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Airfoil is a beautiful unique twist pen inspired by engineering in aviation. Crafted from titanium, aluminum, SS, & 24K gold.
Airfoil is a beautiful unique twist pen inspired by engineering in aviation. Crafted from titanium, aluminum, SS, & 24K gold.
102 backers pledged $9,597 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$9,597

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Airfoil, aviation inspired, breathtaking design  

Airfoil is a beautifully detailed twist pen inspired by engineering design in aviation. For those who pay attention to the details around them you may notice the resemblance of the bolt circle to a Gatling/mini gun mounted on fighter jets, the ribbing to the framework on planes, the end cap to the engine housing on jets, and the distinct curves and differences in surface area associated with generating lift, hence the name Airfoil. 

This pen boasts a bold industrial design that will stand out from the crowd. Each pen is assembled by hand, tested, and carefully inspected. Titanium models are partially hand crafted. 

For the most detailed review, check out what the Everyday Commentary had to say after trying Airfoil out for 2 weeks. 

“This writing tool is simply spectacular. The twist mechanism is amazingly, almost inconceivably smooth” - Everyday Commentary

"The Airfoil is definitely a conversation starter. The 7075 Aluminum is nicely machined, and the red anodizing looks good too." - Ed Jelley

"The Airfoil is very Ferrari-like" - Ed Jelley

"The Masterstroke Airfoil pen really is awesome to look at and I’ve really not seen another pen that has such a unique look" - Office Supply Geek

“When you are writing there is little to no weight or imbalance perceived” - Pen Paper Ink Letter

“Reliable and consistent” - The Clicky Post

Important! This is a relaunch since I set my goal way too high in the first project. Some changes to the design that are not reflected in the pictures include the following. 

Updated Design
Updated Design

Engraving: This will no longer be big and in white. "Airfoil" will reside on the clip. "Masterstroke" will be engraved on the circumference.

Beveled edges: The dedicated pen reviewers that critiqued my pen were bothered by the sharpness of the fins. This will be addressed and a bevel/chamfer added to the fins and a few other edges to make this pen as nice to the touch as possible. 

Clips: Included! Color options available. 

Boxes: That's subject to change, the old design isn't that great, not the easiest to open. I'm working on something I hope is better.

Gap: That gap you see in the center of some of the pens? That won't be there on the Kickstarter run. It's only there on the prototypes because I added a clip later during the project. 

Airfoil Aluminum Edition

Features

  • CNC precision machined from aluminum  
  • Laser engraved with brand and series ID
  • Bead blasted & anodized for a matte finish except for pink. 
  • Weight: 1.4 oz or 39 grams

Customize your aluminum Airfoil pen

Available body colors (choose 1)
Dark Red
Bright Red
Pink
Silver
Black
Available fin colors (choose 1)
Black
Silver
Available clip colors (choose 1)
Black
Silver
Available center column styling (choose 1)
Nickel plated (standard)
Black Nickel plated (Free)
24K gold plated (add $5 to pledge)
Available bolt styling (choose 1)
Stainless steel bolts (standard)
Nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)
Black nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)

 
*the gap in the center column will be much smaller, advanced prototypes shown
*the gap in the center column will be much smaller, advanced prototypes shown

Airfoil Titanium Edition

*Advanced prototype shown. Center gap will not be on Kickstarter models.
*Advanced prototype shown. Center gap will not be on Kickstarter models.
 
Features  
  • CNC precision machined from grade 2 titanium 
  • Laser engraved with brand and series ID  
  • Electropolished
  • Weight: 1.9 oz or 54 grams

Customize your electropolished titanium Airfoil pen

Available center column styling (choose 1)
Nickel plated (standard)
Black Nickel plated (Free)
24K gold plated (add $5 to pledge)
Available bolt styling (choose 1)
Stainless steel bolts (standard)
Nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)
Black nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)

Airfoil Black Titanium Edition

*Unpolished prototype shown. Sample below shows polished finish.
*Unpolished prototype shown. Sample below shows polished finish.
 
Polished then black PVD coating
Polished then black PVD coating

 *PVD mimics the surface finish, therefore to get a nice polished finish, the part is polished before coating. 

