Greetings Kickstarter! 12 hours left on the funding clock, and I've got a few pleasant surprises for all of you...
As you may recall from Update #6, I elected to take out a bridge loan to risk buy all the tooling. This had the effect of bringing in the delivery dates. Today, I am happy to announce that BOTH of the vendors have been able to finish up their respective work well ahead of schedule. The extrusion die should be finished next week (one week early), and the first test shots on the injection molds are scheduled for middle of May. It's pretty incredible when you think of it this way: I'll have sample parts in my hands before the Kickstarter funds hit my business checking account.
So here's a revised Gantt chart - image also linked here:
The diamond dot you see on the chart is today's milestone - close of funding. From there, 2 weeks for Amazon.com to process payments, 1 week to transfer to my bank account. That remains unchanged.
I've placed the down payment on the aluminium billets yesterday. This means that within 2 weeks of the die being completed and we approve the geometry, extrusions will arrive at my vendor's facility in Woodinville, WA. They can then sit on the shelf and await the rest of the kit components - brackets, and such - to arrive for order fulfilment.... or will they? :-)
Because of the high turnout on Kickstarter, we were able to re-negotiate the pricing on anodizing. Early on, I had to make a painful engineering decision to ship the extrusions in plain mill finish (without anodize). This was because anodizing had been doubling the cost of the part, and in order to be price competitive to MicroRAX (and 80/20, which is also priced at $10/meter) I had to make some painful engineering choices. Now, as we look at the order volumes, the extrusion mill had agreed to revise the anodizing costs. We are consequently able to ship this product with clear anodize!
We are actively working on getting the cost of black anodize down as well, to closer match the cost of the clear anodized beams. If this talk is successful, I will be contacting backers who have purchased the black anodized beams, and either issue partial refunds, or add additional black anodized beams to their pledges. For now though, the demand on black anodized beams might make this proposition problematic - of the 3,000 meters of extrusions that had been sold up this point, less than 100 meters of it is for black anodize. However, this is probably a chicken-and-egg problem - if the black anodized beams costs the same, or nearly the same as the clear anodized beams, chances are more people will buy the black anodized stuff. (Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree).
In general, there should be no disadvantages of going with anodized versus plain mill finish - the part is nicer / cleaner to handle, and the anodizing gives the aluminium a nice satin finish. The one area of exception is for vacuum / space applications - an anodized part will degas significantly more than a plain finish part, due to surface porosity. I'll be keeping a small stock of plain mill finish bars around, should anyone need their parts to pass NASA's vacuum degassing test. :-).
Order Fulfilment Logistics
Within a day or so after funding closes, you will get a questionnaire asking for your contact and shipping information, a little bit of background information about yourself and how you plan on using OpenBeam, etc. You'll also have a chance to confirm any a-la-carte items that you may have purchased.
Within 2 weeks of funding close, you'll receive a copy of the pick-list for your order, with your shipping information. You'll also receive, if you're an international backer, a copy of the export paperwork.
Currently, with the large demand for OpenBeam, I'm allowing an extra week for the plastic vendor to run the parts. (We are ordering 50,000 brackets, and upwards of a quarter *million* M3 nuts and screws, plus enough Allen keys and Allen drivers to stock every hardware store in my town). We will see whether it makes sense for our injection tool vendor to ship partial shipments, and if so, we'll start fulfilling international orders first (since they have a longer transit time), and then domestic orders, in order (pledge) received. Depending on how long it'll take us to qualify the first article injection molded parts, and depending on how fast our injection vendor can turn around the 50,000 brackets and accessories we've ordered, we may elect to air freight in the allen keys and drivers as well.
Our current projected ship date is on or around June 5th. This is almost 2 months earlier than the original plan.
We're almost there at the home stretch! Again, thanks for your support and kind words on the OpenBeam project! We've got a lot more work in front of us, and we'll definitely be keeping you updated as things progress!
-=- Terence, Rachel, and furry monster puppy