December 2017 Update


#1

Happy December!

These updates are a special kind of challenge to write, because we know you fall into two groups. Thousands of you are waiting for your long-awaited Glowforge delivery. Thousands more are happily printing, with a long two year wait just a memory. I’ll do my best to share news that’s of interest to both.

Production update

If you’re still waiting for your Glowforge, our apologies. Production is in full swing, and as always, you can see the forecasted date your shipping process will begin here.

We set yet another production record last week, resulting an a pancake breakfast at GFHQ, with griddles tended by yours truly.

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We toasted you, our customers, with blueberry, chocolate chip, gluten-free, and vegan variations. And as always, we sat around and talked a lot about how we’re serving you.

One thing that came up is how painful it can be to read when a Glowforge delivery has problems. We hate to see it, and we know it can be unnerving for you as well. We’re working hard to minimize that, and it’s going well - so far, all defective units combined are less than two days’ production. But we know that any unit that arrives broken is a disappointment, especially after such a long wait, and we’re working hard to eliminate that.

We’re also working with some of our suppliers on improving quality and throughput. We’ve been producing more than forecast for the past few weeks, but the excess has all been Basic since those are the parts where we have extras.

You might ask - why not just buy all the parts so we don’t have to worry about it? We do purchase ahead for off-the-shelf parts like electronic components and motors. But for custom parts, we watch incoming inspections carefully. We’re still working to get consistent quality from our vendors, and the last thing we want is to spend your pre-order dollars on a warehouse full of 10,000 faulty widgets. We try to keep just enough parts on hand to build, plus the right sized buffer for surprises.

Of course, there’s surprises, and there’s surprises. During our last company all-hands, someone asked if winter weather would cause production delays. Someone on the supply chain team deadpanned, “It might have, but fortunately they scheduled winter in advance this year.” On the other hand, the California fires have wreaked havoc with our supply chain. Our hearts go out to the folks affected; we are inconvenienced, but we know others’ lives were upended.

We continue to move forward on both international and air filter as well. It’s a little harder to forecast when shipping will begin, but whenever we have a breakthrough or setback we update our individualized shipping forecast at glowforge.com/account.

Winter deliveries

Even though the number of damaged deliveries is a tiny percent of the thousands shipped, December is brutal at UPS. There are legions of seasonal workers and everyone’s working long hours. People may not be as careful and deliveries are frequently delayed. We strongly suggest US customers sign up for UPS My Choice as a way to get the most control possible over delivery time.

Improved camera accuracy

One of the coolest things about your Glowforge is that you can lay out your print with just the lid camera. Of course, that’s more helpful if the lasers go where you put them!

Since we started production, we’ve been going through a time consuming process at the factory to record huge amounts of data on the performance of each unit’s camera. Over the past months, we’ve been developing advanced software to use that data for more accurate image placement. We’ve finally been able to roll that out for both new and existing Glowforge units so you can take advantage of it. You don’t need to do anything - it’s been rolling out slowly over the past few weeks.

Of course, we’re not done making this better! We have more improvements in store. In the meantime, if the print dowsn’t go exactly where the preview was, here’s what you can do to improve it. It’s all about making sure the distance from the camera to the material is what your Glowforge expects:

  1. Remove your crumb tray and clean the bottom of your Glowforge, especially in the four depressions where the feet on the crumb tray go
  2. Make sure your grating doesn’t have bits stuck in the top that prop up your material
  3. Use Proofgrade material, OR
  4. Measure the thickness of your material carefully with calipers and enter it into this dialog.

Finish all these steps and your accuracy still isn’t perfect? Hang tight. We’re continuing to improve our software to make it even better.

2½ prints per day

That’s the number for December so far: our average has been two and a half prints per customer, per day. Holy cow. Are you keeping up?

Well apparently everyone else is. It’s been one record week after another, in both total customer prints and prints per customer. With thousands of units in the field, we have enough data to say this definitively: people really like to print in December.

Our engineering team is working on scaling up to accommodate, and our apologies if you’ve seen any slowness as a result. As we posted in the UI, out servers will be offline briefly tonight at midnight pacific time (another fun statistic: the lowest utilization time of the week) for some maintenance that will help keep things scaling well.

Our support team is also getting swamped. We aim to reply to all messages in 3 days. Lately, that’s increased. People who are not current customers are last in line and sometimes get 4 or 5 day responses, which we’re working (and hiring) to improve. Current customers get answers first.

One note: as of right now, “Problems and Support” posts and email submissions are about equally fast, but people who submit both email and forum posts on the same topic are last. Please do us a big favor and submit one of the other, but not both - those require time to manually de-duplicate, so they are slow to answer, and slow things down for everyone else.

Big news

I mean, literally, big. Those are samples of Proofgrade Pro draftboard and hardwood plywood that we’re experimenting with. It may take a few months to get them into inventory, but they are amazing to work with!

A lively discussion of the update is here. That’s all the news for this month. I can’t wait to see what you print!


Discussion of December update
Staff still closing threads too early
Discussion of December update
Discussion of December update
Discussion of December update
Glowforge Support Team (Ticket #67360)
Alignment Error Map - What is acceptable?