Features  

  • CNC precision machined from grade 2 titanium  
  • Laser engraved with brand and series ID  
  • Polished then black PVD coated
  • Weight: 1.9 oz or 54 grams

Customize your black titanium Airfoil pen

Available center column styling (choose 1)
Nickel plated (standard)
Black Nickel plated (Free)
24K gold plated (add $5 to pledge)
Available bolt styling (choose 1)
Stainless steel bolts (standard)
Nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)
Black nickel plated (add $5 to pledge)

 Dimensions of Airfoil 


Dimensions: 5.29" (134.4mm) long, 0.600" (15.2mm) diameter, 0.560" (14.2mm) diameter at the third groove.
Dimensions: 5.29" (134.4mm) long, 0.600" (15.2mm) diameter, 0.560" (14.2mm) diameter at the third groove.

The ink cartridge

High quality smooth ballpoint ink cartridge included
High quality smooth ballpoint ink cartridge included

 The MonteVerde® Ballpoint Cross® Type Refill provides strong, smooth writing. 

Function

  • Simple maintenance. No tools necessary. To change refills simply slip off the airfoil frame assembly & unscrew the refill cartridge. 
Simple to change refills
Simple to change refills

Quality Assurance

After reviewing some really popular pen projects I noticed that backers were unhappy with the quality of the pens they received and felt ripped off or tricked by exaggerated claims. I hope to let my backers know everything about that would concern the consumer (through reviews, messages, and my story). No smoke and mirrors, no exaggerated claims, no over hype. (The Japanese tend to be modest anyhow). All pens are assembled and inspected by hand, they must all twist smoothly and effortlessly. They must be free of nicks and damage. The surface finish must be exactly as how I describe it on Kickstarter. 

Not too sure how to order?

I'll be sending out a survey after funding and it will have all the options and a comment section where you can let me know what colors you want. If you have any questions still please feel free to send me a message, I try to get back within 12-24 hours :)

Stretch Goal

If this Kickstarter project reaches $10,000 in funding I will offer 24K gold plated bolts as an additional replacement option of the stainless steel bolts for all backers who have ordered a pen for $5. Post Kickstarter it will be featured as an add-on option for around $10.00.

Limited Quantities  

I see limited quantities on all of the rewards, will there be more? In the event I run out of rewards I will offer new ones. This just gives me more control so that I can meet my promised delivery dates. 

Production Plan

Late February: Successful funding. Send out surveys. Order pen kits & bolts with savings money. 

Early March: Collect survey data. Money is transferred to my account. Begin production. Pre-ordering on website starts. Pen kits arrive, send center column & bolts out for plating. 

Mid March: Machined parts arrive. Tap them in house, ship them to polisher. Plated center columns & bolts arrive. Boxes arrive. Assemble & ship out Airfoil Aluminum Edition. Send out titanium parts for electropolishing. 

Early April: Polished pens for Gold Backers arrive. Assemble & ship out. Ship polished pens to PVD coater for black PVD coating. 

Late April: Black PVD coated pens arrive. Assemble and ship out. Done :)

Supply Chain: Where is all of this made?

After reviewing some really popular pen projects I noticed that backers were unhappy with the quality of the pens they received and felt ripped off or tricked by exaggerated claims. I hope to let my backers know everything about that would concern the consumer (through reviews, messages, and my story). Like I said, no smoke and mirrors, no exaggerated claims, no over hype. (The Japanese tend to be modest anyhow)

I contacted American companies (40 machine shops) first for all processes, and unfortunately, none of them would take on my project (they didn't want to work with a start-up, a 19 year old kid without credit, could not profit from my parts, understaffed from the recession, or just didn't reply) I had to resort to working with a precision machine shop in China that I had done business with for the past year. They are just as good (if not better with service & turnaround time). And as a blessing to me, they accept small jobs and prototyping. 

Design: Done in the USA

This is done first by observing the world around me, drawing inspiration from details. Or sometimes during class when I'm not really paying attention (let's be honest here, we've all day dreamed or doodled before right?). Then translated onto 3x5 index cards, then on my computer at home in CAD. I also do CAD services for other people (I've CADed a pen for another potential Kickstarter). Message me if you have drawings and would like to see it in CAD. 

