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:

It begins!
about 1 month ago – Thu, Dec 09, 2021 at 05:52:04 PM

Greetings Backers!

Yes, it’s true, shipping has begun! Albeit, a very small batch (64 pens), but a milestone nonetheless! Let’s see where we’re at with everything:

  • So far we’ve received about 300 coated sleeves and clips back from our Cerakote guy. They look good, and we have begun the process of assembling them, which involves screwing the clip on, then press fitting the magnet inside. We are still honing our process, and we’ve encountered a couple small problems, but they are fixable. We are just currently working out how to best fold the fixes into our assembly process.
  • As for the PVD coating of the bodies, we ran into a bit of a snag, but are currently working on a fix. The PVD process is basically magic and happens inside a chamber under a very high vacuum. This vacuum pulls out and vaporizes any impurities in the parts, so if any are present, it can cause issues with the PVD coating not adhering in places. We are discovering this is happening to many of the body parts. Our supplier is working on a solution that has worked in the past for this exact problem, which is to first heat the parts past the PVD temperature, then do the coating. We’ve PVD’d parts many times in the past (like the knocks on the Mark One), so we were surprised to encounter this issue, but we are hopeful their solution will do the trick. We should know more in a couple weeks. Some of the parts turned out perfectly fine, which is why we’re able to ship this initial small batch.
  • Our manufacturer just finished another batch of parts, which will be more than enough to cover all the Kickstarter orders, and they are on the way to us (estimated to arrive tomorrow). So, as expected, the delay on those won’t actually delay things overall; the coating process is the current bottleneck.

All of that is to say, there are still some tweaks to work out as we figure out these processes, but boy does it feel good to get some pens out the door!

We will update again next month after the holidays, at which point we will have hopefully made a good sized dent in the shipment queue. We will be posting assembly images and videos to our Instagram, find us there if you are interested in following along. We hope everyone has a lovely holiday break, and, as always, we can’t thank you enough for sticking with us.

Until next time,

Tom & Dan

Just look at these beauties.

3 months ago – Sat, Oct 23, 2021 at 02:26:56 AM

Greetings Backers!

We’ll get straight to it, we’ve received Mark Two parts, and they are awesome! We haven’t received all of them yet (more on that below), but enough to get rolling with coating, assembly, packaging, and shipping.

Here are the details:

  • The order we placed with our manufacturer was for 4000 sets of parts (we generally order about 2X the number we need for Kickstarter, so we have inventory to sell after we fulfill the Kickstarter preorders). So far, in hand, we have: all of the clips (4000), all of the magnets (4000), 1400 sleeve parts, and 1400 body parts (and all of the packaging, ink, etc. that we’ve had for a while).
  • The reason they haven’t shipped all of the sleeve and body parts is they made a mistake during the polishing phase that unfortunately means those parts need to be remade again (pain). However, we are optimistic that won’t actually slow the current timeline down too much, or at all, because we are going to be busy processing the parts we already have, which will take some time. We only need about 1500 parts to fulfill all of the Kickstarter backers, so we are only a little bit short. They should be able to ship the parts in batches so we are not waiting for the entire run to be complete.
  • We have already shipped 400 sleeves to our Cerakote guy in Dallas, and 400 bodies to the PVD place in Pennsylvania. We did not ship all of the parts we have because we want to do a “trial run” first to make sure the process is sound and QA is good before we coat everything.
  • While we are waiting for the parts to be coated, we can begin assembling the silver bodies that do not need to be coated with PVD.
  • When the parts arrive back to us from being coated (in 2-3 weeks likely), we will inspect them, and if everything is good, we will give our coaters the go-ahead to coat the rest of the parts we currently have.
  • At that point, we will be able to assemble, package, and ship the first batch of Mark Two pens to our very patient backers!

Assembling, packaging, and shipping will be a little slow going at first, as we work through all the quirks of figuring out how to do things efficiently. But once things get rolling we should be able to go pretty quickly. We plan to share a ton of photos, videos, and timelapses of the assembly and packaging steps on Instagram, be sure to follow us there.

