KICKSTARTER UPDATE #13: PRODUCTION ISSUES RESOLVED | REVISED DELIVERY SCHEDULE

Dear Backers,  

As is now more than obvious, we are behind schedule. Thank you very much for your patience and understanding while we continue to resolve some problems and start producing light bulbs at a fast pace once again. Here is a recap of what has happened since May: 

We produced our first set of light bulbs, over 1000 pieces, and started shipping these out in June. Production was starting to go smoothly and although we were a month late with the first batch, we were hoping to ramp up production so that we could deliver the rest of the batches on time or early. However, a few weeks after the first set of light bulbs went out, we received a few reports of light bulbs that died soon after being received. We asked the Kickstarter backers to return the bulbs and we spent some time analyzing and identifying the cause of failure. In the meantime, we paused production. We discovered a problem with the controller IC behavior and we implemented a workaround that fixed the issue. Although this issue didn’t affect a large percentage of bulbs. 

So about August time, we gave the go-ahead for the second, much bigger, batch of production. Thousands of bulbs were ordered. About a month later after bulbs were emerging from the pipeline and started their burn-in testing phase, again we noticed that bulbs were failing. This time, the rate of failure seemed higher. We continued burn-in to gauge a longer term estimate of the failure rate. 2 – 3 weeks on burn-in and bulbs were still failing. We couldn’t ship these bulbs knowing that they might not last all that long out in the field. Therefore, we halted the production again. 

The clear symptom was that in a failed bulb we always found that one of the LEDs had failed and broke the current flow to the rest of the LEDs. No other failed components were found. We first looked closely at the power supply. Although the current to the LEDs is regulated very tightly to prevent any flickering of light, we saw that there is an overshoot of current at the time the bulb is turned on. We thought that this may be the culprit: a surge that overloads the LEDs and causes one to fail. We implemented a soft start feature so that current is ramped up more slowly with zero overshoot upon power up. We produced about 100 bulbs with the soft start to check if the problem was solved. However, the failure rate was not improved and we were still stuck and it was already October. 

The next course of action was to look at the LEDs in detail. These types of LEDs are made on a mass scale and the methods are tried and true, or so we thought. We spent a solid week just looking at failed LEDs under a microscope. We set up several tests to isolate the problem. This is where science and well controlled experimental technique was essential. To make this story short, we discovered that the cavity inside the LED that contains silicone was slightly under filled. This caused an air void near one of the gold wires. The gold wire electrically connects the LED die to the package housing so that the light producing chip can get power. During operation, the light bulb heats up and the silicone inside the LED expands, causing pressure onto one side of the gold wire. Because of the air void, there is no counter pressure to keep the gold wire in place, and it bends on a microscopic scale. Upon repeated thermal cycling, the gold wire is bent back and forth until failure. With great sadness, we declared the approximately 150,000 LEDs plus the hundreds of light bulbs that we produced unusable. It was like being in the middle of a graveyard of LEDs and Nanoleaf bulbs. Yes, saddening, that is all to be said. 

Having identified the problem, we asked for some changes to production in order to drastically improve the reliability of the LEDs. There were three changes that we made that are aimed to strengthen the region of the site of failure dramatically. We did another small production of LEDs, enough for about 60 bulbs and these bulbs have been in burn-in testing for about a week now and so far zero bulbs have failed, whereas before, bulbs started failing after only two days of burn-in. As you might guess, we are extremely happy to see this result. We actually do expect some non-zero failure rate. Like with any product on the market, each part has a certain failure probability and thus a perfectly reliable product is impossible to make. We hope you can see from our story that we care very much about the quality of our Nanoleaf bulbs and we will continue to study points of failure in order to improve long term reliability to the best it can be. 

So, we hope that this Kickstarter update will be taken on a very positive note. We have already asked the facility to start production of new LEDs with our changes. There are a lot of LEDs to be re-made and this will take a bit of time. Production will start this week. The printed circuit boards are already made and ready to go and just waiting for new LEDs. We have a revised production schedule as follows: 

Revised Production Schedule
Revised Production Schedule

Please note that shipping time is approximately 3 – 4 weeks depending on the destination. 