Most of the Machining & Anodizing: Done in China

Done by a precision machine shop in Shenzhen, China. I won't disclose the company since I don't want to make it too easy for others to copy my design. I've already executed 5 prototype and production runs, and there have been some parts that had less than favorable coatings or incorrect parts. They acknowledge their mistakes and take back the parts to redo. You will never get any of those parts. I take pride in making nice stuff and impressing people, any dissatisfied critique is quite a blow to me. I explain to the company exactly what specs I need for my parts and their precision of the good parts on par with American machine shops. The precision of the parts (I've checked) really are to the one thousandths of an inch (0.001"). And as pen reviewer Ed Jelley said "The 7075 Aluminum is nicely machined, and the red anodizing looks good too."

Internal components: Purchased in the USA

This is the twist pen mechanism. I have no idea where it is made, but I purchase them from the Woodturners catalog, an American company. Bolts are purchased from Mcmaster-Carr. 

Gold, nickel, and black nickel plating: Done in the USA

This is done by the 1928 Jewelry Company in California. As a warning, gold plating is thin and therefore not very strong, the plating they provide has held up considerably, but under wear they do flake. Nickel is much more durable. Since it is located on the center column this should not be a big problem. 

Electropolishing and Black PVD coating: Done in the USA

This is done in Illinois and Pennsylvania by Able Electropolishing and Richter Precision respectively.  Both are very good companies, To explain the durability of black PVD coating, the coating has a hardness greater than carbide (extrapolated over 80 Rc). "This higher hardness gives cutting tools, forming tools, and wear components much greater protection against abrasive wear". Tools don't typically get dropped on the ground (the resulting collision has a lot more impulse force), but they do experience extreme cutting pressure and wear. PVD should be one of the most durable coatings you will find anywhere. 

Ink Cartridge: Purchased in the USA

I buy the ink from various American companies, usually from Woodturners catalog. Engineered in the USA. 

Boxes: Done in China

Made in Shenzhen, China by JINLICHANG (HK) INT’L CO., LTD, another manufacturer that I have worked with for over a year. 

Finishing, roll tapping titanium, loctite application, assembly, cleaning, inspecting, and packaging: Done in the USA

Your pen will be packed in its box, and then in a corrugated cardboard box (no bubble wrap envelopes here), these puppies have had a lot of work invested in them, they need to arrive perfectly intact. All done in house, done in the USA. 

So in summary, I'd say about half made in the USA, half made overseas. I did the best I could with the resources I had. Hopefully after a few more Kickstarter projects I can purchase a CNC lathe, maybe a Haas, or a GT-27 and proudly label my pens as "Made in the USA" and who knows, maybe even expand and create some jobs. America needs to bring back some manufacturing of really high quality products, like Teslas (my role model) and The Blue Lace Project. It all starts here, I've got my foot halfway in the door to "Made in the USA" I need your help to make the other half a reality.

*Note: If you know any US companies that can do some of this I'd be happy to check them out, recommendations welcome.

The Airfoil Story

Anyone that appreciates the quality and prestige that comes with unique pens will have heard of the Mont Blanc line of writing instruments. I felt however, that although their quality and craftsmanship is legendary, their design has fallen victim to knockoffs, it is no longer original to the untrained eye.

I sought to develop a writing instrument that was contemporary, could boast extraordinary detail, was inspired by American ingenuity and achievement, was durable, avoided high pricing, and above all looked and felt great.

My design journey began by looking at past pen projects on Kickstarter, specifically the titanium pens. I thought many were great, but conservative in design, some over priced, perhaps someone could introduce something radical, something new, that looked different and stood out.

The focus I decided on, was to differentiate my pen design by redesigning the body. Most pens have a plain tube, I wanted a design that utilized curves, had depth, structural strength, and was easily recognizable from common pen designs.

This was my very first pen design & prototype. Unfortunately the weight distribution was very poor & aesthetically, the pen was not very appealing. I chose to ditch this design and head back to the drawing board. 

Early concept design
Early concept design

 But that still wasn't enough. It needed inspiration. Personally, I feel that America has given us an unprecedented amount of opportunity in terms of careers, experiences, and education. I wanted this writing instrument to represent America at its finest, so I turned to our unparalleled aerospace industry.

