This is a long post (best to go and grab a coffee …or a beer).
In this update I’m going to show you some prototypes I’ve been working on …as well as talk a little about business and what’s been going on this last six months or so (and why you’ve not really been hearing from me!).
So, first up…
As you may know – I like to “pitch” stuff to you. I make no apologies for it. And, more often than not, I like to do it relatively shamelessly (but only because I believe in what I’m pitching 100%).
So before we start getting elbow-deep in prototypes and such …I’m going to highlight a Kickstarter project for you to check out. It’s my machinist’s latest titanium offering.
It launched a few days ago and is already massively overfunded (I knew it was going to do well – but it’s doing even better than I thought).
Here’s the kicker though…
Don’t tell anyone, but, because I’m registered with Kickstarter as a “Collaborator” on his project (i.e. I can make changes to the project page and such) I can see the behind-the-scenes dashboard. And the dashboard is telling me that a very high percentage of people pledging for his new, Fine Titanium Grater also backed his original grater project.
In other words, Backers were so blown-away by the original titanium cheese grater …they are absolutely jumping on board this new “fine” grating version.
Here’s what this new titanium grater looks like:
To check it out click here: http://kck.st/2JUrJOR
Again, full disclosure, I’m part of the manufacturing of this project. I will be doing the initial water-jet cutting as well as the final tumbling and surface finishing.
Okay, next up…
I’m going to reveal to you an incredibly crude prototype titanium letter opener.
Before I show you the photos – I’d like to reiterate that this letter opener is the result of me learning how to use my cnc-milling machine. All my products are designed by me …but I work with my machinist to bring them to life. This titanium letter opener prototype is entirely me though this time.
Here’s a couple of photos of it fresh off the cnc machine:
Out of interest… those six holes are how I hold the initial piece of titanium down.
Once the machining was done I then snapped-off the six fixing points and then hand-ground around the edges. Once this was done I then tumbled and the result was this:
Don’t look too closely at it because you’re going to see the various machining “issues”.
The main thing I was aiming for was to make sure it functions 100% (if you know me by now then you know I prioritise functionality above everything else …and only then start ensuring the aesthetics of the design is going to work).
Long story short, the design worked very well (although, truthfully, it could do with a little bit more of an edge).
Right now I’m waiting for more tools for the milling machine to arrive so I can continue with improving the machining of it – hopefully it will be ready in a few weeks.
Let’s talk business…
In the past I’ve usually been fairly frequent in my emails and blog posts to you (as well as updates to Kickstarter projects).
But, over the last six months (actually, it’s probably a lot longer than that), I all but disappeared.
Truthfully, it wasn’t intentional… it just sort happened. From what I can tell (doing a post-mortem of sorts) I think I just got a little overwhelmed by business and the projects I had taken on.
At one point I had five (yes, FIVE!) projects I had to fulfill and deliver to customers (this was a combination of three kickstarter projects, one website pre-order and a product for my machinist’s Kickstarter project). Totalling literally thousands of individual products to be tumbled, assembled and shipped.
The workload peaked late last year just before Nathan — my first full-time employee — came on board …and only now (this week) are we getting the last of those projects out the door.
Here’s the thing…
I don’t think it’s coincidence that, for the first time in months, we’ve finally caught up with the projects …and I’m also sitting here writing this long, detailed blog post about everything that’s currently going on (and really enjoying it too! :-P).
I can confirm there has been a LOT of stress and such (but not as much as you’d think perhaps). The real “killer” is that this is a manufacturing business with monthly expenses and having such a massive backlog of projects to fulfill stopped us producing any new projects …and the knock-on effect of that was no money coming into the business. Now that gets a little stressful for sure.
I might do a more in-depth post or video on this another day (if you’re interested of course) …but, for now, let’s just say I was a little “overwhelmed” for the last few months …but things are back on track now. Happy days. 😀
Now, coming soon…
Yes, it’s been some time since I launched a Kickstarter project – but the next one is not too far away.
The project is for a titanium carabiner. What makes this carabiner unique is, as you will see, the gate mechanism (some people may call this the “spring” or “lever”).
