Manufacturing Update 10: Mass Production is a GO!

 
 

Dear Kelloists, 

We’re so excited! We’ve finally started the very first step of mass production (plastic injection), and are moving very fast towards the next stages of mass manufacturing (circuit boards and assembly). 

Plastic Injection

Stuff’s getting real. Following our timeline, last Wednesday we started injecting the plastic parts of all units.

Plastic injection is the very first part of mass producing for most consumer electronics products. High temperature plastic (250 °C/480 °F) is injected with high pressure in big steel moulds in order to shape plastic parts that will later be assembled into the final product.

It was so exciting to see Kellos coming out of these huge injection machines. Check out the video below to have a peek at the whole process!

Some trivia facts: 

  • Our plastic factory also makes some of the critical gear parts of some major German automotive brands (=we’re in good hands).
  • They can inject the plastic parts of up to 500 Kellos per day. It takes 42 seconds for each coloured shell to be injected: this is unusually long because the shell is very thick and the surface quality of this part is critical.
  • After coating the shell with the Soft Touch layer, each part must be cured in a oven for 40 minutes!

Photo gallery of our visit:

Molds, molds, molds

Molds, molds, molds

The molds of Kello’s core and front panel

The molds of Kello’s core and front panel

 

 

Parts that are ready to go to the next stage

Parts that are ready to go to the next stage

Plastic chips pool!

Plastic chips pool!

The cemetery of the parts that didn’t meet our quality standards (fortunately this plastic will be recycled)

The cemetery of the parts that didn’t meet our quality standards (fortunately this plastic will be recycled)

Next Step: Circuit Boards

Plastic injection is moving along fast and should be finished next week. Meanwhile, we’re working on the printed circuit boards but we hit a speed bump.

In order to make Kello’s motherboard, our factory has to solder hundreds of tiny componentson a circuit board using high-precision pick&place robots. But first, they have to actually make the base circuit board and this step took a bit longer than expected because of the complexity of our motherboard. The matter is resolved now and we expect to receive the boards this coming Monday.

Kello motherboards

Kello motherboards

Timeline

Let’s talk dates. We don’t want to commit on hard dates just yet because so many things can happen, especially with the circuit boards being slightly delayed. However, we’re confident that shipping will start in the first half of July. We’ll know more in the upcoming days.

After manufacturing the plastic parts and the circuit boards, the last step to assemble the two, test that everything works perfectly and put the product in its box. This assembly phase will start in the upcoming days and, by the end of the month, we’ll have 30 units that we’ll inspect one by one before moving to mass assembly of all units. These pre-production samples help fine-tune the actual production process, and the resulting product will be commercial grade (= exactly the same as the production product). 

In Other News...

Packaging

Packaging is validated. We received a few days ago the prototypes of the boxes and we’re very happy with the result:

We think it’s simple, beautiful, and to the point, just like Kello. But good looks aren’t enough, it also has to be sturdy and protect the unit no matter what. That’s why we tried to put them under a lot of stress. Check for yourself:

 

Apps

Good news: the iOS app has been validated by Apple. It’s ready to be published on the App Store. For now we’re keeping it private for our internal testing but as soon as we start shipping, you will be able to download it on your iPhone.

The Android app is also making great progress, and we’re testing it every day.

Shipping Preparation

We’ve hand-picked the courier for each 66 countries we’re shipping to, and our third party logistics vendor is ready to ship more than 2,800 boxes. More info in the next update!

 

That’s it for today. We’re so excited to bring these babies to your home! We’re almost there, it’s the very last stretch and you won’t have to wait too long before having your own Kello on your bedside.

Until then, don’t hesitate to give us a shout-out on hello@getkello.com.

Cheers,

The Kello Team.

Manufacturing Update 9: Final Production Prototypes

 
 

Dear Kelloists, 

As we’re entering the final stretch of Kello’s manufacturing, we’re more pumped than ever to get your Kello to your bedside table. Let’s check what we’ve been up to lately.

Final Samples

Last week, we received the final prototypes (commercial samples) before mass production. These samples included all mechanical changes we asked (in particular the ones addressing the durability issues we encountered last month), and enabled our manufacturer to test their production line.

We oversaw the assembly of the first Kellos on the production line. It was very rewarding to witness the birth of these units! 

See below a short video of the assembly:

And a family photo of these units that we've been testing for a week:

Timeline 

We’re getting closer than ever to mass production. The factory is ready and hopefully all components will be there on time. We plan to push the mass production button around June 21th. It will last for ~7 working days then the units will be shipped to you from Hong Kong starting end of June.

We have chosen our third party logistics vendor and you will receive an email containing all tracking info when we ship. We’ll explain thoroughly the shipping process in an upcoming update.   

