About this project
Below are ten brief points regarding the benefits of our design, and then afterwards a description of our process and details regarding our various models.
1. The design does not compromise performance for aesthetics. Every line, angle, curve and cut has a function. The method of manufacture was chosen for simplicity and sustainability.
2. Unlike many metal plate wallets this design is tight when it needs to be (closed) and loose when it doesn’t need to be via a rolling o-ring mechanism. This allows one to easily open, and not have to work against the tension of the bands while sorting through contents. The rings do not need to be removed to operate the wallet.
3. The system is flexible, not only in terms of multiple sizes for various needs, but the ability to transform (depending on model) from one to three plates, allow for carry of cash and cards inside or outside of wallet, and a design that expands to hold contents.
4. Most of our wallets with two full rectangles can block RFID signals, but still allow for one to carry a card on the outside for RFID use, or identification for almost full view except for the two thin o-ring band lines.
5.The triangle allows for quick access to cash instead of being forced to tuck it under a band or combine it with cards on the inside of the wallet. One can also slip frequently used cards under the triangle for super quick access.
6. We do not use a proprietary band or strap. Instead we use Soft Buna-nitrile o-rings are durable and easy to replace. They also come in various diameters allowing for the tension to be customized.
7. All wallets ship with a full set of extra o-rings, with more in various sizes to be available from our website once the campaign is complete. We also plan to provide links on our website to other online sources.
8. In the rare event that a band breaks or is lost, the design also allows for one to carry a spare. The spare ring is also good for headphone or charging cable management on the go or any other use one would have for an elastic strap.
9. Multiple finishes are available from clear anodized, raw aluminum to type3 hard-coat black and dye-less for durability. The user can mix and match plates to customize, and if we meet our stretch goal we will have custom o-rings made in a color voted upon by our pledgers.
10. All wallets include an integrated bottle opener that does not compromise the primary intent of the wallet.
11. Except for the single plate A1, all of our wallets open along the horizontal axis as it is much more difficult to sort through cards from the top of a skinny rectangle. The wider stance also allows for better ergonomics for easier manipulation.
CONCEPT: All design projects begin with a statement of problem, and most problems we have are based on existing archetypes and how or why they are no longer satisfactory. Currently there are few options for securing a passport, be it from RFID, or physical damage. Not only did we want to protect the passport, but also offer opportunities for pairing other important travel documents in one package such as boarding passes and itineraries. We were concerned with how easy it is to lose such documents and had the concept to “anchor” them to something substantial. We are interested in designs that are indestructible in their build quality with stripped down performance driven aesthetics. With these issues on the table, we began to conceptualize.
Our solution was to sheath a passport in aluminum, but the problem of access persisted. We considered hinges, various types of straps and pivots but ultimately asked what could be simpler than a rubber band? We proceeded through multiple prototypes utilizing soft rubber o-rings. We found a few examples of metal plate wallets that are held together by a strap or band and saw a great deal of potential in the idea along with many aspects that could be improved upon. Design is a process of constantly creating new iterations of existing archetypes. The wallet needed to open easily, but not be so loose that contents would not be secure. Ultimately, the bands needed to move, as the plates were pulled apart to reduce the tension.
We developed a mechanism deploying two o-rings that allows one of them to roll down the sides of the wallet to release the tension when opening. The wallet then snaps closed, and the ring is manually rolled back up. The o-rings are available in various sizes which allowed us to test them, settling on the proper diameter and tension for securing one, to multiple cards and bills. This was accomplished through notches and cuts in the edge of the aluminum plate. In addition to making the wallet easy to open, the use of common o-rings allows for a non-proprietary, user serviceable and economical way to unify the plates.
A good detail can be scaled, and we applied it to multiple sizes resulting in a complete system of wallets. Some use the rolling o-ring mechanism, and others simply relay on the geometry of the plate to allow for easy access.
All moves were based on performance as we attempted to strip them down to their most basic forms. Aside from the passport holder, we integrated a bottle opener into all the wallets, just in case. We made countless prototypes to test and refine the design resulting in a complete system.
From the passport wallet, we moved to the every day carry versions, of which we developed four sizes. At a minimum, no mechanism is needed. We re-conceptualized the money clip in the form of a single plate with two o-rings. This model, dubbed the A1 is slightly larger than a credit card. All of our wallets can be used as one plate, but with this model there is no compromise.
