In general, progress has been steady and a number of important milestones have been met. These include:
The Sleeve Machine is operating and produces usable assemblies. The system still needs to be calibrated, mounted on a rigid base, and the feed system needs to be built. One problem is the motor control which is too coarse so we will have to replace the servo with a stepper. Another problem are the tape guides which are too wide and need to be redesigned. None of these problems require discovery.
The Receiver Sheet design has progressed considerably but is not near completion. A new reduced-step formula has been experimented with by Ted McLelland and Jake Kellett, and a number of test impressions have yielded fair Dmax and image formation, with some evidence of color control. We discovered that the neutralization scheme used by Polaroid to stabilize their receiver sheet is not very aggressive. We also saw using scanning electron microscopy the original receiver sheet which has lower porosity than imagined from the literature. This is a puzzle. An intensive discovery experiment plan will remain underway for this important component. The versatility of silver and its many forms astounds us! I like the Ag2S the best, personally.
Test Samples of paper bases from an important vendor have arrived in small quantities. This is just the first step in what looks like a circuitous chain of events including laminating, rerolling, converting, coating, and further converting, in at least three location widely separated by geography. Still, it all seems possible.
Our first film supplier agreement was finalized by Sam and there is now a production, shipping and payment schedule in place which will - if all goes right - result in about a third of our first production order arriving at our dock in August. The hot weather at that time makes us worry about heat damage so some heat sensors will travel along with the first shipment. Sam will be visiting this vendor along with our importer/agent to assure that there is a proper understanding and commitment in place as we progress to production quantities.
The infamous clip tooling has finally been ordered. There was a lot of back and forth on this deceptively complex part regarding dimensions and tolerances, surface finish, base material, and edge radii. The clip is still about 7 weeks out due to a delay in the tooling order, but that is now in place and the vendor appears to be getting to it this week.
The air conditioning in the upstairs lab now works well, which means we can operate in the safer environment with a good fume hood and not melt. I can't imagine what the electric bill will be like this Summer.
I am also still running after acquiring our own scanning electron microscope. There are dozens of these surplus for under 10K, so one would think we could get one in here and operating for 25K or less. It is not clear we can, but I am still trying.
In general, much progress has been made but there are many things yet to be done, and some discovery in the form of coatings technology that still will require attention, possibly up to product release - and perhaps beyond.