Mark Two: A Minimal and Durable Pocket Pen

Created by Dan Provost & Tom Gerhardt

Mark Two is a custom machined, all-metal pocket pen small enough to take with you, but extends to a full length when in use.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Monthly Update
10 days ago – Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 09:47:39 PM

Hello Friends, 

That’s right, time again for a monthly Mark Two update! Here’s the latest: 

  • As mentioned in the last update, the manufacturer started production, and we have received the first set of production samples from them. 
  • We also mentioned in the last update we were making the magnet bigger so it could have a stronger hold. We received that with the production sample and it is MUCH better, we are glad we made that change.
  • The fit and finish is almost there, we just have a few issues we need to remind them to look for during quality control. At this point they are making the metal parts correctly, and the dimensions are correct, but we're basically just building a list of quality control issues to check. It all comes down to surface finishes and polishing with these parts.
  • We have not yet received a production sample of the clip, but the samples have been finished and are being sent to us. We will check the "tempering" process to make sure the clip is springy enough and doesn't loose its shape.
  • The next step is to approve a final “master” or “golden” production sample that will be used as a reference for mass production. They are working on that now. 
  • We are about to place an order for the ink refills, but we will likely send out the Backerkit survey first so we can get a sense of how many folks wanted to add-on extra refills to their order. So, expect that survey in the coming weeks. 

That’s it for now! Really happy with how things are progressing. We also chatted about Mark Two progress (among other things) on the latest episode of our podcast.

Hope everyone is staying safe and sane. Until next time, 

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
about 2 months ago – Wed, Dec 09, 2020 at 03:27:04 PM

Hello Friends, 

You guessed it, time again for a monthly update on Mark Two progess! Here’s the latest: 

  • As per the previous update, our manufacturer improved the polishing process to hide the seam on the pen body. It looks great! 
  • Also in the previous update, aside from making the magnet stronger (N52), we are also going to make the magnet slightly larger to increase the magnetic hold on the pen when it is in the sleeve. 
  • We told the manufacturers to start production! We will still review samples as they go through the run, and make tweaks or corrections as they come up, but this is a big step. We are full steam ahead.
  • We have been working on a simplified packaging design. Originally we thought of doing something with molded pulp, but we have come across something that is even simpler / less wasteful. More to share later! 
Polished body.
Bigger magnet (in light blue).

That’s it for now. We hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday break, and we’ll speak again next year!

Until next time,

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
3 months ago – Sat, Oct 31, 2020 at 02:04:45 AM

Hey folks, 

Yep, time again for our monthly update! Here is where we are at with Mark Two production: 

As mentioned in the last update, they were sending us the first round of samples to evaluate. In general they looked great, but a few tweaks were needed: 

  • There was a miscommunication on how the polishing should be done to make the seams between parts disappear. We clarified how they should do it and they are adjusting their process.
  • The magnet that holds the pen body inside the sleeve was not quite strong enough, so we had them upgrade it to the stronger (N52) version of Neodymium magnets. 
  • The ink refill stuck out just a little too much, so we made a dimension adjustment to the drawing.
  • We added a small feature to make installing the o-ring on the threads of pen tip easier.

The factory got to work right away on the changes and have just finished making them (they sent us pictures last night). They are shipping the parts to us now to examine closely, our hope is these parts will be to spec and we can approve them and move forward with the production machining batch.

The bodies and sleeves before being polished.
Assembled pen, post polishing.
Body and tip.
Sleeve, with cutout for clip.

That's it for now! Really excited about how things are progressing. We can't wait to see these samples in person when they arrive. 

Also, we would be remiss not to add: if you are a United States citizen, and haven't yet, please please vote on November 3rd. You can find your nearby polling locations here

Until next time, 

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
4 months ago – Sat, Sep 26, 2020 at 11:36:31 AM

Greetings friends! 

Time for another Mark Two update. Here is the latest: 

The first round of production samples are complete. This includes the pen parts, the custom magnet, and the clip. They are sending them to us to evaluate closely, and we will let them know of any issues / modifications (there always are). You can see pictures of the parts below.

The body and tip (slightly unscrewed).
The clip.
The end cap of the sleeve (the most complex part).

One thing we noticed from the pictures they sent. The body and tip color did not match (see the image below). They used magnetic 400 series stainless steel for the tip, but 300 series for the body. They were unclear that they needed to match exactly, they assumed that the body was going to be coated so it didn’t matter, but it very much does! Just an example of one of the many unexpected things that come up when trying to bring something to life. 

Mismatched steel parts.

Aside from fixing any mistakes, the thing we are honing now with the production samples is the machining finishes and tolerances. There are lots of things on this pen that need to be very precise. Two of the parts are press fit together so they need to be just right. And the body needs to appear seamless, so the finish and machining on that needs to be perfect. 

Once everything is looking and working great we will be able to move into production. Should hopefully only take another round or two of samples to get there, things are very close already with this first round. 

Additionally we have been looking into packaging for Mark Two. At the moment we are exploring molded bamboo pulp packaging. Aside from being really cool, it is a very sustainable solution, and something we haven’t done before, so always fun to try something new. 

Anyhow, that’s it for now. Hope everyone is well and enjoying some cooler weather. 

Until next time, 

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
5 months ago – Sat, Aug 29, 2020 at 09:54:54 AM

Hey folks! 

Time for a monthly update for Mark Two. Here is where we are at: 

We have finalized our dimension drawings for the Mark Two parts and sent them to our manufacturer. Our manufacturer will order custom tooling they need to make the parts. Then, they will make some production samples and send them to us to review. We will likely have some small changes to make after we receive the parts (this is generally always the case). Once we make the changes, we will receive new samples, and continue this process until everything is perfect. When we arrive at that point, production will start. 

We are not sure when exactly to expect the first batch of production samples, it will likely be a few weeks. So expect that in the next project update! 

In other news, Dan had a new baby last week, family is well and healthy! 

Until next time, 

Tom & Dan

PS. We wanted to bring your attention to a couple Kickstarter projects from participants in our Studio Neat Mentorship Program. DriveSlide, which is a nifty accessory for attaching hard drives to your laptop, and November 9, 2016, a gorgeous art / photo book. Check them out!