Alt pen— minimalist pen + precision tool
How often have you found yourself away from home and unprepared for what life might throw at you? Do you take pride in repairing and servicing the products you own? What about those odd jobs around the house that require tool sizes that are just too small for your screwdriver set?
It all started when Motorola sent me on a work trip to China—my first time in that part of the world with very little clue as to what I was doing. My task was to color match and ensure fit and finish on the smartphone I was designing. I was sitting in a conference room with some of our suppliers when they brought in a few trays of parts. I quickly realized that the best way to check for part match was to partially assemble units myself at random. However, I did not have any tools with me… In fact, no one around me did. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes of waiting that I finally received the proper tool. Why? Because they had to send a runner to drive to the factory several miles away from where I was, just so I could swap the side buttons from one phone to the next.
This experience showed me just how easy it is to be unprepared, and so I knew I had to do what I do best. When I got back to Chicago I started to sketch ways of dealing with this situation. Enter Alt pen. The ball point pen has always been my preferred tool when designing. This is a tool I carry everywhere I go, because you never know when inspiration will strike. Knowing that if I could somehow take advantage of this and create a tool that meets my standards, then I will have something with the potential to enrich the lives of others.
I designed Alt pen to be useful for those in technical fields like engineering, design, and IT, but I quickly found that with attention to detail and style, this will be a product that will fit into people’s day to day. A pen that is so well designed and balanced that you would want to take it everywhere you go (it just so happens that this pen could help fix your iPhone, glasses, and even your favorite gadgets).
A tool like this encourages users to care for and extend the life of their products, thereby being economically and environmentally considerate. This became the motivating factor that kept me going through the challenging processes of developing the perfect tool.
Introducing Alt pen: a premium ballpoint pen that doubles as a precision screwdriver set. Alt pen is designed to be a tool you can carry and use everywhere you go. The goal of this project is to equip you for whatever situation you might find yourself in.
With minimalist design, precision details, and exceptional craftsmanship, Alt pen is designed to have a beautiful aesthetic and provide an incredible user experience. One of the most essential pieces of the pen's design is its multi-functionality. It is equally important that Alt pen delivers a remarkable writing experience and double as an excellent precision tool.
- Quick and easy ink replacement
- Compatible with standard D1 ink refills
- Compatible with standard precision tool bits
- Mono-knurl gives a tactile grip
- Storage for up to 4 tool bits
- Premium case
Alt pen features a front loaded D1 ink refill, which is held in place by a proprietary magnetic ink retention system made possible by the “pen bit.”
Ink Compatibility: You can find compatible ink refills on Amazon in a variety of line weights and colors. Below are a few of my favorite brands.
The pen bit and ink refill can be easily swapped for multiple standard precision tool bits. Employing standard precision tool bits allows you to make use of bits you may already have on hand.
The Mono-knurl provides a tactile grip that is both ideal for writing and fastening screws.
The rear storage holds up to 4 precision tool bits each secured by a magnetic compression cap. The magnetic cap allows the tool bits to be easily removed and also suppresses the tool bits to eliminate rattling noises; this gives you a premium user experience that most similar tools cannot provide.
The Alt pen is the perfect item to add to your everyday carry. It is an unobtrusive tool that provides immense value to the user.
The packaging that Alt pen will ship in also doubles as a premium case for the pen and all its tools. This box is designed to be both durable for shipping and for use as a case to keep all of your tools secured with Alt pen.
What’s in the box:
- One Alt Pen
- Two D1 ink refills
- Eight precision tool bits
In March, I flew to Shenzhen, China to oversee the prototype development. The manufacturers that I’ve partnered with are incredibly skilled and committed to producing quality parts. We have been through multiple rounds of prototyping and Alt pen currently performs as it should. I am continuing to audit every aspect of the design to make sure Alt pen meets my standards and reaches an optimal level of performance.
I sat down to have a drink (tea) with Andy (the Boss). During the process of searching for manufacturers, many companies rejected me because I was asking to producing too few units. I asked Andy what made him agree to work with me and here’s what he said: “You look like a serious guy. You are small now, but I know you will be big soon… and when you are big, you will bring me big business…” We both laughed.
I seek to do business with people that I can care about, who in turn care about me. Those are the relationships that prove to be mutually beneficial. Those are the relationships worth pursuing.
Stainless Steel Options:
If I am able to reach a funding goal of $30,000, then I will unlock a very special Stainless Steel Edition of the Alt Pen. This version features a mirror polished exterior with a bead-blasted grip. The stainless steel provides an ultra high end look and feel in hand.
- More premium
- More weight
- More durable
Rotimi Solola is an award winning Chicago-based industrial design consultant. With experience in both consulting and corporate environments, Rotimi has contributed to the successful launch of multiple products. Solola founded SO design in 2017 and teaches adjunct at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before becoming an independent designer, Solola was on the Motorola Mobility cell phone design team, where he acquired much of his knowledge on bringing products to market. Outside of designing and lecturing, Solola stays involved with the design community by speaking at conferences and judging design competitions.
Risks and challenges
Currently, the packaging prototypes are behind schedule. The packaging has not been fully vetted as there is still testing and development that needs to happen. We are currently optimizing the packaging designs and expect to receive prototypes in mid June.
There are a few components that require tooling to produce final quality parts. Currently, most of the pen prototypes to date were produced with no tooling, so there are some inaccuracies. I only see improvement moving forward. With funding, I will be able to cover the tooling and manufacturing costs and eliminate inaccuracies.
This is a high quality, precision product that requires close monitoring of tolerances to ensure superior fit and finish. This will continue to demand a tremendous co-working effort between myself and my manufacturing partners.
Finally, while I am committed to working as closely as possible to the timeline, schedule delays may occur. I am first and foremost committed to quality. If I cut corners, the likelihood of long term failure is probable. Therefore, I will not ship Alt pen until I can personally see myself using it every single day. I will issue regular updates to keep you posted on progress and any challenges or potential delays I might run into.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)