Here is all of the news for this month:
(scroll to the bottom for the fun stuff)
The material that is intended for the black pieces arrived at our molder, which was a relief. However, the material did not perform as expected during trial shots. So we have effectively rejected the material pending further information. The molder, the plastics supplier, and Bryght Labs (us) are working on a resolution. This situation is unresolved at the time of this update.
We (Bryght Labs) will not compromise on our quality specifications. The final-delivered pieces will meet all of our specifications for appearance and durability. That is why we are doing these trial shots and materials testing and not skipping any quality verification step. We will make sure the backers get excellent chess pieces in their set. We are confident we will get there because we have sampled and produced satisfactory black pieces already. This issue came as a surprise. It is good that we tested and caught it before mass production.
Production of black chess pieces will be delayed further. We are waiting for a re-blend of material and possibly some adjustments to the molding parameters.
Actions we are taking
The white material was the exact opposite - exceedingly great performance and looks. The white material is from the same plastics vendor. So white pieces are going through the molds first. While the white processes, we are at work resolving the black material issue.
We also are creating a second tool for pawns. Pawns are what dictate the schedule for pieces. We have to make 4x as many pawns as any other piece. Having a second tool allows us to speed up pawn production and reclaim some weeks. We already ordered the tool and it will be ready in early December. The new tool is an 8 cavity tool (vs 4 cavity from before), so we have tripled our pawn production rate with 12 total cavities now. This will help us make up some time once the black plastic is approved.
We stand by our vendor and molder both. We are working with them to fix this. The material is a custom blend and not substitutable with a commodity material. We have previously produced prototype pieces with this material in trial amounts and we are certain there is a resolution. It is likely slight changes to the blend formula in conjunction with optimizing the molding parameters. It will take a bit of time to resolve though.
Impact on Product Timelines
We don't feel it is possible to have any final product ready to air ship in December. A few backers asked about priority air shipping options available as a rush option for Christmas, but we can rule that out now. We will be in production during all of December.
We understand that many ChessUps were intended as gifts (for birthdays or holidays). We have created these printable cards to serve as stand-ins:
right click on the web image to download and then print.
We hope the cards help, and can still deliver a bit of excitement as a gift.
For the other aspects of production, everything is good. The list of things that are where they are supposed to be:
- PCBs (Printed-Circuit-Boards) - on schedule, samples verified and approved
- ICs (Integrated Circuit, "chips")- all in inventory *except final shipment bluetooth radio ICs arriving next week.
- Chess Tops - on schedule, samples verified and approved
- Batteries/switches/wiring harnesses - all in inventory or on schedule as needed
- Chess Frames - on schedule, samples verified and approved
- All Soft Goods (case and bags) - already in the warehouse
- Phone Stands - finishing production now, will be in warehouse soon
- Packaging - on schedule, samples verified and approved
While the plastics situation added even more delay - the shipping situation is holding steady, perhaps even showing signs of improving. Currently we expect production to wrap up in January. Delivery of product would then be February and March.
Current Expected Delivery: February 2022
Reason for changes: Rejection of plastics for black pieces
We recognize this timeline has pushed back 2 months in short time - which makes it seem as if it will eternally push. However, these dates are actually becoming very firm. The discovery of these delays is because production is starting. The delays show up during production ramp up efforts, not during planning, because everything becomes very real. No more soft planning, just hard progress. Most of the risk is behind us. Thanks again for sticking with us.
Fun Stuff - Demonstrations:
Onto the fun stuff.
We haven't showed you the software progress in a while. Here are some videos to show off the ChessUp a bit:
Load Game Demo: