Glowforge updates: the road to production


#1

We’ve been working like mad to deliver your Glowforge to you, and (as some of you thoughtfully pointed out) it’s been too long since we’ve posted a formal update on where things stand! I post regularly in the forums but for those who don’t follow them closely, I pulled all the news together in one place.

The most important part: our schedule’s unchanged from our last update. That means orders placed before Oct 25 will ship this year, orders placed after will ship in March 2017. The rest is details for those who are curious about what we’re up to.

Our work these days is a long list of todos, so I’ll give you some representative examples from different teams.

Manufacturing
This week, we discovered that a component was being installed bent. We stopped building to diagnose it. After pulling apart all the offending components, we discovered the problem: the assembly workers could put in a particular part at a slightly wrong angle and it would still fit. The previous person installing the part had figured out the correct way, but when someone else started doing it, they installed it incorrectly. So we designed a fixture to make sure the part went in exactly correctly and resumed building.

Hardware
A few weeks ago, a Glowforge that we shipped arrived out of alignment, so the power was weak. A Glowforge should never go out of alignment, so we dug pretty deep. First, we found that it was because a part had moved during shipping, which it definitely should not have done. Then we discovered that it was due to a workaround from the week before: some subassemblies were manufactured incorrectly, and we’d reworked them to solve the problem. The reworking process introduced some weakness and the weakened part deformed while shipping. Since parts outside that small batch wouldn’t have that problem it looked like no further action was required, but just to be sure, one of our engineers flew the whole thing to an environmental chamber and shook the tarnation out of it for a day to verify that the correct part wouldn’t deform too. (It didn’t!)

Electronics
The latest builds of power supplies continue to work properly, and we’re starting to use supplies from our manufacturer instead of hand-built supplies from the power supply designer. We’re still tuning them to get maximum resolution and minimum minimum power. (That is, the lowest possible power where the beam still reliably starts - maximum power is already working great).

Shipping
We got our next revision of shipping designs from our packaging specialist and they specified an inner paper wrap . That would mean you’d have to lift your Glowforge out of the box, put it down, remove the wrap from the top, then lift it up again to get the wrap from the bottom. The wrap looked nice but our goal is to get you printing as fast as possible, above all else, so we nixed it and sent it back for another revision. Since we already have the structural parts of the packaging passing tests, this is about finalizing ergonomics and aesthetics.

Compliance
Did you know there are companies who do nothing except write warning labels?
Can you guess how much a specialist like this might charge?
…all I’m gonna say here is, these had better be the Cadillac of warning labels.

Documentation
We’re finishing up the ‘legal compliance’ section of the manual that says all the finger-wagging must and must-nots (don’t put your Glowforge anywhere wet!). It’s in for review by the Friendly Neighborhood Lawyer; next on the documentation list is the ‘how to use it’ section.

Software
While our software has done most of the things most of the time for a while now, the team has been spending enormous amounts of time and energy making it do all of the things, all of the time. While we’re still not 100% there yet, we’ve moved forward by leaps and bounds. The software team is huge, so I’ll just pick a few examples:

  • The time to process a file used to be obscenely large for big files; now, they load quickly (for the curious, time vs. complexity went from O(n^2) to, I believe, O(n)).
  • We’ve improved our motion planner handling so it doesn’t fail with complex designs.
  • We’re building out our factory provisioning software so that we can fully test and calibrate your Glowforge before we box it up and ship it to you.

Support
We’ve been poring over the results of our surveys to best understand you and the best ways to make you successful when you unbox your Glowforge.

Hiring
We continue to add unbelievably gifted people to the team who help us move ever faster. Some are even newsworthy. If you’re in Seattle or would consider moving, we’d love to hear from you about one of our open jobs!

I’m leaving out buckets of details, because at this point, we’re just swimming in them! So I’ll just close by reiterating a few things.