We are quite embarrassed and sorry that we have had to delay these bulbs several times now. We want to get these Nanoleaf bulbs out to the backers desperately. We have been pushing all the production people to bump priorities and get things moving as fast as possible. Thanks so much for your support and patience. 

Sincerely, 

The Nanoleaf Team 

KICKSTARTER UPDATE #12: NANOLEAF SHIPPING STATUS UPDATE

Hi Kickstarter backers, 

There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is we have started shipping out bulbs again. We shipped about 100 bulbs this past week and will continue to do so in the next few weeks (the week of 10/1 is a national holiday in China and our manufacturing facilities have been put on hold). 

The bad news is, we have some quality issues that we’re dealing with. As you all know, we offered three different brightness of bulbs – 1200 Lm, 1600 Lm, 1800 Lm. Of the three types of bulbs, the 1200 Lm bulbs are having some problems during the “burn in” test (a series of stress tests lasting for several days). We are working on identifying the problem and we have been going through several iterations of fixes. Unfortunately, with each fix, we need to manufacture a new set of at least 20 bulbs and put them all through several days of stress tests to see what percentage of them fail, right now we’re at a 15% failure rate for the 1200 Lm bulbs. Our goal is to get the bulbs to a failure rate of less than 2%. Unfortunately, with the 1200 Lm bulbs, it seems like we still have a bit more work to do, but we will send out another update once we fix that problem to keep everyone in the loop.

In the meantime, the 1600Lm bulbs and 1800Lm bulbs are ready to go and they will be shipped out in the order that the pledge was placed. For those of you that ordered the 1200Lm bulbs, please bear with us while we ensure a high quality final product before shipping out the bulbs. For those of you that have already received a 1200 Lm bulb, do not worry as your bulbs are ones that have passed the burn-in test. Typically we have found that if a bulb were to fail, it will fail within the first few days of usage. If you do experience any problems with your bulb, please do not hesitate to log a support ticket athttp://support.thenanoleaf.com and one of our representatives will help you through the problem. 

On a side note, we took the feedback of our backers and added a top cap to the packaging in order to stabilize the bulb during transport. We also made the packaging thicker to reduce the risk of damage during transport. See below for an updated picture!

Thank you all for your continued patience and support.

