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The SimplePen 1 : A stylus + pen designed and engineered to look and work right with your iPhone, iPad and ALL smartphones and tablets.
181 backers pledged $9,557 to help bring this project to life.


SimplePen 1 stylus + pen : Looks & works right with iPhones project video thumbnail
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1) Click on the blue ‘Manage my pledge’ button to the right -->  (OR: just click on this link to get there)

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3) It’ll take you off to your Amazon account where you’ll authorize the change.


PS: If you are an international backer: make sure that you've added in your international shipping of $10!!

True confession: I am a pen fanatic

I have Mont Blancs, Rotrings, Prismacolors, antique fountain pens, dip pens, oblique nib pens, gel pens, ballpoints, gold pens for signing the portraits I create, you name it, I love 'em:

Therefore: I want the right stylus + pen! 

And, yes, some are available but I not pleased with how they look with my iPhone (for instance, I can't find even one that has a white stylus). All the pen+stylus 'things' out there simple fall short. Ya' know: the 'big box' pens are ugly, and the 'designer' ones are way too minimalist.

Very simply: I want a pen + stylus that:

  • Looks great with iPhones in black or white.
  • Has direct, clean styling (no cold minimalism, or pointless fussiness!)
  • Has a stylus that slides nicely on the screen, without dragging or wear.
  • Has a tip that doesn't wiggle when I write (it has to fit tight)

. . . and the SimplePen1 is born!

(By the way, that's not me)

The SimplePen comes in white or black: 

(sorry, iPhone not included) 

Key Concept: It's just gotta look right with iPhones!

I designed the SimplePen1 to be the perfect complement to either a white or black iPhone, whether it be the 3 or 4 series, or the rockin' new iPhone 5. The SimplePen1 simply looks write... er, uh... RIGHT:

Psst! it looks GREAT with other phones and tablets!

The Stylus is unusual...

We tried styluses (styli?) from Japan, China, and Taiwan.  The stylus from Taiwei Corp. is by far the best.  It has the right glide on the screen, yet has a long, long life. And, it has enough stiffness so you don't feel like you're crushing the poor thing when you're pressing the home button, or even just typing along really fast.

One of the most important issues for me on the stylus was to find one that had the right feel on the screen. It had to glide nicely, with just enough drag to give feedback when drawing. After trying a few different ones, this one outshone the others by far.

And the last specification was that it had to be available in both white and black.  The white iPhone is the one I use and I really wanted a white stylus to go with the white body of the pen so it would all blend with my phone. This was the hardest spec to meet, but it happened that the Taiwei stylus filled the bill in every way.

And, I have to say: the white stylus and satin nickel clip peeking out of my shirt-pocket is really cool.

Manufacturing the SimplePen1 - only the best!

On this project I had the good fortune to run into a fellow who has been designing, manufacturing, and selling pens for over two decades.  He knows pens, and he knows how to make them RIGHT.  

Because of his contacts, I'm able to have the SimplePen1 manufactured with the best of production processes: 

  • Brass parts turned on CNC lathes
  • deep-drawn brass tubes for the barrels
  • barrels finished with baked-on lacquers
  • exposed parts plated with satin nickel 
  • custom hard-tooled die-bent clips
  • a stylus that is the very best anywhere

I wanted this pen to truly last and last and be beautiful, while keeping it at a reasonable investment level.  It's that simple.

So, what's the big deal with CNC machining?

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is the control of a machine tool like a milling machine, lathe, laser, etc., by the use of a computer that runs motors that move the tool. This allows the machine tool to quickly make multiple parts with a high degree of repeatability... and without someone having to stand there turning the hand-wheels all day long. 

The parts for the SimplePen are turned on CNC lathes. The cool thing about CNC lathes is that they can cut threads, do angles, radiused cuts, etc., and do it all in one setup. They can also be provided with a 'bar feeder' that slides a bar of material in through the main spindle of the lathe. This allows the lathe make a part, cut it off, slide in more stock, and make another part ... just like that! The process repeats automatically over and over again. It's way cool and can allow a CNC lathe to make thousands of parts completely unattended.

Here's a short video showing a CNC lathe at work.  You'll see the tool-changer rotate to present a different tool to the work for roughing and finishing passes. And, the spindle speeds are very different for the two passes as well (you'll hear the lathe spin up really fast on the finishing pass):

The barrels are deep-drawn brass tubes.

What the blazes does 'deep-drawn' mean?  It's a process that starts with a piece of sheet metal and, by pressing a punch down through it in a controlled manner, creates a cup shape.  The top and bottom of the cup are then trimmed off, leaving a tube. Here's a video that I made that explains it quickly and simply:

This is the same process that is used to make those monster stainless steel pots we use when making huge batches of soup, and yet it can do tiny little grommets, eyelets, and tubes as well. Truly amazing!

What's great about this process is that dimensional tolerances can be held very tight, even leaving the inside of the parts mirror-smooth.  Our barrels are made this way and, yes, the insides are mirror-smooth.

The barrels have a baked-on lacquer finish:

After the tubes are deep-drawn and trimmed to exact length (and, in the case of the upper barrel  notched for the the clip), they go through an automated paint machine that paints them with lacquer and then bakes it on at 350F for 20 minutes.  

The baking creates very strong cross-linking in the lacquer which creates an exceptionally tough and resilient surface finish.  It's the same finish that is used on automobiles and military equipment.  Yup! It's made to last and last...