The ANCHOR NIGHT Cable, now in USB-C

As you might know, we’re partnering with NATIVE UNION to give you an exclusive 50% discount on their gorgeous 6.5 feet long, Kevlar®-reinforced ANCHOR NIGHT cables.

This offer ends on Wednesday, May 31st and is only valid for you backers! 

And here’s the good news. You asked in the comments, we delivered: you can now choose to get the USB-C version!

If you're not a backer of Kello, it's not too late, go to our Indiegogo InDemand campaign and back Kello. You will receive an email asking for the color you want and giving you the possibility to add a ANCHOR NIGHT Cable to your pledge.

  

That's it for today. As always, if you have any question or remark, shoot in the comments.

Cheers,

The Kello Team.

Manufacturing Update 8: The Importance of Durability

 
 

Dear Kelloists,

April was a very intense month. We’re moving forward on all aspects of the product but unfortunately we stumbled upon an issue that will cause a delay. 

Logistics & Packaging

As we’re approaching the final steps of manufacturing, we’re now finalizing two major subjects for any hardware project: packaging and logistics.

Packaging 

A good box: 

  • has to be strong (delivering services tend to not treat packages kindly), 
  • must protect the product well, 
  • must look good.

We’ve spent some time on it and we’re very happy with the final result. Below a pictures of the development of these boxes (we won’t show you the final box to avoid spoiling the surprise!).

Durability

During the month of April, our manufacturer ran some destructive testing in order to test Kello’s durability.

Fatigue Testing 

One of the most common tests is very straightforward: pressing a button until it breaks. We used a pneumatic arm to press every Kello button 5,000 times.

After all these presses, Kello was still good as new. The mechanical feedback of the buttons didn’t get loose, and all clicks were correctly registered. 

Drop Testing

Another crucial test is taking a bunch of Kellos and drop them from a height of 1 meter (3 feet and 3 inches).

The outcome of this test was not as good as we hoped: more often that we liked, Kello’s colored shell ended up separated from its the core. Nothing that couldn’t be managed (it is super easy to re-clip the coloured shell part to the core part) but we feared that after several drops things might start to break.

Everybody expects an alarm clock to be durable and we know people won’t be easy with the product. That’s why we decided to rework the molds and slightly change the mechanical design.

This change causes a 4-week delay. We are now going to ship end of next month (4th week of June).

We know this is a big disappointment and quite frankly we’re pretty bummed as well, especially because everything else is ready and we could have pressed the button and ship this version end of May, but after many discussions we realized that 1 month is a good trade-off for a better product that won’t get weakened after a few drops on the floor. 

Next Steps

Production Samples

This change shifted our entire timeline. While our engineers already came up with a better design, we’ll get the final production samples in mid-May, and start mass production in mid-June. 

Apps 

On the bright side, this delay gives us the opportunity to continue working on the apps and the firmware and polish everything a little further.

iOS App

We’re putting the final touches on the iOS app and our next milestone is the App Store submission.

Android App

The Android app is now our top priority. Most of the core functionalities are ready and we’re now focusing on debugging. When it’s stable enough, we’ll start working on the implementation of the Sleep Programs.

You’ll find below a quick demo video of the Android app.

That’s it for this month. If you have any comment or remark, feel free to post a comment!

Best,

The Kello Team.

    Manufacturing Update 7: Iterating on Tooling

     
     

    Dear Kelloists,

    Another week, another round of development, testing, prototypes and progress. 

    It’s the little things that matter 

    10 days ago, we got the first injected sample of Kello, made with the same molds and tooling as the Kellos you will get. This was a huge step forward as we moved from 3D printed prototypes to injected parts using industrial-grade tools.

    We called this prototype EVP (Engineering Validation Prototype) 1.0 and we were quite happy with it, but it had its issues.

    For instance, under certain angles, the speaker grid could be seen through the fabric...

    ...the back button was sticking out a bit too far…  

    ...and the screen was too bright to be used in a bedroom, even dimmed at minimum.

    We submitted a list of changes to our manufacturing partner last week and yesterday, we received the first version with some of the new mechanical changes, made with the final material and colors. Therefore we’re proud to present you… Kello EVP 1.2!

    We’re quite pleased with these prototypes. One of the trickiest parts was nailing the right feeling for the “snooze” button: as you snooze your alarm by pressing Kello’s head, the whole colored shell moves downwards, and it was a mechanical challenge to come up with a design that would prevent the button jamming or being stuck. Our engineers nailed it, and the feeling is very satisfying.

    This prototype still has some room for improvement but we’re 90% there. As we still have 2 rounds of iterations to go, we’re confident that everything will be perfect before kicking off mass production in late May.

     

    Moving towards production

    For mass production, we’re writing a list of the tests every Kello must pass to be considered “commercial-grade quality”.

