The material is not easy – especially if you refuse to take advantage of the global manufacturing infrastructure, to build everything in an apartment in London, and do not use it than the labor and local materials. But that's what the creators of the successful Kickstarter Moon project did, and they have no regrets.
In 2016, I had a pitch for the moon, an exact replica of our satellite around which a set of LEDs were spinning, illuminating the face in perfect time with the current phase. A nice idea, although for one reason or another, I did not address it, asking Alex du Prées, one of the creators, to answer me later to talk about the challenges of the craft-funded material by the house.
The project was a success, amassing £ 145,393 – well above the goal of £ 25,000 – and Alex and I chatted last year as the team finished production and began a second race, which they have recently completed as well.
This is an interesting case study of a crowdfunding-funded hardware project, not least because Moon's team made the unusual choice of keeping everything local: from resin molding to the moon to the chassis and the electronics.
"At the time, we wanted to make sure that we made them properly, and that we had not spent a lot of energy and prototyping money in a factory," said Mr. Du Preez. "We have seen a lot of Kickstarter campaigns going directly to China, to some manufacturing facilities, and we were afraid we would lose a lot of product quality if we did that."
The main benefit, in addition to the good feeling that they got by sourcing from the nearest city, was the ability to speak directly to these people and explain or to solve problems in person
"We can just get on a train and visit them," said Du Preez. "For example, there is an angled pipe that is the arm of the device – even that part alone, we worked with a pipe company and went there like three times to have conversations with the guy . "
Of course, they were not themselves defenseless; The three people behind the project are designers and engineers who helped launch crowdfunding campaigns before, although this one was the first one they'd done on their own.
"I think that Oscar [Lhermitte, who led the project] probably worked for two and a half or three years, from ideation to manufacturing," said Du Preez. "He had this idea and he contacted NASA and asked for this topographic data to make the map.He came to see us because he wanted a technical and technical input."
The decision to do everything in the UK was not made any easier by the fact that it was a demanding material, that the standards of the team were high and that it was not easy. Despite a great success, $ 200,000 or less is still not much with which to build a unique high precision electronic device from scratch.
All the operation took place from a small apartment in London, and the team had to improvise a bit.
"We had this tiny little room the size of a kitchen from which we produced these items," recalled Du Preez. "It was not like a warehouse, and we were on the second floor – we were getting a ton of metal, and we had to spend half a day putting it up, then the boxes came in and it filled the whole studio."
They resisted the urge to get something on a shelf or at a Shenzhen ready-to-wear, choosing instead to trust their own ingenuity (and that of close craftsmen, curiously specific) to solve their problems.
"One of the most delicate parts was that each part is made with a different process," he said. "If you want to make an electronic piece in a plastic case," for example a security camera or a cheap Android phone, "it's much faster to develop and execute."
Obviously, the most important part of being right is the moon globe itself – and no one had ever done anything like this before, so they had to find out how to do it themselves.
"It's big enough, so we can not run it in one solid piece," says Du Preez. "It would be too heavy to ship, and it flows – the material moves too much, so what you do is make a mold, like a moon's negative, and pour the liquid inside." as the liquid settles, you rotate it to make sure that the inner surface is coated with resin during drying. "
To do this, they prepared a solution from "wood, bicycle parts and I think a sewing machine motor," he said. "We had to put that together to reduce costs, so we kind of duplicated what we already knew to be there to test our materials and concepts, and we knew that if we could do that, we just had to build or to find a better one. "
As luck would have it, they found someone – directly on the tracks.
"We found this guy in Birmingham who has an industrial version, he makes molds and he turns this big metal cage all day," said Du Preez. "The quality of his work is amazing." And, of course, it's just a short train ride – compared to a trip to Guangzhuo, anyway.
The attention to detail, particularly with regard to the globe, has resulted in delays in the Moon's expedition; they ended up about four months late.
Late arrivals are of course to be expected with regard to Kickstarter projects, but Preez said that the reaction of both friendly and hostile funders surprised him.
"It sounded pretty binary, we had 541 backers, and I would say that only two were really pissed at not having their moon, and they were furious." I mean they were smoking "he said.
"But no one really publicly got angry at us, they just checked in. Once they sent you an email and you gave them an answer, they seem very As long as we maintained the momentum, people were in agreement with that. "
That said, four months late are not really late. There are projects that have raised more than Moon and have been late or have not even been shipped (full disclosure, I have supported some!). Du Preez has offered some tips to potential crowdfunders who want to keep the goodwill of their supporters.
"It's really important to understand your price, who will manufacture it, until shipping." If you have no game plan for after Kickstarter, you're going to be in a situation delicate, "he said. "We had a list of materials and we evaluated everything before going to Kickstarter.And you need a proof of concept to show that the product works.There are so many development platforms of material that I think is quite easy to do now. "
Their attention to detail and their obvious pride in their work resulted in a sustainable enterprise, "said du Preez; The company has attracted the attention of Adam Savage, Mark Hamill and MOMA, while a second run of 250 has just ended and the team is studying other projects in that Sens.
You can track the team's plans or order your own unit (although you may wish to benefit from the early bird discount) on the Moon website.