May is here and so are our off-tool production samples. Enclosure upper, enclosure lower, handle, handle bits, shaft, more burrs, inner mechanism parts, cup, adjustment ring, burr retention disc, knobs, custom fasteners, plus production quantities of various off-the-shelf parts too. Where applicable, the custom enclosure and body parts are first shot, off-tool pieces and that means we are quite a few steps closer to mass production.
We have a combination of tooled parts with post machining, CNC machined parts, cast stainless steel, and few molded parts thrown in the mix as well. Some parts are meeting expectation and some need some tweaks to improve the quality. Hiku parts demand very capable vendors and there is a lot of post-machining work before the bead blasting and anodizing of the aluminum bits. In addition, we want to ensure that the final texture on show faces match well between parts so we get a cohesive overall look. You can see significant progress is being made.
Hiku Lid Ergonomics
Here’s a detail picture of the Hiku lid. We opted for a lightly knurled texture on the rim that helps with grip for easy removal. We also wanted to ensure the lid was lightweight yet substantial, so it’s a purely machined piece (not plastic!), but it’s thinner than before. It sits flat when placed on the table, and because the rim is elevated from the surface, it’s super easy to grab and this reduces the chance of dropping it. While dropping the lid on a hard granite or marble countertop would be loud and jarring in the morning, it might also scratch or chip the table, so the bottom rim is enveloped in a soft silicone rubber (not shown). This soft bottom rim doubles as retention for the lid while it’s installed and provides a cushion against some drops too.
It just feels right when you can place the lid on a hard surface without any noise. The quietness of Hiku in use and the subtlety of these details are what we hope customers will appreciate.
Not everything is perfect yet, as our stainless steel handle came out rougher than necessary or desired. It certainly is strong and the fit is good but the texture is unacceptable in this first sample form. For the first time, you can see how we contain the retention bits inside the handle - with a finely machined stainless steel cap that looks both technical and also evokes a classic detail from traditional rangefinder and SLR cameras.
Hiku Demand will Outstrip Supply
Our trip to the Specialty Coffee Expo, and the subsequent followup conversations with distributors indicate that we are going to be sold out of our first production run before mass production completes. This would seem to be great news (and it is!) but we’re going to stay cautious and keep a cap on the first production run quantity so that backers get their orders filled first. Much remains to be done, which we wrote in the last manufacturing update, like ensuring we carry through with detailed inspection plans and ship these first units successfully.
We will then be shifting to a more ambitious production plan after the first batch of Hikus are shipped.
Visiting the Production Facilities
Because of strong demand, we are now planning for subsequent factory orders because we want to have a strong holiday selling season. Travel preparations are complete - we will review the second production sample round on site at our production facilities in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, instead of at our offices in Vancouver.
That means we’re on our way to Asia — earlier than originally planned. We’ll take a break from the daily routine of days in the office with nights on the phone to meet in person with the suppliers and work through any production and approval issues for the next two weeks.
Schedule and Timing
Given our updated travel schedule, the month of May will be used to refine the production tooling and we expect to have approvable parts in June. We’ll admit there is a temptation to say that we’ll be ready earlier but we are going to be still pretty happy if production is happening in June with units in most backers hands before the end of July. There is room to do better than this but we know that distributors will want their holiday stock in August / September so we are motivated to get moving on all production including the follow-on orders to achieve these dates.
Thanks for reading this far. Talk to you in two weeks!
Amanda and team