    Some of the tests each Kello will have to pass

    Some of the tests each Kello will have to pass

     All major mechanical changes have been locked, and the design of the electronic motherboard has been frozen.

    Kello's final motherboard

    Kello's final motherboard

     The design of all internal components is finished and we’re now in a fine-tuning phase, making sure each part injects and assembles well by refining our molds.

    A Kello ready to be assembled

    A Kello ready to be assembled

    During the upcoming days, we will start design and assembly testing. We’ll basically take a few prototypes and torture them: check if they can survive multiple 4 feet (1m20) falls, high and cold temperatures, thousands of presses on the buttons... Kello must be durable even under difficult conditions.

    That’s it for today. If you have any question or comment, shoot below!

    Thanks again for your support,

    The Kello Team

      Manufacturing Update 6: Our First Injected Kello

       
       

      Dear Kelloists,

      Things are starting to get really exciting as we’re now getting our first pre-production samples. Check out this month’s progress!   

      Tooling and Molds

      As stated in our last update, we’re in the process of making our injection molds. The first version of the molds has been released and we have just injected our very first Kello! It’s in black because it makes it easier to see little defects in the plastic.

       
      Our first injected prototype

      Our first injected prototype

       

      The quality of the mold is very good for a first iteration. We do have a few things we need to improve on and it’s perfectly normal, such as the feeling of the snooze or the finishing of some parts. As every Kello we'll make will be injected using these molds, we want to be extremely confident that they are good quality.

      Our manufacturer is currently making a new iteration of the molds. We expect a new set of prototypes by the end of next week.

      New iOS App

      As you know, we already have a fully functioning iOS app, and we have improved its design to have a better coherence with our website, packaging, and brand universe.

      We’ve added a few features and we also fixed all the bugs we’ve noticed since we started testing and using Kello (for more than a year now!).

       
       

      Android App

      Last week we kicked off the development of our Android app and our developer is working on it as we speak. More to come soon.

       
       

      Firmware

      We’re now putting the final touches to Kello’s firmware. First, we need to be extra sure that it’s completely bug-free as when we’ll ship, we’ll have less control on its most critical parts, and second, we want it to look good.

      That’s why we added some nice animations on Kello. We hope you like them!

      anim.gif

      What’s next? 

      Next week we’ll get more prototypes, that we’ll intensively use and test for 2 weeks. In late April, our manufacturer will make another iteration of Kellos that we’ll use for final testing and product certification.

      We’re still in line to ship late May and we’re working as hard as we can to meet this deadline.

      Manufacturing Update 5: Making of the Molds

       
      Modls & Tools.png
       

      Dear Kelloists,

      We've moving forward in the mass manufacturing process and soon you'll be able to enjoy your Kellos. Here's a roundup of this month's news.

      Mold Manufacturing

      We're still making the molds used for plastic injection. It's a lengthy process because we only have one shot at this: as every Kello will be made using these molds, their quality has to be perfect.

      So far, we're on track and we are visiting our factory on a weekly basis to be sure we're not missing anything.

      We made a short video of the manufacturing process of Kello's molds:

      Next Steps

      The next steps are: 

      • finishing the manufacturing of the molds by mid-March,
      • using them in plastic injection machines and make the first samples of each part,
      • by the end or March, assembling ~20 Kellos using the final tooling and electronic boards.

      These 20 Kellos are called Engineering Validation Samples and will be used to refine our manufacturing process (choose the color shade of each parts, their finishing, etc.)

      After these steps, we'll run a few iterations and make more and more Kellos until mass production in May.

      That's it for today. If you have any question on the mold manufacturing process, shoot in the comments!

      Best,

      The Kello Team.

          

        Manufacturing Update 4: Design for Manufacturing is Finished

         
        DFM.png
         

        Dear Kelloists,

        We’ve made big progress during the last 2 weeks on manufacturing preparation and electronics design. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been working on.

        New Microcontroller

        As mentioned in our last update, last December we chose to change the brains of Kello to make them more powerful and future-proof. 

        It took us a few weeks to redesign the whole mother board, and we just got the prototype of our motherboard with the new microcontroller: everything is working as expected.

        The board with the new microcontroller

        The board with the new microcontroller

        This means that we can keep chasing bugs and add features directly on the new motherboard. 

        Design for Manufacturing

        Another big news: we just finished Design for Manufacturing! Our factory worked tirelessly to make the most effective design for Kello without changing its external appearance.

        Kello isn’t an easy product. It has: 

        • a powerful speaker (that can creates all sorts of vibrations),
        • a mechanical snooze button (that must be easily clickable without being flimsy), 
        • and a dozen of other mechanical constraints (LED screen, fabric cover, silicon buttons, light sensor…).