The Nanoleaf Team

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KICKSTARTER UPDATE #11: MASS PRODUCTION UNDERWAY

Hi Backers,In the past 8 months, our company has gone through some major positive transformations and it is largely thanks to the contribution and support from our awesome KickStarter backers. With the funds raised from KickStarter, we were able to start mass production and really get our invention on its feet. With our last update, we shared with you some pictures of the completed bulbs and we have been shipping them out as they come off the line. It’s been a while since the last update, so it’s time to share with you a few more exciting things that have been going on in our NanoLeaf world:
Production
Our NanoLeaf factory has been hard at work with manufacturing and assembling all the NanoLeaf bulbs for our backers. We’re currently in the process of streamlining our inventory receiving / inspection, production & material flow, safety / automation procedures, and most importantly, stringent testing procedures. We place heavy focus on the quality of our product, so we’re making sure that we eliminate as many manufacturing defects as we can through our meticulous testing and quality control, even if that means that we have to delay our production schedule a bit. We are constantly taking feedback and improving upon our system as well, so all feedback from our backers have been greatly appreciated.With our first batch, we had discovered further problems with the PCB, related to some of our tolerances not being met in the milling of the PCB shape and LED holes. This led to a few issues during final assembly, namely difficulty of inserting LEDs and folding the bulbs into their final shape. We have changed to a new supplier of PCBs for the next production batch. However, the process of working with the new supplier to iterate through several samples has cost us time. The new supplier is now producing PCBs that we are satisfied with and production is continuing.
New Support Page
As with any hi-tech product, issues affecting a small percentage of bulbs are inevitable. Despite our quality control and 4-hour burn-in testing, and even though bulbs leaving our factory are fully working, we have received word from a few backers that their new bulbs have been damaged during transport, simply don’t work, or work for a short time and then fail. For anyone experiencing an issue, please log a support ticket atsupport.theNanoLeaf.com so that we can keep track of all the symptoms that our backers are experiencing and give personal attention to each case.
First Batch of Bulbs Shipped
We have shipped out about 90% (~1000 shipments) of the batch of bulbs that had an estimated delivery date of May. We have printed labels and shipped bulbs in the order that the pledges were made using a procedure that relies largely on automated data processing. However, there were many cases that could not be handled automatically such as cases that had address changes, special characters in names and addresses, pledge amounts that didn’t correspond to the pledge categories, or choosing a voltage that is inappropriate for the destination country. We resolved these cases manually, but often resulting in the shipment losing its priority in the shipping sequence. We are very sorry to those backers that pledged early but have not received a bulb yet. The other complication was that we didn’t have exact numbers of black vs. white bulbs at the time that we started manufacturing. We had to make an estimate. Turns out that we made too many black bulbs and not enough white ones. Please know that it is our top priority to ship out the rest of the May bulbs.
Tracking Numbers
With over 6000 backers, it is essential that we automate as much of the shipping and handling part of the process as possible. It took a bit longer than we had hoped, but we now have the necessary software in place to send out tracking numbers. We have sent tracking numbers to all of the May backers that we have shipped to. If you have not yet received a tracking number, your bulb has not yet been shipped and we apologize for the delay.
Revised Shipment Dates for July / September / October bulbs
We believe that we have now ironed out the quality issues with the PCB. We are in the process of manufacturing the bulbs for the remaining 10% of the May batch, as well as the the July and September batches. A few of you have messaged us asking for the tracking number, and we really appreciate your enthusiasm and excitement to finally be able to get your NanoLeaf bulb, but please know that we are making and shipping these as fast as we can. We will send out the tracking numbers once the bulbs ship. Our next manufacturing run is underway and we expect that the next set of shipments will start going out in September. We really appreciate your patience as we work through the complexities of making and shipping over 6000 bulbs.
Research and Development – The Dimmable Version
Our R&D department has not stopped working on developing the next version of the NanoLeaf. We are aiming to launch it at the end of this year and with it will come several product innovations & improvements. We have gotten lots of great feedback from our backers so we’re working to incorporate them into the next version. Please stay tuned!
NanoLeaf Website
We’ve given our website a complete makeover to better represent our brand as well as to provide an easier and more enjoyable user experience. A few of the changes that we have made to the site include: more pictures, better and more comprehensive presentation of our product details and specifications, as well as an improved overall look and feel of the website. Feel free to check it out: http://thenanoleaf.com. If you need more light bulbs, October pre-orders are being offered via our web-store. However, we won’t be fulfilling these orders until after all the bulbs go out the the Kickstarter backers.

 

User Feedback on the website is also greatly appreciated. Please send feedback to info@thenanoleaf.com.

Distribution
In the last few months, a large number of distributors world-wide have reached out to us about distributing the NanoLeaf bulbs. We’re excited to know that there are others who share our passion in promoting energy efficient products. We are working hard with many of these distributors to get our NanoLeaf bulbs available more widely in different countries!
Photo Contest

The rules to the NanoLeaf photo contest has been posted on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/theNanoLeafPlease go there for the official rules, prizes and other details. We look forward to seeing your awesome submissions! Here is an example entry from one of our backers:

