When I showed a sneak-preview of this site and blog for some friends they saw the picture of an antique factory and wondered if we had moved to Skansen, the famous outdoor museum of Stockholm, where it is situated. Well, of course not, but the picture illustrates well our intentions: an actual factory albeit small-scale, craftsmanship and action. Let me explain this and then show some real pictures of our lab.
First, to have a factory means having control over how things are made, and to be able to quickly make changes. Today when I talk about creating haptic hardware, many people assume I will have it manufactured somewhere far away, most likely on the other side of the world. This works well for mass-production but also makes it very hard to make updates or customization, maybe one reason why we seldom see updated version of competing haptic devices. It also introduces communication barriers and not to mention numerous meetings and unnecessary travel. Also, I believe we could use modern manufacturing methods like cnc machining, laser-cutting and 3D-printing which becomes more and more affordable, automated and usable by non-specialists (see for example research by Stephanie Mueller at MIT about Personal Fabrication).
Second, the romantic old factory illustrates craftsmanship (if one looks beyond the fact that most workers in Sweden had inhumane working conditions back then). And having local access to skilled craftspersons helps growing our own practical knowledge, and joint knowledge of how something e.g. should be designed best for manufacturability.
Third, action, a factory is the opposite to the Swedish proverb mycket snack och lite verkstad (lot of talk but no workshop). So having a workshop is very much action.
So with this preamble, lets show where we are at!
In the summer of 2017 we (our parent company Forsslund Systems) acquired a super nice office space in Sundbyberg, Stockholm, Sweden:
It is brand new and we were the first tenants, so we could even had it modeled to our instructions. Being new also meant totally empty, so we had to furnish it and turn it into an office and lab environment ourselves. Therefore it was not until late November we could actually have a formal inauguration. The ceiling is very high and I wished I had a 360 camera to show you how it all looks like, but these photos from the inauguration will have to do for now.
And a later picture showing a messy lab in December:
But, what about the actual factory, you think? Where are the machines? Well, the blessing of living in Sundbyberg, we don’t have to walk far to manufacture our prototypes. Here is a picture from our local machine workshop, where a part is being made for us (the purple box on the screen).
Down the road we are very interested in getting some more fabrication tools ourselves, to at least be able to manufacture some parts. If you have own experience of a modern, affordable 4+ axis cnc machine, let us know. So far we can do assembly, and soldering of our own printed circuit boards. We have also good processes for ordering custom-made laser cuts, e.g. for wooden haptics kits, and said circuit boards.