Development Update #1 – Factory Shenanigans

February 2, 2014
factory

Our CTO Nelson just got back from a month long trip to Shenzhen, where we made good headway with DFM (design for manufacture) at our partner factory! We are now doing engineering verification, cutting individual parts out of plastic using CNC machines, and assembling them with the PCBs by hand. The new samples are a huge step up from previous prototypes, and we’re excited to share them with you!

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Working closely with engineers at the factory, we made several refinements to the industrial design and mechanical structure, and uncovered a few issues that we need to resolve before creating the production molds this month.

Overall, the Arc is now much thinner and lighter than previous prototypes. This leaves room in our weight budget for solid steel inside the headband (which ensures a snug fit without being too tight) and aluminum extension railings. We can now also achieve higher bend/extended lifetimes and better overall reliability., and the next batch of factory samples will be subjected to the full, rigorous testing gauntlet.

A major issue we just dealt with is the port hole for the audio cable: it’s angled a bit too much because of the shape of the headphones. Although we’re designing our audio cable to fit exactly with the Arc, we know from experience that at some point you’ll try to use a cable from another product, and it may not fit perfectly. We tested various audio cables and they all managed to plug in, but some did not click into place and were loose – causing left or right audio to drop out sometimes.

We scoured the connector markets in Shenzhen and sifted through countless data sheets in hopes of finding an audio connector that would sit flush with the case surface, to no avail. The final solution was to flatten the angle on the metal accent only around the audio port, without affecting the overall shape of that piece. Our next batch of samples will have this change implemented.

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A few other small issues included the head cushion requiring thicker padding, and the side accent piece being too sharp – don’t want to get a finger caught in there!

Stay tuned for next week’s update, where we’ll go over the comfort and audio quality on this sample batch!

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