University of Toronto Solar Car Team

Here is a small factoid: the NanoLeaf team (the three of us) met while we worked on the solar power car for the University of Toronto back in 2006. A lot of our project management and engineering skills were learned from that very project. There, we also discovered our passion: renewable/solar energy, power electronics , and other green technologies. Years later, we founded our company with a goal of bringing efficient lighting, and solar power technology to more people. But even further, we strongly believe that if we are going to solve some of the worlds key problems, we need to start by supporting the education of the younger generation. The NanoLeaf is a proud sponsor of the University of Toronto’s Solar Car Project. We have been working closely with them in developing the solar power controller technology for their solar car, which will race 3000km across Australia this October. Most recently, we have been running tests with them in the Bombardier labs in Toronto to put the final touches on the car. The car is an eye opening demonstration of what is possible with Earth-friendly technologies. We strongly support their cause and believe that this is something worthwhile. Please take a moment and support this team of young students who are trying to bring inspiration to the world:http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/all-charged-up-and-ready-to-go
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KICKSTARTER UPDATE #10: NANOLEAF BULBS ARE SHIPPING OUT!

Hi Backers,

After several months of hard work, we’re proud to announce that we have shipped out our very first KickStarter reward! We will be shipping out orders non-stop for the next few days to get our first set of NanoLeaf bulbs on their way to their new owners.

SHIPPING

The NanoLeaf bulbs will be travelling via Swiss Post. To make tracking your reward easier, we are setting up a system that will email you an automated email with the tracking number of your NanoLeaf package upon shipment. 

Once the orders are shipped out, if there are any issues with the delivery, we would recommend you first try contacting Swiss Post directly. If it is something beyond their control, simply send us a message via KickStarter and we would be happy to help.

PACKAGING

The NanoLeaf bulbs will be delivered to you in our eco-friendly packaging. To facilitate easy recognition of what’s in the box, 3 colors are used on the packaging to denote the 3 different models of bulbs (from least brightest to brightest, the colors are blue, green, and yellow). A window is cut in the box so that you can see the actual light bulb. To distinguish the voltage version of the bulb, the appropriate voltage will be checked on the printed checkbox on the packaging.

When your NanoLeaf bulb arrives, please double check that you have received the correct voltage and design as per your order. Although plugging a 220V version into a 120V socket will not hurt the bulb, the brightness will not reach the optimum level. On the other hand, plugging a 120V version into 220V socket will quickly end the life of the bulb (we have tried this). Do not hesitate to contact us if you run into any problems with your order.

FREE SWAG!

Inside each of the NanoLeaf bulb box, you will discover 2 NanoLeaf stickers. Feel free to represent your NanoLeaf pride!

PHOTO CONTEST

We haven’t forgotten about the contest that we announced in an earlier update. We are printing a reminder about it onto the NanoLeaf packaging box. Contest winners will receive prizes in the form of free NanoLeaf bulbs and other goodies! 

To enter the contest, all you need to do is take a photo of your NanoLeaf light bulb in its new home. There are two ways to enter the contest:

1) You can follow us on Twitter, then tweet up to 5 unique and original photos using #mynanoleaf, and tag us @theNanoLeaf.

2) You can ‘Like us’ on Facebook, then upload it onto your Facebook page and tag us in the photo .

We also accept drawings / paintings / artworks that depict the NanoLeaf bulb in some interesting/creative way.

The contest details will be posted on our Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/theNanoLeaf, and our website: http://thenanoleaf.com. We will send out a Kickstarter update notifying you once we do. 

An example of the type of picture we are looking for: 

WARNING LABEL

We have put a lot of work into ensuring that the NanoLeaf light bulb is safe to use. However, we strongly urge everyone to read the warning before operating the NanoLeaf bulb. We have printed all the relevant warnings onto the box itself in an amusing and entertaining way. PLEASE READ IT before connecting your new light bulb. Thanks in advance for taking safety very seriously.

JULY BATCH OF NANOLEAF REWARDS

We have started the production of our next batch of bulbs! We’ll be sending out the surveys for the July batch in the next few weeks. Please make sure to return your survey as soon as possible upon receiving it.

Thank you all for your patience and support, we couldn’t have done it without you. And we’ve included some photos for your enjoyment. 🙂

Until next time, live green Kickstarters! 

The NanoLeaf Team

KICKSTARTER UPDATE #9: FINISH LINE IS NEAR!

