New timeline. New development. New refund policy.
October 08, 2020
Dear Kniterate backers,
Over the last months, frustration by some of you has understandably grown. It has been three years since we did our Kickstarter campaign, with a promise to ship the first units two years ago. Our inexperience and the complexity of developing a set of new technologies have caused delays that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.
It has become necessary to reassess our manufacturing strategy and share it with you. Today we present an updated timeline which, we are well aware, could cause further exasperation. Despite an incredibly supportive and patient community, we understand that some of you may have run out of patience. This is why we aim to find a collective solution that makes you feel treated fairly.
We find ourselves turning down new customers because we can’t manufacture fast enough our backlog, thus missing profitable business. At the same time, we spend team resources assuaging the very reasonable frustration of some backers. This is not a sustainable situation in an already difficult year for everyone. It limits our ability to grow and develop Kniterate, making it even harder and slower to deliver, while being emotionally draining for a team that’s sacrificed a lot to move the project forward.
Over the last years, we have gone from a prototype to developing a product that people want to have and can’t wait for, in big part because of your trust in us. We are extremely grateful for that.
The Kniterate Trade
Currently, it’s not possible for us to offer refunds without putting at risk the project for the majority of backers. We think a solution could be to trade your unit’s queue position.
As a backer, when a trade takes place, you will be refunded your pre-order in full. As a buyer, you will pay the current price but acquire the advantageous position of the backer, instead of being placed at the end of the queue. This means you will get your machine earlier.
Refunds will be prioritized based on the initial payment date, and all refunds need to be matched with a purchase. This means that if we receive too many refund requests we will not be able to fulfill them all immediately. Which is to say that the refund process may be slow. This is by no means an ideal solution but it is the best one we can offer now.
We would also like to inform you that in January 2021, the price of a Kniterate unit will go up to (at least) $13,499.
We would be grateful if you can stay with us until you get your machine, but if that doesn’t fit your plans, we understand. Please let us know and we will try to refund your machine as soon as we can.
- The good news is that we are manufacturing and shipping machines again.
- The bad news is that we aren’t doing it at the pace and scale we expected to.
Why is this happening now?
While developing the machine, we put a lot of effort and detail into making it work really well, however, due to the lack of manufacturing experience, we overlooked the manufacturing process. It is now, after having tested our assembly line with a few machines, that we have realized how inefficient the process is.
This is due to inappropriate manufacturing practices:
- A high part count of the machine, which makes the assembly process very slow and manually intensive.
- Very tight tolerances, required to produce knitted pieces flawlessly with remarkable consistency. To accomplish such complexity, the manufacturing process involves several jigs and measuring tools to precisely assemble and calibrate its parts along the process.
A slow assembly process is the only way we currently have to avoid compromising on quality.
We have many ideas about how to correct these bottlenecks and we’ve been working on them for a few weeks already. These changes will take a few months to complete as a considerable redesign of the machine is required. Having said that, we will not be sacrificing quality or features and the machine will perform in the same way. The redesign will benefit us by improving the manufacturing process, which will allow us to ship machines much faster.
Given that the machine we have now works very well, our plan is to continue manufacturing and shipping, while we work on this new manufacturing-friendly machine in parallel.
This means manufacturing will continue to run at a very slow pace but we will continue to ship your units as we build them.
Only when the new design has been fully developed and tested, we will modify the assembly line to adapt it to the new manufacturing requirements. We expect to have the new design ready by Q2 2021. We have tried to reflect this in the updated timeline (backers only) we have shared today. Around mid-2021, manufacturing should start to accelerate slowly. The more straightforward the manufacturing process is, the more staff can be added to the assembly line as the tasks become more consistent and predictable.
However, since we don’t have this new design yet, we’ve tried to be conservative with the scalability of it and the number of machines we can ship with time. As we learn more about it over the next months we will be adjusting the timeline to reflect its true scalability. We will keep you posted about our progress on this new front.
Finally, we would like to thank the whole community for the unbelievable support and patience over the last years. We have received many notes showing your appreciation for the work we’ve done and the complexity of our pioneering work.