First: every day here is an adventure. We’ll have a catastrophe, we’ll stop everything to chase it down, we’ll solve it, we’ll pick right back up again. (The alignment issue above was a good example of this). We’re working night and day to make sure no problem gets in our way.

Second: So far, so good. None of these problems or delays are more than we anticipated.

Third: I’ve said this many times, but the only thing more important to us than shipping on time is shipping the product you expect and deserve. We’re almost out of the woods, but if a crisis happens, we won’t ship your Glowforge until we’re sure we got it right.

Fourth: There is literally nothing at Glowforge that takes priority over you, our owners. Before anyone gets hired here, I sit down and have a talk with them. I tell them that we at Glowforge have thousands of amazing people who’ve trusted us and made a giant bet on us. I explain the sense of responsibility and debt I feel to all of you, and I tell them not to take the job unless they want to personally share that responsibility with us. That’s the way we think about our job: we’re working to make good on the promises we made to you.

Thank you so much for making it possible for us to bring this company and this product into the world. I can’t wait to ship you your Glowforge.


So.... are we still on for December?
Is this a scam? (Answer: No)
#2

#3

Thats a late night update! But Im very grateful for it. Thanks! Your list of concerns are all dotted i’s and crossed t’s. Keep at em.


#4

Big thanks for the update :slight_smile:


#5

Great update, thanks @dan!


#6

Thanks for the update Dan :slight_smile:


#7

Beautiful @dan ! Wonderful to “hear” there are still plenty of challenges and that there is the team in place to take them down one by one. My empathy quotient have definitely been fulfilled for for the next while. Thanks dan and the rest of the Glowforge team. It is obvious to see that this project is not an easy task. Personally, that’s the cool thing, the challenges. . . :+1:


#8

Thanks for taking the time to give a detailed update, I know it out you in a spot you didn’t want to be in with people driving you nuts with questions. Take a few days off from the forum so you don’t get jaded with us lol.


#9

That’s great. One of the things most people don’t understand about owning or starting a small(ish) business is that as an owner you have two concerns most people don’t - you’re no longer just worried about your mortgage but now you have to worry about all of your employees’ mortgages too so you better be successful. And while you own the customers’ expectations, you also need to make sure your people own them as well or you won’t be successful. Having them just show up and work isn’t enough.

It’s never really the technology that fails a company, it’s the people side of things and that’s the hardest part to get right.


#10

Thanks for the update, @dan!


#11

One more time you manage to ease me down… Ok, ok, I’ll happily wait. Thank you.

Cheers.


#12

As one of the Glowforgers who wanted an update I also want to be one of the Glowforgers to say thanks very much for the update! To me part of the fun in ordering from crowdfunded projects is getting the updates and seeing the ups and downs of the projects.


#13

Much appreciated! :relaxed:


#14

Thank you @dan…no problems waiting for me…keep up the inspiring work.


#15

That would be a confirmed beta… Whoever you are - thank you!

I ordered a day or so short of the Oct. 24 cutoff, and I am somewhere around 6,000 in the que. It’s going to take a while to pump out that many, so good to know it’s happening.
Reassuring update Dan, many thanks to the team hammering this out!


#16

Thank you for the updates. It makes us feel like part of the process when you give the details of the problems that you are solving. I am especially liking all of the attention to details. Great job.


#17

I am so happy that you guys are catching these quality issues up front, the due diligence reassures me that I purchased a great product from the right team to make it happen.

Thanks again @dan!

~JonS


#18

Thanks Dan for the update! I have always had faith in you guys amazing dedication. This simply reinforces it. You guys are THE BEST. From here in Canada we’re cheering you on! Go go go go go go go go go go go go!!!


#19

Yep! I also particularly appreciate the details on the things that have gone wrong, and what you did to fix them. (I wouldn’t have believed it had there been none, which indicates that things are actually rolling along pretty well.) :relaxed:


#20

Thanks for the update, makes me feel good about waiting for the Glowforge.