The Brain Storming Process

I have always had an appreciation for aircraft design and personally like how wing struts are occasionally incorporated in architecture. This pen I decided should have the same, a triple pointed star of sorts using wing struts. The tip should also resemble the shape of the forward section of jets, so I included a bullet design. On the aft side a tip that resembled a jet engine housing I felt would be most appropriate and would be different. The pen, since it would be on the high end, needed to feel substantial. Light pens feel cheap and are easily thrown aside. A heavy pen would command more attention and care. Aluminum and titanium became the material of choice for the forward and aft sections. Using those alloys would also allow me some room to adjust the weight distribution for the best balance. Finally I had just received the opportunity to make Koa wood pens using twist pen kits and was very pleased with the simplicity and quality. To reduce the complexity of this project I decided I would use the exact same pen kits as the internal components of this design. 

So one late night I made a very rough sketch

Rough early conceptual sketch
Rough early conceptual sketch

Then dedicated myself to a CAD jamming session. The render of the first design I was surprised came out much nicer than I had expected. 

Airfoil Concept Design CAD
Airfoil Concept Design CAD

The next step was to make a prototype. I needed to feel the pen to make sure the size & balance was perfect as well as ensure that utilizing the pen kits would be a possibility. 

So for about a week I worked to machine the components of the pen. After some careful machining I was able to assemble the very first prototype, and I was pleased with how well it functioned. The "twist" mechanism was indeed a pleasant "wow!" factor. 

Working prototype 1
Working prototype 1

Working prototype 2

After contacting many machine shops, (over 40 machine shops) I finally found one that was willing to make the pens, it took some convincing and a good history of doing business with them to secure the agreement. They sent me a quote for various quantities of the pen components and I finally took the plunge wiring my money to have the very first production prototypes made. 

Production prototype 1
Production prototype 1

I was completely ecstatic to hold the product in my hand. I ended up carrying it around with me testing it out for a week. Both versions felt great, they were lighter than I had expected, had great balance, and were unlike any pen I had every held or seen. After an extremely careful analysis of the prototypes I decided to make some minor changes and ordered eleven more prototypes. I would need extras to send to media sources. I also set to render my CAD models in various colors. After sending out RFQs (Request for Quote) to many plating, polishing, and anodizing companies in the U.S. I settled on black, red, pink, clear anodizing, PVD coating, electropolishing and 24K gold plating. 

I felt that I had a product that I could start a business with, and so Masterstroke was founded. Now, I turn to Kickstarter to help me jump start my business and make these pens a reality.

Risks and challenges

Everything is set up and ready to go once funding is complete. In fact, I've already completed a run of 100 production Airfoil 7075 pens, primarily as marketing tools.

The biggest challenge will be hand tapping the titanium parts. Practice on scrap titanium has been completed to reduce any delays due to in house machining. Another challenge that may occur is the PVD coater I work with is very good and as a result has very good business, lead time may range from 3 days to 3 weeks.

Another significant challenge is marketing. Airfoil has such a different design that some individual may detract from the project, it just may be too different for them, and as a result it will be a challenge to pitch my project.

The final challenge will be that since my funding goal is much lower, the cost of making each pen go up, as I can no longer take advantage of economies of scale. This upward price motion will make it even harder to encourage backers to pledge.

The success of this project depends heavily on sharing this project. Every blog or social networking makes a difference, so please share! Thank you for your support.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Bronze Backer: Receive updates on the project + the option to have your name posted as a Bronze Backer of the Airfoil Project on the official website.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Silver Backer: Receive the Airfoil Aluminum Edition + your choice of a Cross or Monteverde refill (both medium black ballpoint) + the option to have your name posted as a Silver Backer of the Airfoil Project on the official website. Domestic shipping included. Please add $14 for international ($9 for Canada)

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    Limited 56 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $145 or more About $145

    Gold Backer: Receive the Airfoil Titanium Edition + your choice of a Cross or Monteverde refill (both medium black ballpoint) + the option to have your name posted as a Gold Backer of the Airfoil Project on the official website. Domestic shipping included. Please add $15 for international ($10 for Canada)

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    Black Gold Backer: Receive the Airfoil Black Titanium Edition + your choice of a Cross or Monteverde refill (both medium black ballpoint) + the option to have your name posted as a Black Gold Backer of the Airfoil Project on the official website. Domestic shipping included. Please add $15 for international ($10 for Canada)

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Funding period

- (14 days)