Most New55 supporters already know of the program's continuing need for time and money. The Kickstarter funds were crucial to doing so much of the work to establish an industrial capacity for New55 FILM and so other new film-related products could be manufactured in the future. Here are some key areas:
The Receiver Sheet
Like any project with unknown variables, New55 has had its share of false starts, delays, design changes, flops and successes. One big flop was the old receiver sheet coating that was found to be too complex, too environmentally unsound, and too expensive - if made the way Polaroid made it in the past. It was a hard and expensive lesson, and even though it was anticipated that a start-from-scratch situation could occur if that development failed at first, it wasn't planned to go that way. But it did go that way, and an all-new, water based receiver sheet coating had to be invented. The new receiver has now recently shown to have a reasonable chance of being cost effective and a good performer. The team has its fingers crossed because even though it is a relatively simplified design, it is still new and risky and has never been made before in production quantities.
New55 pays $2000 per hour at the commercial coater to test run and do final runs. It is the sincere hope of the team that the commercial coating will go smoothly and take two to three days to complete. There is no guarantee that will be the case, and you will be among the first to know if there are problems with this important step. Today the team is trying to solidify the exact date of this coating event and the thought is that it is only a couple of weeks away.
Sleeve Assembly, and Cost Opportunities
In other areas, decent progress continues to be made. The sleeve assembly has undergone substantial changes so it may, one day, be produced on high speed machinery at a lower cost. Everyone familiar with the project realizes that at first, the product will be very expensive to produce and that by iteration supported by sales the manufacturing costs should decrease over time. One nice thing about this improved sleeve is that it looks more like the "readyload" system and therefore could be used to make a single sheet reloaded 4x5 convenience product, if there is support for it.
Another lagging item is the pod machine. This is owned by 20X24 and we are grateful it is in the building, but work to reconfigure it to make the right pods for New55 has lagged and is now also behind schedule. Work is being done to try to catch up and although it is an unanticipated expense, various supplemental fundraising ideas and initiatives are being pursued to support that and the other things that still need to be done.
If you recall there was quite a lot of talk about the clip in the past. The design team took a chance with a very much improved clip made of stainless steel rather than just copy the soft steel that was used in the past. It turned out to be a good decision - the clip works well and has been so trouble free it now gets taken for granted. The initial cost per clip is 25 cents which is high. Working toward a less expensive clip is a future task.
The Shop, and Administration
It takes a lot of coordination and organization to set up an online store and a fulfillment system. New55 can't just "ship out" boxes of anything as that would be very expensive to do. A fulfillment center that happens to be run by an ex-Polaroid person will act as warehouse and order taker assuming there is a product. We must have this system and the accounting and manufacturing planning resources in place for production. These areas tend to be out of the sight and comprehension of consumers. To date, the shop has one item, a T shirt (in various sizes) and has sold about $3000 worth. This helps the team learn how to run the shop and the fulfillment center with something less critical than film, and makes a small but very important amount of additional cash available for the rest of the project. The response to the T shirt is so good that there is an eagerness to put up several of the supporter-suggested products like the "readyload" and monobath to help raise more funds. Watch for these items in the store.
New55 has four important information channels that include the Kickstarter list, this blog, the Facebook page, and the mailing list. Many people who supported the Kickstarter do not use Facebook, so they need to have regular updates. Many new people have come into New55 through Facebook but never look at the blog or Facebook. Then there are those who signed up to the mailing list. There is also a minor presence on Twitter and a growing one on Instagram. With all these channels it is sometimes hard to get the word out consistently, so we ask you to help chime in to assist those with questions and continue to share in the overall effort.
New55 FILM is late and the cost over run has been discussed and also the possibility that work could be slowed or stopped if the money runs out. That lead to various fundraising ideas and a push for fundraise-friendly products. Meanwhile important progress has been made and results look good. There is still risk and the team is working diligently on all aspects of the mission of creating a new industrial capacity for the manufacture of an instant film product.