Hello all. I hope you are well in these turbulent times!
We are working on production design but have hit a few hiccups, explained in detail below. For those of you without the time to read through it all, the implication is that we will likely have to postpone shipping until April 2023.
It is key that our brand is built upon transparency and scientific rigour. As such I go into some substantial detail below. Going from an R&D to a manufacturing company we are learning a lot, and it’s a steep learning curve! I am happy to admit we underestimated the complexity of the task at hand, but now feel we have a strong plan going forwards.
We have assembled a design team who are now working hard on production design. There are three components to this:
Electronics design: The PCB layout. This has to work hand in hand with the industrial and detail design, so there is some iteration between all 3 functions.
Industrial design: This covers the form and function of the product.
Detail design: This takes the industrial design concept through to a fully detailed set of manufacturing drawings.
Taking our fully functional 3D prototypes through to manufacturable design has been more challenging that predicted. In hindsight I was too optimistic about this process. In particular there are three key areas which are proving more complicated than we I had envisaged.
Electronic component availability
As you may be aware there is a global shortage of electronic components following knock-on effects of Covid. I have seen some components quoted as having a 24 month lead time.
This is a constantly shifting situation, meaning that devices which are available one month may not be available the next. We have a supply of the biggest components (the radio/processor module) but the more basic things like voltage regulators are a constant challenge.
Every time we need to change to a different type of component we need to redesign the board, remanufacture and test before committing to production.
In our last round of prototyping we had switched to a regulator with plenty of stock, but which is just 0.8 x 0.8mm in size (the images to the side show the component in question). There was a problem with the regulated voltage, which we now understand, but that whole process took about 6 weeks, and the result is that we need to go through another redesign.
This has been a tough and expensive learning experience, but are now back on course. As a result we are using larger components, to allow easier debug and rework in the case of issues. We were grateful for the help of our new exclusive UK based electronics manufacturer for help in the debugging process and them being local to us allows us to keep very tight controls on the product quality.
The new design is now finalised and going to prototype production next week. We will shortly be ordering enough of these basic components to make sure we don’t need another redesign.
It is our goal to produce a high quality and reliable product. With our prototype design the buttons were quite crude and not watertight. Space is very limited so we have to be creative about how we go about this.
We have converged on a solution for this but it is going to require some prototyping iteration to ensure it works correctly: The buttons rely on a rubber embedded in the lid, so dialling in the correct rubber thickness and shore hardness is necessary to get the correct function and feel.
There are some very impressive 3D printing technologies where rubber areas can be built into the same plastic part, meaning we have the means to rapidly turnaround these prototypes. We’re still tweaking the aesthetic design as we go through this process. Aerosensor is almost there now and we’re very excited about how good its looking!
All three products will be injection moulded. This places quite specific restrictions on the shape that you can produce as the finished part needs to be extractable from the mould. Aerosensor in particular provides many challenges in this respect, as it is a complex shape with internal air channels.
Our current aerosensor prototpes are machined from Aluminium, and have been designed to be injection mouldable in principle. However there is a lot of work, now almost complete, to make sure that the end produce will be high quality. For example avoiding rapid changes in component thickness removes the risk of “sink” where the local surface is indented due to non-linear contraction of the hot injected plastic.
This has resulted in some minor changes to the external surfaces of aerosensor, so we will need to wind tunnel test the final shape to ensure we haven’t adversely affected the performance of the device.
Aerobody and aerodrome are significantly simpler to produce so far less problematic.
Working with our 3D printing partners, we are able to produce and test prototypes in about 1 week so together, so we can turn around prototypes quite quickly. This does add another step into the process though that we had not initially accounted for.
Currently this puts the ship date at mid-March. However to be on the safe side we would like to advise that we are more likely to be shipping in April to account for the inevitable slippage.
We will keep posting updates here, a minimum of once a month to keep you all informed.
Once again, thank you for investing in aerosensor. This couldn’t happen without your belief in us, and we are working hard to bring you very high quality products in 2023.
If you’d like to get in touch regarding our devices, or if you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org