SimplePen Ink - the best of both worlds:

SimplePen Ink is the best of both: it is 1/2 gel and 1/2 ballpoint

You see, gel ink was a great invention - it's sooooo smooth to write with. But, gel ink is also prone to smearing because it goes down thick and goopy.  And ballpoint ink is great because it dries instantly, but it's kinda stiff to write with (it feels a bit like you're just scraping along).

So I decided to go with 1/2 and 1/2 to get the best of both.  It goes on dense, writes smoothly, and yet dries instantly. Wonderful!

We have this ink manufactured in Germany and it's from a company that has manufactured ink for decades. The ink is then shipped to the refill manufacturing plant where it is injected into the refill bodies and tested for darkness, non-skipping, and inches of line drawn.  Here's a snippet of the testing process:

And, yes, oddly enough, the testing machines all move the PAPER.  This keeps the refills from getting extra vibration and movement, so they are tested in the toughest way. The refills are tested to make sure they can write 4000 meters of line (yes, that's about 2-1/2 MILES of line!)

The ink insert (that we call a 'refill') is a fine point, and they lay down a line about 0.015" (~.4mm) in width.  All of the pens in the rewards come with a SimplePen Ink refill installed in them, PLUS a couple extra for the near future. 

Project Timeline Key Components

Down below here you'll see a project timeline with the key components named and their time segments shown. Of course, what's of most interest to you, our backers, is what happens after the project is finished and how quickly you get your rewards.

Since Kickstarter does NOT collect shipping addresses during the funding phase, that has to be done AFTER the project finishes its run on Kickstarter.  That is done by us sending out a survey through the Kickstarter website to all of you backers. PLEASE RESPOND TO THE SURVEY IMMEDIATELY.  

We will send that survey out right after the end the end of the project, and will collect that data 6 weeks later and send it to our fulfillment house to ship out your rewards.

Anyone who has NOT RESPONDED by the cut-off date will have to wait until the second survey is sent and collated and the second round of shipping goes out.  

Why are we doing it this way?  We are doing it this way to maximize the overall effectiveness of the project.  This is based on our experience on other projects where the continuous interruptions of shipping an item here or there really ate into our time and focus on the overall project.   To avoid any hassle, just fill out your survey right away and your reward will ship in the first round - just like that!

Please note that the transit times for shipping are our BEST GUESS ONLY. Many things can affect the time in transit. On one of our projects we got whacked with both the election season (billions of mailings from candidates) PLUS the new Social Security packets going out as 1.1 pound packages to EVERY SSA recipient in the states. Those two things really slowed everything down.  WOW! That sucked.

International transit times will vary (widely!)

Also: international transit times are dependent upon YOUR country's postal service. We've had shipments to Poland, for example, be sent three times and finally arrive a month after the last time we shipped it. Yes, that sucked. We have 30 days shown on the timeline for international transit time, but again: THAT'S JUST OUR BEST GUESS, it really depends on your country's postal service.

Yes, shipping is a mess overall for small companies like us. We're bringing our experience to the table on this and letting you know up front what to expect.  


Thank you for your understanding!

Risks and challenges

We have worked like mad to limit and reduce the risks by aggressively attacking the challenges.

To limit the risks in manufacturing, we are working with very experienced pen and ink manufacturers. They have produced millions of pens and thousands of gallons of ink in the past and they understand every bit of their manufacturing processes. Having been a manufacturing engineer myself, I deeply value their experience in their respective fields.

And, having run a previous project here on Kickstarter (the SlingShot by WOXOM), we now understand the thorny issues of project management, information management, fulfillment, and logistics. That is NOT to say there may not be problems (those seem to crop up in life despite one's best attempts to scrub them out!), but we have real-world experience, and, more importantly to my mind, systems in place to handle it all.

'Getting to volume' truly is the biggest challenge. Getting enough volume on Kickstarter to spread our setup costs over is the key. Offering rewards of only one pen (or a set of one black and one white) is a real challenge on getting to volume. So, please: let everyone know about the project! That is the BEST way to reduce the risks. More truly is more.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ


  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thank You! You’ll get all the updates and the info that backers get

    Estimated delivery
    8 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $24 or more About $24

    One WHITE SimplePen with FREE shipping in the US. Includes TWO extra SimplePen refills in black ink (pen does fit standard Parker-style refills as well). [NOTE: You MUST ADD $10 for international shipping]

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    45 backers
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $24 or more About $24

    One BLACK SimplePen with FREE shipping in the US. Includes TWO extra SimplePen refills in black ink (pen does fit standard Parker-style refills as well). [NOTE: You MUST ADD $10 for international shipping]

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    81 backers
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    One BLACK and one WHITE SimplePen with FREE shipping in the US. Includes FOUR extra SimplePen refills in black ink (pen does fit standard Parker-style refills as well). [NOTE: You MUST ADD $15 [fifteen] for international shipping]

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    45 backers
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    You get Charles... and a SimplePen1 in black or white! . . . Yup! One SimplePen in your choice of color with Charles’ signature laser-engraved on it. P L U S, you get an entire day of Charles to review your product ideas, discuss manufacturability, learn about how to launch a Kickstarter project... really, whatever you want to make YOUR idea go like a rocket. This can be done in person in Portland, Oregon, or by phone/teamviewer/etc. Charles will walk you through the process of launching your own project on Kickstarter. Is there a lot to it? Yes, there is... and every bit counts.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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Funding period

- (34 days)