This design is one I initially prototyped a couple of years ago …but let myself get side-tracked by various other projects. In hindsight this is a good thing because the quality standards of what I produce has gone up since then (as well as my design skills to a degree). The result is something I’m fairly exciting to share with you if I’m honest.
Here’s a couple of photos:
There have been a bunch of very good titanium carabiners on Kickstarter over the last few years (I’ve backed most of them I think). And out of those there have been some very minimalist ones …with great aesthetics. However, of the ones I pledged for and received, almost all of these had a crazy amount of “side play” on the gate.
So while these carabiners looked like they would function well in a photo …the gate turned out not just to go forwards a backward …but also side-to-side …which is crazy because it compromises the entire functionality of the carabiner.
Long story short:
This new gate mechanism I’ve designed has no side-play whatsoever (oh and it’s buttery smooth too!).
Okay, enough of a “pitch” on that carabiner – I’ll let you know when it’s launched.
Earlier this year I designed and made my first product where I did the cnc-machining myself (this was the Tank Bottle Opener).
I’m bang in the middle of the production run of my second in-house cnc-project …the “Bruiser” Titanium Pry-bar.
Truth be told I’m actually taking a little bit of a hands-off approach to this one and having my employee Nathan tackle the production of this. He’s never done CNC before (but he does have experience with designing on CAD software …so, for Nathan, it’s now about learning to physically machine products).
Yes, I know, I barely know cnc-machining myself …yet here I am “teaching” someone else to do it. I only know a little more than Nathan ….and, hopefully, he’ll blaze past me in terms of knowledge and ability in the coming weeks and months (so I can focus more on designing and writing blogs posts like this! :-D).
Here’s the CAD progress we made today:
The red block above is the “fixture” that the prybar blanks will be fixed to for machining. As you can see we have simulated the prybars on there.
We made more progress than we thought we would get done today and managed to get some machining of the actual prybars done – here is a shot of the raw water-jet cut blanks:
And here are a couple of shots after the first machining operation (part of the outside has been machined as well as the keyring hole):
We’re hoping to have a lot of these Bruiser titanium prybars fully cnc-machined by the end of the week and shipped next week (they are on pre-order on the website and you can still get them here right now).
I think that’s all I have for you today.
Any comments or such? Then fire away below…
(Note: Recently the blog comments were not working – but you should be able to post fine now!)
I have two things for you today…
#1 – Recent Shipping Issues
If you’ve ordered from me within the last couple of months and you’re one of the few who have not received your order (or confirmation of it being shipped), then your package may possibly be lost (or possibly just really, REALLY slow) …and, of course, I will re-ship to you again.
I trialled a new shipping method for a while and it’s not reliable (mainly in terms of speed …but sometimes packages simply did not arrive). I am no longer using that method and have since gone back to using DHL Express (which continues to prove itself as fast and reliable).
Also, I am still somewhat behind on answering emails as my customer support person moved on and have been doing it myself again (but, if I’m honest, having a tough time keeping up with it while keeping the rest of the business running as well). Getting there slowly and steadily though.
If you’ve not contacted me yet (or if you have already contacted me and I’ve still not managed to get to your email …and you want to give me a “nudge”) – then you can contact me here.
(Also, if you’re a Backer of one of my Kickstarter projects and are still waiting for your shipment to arrive then also do contact me)
#2 – New, Heavy-Duty Titanium Pry-Bar
I’ve just put a new titanium pry-bar deign up on my online store here: https://store.magnusx.com/pages/bruiser
This new, chunky pry-bar is made entirely in-house – machined on our own CNC mill (which we’re trying to use more and more).
For more information head to this link here.
So a few things for you today…
In the next month or so I will be launching a new titanium project – which will likely be a set of tweezers. I’ll talk more about them soon …but, for now, I’ll just mention that they will be very “pocket friendly”.
