We are happy to report that since our last update, our supplier was able to further improve the lens! We have validated the improvements across multiple lens samples and projection units. Based on the samples we have tested so far, we decided to proceed with mass production of the lens, meaning all major components are now in mass production! The image formed with these latest injection molded samples is virtually indistinguishable from the prototype, diamond turned lenses:
As our lens supplier ramps up production, we will be continuing to sample and test these new lenses to validate the lenses consistently meet our specs.
Our optics supplier will be moving to a new factory location during October (long story short, a local college wanted the land, and all colleges in China are government owned so… our supplier is moving). All of their equipment, including the molding machine, coating chamber/machine, and clean room, will need to be broken down and rebuilt at the new site. Additionally, because they are moving to a more remote location, many employees and production line workers will not follow the move, and the factory will be short on labor for the first month after moving.
As you might expect, this move has complicated our lens production planning. Since we knew the injection molding machine would be unavailable for the next month, we made the decision to have the lenses built up early. We actually started the build before the lenses were fully validated, a risk that paid off: they produced over 800 lenses so far! These lenses, however, are uncoated and unassembled (i.e. not yet attached to the adjustable mount), and the work required to get them assembled is mostly manual. We do expect the factory labor shortage to impact the assembly process, but we won’t know the extent of the impact until production restarts at the new location.
Given the gap in lens production due to the factory move, it may make sense to split our production build into multiple batches, which would allow us to start shipping sooner and verify the complete production process at scale. We still need to determine how the lower volume would impact our production and fulfillment costs, but being able to ship earlier may make the additional cost worth it. We are working with our main contract manufacturer to determine the best path forward, including the batch sizes that make the most sense.
A few notes about our upcoming schedule and milestones in the short term:
In general, we’re doing everything we can to release as soon as possible, and we are pushing to start shipping batches out this year. It will be challenging, as the next few months are extra busy and packed with holidays. However, with the lens issue finally behind us, we are very excited to get your SPUDs shipped out!
Click the video below to watch Alex walk through some of the major SPUD updates we have made since the initial pilot units:
Thank you all for your support!
- George, Leonard, Justin, Alex