Share this project


Share this project

Experience writing nirvana: a masterfully machined body designed exclusively for the world's finest Montblanc cartridges.
Experience writing nirvana: a masterfully machined body designed exclusively for the world's finest Montblanc cartridges.
Experience writing nirvana: a masterfully machined body designed exclusively for the world's finest Montblanc cartridges.
1,063 backers pledged $121,286 to help bring this project to life.

Started programming the grip today!

Hi All! 

Hope everyone is doing well. Things are moving along. I just finished programming the Internal Diameter (ID) operations on the grip today. The new drills I got are from a different manufacturer. They have odd size shanks so I had to have a few more collets shipped from the east coast, so that and the 4th of July holiday set me back a couple of days. Enough chit chat, photos! 

(Above) It doesn't look like much but that aluminum cylinder will eventually turn into a grip like the two prototype parts just above. The good news is that my custom taps actually fit the threads on the Montblanc of those things you can't really know until you test fit. Whew! Don't have to worry about that at least. 

(Above) The ID operations are done, but I still have to program the Outside Diameter (OD) operations. I'll have to spend some time tweaking the exact shape of the tip. Again, it might look fine of paper, but you don't know if it looks or feels "right" until you transfer it to metal. All of the prototypes were machined on my Hardinge HLV manual lathe, and the shape of the tip was finished with a file and a cardboard pattern :) 

I do all of my programming by hand, no help from software like CAM (Computer Aided Machining) programs that automatically write the code that controls the tool path. This takes a little bit longer, but I program by hand because I don't own CAM software and I enjoy the mental exercise of the "hands on" approach. Many new machinists have no idea how to hand write code even though they run CNC machines. 

(Above) Once the OD and ID ops for the grip are set, I'll run a test batch of aluminum parts, and then send those off for plating. In the photo above, the (test batch) is for the pen body. The other two stacks of parts will go out for plating as a lot. 

It's important to run a test batch because the plating process adds a significant amount of thickness to the parts. There is a risk that this buildup will mean the components won't thread together. You can measure and calculate all you want, but there is no substitute for confirming the fit in real life. After verifying the fit I can proceed with the rest of the aluminum parts. One nice thing about the Ti is that it's not plated. So, if the part fit when the come of the machine...then they's a done deal. 

(Above) Sorry for the terrible phone video! All of the parts are tumbled in a vibratory bowl after machining. The aluminum parts (in the video) are processed with a "medium" cutting plastic media for 3 hours. This knocks of any sharp edges and also creates a uniform and very smooth surface. After plating, they will be nice and shiny! 

(Above) After tumbling, the parts go into a tub filled with hot clean water and let soak for about 10 minutes. The hot water helps lift the metal residue off of the parts. Tumbling is a "wet" process where water and a surfactant are cycled through to wash away the microscopic dust that is generated. Even though the water is filtered and recirculated, residue remains and can make the parts "cloudy" looking. The hot water heats the metal and makes the water evaporate faster when removed from the tank. I learned that little trick making flashlights :) 

(Above) As each part comes out of the wash tank, it is dryed with a microfiber cloth and is blown off with compressed air. It's hard to get "all" of the water out from inside the hole, so this is where the hot metal helps to speed evaporation and drying of the parts. 

(Above) This is 150 finished aluminum caps. They are plated and have the pocket clip and brass screw installed. These parts are "done done" and that's pretty exciting! The only thing left is to mate them up with the body and grip and get them in the mail! Of course I still need to make all of the grips :) 

That's all for now! 

Cheers and thanks again for your patience and support! 



Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Missing avatar

      Peter Fielder on October 21, 2013

      Hi Jason,
      Received my Alfa Ti today. Didn´t have any Mont Blank refills but did have Fisher space pen refills. To keep things short: reversed the adaptor and mounted the refill. Not tight, but mounting ½ a bic click spring between the refill and the head makes for a perfect fit: the best ball refill in the best ball pen in the World. Happy Days.

    2. Prometheus Lights 5-time creator on July 15, 2013

      Thanks for all the support folks. I really appreciate that...and your patience :) We are soooo close to shipping I can almost taste it! Though I'm not really sure what shipping tastes like.

    3. Virgil Roussos on July 13, 2013

      Thank you so much for the nice updates!
      Seriously, I concur with the preceding comments in that we really learn something there. This is the level of engagement and feedback from the creator we backed that I was expecting from Kickstarter, and unfortunately did not get.
      So thank you sir. Would I have the need, I would get one of your flashlights as well just to know so much love has been put into it.

    4. Missing avatar

      Richard Valdes
      on July 12, 2013

      Exciting stuff! I like that along with amazing pens, I am learning a lot about machining. Having an understanding of everything that goes into making them adds another level of appreciation for what we will be getting.

    5. Missing avatar

      AJD on July 12, 2013

      Best updates ever.

    6. Missing avatar

      Thomas Garza on July 11, 2013

      "I feel like I've backed an awesome documentary"
      "I'm impressed at your expertise knowledge, you clearly know your stuff! "
      I agree with Mark and Simon. Great read. Thanks again for the update.

    7. Brad on July 11, 2013

      Jason - Did you get my CRL email...?

    8. Simon Spicer on July 11, 2013

      I feel like I've backed an awesome documentary. Cheers Jason. :-)

    9. Albert Lynn on July 11, 2013

      Thanks for the great progress report!

    10. Chris Haukoos on July 11, 2013

      Anyone ideas when delivery will start?

    11. Mark Jacobsen on July 11, 2013

      I'm impressed at your expertise knowledge, you clearly know your stuff!
      As subelement said, great updates as well!

    12. Missing avatar

      Ray on July 11, 2013

      They're looking great! Thank you again for another awesome update. Kickstarter should start giving awards for best updates. Man, you'd clean the house on those.

    13. Pisan Kulkaew on July 11, 2013

      Nice work Jason! I suppose after you got the first couple of hundreds done things will get a lot quicker. Can't wait till I get mine!

    14. SubElement on July 11, 2013

      Awesome work! Hands down best updates I've seen from a project I've backed.

    15. Missing avatar

      Caillin on July 11, 2013

      Looking good.