It’s been a wonderful, crazy month! We’ve been clearing production hurdles one by one as we prepare for ever-larger volumes to meet our schedule of shipping all units in July/August (schedule here). We paused production briefly last week to transfer assembly to our new, long-term, high-volume production line; we’re excited to get the new line rolling again this week.
I just got back from a visit to Flex’s Milpitas, California production facility where I contributed as only a strategic CEO can: handing out free T-shirts. It was a real treat - I got to meet the actual people who will be building your Glowforge for you. From assembly workers all the way up to the VP responsible for the facility, the excitement about what we’re going to be building for you was palpable. Someone came up to me after and told me that he and his wife had ordered one the day it launched, and then was shocked and delighted to discover that he would be building it.
After giving everyone a brief overview of the product, we printed up a maple plaque to hang over the assembly line - then everyone signed it, and we engraved the signatures over the top. I grabbed a quick picture of it still on the bed after the print - it’s now hanging over the test station where your Glowforge will undergo final checkout and verification before being put in a box for you to open.
Pro and Air filter continue to move forward as well. We have the first factory-produced Pro units in the office, and air filter builds are scheduled to start at the factory soon. Expect these to take a while to get more public exposure, though - our safety and user experience teams need to finalize their manuals before we show them being used.
We’ve been adding staff left and right to ensure your experience with your Glowforge is as awesome as you expect. One major growth area is our support team, which is staffing up to prepare answers to all your questions when you get your Glowforge. We’re also excited to be joined by Spencer Worley, our new VP of Hardware Engineering - an industry veteran who’s created products ranging from the Amazon Echo to the Sphero BB-8 robot.
Of course, we’re not done yet. Ever think about joining us in Seattle? We’d love to hear from you! Check out the listings at https://glowforge.com/careers and, if you see something that looks interesting, shoot us a note: email@example.com. We reply to almost everyone who contacts us in five business days, so we won’t keep you waiting long.
We continue to ship out prerelease units to a tremendous variety of customers (and so far, only to customers - all of the units have been shipped to people who have ordered one for themselves). Some folks are Forum regulars; some are private folks who don’t post; some are maker celebrities who share with the world; some are companies that use them internally. We learn from every one, and the product keeps improving based on their feedback. You can see what they’ve created here (or just scroll down to see some examples).
Also, if you haven’t already, you can fill out the beta application form to be considered for a prerelease unit.
Even as we continue to ship pre-production units, I want to share a bit of detail for our production shipments. Early on, we said “all things being equal, we’ll ship first to those who ordered first”. Here’s a little more detail on some of the considerations we’ll use before we sort people into delivery queues based on order date.
The first few hundred Pro and Basic units will ship to some of our most helpful forum customers, irrespective of their order dates. Did someone help you on the forum? Click the “heart” button under their post to let them (and us) know! That’s the best way for us to determine who’s making the community wonderful. Getting these people the early production units will help us smooth out the process for everyone else, since those are the people most likely to share feedback with us.
Initial shipments may not come with an air filter; if your unit is ready, we’ll give you the option of waiting until your air filter is ready or receiving the unit now and the air filter later.
We’ll begin with US shipments, and make sure those are running smoothly before we start delivering internationally. That will help us shake out any shipping problems as quickly as possible before we send units halfway around the world.
Those are the primary considerations we have right now; it’s always possible something else will come up, because we prioritize our overall schedule and quality above all else. For that reason, you should continue to plan for your delivery (basic and pro, US and international) in July/August per our current schedule, and no sooner. Then we’ll work hard to surprise you.
Our software team is hard at work preparing for launch. Their work primarily falls into four categories:
- Machine modeling (Tracking the state of each machine as it gets manufactured, calibrated, delivered to you, firmware is upgraded, etc)
- Customer clarity (Polishing the user interface to make operation easy and simple)
- Pleasing prints (Ensuring that you get high quality, reliable prints every time)
- Scalable support (Providing the tools the support team can use to help you)
We’ve also been working on some cool new stuff. Our beta users have been playing around with the Glowforge Design Catalog, which lets folks purchase either individual prints or unlimited access to the design. It’s going to go through quite a few more changes before we release it, but here’s a quick sneak preview:
On the hardware front, we’ve also worked through a bad batch of tubes, so new prerelease units are doing better engraves and cutting faster, and we’ve put in the final laser shielding for the outer walls. I’m probably forgetting a few things too. There are still problems left, but they’re getting smaller and better contained: periodic machine resets during engraving; poor seals on some of the coolant tanks; and the darn lower door sticks.
One piece of bad news to share. The laser tube has an estimated lifetime of two years. While we originally planned for the laser tube to be a drop-in kit that anyone could install, we determined that we can’t safely support that approach. Instead, we’ll offer two options: we’ll sell the tube as a spare part, and we’ll offer a tube replacement service for the same price (under $500, including round-trip shipping to and from anywhere in the US) that we had previously described.
We’ve been asked a few times about the Cloudbleed bug that was recently discovered. We don’t use Cloudflare for anything except DNS addresses, so fortunately, we weren’t affected.
That’s all for this month. Thanks so much for your support. We can’t wait to get you your Glowforge.