April 27, 2010

Inside the factory

Posted in Design, Production, Prototyping tagged , , , , at 7:28 am by Kilo

We are currently touring various town of Northern Italy visiting potential manufacturing partners. It is quite an interesting experience as these guys have lots of knowledge of the limitations and possibilities of the materials and production techniques that are helping inform our designs and correct various assumptions we are making out of inexperience.

Yesterday we visited a company that showed us the various characteristics of the different silicone rubbers they use (supplied by major companies like Wacker and Dow Corning), and had a great discussion on various manufacturing processes and options available from this company.

It is extremely interesting to talk to the senior people at such companies face-to-face, because you get a good sense of their expertise and approach to problem solving. It was also very useful to have the 3D prototypes available, as we could discuss in great detail various design feature and possible changes to make the Jellypods products better. Yesterday we had a very good meeting near Bologna (picture above), and today we will visit another two factories with slightly different product focuses, from culinary products through medical to industrial parts. We want to see the variety of options available before selecting a partner.

What is interesting is that, so far at least, the cost-per-piece of making Jellypods in Europe is very competitive with making them in Asia – something we thought might be the case, but still a bit surprising given how often Asian suppliers feature in the global industrial supply chain. Since we have a European base, it might be quite useful to be a short drive from the factory; plus there are some marketing advantages to being able to claim “Made in Italy” or “Made in Germany”.

Jellypods is at an early stage and we will certainly make mistakes as we move through the process of manufacturing, but hopefully by thinking through the problems early and working closely with such partners we will limit the most expensive mistakes to a minimum. More updates on this subject as we continue our journey across Italy.

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