Happy April! Our team is working like mad towards shipping you your Glowforge, and we’re making amazing progress. Our team continues to grow - you can see us all here, and join us here. We’re working hard towards our shipping schedule, and making some huge progress.
For this update, I went through my phone and grabbed a dozen or so pictures. Pardon the poor image quality of all the photos I’ve included. Having learned my lesson after the first three Pro units from the factory were torn apart for QA before I could photograph them, I now take pictures whenever I can!
At the start of March we started up our final production assembly line, which will ultimately be cranking out many thousands of Glowforge units each month. Of those many Glowforge deliveries to come, here are the first seven off the production line. They were immediately loaded into a van and driven to Seattle, where they were rendered to pieces by the engineers in the office for quality control purposes.
Most of our hardware effort right now is improving the quality and throughput of the assembly line. For example, here are a few raw process improvement notes (excerpted from a long list) from our first week of operation:
- Adhesive to capture ribbon cable needs template
- Glue process is messy and time consuming; needs improvement
- V-wheel shipping inserts need positioning fixture
- Adhesive on the back for the rear support needs a template
The key to the improvements we’ve made in production quality are our incredible and patient pre-release customers. While most units arrive in perfect condition, each time a pre-release customer finds a problem, we get to implement improvements to make sure that problem never happens again. The pre-release customers you see posting in the forum are slogging through headaches to make sure your Glowforge is perfect right out of the box. Speaking of quality assurance…
It also means improving the testing and test equipment to catch problems more quickly. For example, we have a prototype head tester that we use to validate every head that ships with a Glowforge unit. It sits in a laser cut box and there’s only one in the world to test every laser head we make.
We’ve upgraded that prototype head tester from it’s plywood box and dramatically improved it, and now we’re making a bunch to scale production.
Each one lets an assembly tech load up a head, run a battery of tests to verify everything about it, calibrate it, and approve it for shipping. With these, we’ll be able to test our laser heads faster and more accurately.
We’re also running reliability and durability tests around the clock, including temperature cycling, drop tests, humidity, and other horrors we expect your Glowforge will never encounter (but just in case). Here’s one picture of a Glowforge that’s printing nonstop around the clock… as you can see, lid cleaning is not part of this test.
Our most popular model by far is the Pro unit. It’s got a double warranty (12 months instead of six - plus six months more for you as a preorder customer). It cuts 15% faster, because it has upgraded optics and a higher power laser tube. It can also cut longer and is designed for heavy use. But the Pro feature we get the most questions about is the passthrough, which allows you to cut extra-long projects via the slot in the front and back. Here’s the fourth Pro unit from the factory (the first three having been promptly dismantled for quality inspection):
It was in the process of being tested, but I shoved a board in it and took a picture while I had the chance! Of course, it’s much more exciting to see what you can actually do with a Pro. The Pro-specific software is still under development, but you can see a Pro print here, to cut a sign in five separate passes:
Our office has earthquake retrofitting between the kitchen and the desks that people often scoot through to save time, so Tony labelled it appropriately.
Whether you went for Basic or Pro, the vast majority of you ordered an air filter with your main Glowforge unit. You can see the first factory-built air filters here, from the front (first picture) and back (second picture). You can see the exhaust on the right hand side, and a small air intake on the back. The rear picture does not show the exhaust input on the far right, because as you’ve gathered from this update so far, I’m a pretty hit-or-miss photographer.
We have an early beta version of the Glowforge shop where prerelease customers can buy Proofgrade materials and, in time, other items too.
Finally, I love to share things people are making with their Glowforge deliveries. You can see prerelease customers’ work here, and it’s stunning! But for this month I’m going to include the work of my daughter, who’s 8. She came by and printed a wallet for herself from the catalog. I did two stitches to show her how it’s done, and she finished the rest.
From the very start, we wanted to create a product that was powerful enough to blow the minds of experienced makers and crafters but simple enough that anyone could use it. I’m so very excited to see it come together - this week, turning my daughter into a leathercrafter. Soon, in your hands. I can’t wait to see what you do!
PS: You can discuss this post here.