Titanium bolt-action pen with capacitive stylus nib heads for mass production
By Paul Ridden
November 7, 2012
If you're on the lookout for the perfect accessory to complement your titanium computer mouse, bike and lock, or your special guitar, then how about a nice new pen? Brian Fellhoelter has been privately selling his hand-made titanium TiBolt pens – featuring a nifty bolt-action mechanism – for the past few years, but can no longer cope with the demand so is scaling up production.
Experienced toolmaker and owner of KnifeWerks, Arizona's Fellhoelter has made some key improvements to his original design. The TiBolt pen still features the same bolt-action mechanism that he designed several years ago and virtually the whole luxury pen is manufactured from Grade 5, 6AL-4V titanium, including the tip, bolt, ball and shaft. The 11-mm diameter body is made using Grade 9, 3AL-2.5V titanium tubing that's given a stonewashed finish. The only parts not fashioned from the lightweight metal are the ink cartridge, silicone o-ring, spring and stylus nib.
The nib is made from capacitive silicone for stylus input on touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets, but doesn't escape from titanium altogether. It's held in place with a pocket clip screwed into a hidden titanium carrier. The 5.47 inch (139 mm) long, 1.5-ounce (42-g) TiBolt now accepts Parker or Fisher Space Pen refills, and users will no longer need to grab some tools to change an ink cartridge – swapouts can now be undertaken by unscrewing the tip.
To help finance the increase in production, Fellhoelter embarked on his first crowd-funding adventure on Kickstarter and managed to meet his goal of US$19,000 within the first day.
An obvious advantage in ramping up the numbers of pens manufactured is that cost to the customer goes down. Instead of over $300 for an original made-to-order TiBolt, a new standard pen can be yours for $109 (really quick backers were able to take advantage of an "early bird" special pledge level of $99 for one of the first 100 pens made, but these were snapped up in a flash). Other pledge levels include decorated pens and multiple buys.
Components for the increased production units will be made in the U.S. in production shops of friends and associates, and each TiBolt pen will be shipped with a Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge that's claimed to perform in temperatures from -30°F to 250°F (-34°C - 121°C), underwater, in zero gravity, and at any angle (including upside down).
The retail price of a standard TiBolt pen will be $140 once the Kickstarter campaign has closed on December 1.
The following video introduction shows the bolt-action TiBolt pen in all its titanium goodness.