Have you ever thought, "Man, I wish somebody would design and build an amazing pen with a ridiculously over-engineered click mechanism?" If not, you're really letting life pass you by. Either way...
Welcome to The Mini-Click Pen Project. After the successful completion and delivery of our previous two pen projects (Ultimate Clicky Pen) & (Ultimate Titanium Clicky Pen) we've kept updating and improving the existing pens as well as working on new designs. One of the things people kept asking for was a smaller, lighter and more compact version of the clicky pen. Now... they also asked us to build sharks with lasers but that's the Kickstarter community for you (I'm serious, people really asked for that on our previous backer survey). After a year of sketching, modeling and working on designs (for the pens, not the sharks), we think we've finally come up with something special.
What is the Mini-Click?
Simply put, it's an all aluminum clicky pen with a body and tip made by us entirely in the USA out of 6061-T6 Aluminum. The pen is designed to be exceedingly lightweight and yet perfectly balanced. It's made to be durable but at the same time clean and elegant with a no obvious breaks in the design and flow of the body (simulated Class A surfacing). To stay put in your pocket, it comes with a new, shorter clip pressed out of spring steel and then powdercoated for durability and corrosion resistance. There is no traditional spacer but any Parker style refill will easily fit into the pen. It will accept cartridges from Fisher, Foray, Parker, Waterman and others. While our previous click pens (and almost every other high-end custom click pen) are driven by the Schmidt SKM-88 mechanism, we decided to take things up a notch. Our pen uses a brand new 416SS Swiss-machined advancing mechanism with a chrome steel ball bearing cam design for silky smooth operation. It is, as far as we know, the world's finest click mechanism available.
What makes this pen different from previous versions?
The differences are subtle but striking. First off, the pen is smaller than many other pens and yet it still fills the hand and balances perfectly for writing. It also fits easily into any pocket or pen sleeve. In addition, the Mini-Click is significantly lighter helping to make it both more comfortable to carry and write with.
Next is the clean and elegant design. I've spent countless hours sketching, designing and modeling this pen. All seams and every arc end-point is hidden meaning that the pen body has a smooth, almost organic profile. Finally, while the material thickness makes for an exceedingly durable pen, the placement of the o-rings and smaller clip help the Mini-Click to maintain a natural sense of proportion.
Lastly... there is the advancing mechanism. At the heart of this pen is a precision, ball bearing cam mechanism Swiss-machined out of 416 stainless steel. This a huge leap forward over any other clicky mechanism we've been able to find (most are made from brass and then plated).
What makes this mechanism so special?
Mostly the material and refinements. Often pen mechanisms are made from brass and plated (easier and cheaper to manufacture but not as durable), we decided to go nuts and machine it out of 416 stainless steel (a much harder and more durable material). This meant we had to have it Swiss-CNC'ed which, while more costly, means we can hold much tighter tolerances (less than .0005" all day long on Chris's Citizen L-20). The G-Code programming done by Chris's shop re-traces the race toolpaths to debur all edges, taking more time but it also means that the chrome steel bearing glides smoothly and the mechanism cycles like butter. It's much more expensive and time consuming to make it this way but it really is pretty awesome. Plus, the 416SS and chrome steel will wear better and last much longer than plated brass. It's complete overkill for a pen mechanism but hey... if you're going to make one, might as well go all out, right?
Note: We are constantly refining, tweaking and improving our designs. The final mechanism might look a little different than the current functional prototypes. That said, we're really diggin' on the latest grooved version.
What is this Swiss-CNC / Swiss-machinig you keep prattling on about?
Right, good question. A Swiss-type lathe is designed to machine small, very high-tolerance parts. The stock is advanced with a collet but the work-piece is also held steady in a guide-bushing. Since all cutting is done right at the guide-bushing, there is virtually no deflection during cutting. This means that parts which are otherwise difficult or impossible to produce on a tradition lathe can be quickly and efficiently turned, often in a single operation if the lathe has a sub-spindle, on a Swiss-CNC and held to extreme tolerances. These machines are ridiculously expensive, difficult to setup and program... and astoundingly awesome. In short, they are the perfect tool for making our 416SS pen mechanism.
Who are we?
I'm Jack (owner of Tuff Writer), the designer, pen fanatic and machinist. There's Peachy, she handles shipping and cookies. Joe puts stuff together and makes sure we have enough parts. Last but not least, Savannah assembles mechanisms and tells raunchy jokes (you can take the girl out of the Army but you can't take the Army out of the girl).
Why are we funding it on Kickstarter?