Hi Backers,

Time to give you another inside look at what’s happening in our NanoLeaf world! So let’s get started:

PRODUCT LABELING AND LEAF DESIGN

After preparing our circuit boards, they were sent to be engraved with various product specifications. In a small section of the light bulb, we have labeled the lumens, power consumption, and voltage. This way, each light bulb has its specific characteristics clearly marked so they cannot be mixed up. With the two regional voltages (North America 100-140V / Europe & Asia 200-270V), three different brightness levels, and three different colors/designs, it made for a total of 18 different variations of the light bulb. (that’s a lot of information to keep track of!) It demonstrated once again how important it is to have organizational skills! Whew. The good news is, everything came out looking great! 🙂

SURFACE MOUNT TECHNOLOGY (SMT)

After the engraving comes a process called SMT(Surface Mount Technology) in which all of the electronic components are placed onto the circuit board and soldered into place.

The SMT that we’re doing has three basic steps:

  • Step 1. a “solder paste” is first put onto the locations where the components will be placed.
  • Step 2. a robot places all the components in the appropriate locations.
  • Step 3. Finally, the circuit board goes through a “reflow oven” that heats up the board to the point where the “solder” (made of tin, copper, and silver) melts and permanently fixes the components electrically to the circuit connections on the board.

In order to melt lead-free solder, the circuit board must get heated up to about 260 degrees Celsius which is much higher than the heat requirements for solder that has lead. This is where we ran into some slight problems.

We started with an initial test batch of white bulbs, but the heat burnt the paint turning our white color into a beige color. 🙁 The white paint used for our circuit boards was not designed for this high temperature and the supplier did not tell us this in advance. The normal process using lead-based solder is done at a lower temperature, but we did not accept to use lead due to its toxic nature in the environment. We tried varying the temperature, all to no avail.

We decided to not continue with the beige boards, although to some the colour is still passable as white. We promised white light bulbs to the backers and that is what we will deliver.

Fortunately, the supplier was very helpful to make new circuit boards for us with better paint. However, we still lost two weeks of time. Our new schedule is to ship the first set of NanoLeaf light bulbs in early June. We are terribly sorry about this delay but we will do our best to meet this new schedule.

BACK ON TRACK

Since then, we worked with the circuit board supplier to change the paint that was being used to a special high quality white paint that is able to withstand higher temperatures and the problem was solved! A new batch has been made and we are now back on track. We may decide to start offering beige bulbs just to clear up some extra inventory. 😉 By the way, no problems at all with the black circuit boards!

The second time around, the surface mount technology process went smooth and we made over 1000 pieces. The whole process is rather interesting, not only because we are making NanoLeaf bulbs, but because this is the same process that has been used for decades to make the vast majority of high tech electronics that we all use every day. We took a quick video to show you the SMT robot placing the components onto the circuit board (see below).

We’re at our final step in the manufacturing process now and the new NanoLeaf bulbs are about to come to life – hopefully in the next two weeks.

PACKAGING

We have almost completed the design of our eco-friendly packaging and the boxes will be sent for printing and die cutting imminently. To facilitate easy recognition of what’s in the box, we decided to use 3 different colours on the packaging to differentiate the 3 levels of brightness (from least brightest to brightest, the colors are blue, green, and yellow). There will be a window cut in the box so that you can see part of the light bulb inside and from that can tell weather the bulb is black, white, or has the a leaf pattern engraved. Finally, to distinguish the voltage version of the bulb, there will be check boxes on the package with a check mark placed beside the appropriate voltage of the bulb inside. When your light bulb arrives, please double check that you have received the correct voltage and design as per your order. Although plugging a 220V version into a 120V socket won’t hurt the bulb, the brightness will not be full. On the other hand, plugging a 120V version into 220V socket will probably quickly end the life of the bulb (we have tried this). Please, notify us of any problems and we will assist.

That’s all for now, look out for an update in the next few weeks once our completed NanoLeaf bulbs are ready to be shipped!