Before I talk about the new spinner I’d like to mention the shipping of various products (well, the products/projects that are running late):
#1 – Titanium “Click” Pen from Kickstarter –> This will start shipping towards the end of this current week (all the shipping labels are now printed and it will take at least a few days to pack the 1000+ pens and pencils)
#2 – Titanium “Air” Spinner from Kickstarter –> Will start shipping out two days from now (again, the shipping labels are all printed and just the final packing to be done)
#3 – Titanium PillPots from Kickstarter –> These are now fully finished and will be starting to do final quality control and fitting o-rings next. We still have some lids to sand (because there was a problem with the cnc-process). A few more days and sanding will be done on those.
Oh, one more thing…
The ‘Ego’ Fidget Spinner project shipped a few weeks ago. Most people have been receiving theirs around the world – and I think it will be another week or two until pretty much everyone has received theirs. If you’ve not received it yet …then please give it a little longer. Thank you.
Now, I’m going to be honest here (as I always am)…
Part of the reason for launching a pre-order for another titanium fidget spinner is purely demand from previous customers of the ‘Ego’ fidget spinner.
As you know, this is a business (as well as being a way to design and make whatever crazy titanium product my heart so desires!), and so if I have a whole load of people demanding and pleading I make something …well, it just makes sound business sense to make it, right?
Take a quick look at this video from almost a year ago:
The spinner in the video above is the basis of the new spinner I’m about to launch …hopefully in the next 48 hours or so.
The spinner will be a pre-order (because I don’t have the titanium material on hand right now and, as you know, I have to import EVERYTHING here in New Zealand). The pre-order will allow me to gauge numbers better and, also, give you an “early bird” discount because I don’t have to hold these in stock (they will be made to order).
Here’s a couple of screenshots of the above spinner but further-developed and closer to what the final design will be:
Right, I think that’s all I have for you today.
If you have any thoughts or comments then please do fire away below.
This post includes a whole load of updates, apologies and other stuff for you…
I’ve screwed-up over the last few months in so many ways it’s depressing – some of it in my control and some not so much in my control (but I still take 100% responsibility for all of it). I’ll talk about this in a minute – but first, I’m going to cover a few updates for various products first (both pre-orders and Kickstarter projects).
The ‘Ego’ spinner pre-orders started shipping around 1 week ago from here in New Zealand to all around the world. They are now 95% shipped.
You may or may not have received an automatic email notification about this. I’ve had issues with my usual shipping method and have had to use a new company and as a result there is no tracking.
I know MANY of you have requested tracking – unfortunately I’m not able to provide this right now (until I get a better shipping method in place). I am sorry about this.
Your ‘Ego’ spinner should arrive in 2 to 4 weeks (on average). If it does not arrive then let me know …and I will sort out a replacement for you.
This is another project I’m delivering late on (and have, quite rightly so, received a lot of “feedback” for this).
These are almost ready to go and will start to ship next week.
As a side note…
I’m not going to give any excuses here …but the reason for the unreasonably late shipping on the pens for Kickstarter is a mind-boggling amount of “issues” arose. It was frustrating, disheartening and costly.
This project is another late project (again!)
Progress stalled for a couple of months because of significant issues trying to sand the bases of them.
However, we’ve managed to solve this and production is now ’round the clock and *fingers crossed* shipping will start in the next couple of weeks.
This project is the latest one I’ve launched and is pretty much on track to be shipped on time (should be at the end of this week …or, possibly, the beginning of next …but no later).
Here is a photo of the “in progress” from a few days ago:
And here is how they look ready and waiting to ship (400 in the boxes below and another 200 being assembled today and tomorrow):
The way I’ve run my business over the last few months has basically been a complete “car crash”.
Dozens upon dozens of frustrated and annoyed customers have contacted me over the last few weeks and months – almost entirely because of the delays (in the projects I mentioned above).
I’ve let my business get into a bit of a mess (albeit temporary) …and customers are paying the price! It’s shameful and everyone (EVERYONE!) deserves a hell of a lot better than I have been giving. What I mean by my business getting into a “mess” is essentially:
— Taking on too many projects at once and falling behind (because I was a one-man-show)
— Poor forecasting of money coming and going out got me into awkward corner with my cashflow
— Not being vigilant enough on the inevitable “issues” that arise when creating each new product
— And so on…
Over the last few weeks I’ve been buckling-down and putting in the time and effort to get these late projects out the door – and I will be doing the same for the next few weeks too.