The standard A3 and A3s models include three plates to separate cash from cards, or to allow for other configurations. The wallet can quickly be converted to a two-plate design using either two solid plates, or one and the triangle. The triangle’s geometry allows for the user to easily grasp the corners of the wallet’s contents. It is also easily removed if the bottle opener is needed.
The A3s and A3 design has been scaled up to become the B model for our European friends who have larger ID’s and currency. In our photos and video, it is shown in prototypical form, but will be identical to the A3 model. Minor refinements to all models may occur on our final production run as we are constantly tweaking the details for better performance.
As addressed in our FAQ the wallet can hold quite a bit as the o-rings flex to adapt to the contents. The tension is tighter with more contents, but the rolling mechanism keeps the opening process quite effortless as you can see in the image below.
We recently introduced another version of the A3 dubbed the A3s "short" that reduces the width by 3/8". Originally we thought that the extra width made the wallet easier to manipulate but with the triangle and extended tabs at the top the extra space at the edges can be reduced.
For those that demand a even smaller package we scaled the design down even further to the credit card sized A2 that uses two plates, of which one is a triangle. It functions the same as the A3 but with one less plate and little RFID protection. This model allows for quick access to a few cards and cash under the triangle while left often used cards ride on the back under the rings.
We recently added another option dubbed the A2+1, which adds an additional triangle to the compact A2 to provide even more possible configurations.
We offer three finishes: clear and hard-coat black anodizing as well as raw aluminum for the purists. After laser cutting, the parts are tumbled to deburr and give the aluminum a more matte finish. This along with the anodization process can result in inconsistencies that potentially make each wallet unique. We decided against excessive finish options to keep costs low and maintain a purposeful aesthetic. Packaging will be kept to a minimum.
All wallets are shipped with additional o-rings in case of loss or breakage. During the prototyping and first production run we have had amazing results with the durability of the o-rings. That said, it is best to be prepared, and we will always maintain a commitment to providing replacement rings for minimal cost. We imagine that we can ship replacement rings if needed for a few bucks. For those who are more DIY, the rings can be obtained from various hardware and online sources.
For those that select one of the Traveler's Packages, you will receive a C size passport wallet and either the A3/A3s or A2/A2+1. Your choice for the smaller wallet will be determined in the post Kickstarter campaign survey. These packages are a considerable savings to buying the wallets separately and are a one time only Kickstarter special. There is also the possibility to pledge for a package including a C and B wallet.
First and foremost, we made these wallets because we wanted them. As designers, we would not sell anything we don’t use ourselves. We have come to the Kickstarter community in the hopes that others may want to use these wallets as well.
Yes, an aluminum wallet might eventually wear a hole in your pants, but we have found them to be a joy to use and a wonderful way to strike up a conversation in the check out line. It is enjoyable to perfect a method for using a new device, and crack a smile each time we have to pay the bill.
Risks and challenges
We have many years of experience in design and fabrication. Having realized projects on the scale of buildings down to CNC machined aluminum guitars, furniture and other things we are confident that manufacturing and delivery will go smoothly. We have the benefit of a pre-production run that tested both our manufacturing methods and product durability. For the past five months we and others have carried and used prototypes resulting in many design evolutions. The sales of our small first production run have been successful and we have incorporated feedback from our first customers to make the product better.
Our modest goal is set for the minimum needed to produce a substantial production run. The only significant challenge we foresee is a slight delay in delivery if we dramatically exceed our goal amount resulting in a greater number of wallets to be assembled and shipped. We are partnered with a local fabrication shop and have a over a decade of experience working with them. They are prepared to meet our expectations in terms of quality and schedule and we are planning on shipping in late February, approximately one month after we reach our goal here on Kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We have a had a few questions about this, and see absolutely no reason why TSA would be able to argue that it is or can be used as a weapon. We have had a few friends fly successfully with early pre-production models. That said, TSA is unpredictable so you never know. I have seen them take away nail clippers from little old ladies so anything is possible, but we imagine there is little to worry about.
