a long process.

There are still improvements to be made on the acceleration/deceleration profile of the carriage movement. With the new prototype, we will wire together all the sensors and actuators of the system and have them work in a coordinated way, providing a safer experience.

Talking about user experience, a while ago we decided to upgrade the on-board controller to a slightly bigger color screen, with better resolution. After testing a few screens, we’ve made a decision. We were waiting to have a nice demo to talk about it here, but we bring it up now because it’s on the timeline.

Testing

While working on improving the machine and its assembly process, we’ve had one machine running stress tests everyday, repeating the same operations over and over again as a way to spot potential imperfections that might not be obvious under normal usage.

A few meters long diamond lace torture test sample

This machine, and the iterations to come, will continue running during the rest of the journey, testing different types of stitches as well as tons of hours of shaping and color-work.

In July, we will send a prototype to an educational institution in China. This will give us information throughout the summer of how well the machines are performing in real-life situations.

Certification

We did some research on this topic a few months ago and we came to the conclusion that no Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) certificate is required for the machine, the CE certificate will be enough.

We have engaged with the same company that our factory uses for its machines. As soon as the casing is in place, they will visit us for an initial assessment. This will happen again when we have the final machine.

We enjoyed very much reading the corresponding ISO document (BS EN IN-11111-2016 in particular). We’ve adjusted some of the parts to the required standards during the development process.  We don’t expect significant changes once the certification company visits us.

Sourcing

Certification is the last step before we can start sourcing all the components for your machines. From our experience sourcing components for previous prototypes, we’ve calculated that we will need around 4 weeks to get and inspect all the components for the Early Bird machines.

Manufacturing

If all the components are up to spec, we will start manufacturing the 25 Early Bird units in October. Our factory has told us that it will take around 15-20 days to assemble that number of machines but we have given ourselves 4 weeks to do it as carefully as possible and take notes along the process.

Shipping

Once the machines have gone through several days of testing with successful results, we’ll wrap them up and put them in a wooden crate. Our logistics partner has estimated that the transit time will be 30-40 days for the machines to arrive to you.

While the Early Bird units are travelling, we will start sourcing and assembling the Batch 1 units. Our operations will run in 50 unit batches until all pre-ordered machines are with you.

 

Software

Unfortunately we haven’t found a developer yet, so the development is still on standby. We have started talking with agencies to help us move this forward. We are also considering hiring freelancers through websites like UpWork or Fiverr.

Working in this way requires you to write down and draw how you want things to be, and you’ll get exactly what you are asking for. It’s a quick way to get things done but rather inflexible. The process will be a lot less organic and user-centric.

We would have preferred to do the development in-house so that our interactions with you could show on the software, and by constantly implementing your feedback, but this may have to happen at a later stage.

We’ve set the week of the 4th of June as a deadline to pick which developer or agency will start developing the design software. Until then, we will keep the search ongoing. As always, if you do freelance work, or know of any good developer or agency let us know!

 

Scarves on their way to you!

As we send this update the scarves are traveling towards you. To those on the Southern hemisphere, you are welcome.

If you have a chance or can pretend it’s cold outside, we’d love to see you wearing the scarf #Kniterate.

Making 140 scarves has been a great test for the machine. Once we nailed down the parameters, we were producing them in batches of ten pieces each, non-stop. You can see how we did it in the GIF below (knitting time 8 hours).

 

Financials

We have used 20.5% of the cash we’ve received. This means 79.5% of all the funds you have given to us through Kickstarter and pre-orders on our website are safely deposited. Again, most of these funds are earmarked for deployment in the manufacture of your Kniterate knitting machine.

If you are wondering why the ratios haven’t changed much since last time, please bear in mind that as pre-orders have increased, the fraction used of each dollar you’ve given to us has decreased (our costs have spread further).

We’ve filed our tax returns for 2017. As promised, here’s how we used your cash:

  • Wages and salaries – 34% 
  • Professional fees 28.5%
  • R&D Costs 27%
  • Website 4.9%
  • Travel and accommodation 3%
  • Bank charges 1.5%
  • Office expenses 0.6%
  • Meals and entertainment 0.5%

Now that we have filed our returns we are going to be able to claim our 2017 UK R&D tax rebate which also includes wages.

Pre-Orders

Below you can find the new prices from May 15 to July 15, 2018. This will be for Batch 4, with pre-orders expected to ship June 2019.

Pre-Order Price  $6,899 | €7,199 (inc. VAT)  | £6,430 (inc. VAT) | CAD 8,999 
Pay Now $1,500 | €1,800 (inc. VAT) | £1,800 (inc. VAT) | CAD 1,500
Pay Later    $5,399 | €5,399 (inc. VAT) | £4,630 (inc. VAT) | CAD 7,499
RETAIL PRICE $7,499 | €8,099 (inc. VAT) | £7,199 (inc. VAT)  | CAD 9,780

Thank you for reading,

The Kniterate team

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