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InTuition Pen & Stylus by e4 Labs

Back in June, I wrote about the Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus. Since that post went out, there have been many projects on Kickstarter to build a variety of writing instruments. Then, late last week, Tom Candow from e4 Labs contacted me about his combination of titanium and carbon fiber.

The InTuition Carbon Fiber and Titanium Pen and Stylus is a Kickstarter project that brings together a uniquely-patterned carbon fiber body and shiny titanium ends. The result is a very high-tech look that is a perfect companion for today’s tablet computers and smartphones.

InTuition features a titanium tip (Credit: e4 Labs)

The machined tip of the InTuition fits popular Pilot Hi-Tec-C pen refills with widths from 0.25 mm to 0.50 mm. Although the InTuition doesn’t support the variety of refill brands that the Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus does, the Hi-Tec-C is available in over 30 colors, which alone is quite a bit of variety. The black rubber O-rings ensure that the cap doesn’t slip off and enhances the precision appearance.

The Wacom stylus on the other end works with your tablet or smartphone (Credit: e4 Labs)

The other end of the pen houses a Wacom Bamboo stylus for use with capacitive touch screens. As with the pen refill, the stylus tip is a readily-available replacement part. So, you will not have to rely on a single source to get a new one when the included one wears down. The pen includes one cap that fits on either end of the pen. However, Tom says that you can now purchase an extra cap to protect both ends.

The centerless ground twill carbon fiber barrel (Credit: e4 Labs)

The most unique-looking part of the pen, though, is the solid carbon fiber barrel. The InTuition’s body looks completely unlike the typical (and usually simulated) weave pattern that I have grown tired of seeing everywhere. It looks somewhat like the feathers of the Spotted Wood Owl and is a refreshing design choice.

While we had Tom on the line, so to speak, we asked him a few questions about himself and the project.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Tom.

I have been a mechanical engineer for nearly thirty years, having worked in military and industrial product development. Early in my career I developed advanced airborne military thermal imaging systems for use on fighter aircraft, and eventually expanded my career into fields of medical, industrial and commercial thermal imaging. Evolving into military and commercial satellite systems, I now work in the field of energy efficient technologies for energy generation & communications.

2. Is this your first Kickstarter project and how did you get started?

This is my first Kickstarter project, having discovered the website via an article in a trade publication. Once I explored Kickstarter a bit, I immediately began thinking about the many projects and design ideas I have had over the years, but never had the funds to realize.

3. Pens are very popular on Kickstarter. What was your inspiration for the design of the InTuition?

I have always had a penchant for writing instruments, and I noticed that there were several successful pen and pen/stylus projects on Kickstarter. I have always enjoyed working with exotic and specialized materials, and the combination of Titanium and Carbon Fiber seemed like an interesting set of materials to use. I have utilized both materials independently in the past, and combinng them seemed like a natural fit.

I developed a number of concept sketches, and wanted to make sure that the user would be able to have a broad set of different widths and colors of ink to choose from, as well as be able to replace the stylus nib if the need arose. In doing my research of past Kickstarter pen/stylus projects, I noticed that the nib was perhaps replaceable, but not on a generic and publicly available basis. I did not want the user to be obligated to have to purchase replacement nibs from me, so as to provide the greatest value proposition I could.

I developed several prototypes, paying attention to the weight, balance and appearance of the instrument. The InTuition is the net result of several weeks of concepts, prototyping and evaluation, together with several tolerance studies, 3D modeling and creation of fabrication drawings.

I have extensive experience in product design for manufacturing and fixture development, and the parts of the InTuition are designed to be completely self-fixturing so as to ensure that each one will come together exactly, so that the first one is identical to the last one. This type of design approach ensures that each InTuition meets the requirement to provide long life, writing comfort and dependable performance for many years.

4. Why does the carbon fiber used for the barrel of the InTuition look so different from the weave pattern that we generally associate with carbon fiber material?

I considered six different finishes of Carbon Tube, ranging from the “normal” twill generally seen in composites, all the way to directional fiber styles, and finally settled on a centerless ground twill pattern. This smooth finish highlights the twill pattern, while giving a comfortable, long term writing experience without having a coarse finish next to the skin.

5. What has been the best part of your Kickstarter experience?

One of the greatest rewards I have enjoyed from this Kickstarter project has been the opportunity to work with my two sons.  I have a son who is a Senior Mechanical Engineering student, and he was directly involved with the concept development, drawing creation and prototype testing.  I also have an eleven year old son, and he enjoyed working with me in measuring the Hi-Tec-C inserts and reducing the data taken to generate a statistically valid model that could be used for design purposes.  Being able to show them the world of product development and see the issues and problems that come with it has been really rewarding and gave them a glimpse into the world I have been working in for many years.

6. Do you plan to start any other Kickstarter projects? If so, can you give us some hints?

I have several more ideas for future Kickstarter projects, but want to get through this project first and fulfill all of the backer rewards before moving on to the next project.

 

Well, Tom, we look forward to seeing some of the many ideas you have been collecting in that mechanical engineering head of yours.

You can get your very own InTuition by backing the project before the December 29 funding deadline. The first 180 backers can get in on them for US $65. After that, it will cost you an additional $15.

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