This is going out via email to all Glowforge owners. I’m posting it here for discussion.
We let you down and we’re not going to make our schedule. Depending on your order date, your Glowforge will arrive between March and August.
You deserve better. We are heartbroken to disappoint you.
We realize that this could have a big impact on you, so we’re going to cover a lot of important topics:
When you get your Glowforge, and why it’s taking so long
First review (with Adam Savage)
Revealing secret features
Adding 6 months to the warranty
We’re going to pay you for waiting (plus two more benefits)
I let you down
When you’ll get your Glowforge (and why it’s taking so long)
We’ve been working feverishly all year to deliver to you on schedule. The last six weeks have been a flat out race as we’ve pulled out every stop to move production forward.
But I lost sight of something. Even though I say it all the time, I started paying less attention to “how do we build the quality product you deserve” and instead focused on “how do we deliver to more than 10,000 customers who’ve already been waiting a year, on schedule”?
One morning early in November I arrived at the office. On my right was the row of Glowforge printers that we use every day. On the left was the row of printers that were not working, waiting for troubleshooting.
The row on the left was longer than the row on the right.
I realized we had a problem.
I pulled together the wisest advisors I know: our consultants, manufacturers, suppliers, investors, and, most of all, our team. I shared data on customer feedback, hardware failures, shipping damage reports, and the statistics from tens of thousands of prints. Instead of my usual question “How do we ship in December”, I asked each person what shipment schedule they thought would ensure that our product was great.
After talking to everyone, I sat down with our team. After hours of consideration, we came to a painful conclusion. We are not ready to start producing in quantity yet. The only way to build your Glowforge with the quality and care it deserves is by spending more time on testing. This means adding more time to our production schedule. We previously planned to go from hundreds of units to three round the clock shifts directly. We decided we could produce a better product by scaling up slowly.
This is our new plan. We will be manufacturing hundreds of units per month through February and scale up to thousands starting in April. Most customers will get their deliveries in May through August. All orders placed before Oct 26, 2015 will be shipped by July 31, and all subsequent orders by August 31.
This is going to cost a lot of money. Every month that you wait, we spend more than a million dollars to make your Glowforge better. A normal company wouldn’t do this; they would have to rush their product out the door because delays are so profoundly expensive.
But our investors support us in putting quality ahead of profit. We’ve committed not to spend any of your pre-order dollars until we deliver. As a company, we made sure that we could afford to do the right thing: we are in robust financial health from our $31 million of venture capital investment.
We just wish it wasn’t going to take so long.
We regularly post updates to our community forum. If you haven’t been watching, here’s some of the latest news that affects your Glowforge:
We’ve been shipping beta units to customers who’ve been testing to help us improve. It’s staggering what people can make with a Glowforge printer - see for yourself.
We’ve chosen a Fortune-500 manufacturing company to build your Glowforge in California, USA.
We’ve finished manufacturing beta units and have progressed to manufacturing and delivering pre-release units to early customers.
We’ve updated the bed size - you get a bigger workspace in all dimensions; printing space is a half inch wider but half an inch shallower than planned.
Pricing has gone up. Currently, people are ordering the same thing as you, but they’re paying $2,995 for a Basic, $3,745 for Basic + Air Filter, and $5,995 for a Pro + Air Filter. You can view your order here.
(By the way, our customers have asked us to send them email only when there are major announcements, like the one you’re reading now. But if you want more frequent email updates, you can get forum announcements delivered to your inbox as well - here’s how.)
Adam Savage and Norman Chan’s Tested.com review
Our advisor, Adam Savage, and one of our earliest customers, Norman Chan, have been putting a pre-release Glowforge unit through its paces at the Tested.com offices and in Norman’s garage. Adam started his career making movie props with the laser at Industrial Light and Magic and uses his own laser regularly in his shop. In their video review, they share their first impressions after printing some holiday ornaments creating a high-resolution sign for Adam’s workshop.
Revealing secret features
From the very early genesis of the Glowforge, we’ve had some deep dark secrets. We’ve had to keep them under lock and key, protected with nondisclosure agreements, until now. With the shipment of our pre-release units, we’re excited to finally get to share them with you.
To be clear: these have been done for ages; they’re not holding up your Glowforge delivery. We just haven’t been able to announce them until now.
The Expansion Port
In one of our pre-release unboxing videos, a customer remarked how strange it was that the laser head isn’t permanently attached. Not only is it removable, it just snaps into place with magnets. That’s not an accident.
The head isn’t a permanent part of your Glowforge; it’s a Glowforge accessory. In fact, it’s just the first of many accessories we have planned. From the start, we designed the laser arm of the Glowforge to be flexible. It has connectors to supply both 30 watts of power and high speed serial data. This means in the future, you may be able to use the expansion port to exchange the laser head for anything from an inkjet printer cartridge to a 3D extruder, creating multi-pass multi-media projects seamlessly.
50-point sensor monitoring
Your Glowforge has a lot of moving parts, both literally and metaphorically. We haven’t talked about this before, but we’ve covered your Glowforge with tiny sensors to monitor dozens of measurements: accelerometers, gyroscopes, thermometers, infrared detectors, tachometers… In total, there are more than 50 sensors measuring data multiple times a second to ensure you are always printing at peak performance.