The NanoLeaf Team

KICKSTARTER UPDATE #7: KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN COMPLETE – PRE-ORDER WEBSITE LIVE

Dear Awesome Backers,

We sincerely appreciate and are grateful for all of your generosity and kind support throughout this project. We ended with 13x our initial goal, and it’s you guys that made this amazing feat possible! As a result of this fantastic turnout, we now have enough funding to choose high quality component suppliers, and ensure that the NanoLights you receive are the best quality that we know how to make. We are working on this project seven days a week and we have a few hired hands helping.

THE NANOLIGHT IS GETTING GREENER!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In the spirit of this “green” holiday, we are pleased to formally announce that we are re-branding the NanoLight to a greener brand name – the NanoLeaf.

As you may have known from reading our bios page, we are a team made up of passionate tree-huggers. In these past few weeks, we have discussed and finally decided that it is in our company’s best interest to make our brand and logo represent the mission of our company, which is ultimately to make the world a greener place through creating energy efficient products. The new identity had to satisfy all of the existing expectations of what our company stands for, while simultaneously moving the brand forward.

Our primary goal is to create a unique and recognizable mark that strongly represents our company’s mission and values.

With that said, we believe that our new NanoLeaf brand will more accurately represent our company’s energy efficient, conservation-focused innovations and technological advancements. We will start to gradually transition our website, logo, and product materials from the NanoLight to the NanoLeaf. Please help us spread the word on our decision to rebrand, and let your friends and family know about the NanoLeaf! It’s the same great product, but now with a greener name. 🙂

PRE-ORDER NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR WEBSITE!

We have added the ability to pre-order lightbulbs directly from our new website -www.theNanoLeaf.com. For those of you looking to order more NanoLeaf Bulbs, you may now place your pre-order through our webstore! The website pre-orders are scheduled to ship out immediately after we fulfill our Kickstarter orders.

For those of you that want more NanoLeaf Bulbs, pre-order from our website – www.theNanoLeaf.com!

MANUFACTURING PROGRESS:

The LED order is finalized and submitted. We have broken the order into two parts. The first order is for 59900 LEDs, which is enough to make 1800 NanoLeaf light bulbs. These bulbs will ship to those backers that have an expected delivery date of April to May. The second order is for 153900 LEDs, and these will be used to make 4650 more light bulbs. These will ship out some time after May. The LEDs are the most expensive component in making our NanoLeaf bulbs, so we are thrilled to finally be able to have enough funding to get our mass production started! The main difference between the three versions of the NanoLeaf light (1200 lumen, 1600 lumen, and 1800+ lumen) is that they use different LED designs at different cost/performance tradeoff points. For those that have ordered the 1800+ lumen bulbs, and are expecting us to have held back no expense for the purchase of LEDs, we are happy say that we have designed the very best LED we could with cost taken out of the equation. The LED chip used in these top performance bulbs is a new chip that is still rarely available.

As you can imagine, we have a lot of work ahead of us and still some challenges. Now that the Kickstarter funds are being released to us, we need to do various bank transfers and issue various purchase orders. It is at the time of the purchase orders that we will start to find out about lead times for components. We are hoping that we will not run into issues with lead times, however, from talking to our suppliers and their purchasers, it appears that sometimes this can become an issue in the manufacturing business when dealing with large quantities. It is new to us and we are still learning. We have no need to announce any delay at this time and will continue to work hard to push the project forward. We will be posting videos clips and pictures on our progress through our Kickstarter Updates, Twitter, and Facebook, to keep you informed on the status of your NanoLeaf.

BACKER SURVEYS:

We will be sending out the surveys for the first batch of bulbs soon to gather your shipping information, color preferences (Black, White, White with Leaf Design) and your regional voltage requirements (120V AC, 220-240V AC). As well as to confirm your order details. Please make sure you return the survey to us in a timely manner so that we can get those NanoLeaf orders finalized!

Please stay tuned for the weeks to come, we will be sending out frequent updates and sharing the manufacturing process with all of you!