While we have the design and pre-production units dialed in, making a run of pens with a new design as well as a custom click mechanism is deceptively expensive. Swiss-CNC machining only becomes affordable with larger production runs and trying to have a new pen mechanism made means having to make a slew of them (the mechanisms cost more per unit than the pen bodies themselves). In addition, a new smaller pen means having to stamp new smaller clips and that requires a new die. Last but not least, the feedback from the Kickstarter community is absolutely invaluable in dialing in the design and getting feedback from our users. In fact, this entire project was conceived based on the feedback from our previous two successful projects.
What flavors does it come in?
Glad you asked. Right now we've got a few different finishes and colors available:
The Tumbled Finish: Right off the machine then tumbled and deburred for a smooth finish.
The Blasted / Satin Finish: Each one of these will first be tumbled and deburred, then individually blasted with to achieve a satin-like finish similar to shark-skin.
The Polished Finish: If you like shinny, these are probably the ones you're looking for. Swanky.
Like something a bit more flashy?
Anodized Black: Because let's face it, black is the new black. Classy as ever:
Length: 5.125 inches
Thickness: 0.450 Inches
Weight: 1.1 oz.
Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum
Clip: 1075 Spring Steel
Mechanism: 416SS USA Made Advancing Mechanism
Refill: Fisher (SPR4) - Included
What refills will it take?
Any Parker compatible refill, including:
- Parker GEL or QuinkFlow
- Franklin-Christoph Ultra-Glide
- Schmidt Easyflow 9000
- Schmidt Pressurized
- Schmidt Private Reserve P900
- Fisher (Space Pen)
- Foray Rollerball
- Montevered Soft Roll
Since we already have suppliers lined up we can move pretty quickly once the project funds. I've already spoken with our suppliers to get scheduling commitments:
- Once the project funds things will move quickly. Material suppliers can have material to our doorstep in 1-2 weeks. Once we have material, we will begin having pen bodies and mechanisms machined. Both should be ready in 4-8 weeks.
- The clips will be stamped locally and there's a 2-3 week wait for the new die to be made. Then another 1-2 weeks for stamping and another 2 week wait on heat-treating. Once the clips are completed our local powdercoater can turn them around within 2 weeks.
- Once the pen bodies are back, we will do all post-machine finishing (tumbling, blasting, polishing) in-house and should be able to turn around 35 tumbled pens, 50 polished and about 100 blasted pens a day. Because these do not have to wait on anodizing, they will start shipping first.
- Our anodizer has a 2-3 week lead time right now so we'll drop pens off in batches of 50-100 as they are ready to keep things moving (prep and drop-off fresh ones while picking up the last batch every few days).
- Every pen will have to be cleaned before assembly and we can easily clean and dry 200+ pens a day.
- Finally, there is assembly. We can assemble anywhere between 50-100 pens a day once they are prepped and cleaned (like a well oiled machine, I tell you).
- Mechanism assembly is tedious and time-consuming (has to be done with a magnifier) but we should be able to assemble 50-75 of these a day.
As you can see, our previous pen projects have prepared us well for this project and we can realistically scale up to over a 1,000+ pens without slipping too much on the delivery timelines. If project funding exceeds that, pens will still ship within the original delivery window but later backers will probably end up having to wait a few extra weeks (We would then consider breaking machining orders into batches with our suppliers. This would be more expensive but it would help get the first orders pushed out on time).
Risks and challenges
With the successful completion of our previous two projects we have a pretty good idea of what it will take to get this one completed and delivered. We've already completed functional pre-production units, done quite a bit of the groundwork and secured materials suppliers. We believe that doing all of this work ahead of time has allowed us to significantly mitigate most project risks in terms of completion or delivery, well worth the effort in our eyes.We are dependent on our Swiss-CNC supplier for engineering and manufacture of the mechanisms but they've assured us that they are up to the challenge and have already made 2 small batches of prototypes that have far exceeded our expectations (including the latest version with the chamfered grooves) and proven that we can get these reliably manufactured.
All post-machine finishing (blasting, tumbling, polishing) is handled by us. Our regular anodizing suppliers are up to the challenge. We've sourced all of the o-rings and bolts and our stamping guy is ready to make clips.
With our team hand assembling every single pen, Peachy handling post-assembly inspection and keeping us fueled with Chipotle and some cookies, I am confident in being able to meet our projected delivery timelines.
With our experience in high-quality, small run manufacturing and order-fulfillment we feel comfortable that we can complete the project in a timely manner and deliver a truly amazing reward to our backers, something special that you just can't get anywhere else..Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)