However, my communication has been completely lacking on this front …and I knew this as each day passed that I did not provide an update for each project.
There is a chance you’ve experienced this with other Creators and Makers, right? They’re running late on a project and they just kind of go off the radar. You want an update from them (anything would do!) and you just get silence.
The reason for this is shame. Shame is a very powerful thing. In the last few weeks I’ve not provided any updates …and it was because I was ashamed of what a mess I’d made of things. So what did I do? I buried my head in my work and just focused on getting on with getting the projects out …even which I knew I SHOULD have been providing updates. Yet I didn’t give updates.
It is “damage control” right now on the huge number of people I’ve let down. 2018 will be the year of building trust again with customers and treating business like business.
Before I get into this post…
The Titanium Cheese Grater I’m about to show you is not my project. Nope.
This is my Machinist’s project on Kickstarter (click here to check it out):
And, yes, it’s made from one slab of Grade 5 Titanium:
In the past I’ve mentioned “my Machinist” – but I don’t think I’ve said much more about him.
Basically, you know all the titanium products I design, make and sell? Well… although I do the designing, cutting and surface processing/finishing …it’s Warren, my machinist, who is the “CNC Ninja” and does the machining.
On this Titanium Grater project of Warren’s I will be doing the initial titanium supply and cutting …Warren will do the CNC-machining …and then I will be doing the final surface finishing.
The first time I tried one of these Greater prototypes I said to Warren, “I need one!”.
There are a number of reasons this Titanium Grater is so good …but there are three things that do it for me personally:
#1 – Compact and easy to clean (no need for those huge “box” graters)
#2 – I typically only grate a small amount each time (again, there is just so much mess and “overhead” with those big “box” graters)
#3 – It’s will literally last decades (I am pledging for this Titanium Grater on Kickstarter myself …and it’s the last grater I’ll probably ever have to buy)
…there are a bunch more reasons this is such a phenomenal grater – but these are the core things that “do it” for me. 🙂
To support the project on Kickstarter (and get it for significantly below final retail I might add!) then click here: http://kck.st/2w8Ce9T
If you have any questions about it then Warren is fairly fast to answer in the comments section on Kickstarter project page (and I will also be able to answer there as well).
I’d got a bunch of stuff to share with you today…
So grab a coffee and let’s jump right in:
Firstly, you may have noticed the name change. Yep, after a whole ton of thought …I’ve changed the name of my business from “Cogent Industries” to “Magnus” (how big-headed and egotistical is that?!).
Truthfully, there are a few reasons for this – but one of the main ones is that for years I’ve had people mis-pronouncing the word “cogent”. The ‘g’ is meant to be like the ‘g’ in the word “gentleman” …but people keep saying the ‘g’ as “goose”. So they end up with “cog-ent”. It was wearing thin.
Interestingly, whenever I meet new people and tell them my name… so many times they will say “wow, ‘Magnus’, that’s cool name”.
It’s those two things that have partly brought about the change.
Now, you may notice that the domain name is MagnusX.com. If you know anything about website domain names you will know that pretty much all the common names are taken. I thought MagnusX.com was nice and clean and simple.
When you next order something from my website you may notice the order process is a little different (simpler, cleaner, faster, etc.).
For those of you interested in the “little details”…
I was with WooCommerce (which is a Plugin for WordPress …and, out of interest, WordPress is the platform my whole website runs on).
But, after a couple of years with WooCommerce, it’s time to move to Shopify. There are a whole load of reasons for moving which I won’t go into detail about here …but basically it’s simpler, easier, faster for both you as a Customer and for me on the back end. 🙂
A long time ago I showed a design for a titanium “cache” (essentially a small storage container) I called the TiVault – it looked like this:
There was a flurry of comments from followers of this blog DEMANDING I make these …but, shamefully, I let other projects take priority and never did anything about the TiVault.