        Each of these constraints is a design challenge that our engineers had to overcome. And the result is impressive: in 8 weeks, our mechanical engineers took our design to the next level.

        Here’s an example of the work done on the “front panel” part of Kello (viewed from behind and without its fabric cover).

        The iterations we made during the last months will make for a more durable and higher quality product.  

        Now we can move towards one of the biggest steps in manufacturing a product: making the plastics injection molds.

        Mass Manufacturing

        Plastic Injection Molds

        To mass manufacture Kello, we’re using the plastic injection technology: liquid plastic is injected with high pressure in big steels moulds.

        These moulds basically are “negatives” of our plastic parts. They need to be carefully designed, then machined with high precision tools, and our factory just started this process.

        Procurement

        Additionally to the mold manufacturing kick off, last week we placed the order for the long lead time electronics components needed to manufacture a few thousands of Kellos. All parts should arrive in time for mass manufacturing.

        Chinese New Year & Next Steps

        On the manufacturing side, the next two weeks will be slow as China is on vacation. We’ll use this time to work on the Kello firmware and on the new version of our iOS and Android apps.

        96e1626734e0946be22dc78a9bb0a8c6_original.png

        Meanwhile, we’ll be posting photos and videos of our progress on Instagram andFacebook. Make sure you’re following us!

        That’s it for today. As always, share your thoughts in the comments!

        The Kello Team.

        Manufacturing Update 3: More Power for Kello

         
         

        Dear Kelloists,

        First things first, we wish you a very happy new year, filled with countless great nights of sleep!

        We’ve been working all December to prepare the manufacturing of Kello. Here’s a roundup of our progress. 

        Design For Manufacturing

        The engineers at our factory spent the last 3 weeks perfecting the design of Kello to improve manufacturability and assembly.

        We’re currently in a validation phase to make sure everything fits nicely inside Kello. Last week, we made another prototype to validate the changes from the design for manufacturing phase.

        Kello ready-for-production prototype

        Kello ready-for-production prototype

        We were very pleased by this prototype, especially by the feel of the “snooze” button: as you know, the whole shell of Kello acts a one big button and we want to: 

        • provide good tactile feedback when pressing the button, 
        • make sure you can easily press anywhere on the shell (front/back/center/right/left) to “snooze”.

        Our engineers did a great job, and the mechanical feedback of the button is really satisfying. We still have a few refinements to do, in particular we want to narrow the gap between the shell and core of the device.

        The Microcontroller Dilemma 

        Like every smart device, Kello has a motherboard with a microcontroller chip that basically acts as the brain of the device (just like the microprocessor inside your phone or your computer).

        Kello’s motherboard and microcontroller (red arrow)

        Kello’s motherboard and microcontroller (red arrow)

        When starting the design of Kello, we chose a microcontroller we thought would fit our needs. As we refine the future of Kello however, we realized that it might not be powerful enough to do everything we want to do.

        While the current controller is enough to deliver everything we promised on Kickstarter, we have a roadmap for more Sleep Programs that will need some additional power.

        So we faced a dilemma: keep the old microcontroller that we validated with a dozen of prototypes, or upgrade it with a more powerful version, spend a few weeks making and validating the new design, and change the firmware to make it compatible?

        It was a tough choice. As we’re committed to deliver the best Kello we can, we chose to upgrade the microcontroller.

        This means that we’re currently redesigning a part of the motherboard. This change will have an impact on Kello’s shipping date, which will be postponed to May 2017 instead of late March 2017.

        We’re sorry for this delay but we feel making a “future-proof” Kello we can upgrade remotely with new features is crucial for making the best product for you. 

        If you have any question on why we changed the microcontroller, feel free to reply to this update!

        New LED screens

        In parallel of the redesign, we have sourced Kello’s key components. During the previous weeks we have secured the LED panels.

        We’ll use a fairly new technology: blue LEDs covered by a special sticker that converts the emitting color from blue to white. It’s pretty impressive to see in person.

        On the left on the picture is the screen without the filter, and on the right is the screen with the filter

        On the left on the picture is the screen without the filter, and on the right is the screen with the filter

        The benefits of such a technology are: 

        • Nice, warm white color, 
        • High longevity (100,000+ hours), 
        • High dimmability.

        We’re currently testing these screens to make sure they’re reliable. 

        Next Steps

        As of now, our next steps are: 

        • order all of the components to make 3000+ Kellos (microcontrollers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, screens...), 
        • start manufacturing the steel tools needed to inject the plastic parts.

        All of this has to be done before the Chinese New Year (China’s 1-month holiday shutdown, starting Jan 20). January will be a big month for Kello, and as always, we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.

        Thanks for your incredible support,

        The Kello Team