Below you’ll find a progress report compiled after our pilot production run, but before we dive into that, we wanted to share a video of one of the units we’ve been using for testing.
Now let’s take a look at the results of our initial pilot production run. If you’re unfamiliar, a pilot production run is when you complete assembly of units in a factory using what are hopefully your final parts. It’s a last shake down to identify any potential QC problems and issues that may occur during assembly that wouldn’t occur in prototype production.
Before now, the prototypes may have used production ready components, from our finalized molds, but we’d ship those components to our office in Miami, where we’d give each component a thorough inspection before assembling the units ourselves. We have dozens of units that have been manufactured this way for testing purposes, but the pilot production is a necessity to ensure that end users receive well functioning instafloss.
Power Supply Connector
One issue we uncovered during this pilot production run was regarding our custom connectors for our power supply. Because we had to modify a power supply to work within the Instafloss, we needed specific connectors to connect the power supply to the various PCBs and components. Unfortunately, the connectors we chose had identical positive and negative terminals.
This led to some of our pilot production units never turning on as the connectors were installed incorrectly. Unfortunately, if this occurs it’s not as simple as swapping them around because the flipped voltage fries the control board’s processor. That’s an $11 part in each component that was just destroyed.
This wasn’t a mistake that could be warrantied either so we needed to ensure that our assembler can’t make that mistake. Now we’ve created a new connector to ensure that it’s impossible to make this mistake in assembly, which you can see below:
This was an easy fix to make, and one that presents no delay.
Piston Rod Strength
The second issue we uncovered during the pilot run had to do with the rod that attaches the gear to the piston. We have been using injection molded versions of these components in our devices internally for some time, but somehow the rods that our assembler received from our supplier were much weaker than those we’ve received.
There’s a few possible reasons this could have happened, and their fixes range in complexity and time required. The reason we believe to be most likely is that injection parameters or mold operation settings have been tweaked by our supplier. This isn’t uncommon and is expected to some extent as partners pursue settings that can result in faster operation and less plastic waste.
If this is what occurred the fix is as simple as reverting the settings to those used when we received the initial components and then working to set a limit on how far parameters can be changed in the future to ensure it doesn’t occur again.
But the issue could be more fundamental such as an issue with the mold itself. If this is the case, we could be set back until the end of Q1 next year. We remain optimistic that we’ll deliver sooner than that, but officially, we’re going with the slowest timeline.
We’ve sent emails to our partners and are setting up meetings to discuss the sudden weakness in those rods. Once those are complete we’ll have a better idea of what changes may have been made between the two sets of parts and how long it will take to ensure the production run components will be at the strength of our earlier lifetime testing components. Expect this information in our next update.
Progress Made on the Cylinder Liner
If you’ll recall the May update we mentioned that our biggest hurdle was the cylinder liner, which looked like this:
These scores and ridges meant that the seal for the piston was quickly degraded, which means that water started leaking from here.
But with the units from the latest pilot production run, we’ve fixed the issue!
To demonstrate, we’ve removed the outer housing from the Instafloss so you can see underneath, where all the action happens. In this side-by-side video, the old version is on the left. Pretty quickly a small amount of water starts collecting to the left of the back rubber dampener. This adds up fast.
On the right is the new cylinder liner. No leaks! We’ve tested this for what we approximate is a year of use (so far) and it’s looking good!