The TiVault is a SECURE storage container …and by secure I mean it’s pretty much impossibly for others to get into it without physically destroying it (i.e. they would need to try and cut it open or drill into the lid).
The great news about delaying this project is …well, there are a few things:
I have larger titanium round bar in stock and so can offer larger sizes than I could before.
The other thing is that, my design skills have improved a lot and I’ve been able to both simplify the design and make it even more secure (read: harder for others to get into!).
I will make another blog post soon with the new, improved design and what I might offer. Most likely this will be another Kickstarter project.
It seems the whole “fidget spinner” fad is over – which is kind of true.
However, it’s not really the whole truth…
While the mainstream, cheap-and-nasty plastic spinners are no longer in the media or such …there is still a die-hard bunch of people who were interested in spinner more than two years ago.
The main place to go to for news and such on spinners (if that’s you’re thing) is Fabian Botero’s group on Facebook call Spin Space you can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spinspace/
The thing is, in my not very humble opinion, spinners are going to be going strong for a very long time yet (particularly high-end, high-quality and high-performance ones!).
And, because of this, I have joined the whole fidget spinner thing with a couple of designs of my own.
The first is the “Ego” spinner (which you can pre-order by clicking here).
You know it’s fun,
I’m very much still trying to figure out what exactly it is I do in terms of designing, making and selling products.
Whenever someone asks I typically just say something like, “I make things out of titanium like pens, tweezers and things like that”.
But, when I think about it, it’s really so much more than that…
There is a whole load I can talk about – but I think I’ll mention just one of the things.
I’m purposefully not like the 99% of businesses (well, manufacturers really) who seem to want to make products as cheap as they can, so they can sell as may as they can to the biggest number of people.
Everything seems to be compromised in the product.
Functionality seems to be a very vague goal for most of these manufacturers …and “quality” is something that really doesn’t even seem to factor into it. And as for the product lasting… I’m pretty confident that if it last any length of time for the buyer, then that’s just luck!
And this pretty much is the opposite of everything I do:
I could go on …but I’m sure you get the idea.
Is there a downside to this?
Yes, I’d say there is. Only people who truly appreciate functionality, design and quality are willing to buy my products. These are typically the same people who understand that spending $200 is, in the long term, a damn good deal (because you’re getting something that will still be functional for decades to come).
But, I’m never going to be able to sell to “the masses”. But I’m okay with that because…
I know I’m designing the best products I can …in the best way I can …using the best materials I can …and doing my best to provide damn good customer support. Compromising on almost nothing.
What are YOUR experiences with quality (or poor quality) products?
What are YOUR views on this?
I really am curious…
Yes, I know, this is the first blog post in a very long time. SHAME ON ME!
I have no excuses for not posting – I simply kept saying to myself, “I’ll do it next week…”. And, well, I’ve said that for months now. Disgraceful.
So, here’s what I’m going to do for you…
As of right now I’m going to start writing a blog post EVERY WEEK. And to kick things of I’m going to do a bit of a run-down of some of the things I’ve been doing over the last few months…
It’s been a long time coming – but I’m getting very close to moving into the NEW workshop.
It was over a year ago I started renting this new workshop …and only now am I ready to “bite the bullet” and move the remaining equipment over.
I’m not moving right now because there is a lot of tumbling to be done with the vibratory tumbler at the old workshop. I want to get that out the way so I’m not in a mad rush (because I’ve got to find a new house to rent at the same time!)
I don’t have any photos right now (but in the videos below you will see what the new workshop is looking like).
Yes, it finally happened…
I bought a cnc milling machine. Woohoo!
This is something I’ve wanted for a very long time (I’m talking 20+ years here).
I’ve been learning it slowly (as time has allowed) and made a few cool things:
You know that “Fidget Spinner” trend that’s been gaining massive momentum over the last few weeks and months? (well, if you don’t, ask the nearest teenager and they’ll tell you)
Well, around the beginning of this year — before fidget spinners REALLY took off — I started prototype some titanium fidget spinners (of course titanium!).