The sensors can help with something else, too. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in everyday life. It’s crucial to follow the Glowforge manual carefully and operate the system safely. Should something go wrong, the sensors work hard to keep your Glowforge from harm.
To give you some idea of what that’s like, here’s a video of what might happen if you’re a careless multitasking coffee aficionado.
Your Glowforge will also do its best to protect itself from hazards like an overeager guest who leans so close to your Glowforge that they fall on top of it, a cat who snuggles up to the exhaust, a space heater that somehow points itself at the cool air intake… as well as a host of other, less common problems.
We’ve made some truly amazing technical breakthroughs to give you dramatic 3D laser prints.
We use the tight integration between the cloud service, the motion system, the power supply, and the laser itself to create complex, multi-pass, multi-focused engravings. Here’s one example, in maple hardwood that measures a full 0.5" thick. The source image is in the corner. The engraving resolution is 350 lines per inch; you can select up to 1355. For comparison, the new iPhone 7 HD 5.5” is 401 dots per inch.
This is another one we’ve been polishing for ages, and it’s finally ready to share. With this, you can transform a cherished memory into something permanent. It combines beauty and detail with the warmth of wood, the impact of leather, or the permanence of metal, letting you take photo prints to a different level. Below, you can see my twins’ black and white baby photo engraved on a piece of Proofgrade cherry hardwood (with a Proofgrade maple frame).
We’ve added a proprietary coating to our case that can repel the full force of the Glowforge laser - even though the laser can’t get there in the first place. It’s part of our commitment to design the Glowforge to perform even if something goes wrong. Our pre-release units have a light but effective adhesive shielding, and we’re switching to something more durable and easier to manufacture shortly. We want you to have the peace of mind of a consumer appliance like an oven or fridge, not an industrial tool that you need to worry about.
Permanent Laser Alignment With Monitoring
The optical system in your Glowforge gets perfectly calibrated at the factory by technicians using state-of-the-art optical equipment. It’s then locked in place, and never requires adjustment.
But again, we want to be thorough in our design, so we’ve developed a unique sensor that detects if your laser goes out of alignment or is blocked by an obstruction. In the unlikely event that should happen, your Glowforge will stop and let you know that it’s in need of factory repair.
As you may know, the Glowforge Basic comes with a 6 month warranty, and the Glowforge Pro comes with a 12 month warranty. We’ve heard from you, our customers, that those numbers make you nervous. That it sounds like we don’t stand behind the quality of what we built.
That’s why we’re adding six months to your warranty. The Glowforge Basic will be covered for 12 months, and the Glowforge Pro will be covered for 18 months. Of course, the warranty clock doesn’t even start ticking until we ship your final, production Glowforge.
Again, this is something that can be quite expensive - but only if our product isn’t great. We’re now on track to make it great, and we’re going to share that peace of mind with you.
We’re paying you for waiting, plus more
First, you probably watched the video on glowforge.com before making your decision to buy. There, you saw some of our earliest designs that are headed for the store. We plan to release most of those designs for the catalog slowly over the course of the coming year. When we do, we’re going to give you every design from the video that’s in the catalog, for free. Yes, even the ginormous dollhouse and dual counter-rotating rubberband gatling gun drone. We’re even going to try and get the license for the Catan board for everyone.
Second, as you know, your Glowforge can work with a huge variety of materials. We’ve partnered with our friends at Inventables to give you a gift certificate for $50 of free Inventables products that’s good for anything in their store. We’re big fans of their wood inlays - you can engrave a slot for them in a project and glue them in for an amazing decorative look. They also have some specialized, useful, and downright unusual acrylics, including the red-on-white engravable material we used for the airplane birthday invitation in our video.
Finally, you’ve waited a long time for your Glowforge, and we told you it was going to arrive on schedule. Since it won’t, we’re going to issue you a gift certificate good for either Proofgrade materials or designs in the store. The gift certificate will increase $20 for each month you have to wait past your scheduled delivery of either December or March.
Of course, you also get everything else we’ve rewarded you with. That’s the $150 Proofgrade materials pack, the $50 design gift certificate, Founder status, 10% discount on materials, and 10% discount on designs - all the details are here.
When your Glowforge is ready to be shipped to you, you’ll see the reviews, enter your shipping address, and decide if you want to have your Glowforge delivered or cancelled. But if you want to cancel early, we’ll reverse the payment and give your place in line to someone else. Instructions are here.
I let you down
As hard as we’ve tried to make our schedule, we failed, and that’s entirely on me. Our team has done work that’s nothing short of heroic to get the job done for you. I’m the one who came up short, and I am responsible for this delay.
Your Glowforge is amazing. With it, you will create amazing, astonishing things, that I can only start to imagine. You deserve to have it already.
It’s been more than a year since we started, and as you can see from our beta and pre-release customers, we’re almost there. I hope you’ll be with us until the end. If you can’t, I understand that too, and can’t thank you enough for your support along the way.
I’ll be in the community forum for the rest of the day today, along with some of my colleagues, answering questions. (If you need to set up an account to post, you can find instructions here.) I will also host a live Q&A tomorrow (Friday) at 4:00 PM Pacific time. Check the Announcements section of the forum and look for “Q&A with Dan”; you can post your questions there (and we’ll take a few more live).
I hate that I let you down. I hate that you don’t get your Glowforge on schedule. You deserve better, and you deserve not to have to wait.
I am truly sorry.