Quality Assurance at Filimin
How do you know you're getting a quality product? What about craftsmanship? Maybe you are nervous to buy a Friendship product: "What if it doesn't really work? What if this breaks?"
Buying new things is always an exercise of trust. If you go to a new restaurant and order a steak, you're gambling on it; will it be a delicious treat, or a terrible waste of money? Buying things online is even more of a gamble. Will this item arrive? What if it's a scam?
You do what you can to mitigate risk. You read reviews, shop on trusted sites, and follow tracking numbers. You research on websites, look for money-back guarantees, and ask google your most pressing questions. Things like "Kitchen-aid mixer warranty", "Nintendo switch problems", or "Nvidia graphics card failure rate". You want to know what it costs, how long it will last, and what happens when it breaks down.
So what about us? What do we do to help you feel more confident in your Filimin purchase? First of all, every Friendship Lamp we send out comes with our Forever Guarantee. It's our promise that any defect in the lamp (hardware or software) is on us. We stand behind that because we believe that we are doing everything we can to make sure we create a high quality product.
Secondly, throughout the process of creating a Friendship Lamp, we test the parts daily for both quality and functionality. We'll walk you through all of it below, but if you want the cliff-notes, we're very thorough in our testing. This makes us confident that your lamp will work as intended and if it doesn't, you'll get a new one!
If you want to learn a little about how Friendship Lamps are made, check out this article, How are Friendship Lamps made?
We start by cutting acrylic sheets into smaller pieces for the lamps. After we cut the acrylic, we check to see how our laser cutters (lovingly named Daniel and Lilly) are working. If the laser is too strong, it will leave burn marks on the acrylic. If it's not strong enough, it won't cut all the way through. This leads to the smaller pieces being still attached to each other and then they need to be broken apart so the sharp edges can be dulled.
Our acrylic arrives with a sheet of paper adhered to it. This protects it from getting scratches while in transit. We leave the paper on to keep the acrylic protected until the very end of the assembly process when we glue the lamp shade onto the base.
When we assemble the bases, each board goes on our programmer. While the circuit board is at this step, we cycle through the colors to make sure that all the LEDs are lighting up properly. We also touch the sensor to make sure it works correctly so your group will never miss one of your touches.
At the end of the day, once we've glued a cart full of Friendship Lamps into their bases, we plug them all in for an overnight test. We have a system designed by John and Pankaja that monitors them for "phantom touch" and makes sure they all get updated to the latest firmware.
"Phantom touch" is whenever the lamp changes color without being touched. This can happen for a few different reasons, one of them being an issue with adhesion. We test for it overnight and any lamp that registers even a single touch during the night is sent back to be redone.
After the lamps have dried and tested, we do a manual touch test every morning. We touch every lamp a few times to make sure it responds properly to touch. As the glue dries, conductivity gets better so we want to make sure that they are completely dry before testing them. If a lamp is difficult to change or doesn't respond to touch at all,we reject it and send it to be repaired.
When we go to pack Friendship Lamps into their boxes, we do a final set of quality tests. We pick it up and give it a good pull, trying to remove the shade from the base. If it pops off, then it wasn't glued securely enough and it is rejected to be fixed. After that, we look at the whole lamp underneath a light to check for large scratches or other blemishes. If we find any, you know the drill: rejected and repaired.
Lastly, when we scan it into the shipping computer, it runs a final check on the lamp. It confirms that it actually did go through every step of testing and passed. If the computer can't confirm the lamp was tested for everything, it won't be shipped. We do this to make sure we never miss a step for any of the lamps we make. We want to make sure that no coding errors happened during the update process or if a lamp didn't get plugged in for testing, we won't send it out.
We are constantly updating our processes and materials to better ourselves and our product. A great example is our bubble wrap! We noted that a few customers wrote in to tell us that their courier mishandled their package, causing damage to their lamp in shipping. We looked at how different packaging techniques might protect the lamps from common ways of being mishandled. Below is a video of us testing out our old boxes.
"The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down." - Adam Savage
We put an accelerometer in the box with the lamp and tried different packaging methods. We dropped from different heights and tossed them to an imaginary porch, doing our best UPS/FedEx impression. This (very fun) experiment led to a change in our packaging that we hope has handled the issue. We altered the way we wrap the lamps in bubble wrap, and instead of using one sized sheet, we use two different sizes for different parts to better protect the Friendship Lamp.
So what about those repairs? How are issues fixed?
As lamps are pulled and sent to repairs, they are marked and organized as they wait to be fixed. Different issues take different repair methods, but generally we need to remove the shade, clean the excess glue off and re-glue it back into the base. While they wait for this, they sit upon the shelf of shame!
Some scratches can be polished out, and some blemishes can be fixed if they are minor enough. These will be fixed and sent back through quality testing.
If something can't be fixed, or simply would take way too much time to fix, we set it aside as a refurbished lamp. As long as they function correctly and only have cosmetic issues (like a scratch or a stray drop of glue) we keep them. These lamps we either give away on our Facebook page during a contest or donate them to the Wichita Women's Initiative Network. The lamps we donate are sold at half price to support this non-profit and help survivors of domestic abuse.
Wrapping it up...
As you can probably tell, here at Filimin, our main priority is to connect families and friends no matter where they are in the world. We believe that connection and communication are integral parts of humankind. Our mission is to strengthen emotional connections with loved ones by using technology creatively to enhance relationships in beautiful and meaningful ways. For this reason, we put extra care and effort into the quality of our products so that when your Filimin friendship product arrives, you'll know that it was made with you in mind. If for some reason you're unhappy with your Filimin product, please reach out to our customer service team so they can take care of you.