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We've made some progress, but also had a ton of setbacks as we try to round the final corner on the MT3 Susuwatari Keycaps. Rather than write a novel, we'll summarize some of the issues that are causing hiccups:
1) Italy's country-wide lockdown has made it very complicated to ship samples to Matt3o. Things are moving, but the process isn't as clean as it has been in the past.
2) Aside from color approvals, we're running into some font kerning/deformation/injection abnormalities. These problems are inconsistent and happen very infrequently, but even a 0.25% error rate results in 1 or 2 bad keycaps on every few keyboards. This is unacceptable and we're working hard to get this solved. To elaborate a little bit here, every time you change the color of the keycap resin, the chemical properties of the plastic changes slightly. This means the plastics interact slightly differently during the double-shot process, which creates slight deviations. You can see in the photo below how the thickness of the legends changes by 100th's of centimeter between revisions, and that's what painstaking needs to be calibrated over and over again.
3) The "Shelter In Place" (i.e. soft lockdown) in the SF Bay Area has also complicated this process. Everyone at Drop is currently working from home and this makes coordinating, reviewing samples, etc. considerably more complicated and time consuming.
4) Our contract manufacturer is applying continual pressure on us to use our manufacturing timeslot or give it up to another customer. Adding to this pressure is that their production isn't at full capacity yet due to low staffing numbers.
We're essentially building new business processes from scratch, and changing them every day based on the new set of constraints that we're facing. All the while trying to maintain safety, and quality. We do not have a final, approved product that we're 100% proud of yet, but we have a timeline and process that we are following
to get there. As of writing, that process forecasts that the keycaps will be further be delayed by two weeks to April 20th- assuming no additional complications. Given the state of the world right now, that assumption seems overly optimistic and we'll continue to update you as we get make progress- or suffer setbacks, in the process.
Legend thickness: Good vs Bad vs CAD design with magnification
Legends without magnification:
Great update, thanks Kevin!!!
Thanks for the in depth update!
Disappointing news, but thank you so much for being transparent with the updates. With all that is going on in the world we understand some of these delays are out of your control. That being said, I can't wait to get my hands and fingers on these keys! I appreciate your attention to detail and am looking forward for the set.
When you spend this much money on something you can get for so much less the story matters a lot. The opportunity to learn new things does too. This post teaches me something and gives me a little story. Thank you for keeping me invested intellectually until I have the chance to be invested monetarily.
Thanks for the update. Don't rush it; take the time to get it right. After waiting this long, it would be silly to rush things at the very end instead of fixing the remaining problems. It's not just about delivering Susuwatari. We need this set to turn out well, so that people will accept doubleshot MT3 as an alternative to GMK/SP for colorways that need doubleshot production.
Thanks for the update, Kevin. I just saw that Matt3o also made an update (on 3/16) and it seems to give the impression that the keycaps have moved into production and no longer being retooled? I might have misread your update, but it seems like the two are in conflict. (https://matt3o.com/susuwatari-goes-production/)
From my understanding, the caps are going into production in April. But they’re trying to fix the current issues without any prototyping. Not sure the details on how they’re doing that, but it seems like the manufacturer is pressuring them to make them now or give up their spot. Delaying now would probably delay the caps for another several months (or more considering that state of things) because they’ll be at the end of the queue.
I’m not sure if Matteo approved the final colors, if that’s approved then any fine tuning to the legends can probably be done remotely ( objectively measurable quantities, unlike color ). Then again, if it’s the pigment proportions in the resin that’s leading to the font thickness issues, I’m not sure !
i don’t presume to understand how manufacturing works, but I’m not sure why giving up a spot would make us go to the end of the queue, would’nt we just swap spots with head-1 ? ( sure, each window is a different length, but start date for head-nth customer would not change No matter how the first n customers get shuffled ?)
The situation is fluid and my interpretation is that the final result is somewhere in between what I've said and Matt3o's blog post. Some less problematic caps are in production now (blanks, etc.) Others have one or two (hopefully not more) sampling rounds to go. We're working to get the tolerances to be as close as feasibly possible.
Thanks for the reply, and for the clarification!