Since the wallet is bound by rubber rings it simply stretches to accomodate more cash or cards. While such a wallet is often billed as a limiter to enforce a slim wallet we find that you can really pack as much as you want into them. The rings simply stretch and opening tension is not changed since the rings roll. One can also carry items on the outside like an ID, RFID entry card or wad of cash. Things are a bit different on the A1 and A2 which are a bit more limited since the rings don't roll on these. That said, I've got about 8 cards in my A2 right now, 6 riding on the back that I don't use often and two and a good 6-8 bills under the triangle and tension is good. We will post some pictures soon showing these fully loaded. For now I'd say that unless you lug around massive wads of cash or an absurd amount of cards there should be no issue. In hindsight we should have a portion of the video that shows us packing them to capacity but we were trying to keep it short. After the holiday we will shoot a short video loading them up and post to Youtube with a link.
Soft Buna-N o-rings are much more stretchy than the standard EPDM or hard rubber type. On the Durometer scale they come in a bit harder than a serious rubber band. We have found them to be super durable, but will ship each wallet with a set of spares. If more are needed, they can be ordered direct for a buck or so from us. We pledge to keep it to the price of shipping and our time. Online sources sell them in bulk if the user would like to experiment with different tensions by getting slightly larger or smaller diameter rings. We may even have that as an option for those who want to play around. Buying them in bulk is not bad, and we have found tons of uses for our countless spares from absurd numbers of prototypes and tests.
Think of these wallets as stock automobiles that can be tuned to taste- we have chosen a ring diameter for each wallet that we have tested and can insure will perform under normal conditions ranging from one card and one bill to 10 or so of each. It seemed like a median test range that would insure that with the lightest load the wallet would not be too loose resulting in the potential loss of contents, but also that it would not be too tight stressing the bands or making them tough to open.
The rolling mechanism allows for easy opening even if the wallet is packed full, but one still may want to adjust tension. This is a primary reason for not having a proprietary band or ring. This design gives the user options to customize the wallet to their exacting specifications, and anyways, why manufacture something that already exists? We are interested in readymade industrial products ripe for re-contextualization and new application.
We have received some questions about who we are. We have deliberately chosen to limit this presentation to the objective facts and reasons behind the design. We truly believe that to design, is to "de-sign", or remove the signature- that, to us, is the difference between design and art. We are by definition a collective of many that come together to collaborate, which is why we have unified under one name. So much advertising these days is trickery; attempts at being personal, striking a chord with or trying to relate to a consumer. Our philosophy is that there is no such thing as a consumer, but there are thoughtful, rational and critical people who think hard about spending hard earned money. This Kickstarter campaign is our first, and we have tried to eliminate the clutter and useless language that would otherwise fluff up what we believe is cold and honest content about our work. For us, every design is a conceptual exercise in clarity. We hope that the Kickstarter Community will appreciate our approach, and if there is a desire to dig deeper, we have links to our Facebook page and website for more info. Ultimately, one will find that we are a group of old friends that are engaged in design at all scales as a means to communicate ideas about the potential for an ethical and performance driven process. As designers we understand that we carry a tremendous amount of responsibility when we throw something into the world. We take this very seriously in both our process and presentation. Thanks for your support, and feel free to contact us with any questions- we LOVE talking about this stuff as one can see.
We decided not to promote a pledge-without-reward option for support as we prefer that people get something for their money. After all, we love our products and hope you will too! Of course, you're still able to pledge with no reward if you'd like, or to pledge beyond the amount necessary for a reward. And as a reward, you'll have our gratitude.
Yes, It is not pictured as such here, but we plan for the B to be simply a larger version of the A3.
Kickstarter has provisions for a survey after the campaign is completed. At that time you will all be contacted to specify the finish of your wallet. Finishes can be mixed and matched if you have ordered multiples and the individual plates of each wallet can also be mixed and matched.
You can see our updates for more details on this, but we are having three batches of custom color o-rings made. There will be orange and red for the A3s and grey for the A2/A2+1. We are making a limited quantity of these but imagine it will be enough to satisfy demand.
They will be an option at no extra cost. You will still be shipped the original black rings. You will have the option to choose these rings if you have pledged for the A3s/A2/A2+1 or any package that contains them.
As with finish, this option will be specified in the survey you receive after the campaign is over.
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