What this all means is we will likely BEGIN shipping pens to backers towards the end of November. Keep in mind, it is going to take several weeks to get every single pen shipped, but it is nice to now have a solid target in place.

You may be wondering when that means you are getting your pen specifically, and unfortunately we don’t really have an answer to that. We will ship the pens in batches based on doing it as efficiently as possible, and it has nothing to do with your backer number or how quickly the filled out the Backerkit survey or anything like that. We can say that folks based in the US will likely receive their pens first, because international backers requires the extra step of sending to our UK warehouse first.

Anyhow, we hope you all are excited. While we would love to have every single part, it feels great to be so close to the finish line. As we’ve said before, we think this pen will be worth the wait.

Thanks as always for your support and patience. Until next time!

Tom & Dan

Mark Two bodies.
Mark Two sleeves.

4 months ago – Sun, Sep 19, 2021 at 07:36:57 AM

Greetings Patient Backers! 

It’s been a while. Our manufacturers took about twice as long as they estimated for the remade parts (of course), but at long last, some good news: the machined parts are complete! We have received a few parts from the production run, and they are fantastic. Everything is correct, all errors have been fixed, and the polishing is awesome. We couldn’t be happier. So, where do we go from here?

  • The manufacturers need to finish cleaning and packaging all of the parts. This should take less than a week. We are very particular about how clean the parts are when we receive them, to have one less thing to deal with once we get them (sometimes parts will have oil or other residue from the manufacturing process, which isn’t a problem in some cases, but we definitely don’t want that).
  • After that, the parts will be shipped to us. We are shipping by air, at great expense, to speed things up. There might be some delay getting the parts onto a plane, as international freight is very backed up right now. Just the state of the world at the moment, nothing we can do about that unfortunately. But once in transit it should only be a few days of shipping time.
  • Once the parts arrive, we will immediately check them to verify everything is good, then send all of the sleeves and clips to our Cerakote guy in Dallas to have them all coated with black Cerakote. Additionally, about half of the bodies will be sent to the PVD place to receive the black PVD coating. The other half will remain raw polished steel.
  • While the parts are being coated (it should take about 4 weeks), we can keep ourselves busy by assembling all of uncoated bodies, which basically means adding an o-ring to the cone piece, inserting the ink refill and spring, and screwing the two parts together.
  • When the rest of the parts arrive back from the Cerakote and PVD places, we can start assembly, packaging, and shipping!

Whew. It feels good to be on the other side of the manufacturing part of this process. 

In other news, we just charged the credit cards for any add-ons you might have added to your order on Backerkit. So if you saw a charge or got an email from Backerkit, that’s what it was. We will also be locking addresses soon, so if you need to change or verify yours you can do so here:

Lastly, we plan on sharing A LOT of assembly action on our Instagram, and perhaps even trying some live streams, so if that interests you, you can follow us there. 

Thanks again for your continued patience. It feels really good knowing that you all trust us and are allowing us the time to get it right. We think you’ll be rewarded with a truly awesome pen. 

Until next time! 

Tom & Dan

Production parts!
Mark Two, assembled.

7 months ago – Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 01:18:38 AM

Hey Folks,

Hope everyone is doing well. We had hoped to send this update earlier, but we wanted to make sure all the ducks were in a row before we could finally say: production has started! Whew. That took longer than we would have liked, basically because we had to have a couple more rounds of samples made. We thought the sample we were receiving last month would be the final one, but unfortunately there were still some minor errors that needed to be fixed on the remade parts. So, here is what the current timeline is looking like:

  • End of July / Early August: Receive all production parts.
  • August: Have the parts Cerakoted and PVD coated.
  • End of August: Begin assembly and packaging.
  • September: Ship pens!

Of course, this timeline can shift, but we feel at the moment the above is pretty realistic.