For the last 2 months I’ve been saying I’m going to have one or two designs ready “in 2 or 3 weeks” …and, truthfully, for various reasons I’ve not prioritized it enough. I do hope to have two designs ready soon though (I’m not making any predictions in terms of when anymore though).
If you’re not familiar with fidget spinners – then watch this video:
Also, if you’re familiar with how I design and make things …you’ll already KNOW my intention is to make THE BEST spinners available. Currently I’m waiting for some full-ceramic bearings to arrive from the USA to me here in New Zealand (yes, I paid $80 for ONE little bearing… but, like I said, aiming for the best here).
I’m still making daily YouTube videos.
And, in fact, just celebrated 365 days of filming and uplodaing a video every day without missing a day (which may have you thinking: “Magnus, you have been uploading a video every day …yet you don’t write a blog post for months?!!!”. Yes, like I said, shame on me)
Here’s the video of what I did to celebrate the 365 days of videos…
I have a few more things to share with you – but I will share those for the next blog post I think.
Oh, and one last thing:
I will be increasing the price of every product on my website. It’s something I am honestly reluctant to do …but it’s unavoidable unfortunately. When I crunch the numbers on my business (the sales coming in and the expenses going out) I must increase prices to make this business viable and sustainable.
Basically this is a little nudge if you’re “sitting on the fence” thinking of ordering anything from my website. Now is probably the time because I’m about to bump up prices across the board.
Right, it is 11:44pm as I write this and I need to head back into the workshop to check the tumbling process on some titanium 🙂
To impossible high standards,
If you’ve not hear of “fidget spinners”, then take a look at the short video below:
Click Here to get on the EXCLUSIVE “Launch List”
And here’s a few photos of the spinner I talk about in the above video (possibly the greatest “fidget” toy soon to be available 🙂 )
Again, click here to sign-up to my “Launch List” to get early-bird access and “behind the scenes” stuff that everyone else will be missing out on.
I need your help (yes, really!)
It’s about pen refills – take a look at the short video below:
What I’m basically asking in this video is…
“What exactly do you mean by a ‘G2’ refill?”
It was not clear to me from the comments in yesterday’s blog post what you (and there were many, MANY of you!) meant when you said ‘G2’.
One last thing…
I REALLY appreciate your complete honesty in your comments yesterday and that you did not hold anything back. It was brutal and I loved it …it’s that kind of no-nonsense communication that speeds things up, saves time and money …and ultimately results in better products for YOU. 🙂 Thank you.
Yes, the rumors are true…
The titanium “click” pen I’ve been working on is finally launching.
Here’s a little sneak preview of the pen (before it goes live on Kickstarter in a couple of days):
Before I continue…
You need to know that this click-style pen is different to most (and possibly ALL) other click pens.
While there have been titanium click pens before — hell, I’ve bought a few in my time — this is probably the first click pen that is 100% Grade 5 Titanium. Yes, you got it, there is not a single plastic part to be found on the pen.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Magnus, what about the spring, surely THAT has got to be a steel spring?”
Sorry to disappoint – but even the spring is a precision cnc-machined component that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before (I won’t reveal the spring yet …but I promise you’re going to love it).
Here’s the other cool thing…
I’ve designed this pen to look virtually identical the Titanium Mechanical Pencil I made last year – take a look:
Oh, one more thing:
The pen will use only one type of refill… Fisher Space Pen. Yes, this is the refill that can write upside down, underwater, in ultra-low temperatures and ultra-high temperatures.
In other words, this combination of the Fisher refill and the 100% Titanium pen creates a pen that is built to handle anything and everything you can throw at it. From writing at the top of Mount Everest …all the way down to bottom of the seabed …this pen going to function.
And here’s the crazy thing – it does it without looking “rugged” or “clucky”. It’s still a minimalist and ultra-elegant pen you can take to business meetings.
Any comments? I’d love to hear them.
P.S. This will be launching on Kickstarter in the next couple of days