In the time we’ve been waiting for updated samples, we made several custom tools to make assembly go quicker. Check 'em out:

All the tools we've made for assembly.
  • Magnet Setter: For placing the magnet deep down into the bottom of the sleeve in the correct orientation.
  • Screw Alignment Jig: For aligning the clip onto the sleeve and holding it place so we can screw it on. 
  • Custom Screwdriver: An extra long screwdriver for screwing the clip on deep into the sleeve. 
  • Titanium Press Head: For press fitting the magnet into place. It's titanium because it needed to be a hard, non-magnetic material.
  • Press Jig: For holding the sleeve upright during the press fit operation. 

We are going to be locking surveys in Backerkit and charging credit cards (if you had add-ons) soon, so if you haven’t done that yet or need to make adjustments, you can do so here:

We’ve mentioned this before, but we are going to be sharing a ton of assembly / packaging stuff over on our Instagram, so if you are interested in seeing all of that behind the scenes stuff, follow along there!

Thanks for sticking with us through all of this. Delays are obviously not fun, but it feels good to finally be in production. We can’t wait to get this pen to you.

Until next time!

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
9 months ago – Thu, May 06, 2021 at 10:48:32 PM

Hey Folks, 

We wish every update could be good news, but unfortunately we’ve hit a bit of a snag. The TL;DR version is some parts need to be remade, which will set us back about 30 days. Keep reading below for all the gritty details. The good news is, aside from the errors below, the parts themselves are of fantastic quality and we are super happy with them. 

So, as mentioned in the previous update, the manufacturer was sending us 50 sample pens for final approval. As they were doing the final polishing step, they noticed some subtle corrosion (rust) on the body parts. Stainless steel obviously shouldn’t do that, so they investigated by getting the steel chemically analyzed. They found that the 400 series stainless steel had a lower than specified nickel content, which lead to the corrosion. This was an error on the part of the steel supplier, and unfortunately the only correction is to get the correct steel and remake the parts. :( One thing to note, this rust issue was only occurring in the body parts, since it is a different grade of steel than the sleeve (it needs to be magnetic). 

We had them send all the sample pens anyway, so we could still inspect all of the tolerances, dimensions, polishing, etc. It was at this point that we caught a couple errors. On the interior of the sleeve part, there is a very subtle slope—it is what allows the pen body to be posted. Unfortunately, they missed this feature, so there is a literal stair step instead of a slope, so the pen does not stay posted. Thankfully, they can do a simple operation to fix the parts instead of remaking them. 

The second error had to do with the end, or “tip”, of the sleeve that holds the magnet. As mentioned in a previous update, we made the magnet larger to have a stronger hold on the pen, but they must have accidentally referred to a previous drawing, and the hole for the magnet is too small. So those parts need to be remade. 

As gutting as these errors have been, our manufacturers have taken full responsibility and are working hard to fix things. The good news is, as mentioned, the pens themselves are fantastic. We couldn’t be happier with them, aside from, you know, the mistakes. The dimensions, tolerances, and polishing are all great. It’s worth noting also that the clip and custom magnet are good and do not need to be remade. 

Our manufacturer is saying we will have completed parts in about 30 days, and we’re confident they’ll get there. We have a long standing relationship with them, and they have shown they can make these parts properly, so we just need to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

In the meantime, we sent the sample parts we received to our Cerakote applicator so they can get the process figured out and ready to go as soon as we have new parts. We also received all of the ink refills from Schmidt, and our custom packaging, so everything is just waiting for pens to arrive.

So what does this mean for the schedule going forward? We are expecting to have new samples of the fixed sleeve parts and body parts this week. Once we approve those, they will expedite the production of the parts that need to be remade. We are going to prioritize the sleeve parts, because they need to have the Cerakote applied, but the body parts should follow soon after.

We know this isn’t the most fun update to read, but having received these samples, we think you all are really going to love your Mark Twos. Just a little bit longer of a wait, unfortunately, but we thank you all for your patience. It wouldn’t be a Kickstarter project without an unexpected hiccup! 

If you want to hear us chat in a little more detail about this update, check out the latest episode of our podcast. 

Thanks again. Until next time! 

Tom & Dan

All of the packaging, patiently waiting.
“Deli wrap” waiting to hug the Mark Two tight.
Lots of ink that can’t wait to hop inside of the Mark Two and fulfill their life’s purpose.