It works! It’s happening.gif! It’s being machined now and a first batch is ready to head off to anodization mid-next week! There’s been some minor changes focused on making it work with just the tool as well as with a jig. It’s now easier to use and remove. I’m testing it now and will release the data/findings with the upcoming pre-order announcement. Hit up the IC form if you haven’t already to hear when the pre-order goes live.
There were mostly quality of life changes like adding a handle to help with use and removal, but also some improvements to the base design (check out the original IC for more info on the original design).
- The reenforcing material on the side of the prongs was tweaked a little to make it easier to insert in the Box stem. The prongs were beefed up a little to keep the blades from separating like other tool designs were at risk of.
- The cutting surface angle was changed a little to make it easier to press down while not being too sharp as to wear.
- There was a lot of feedback about difficulty using the tool without the jig as well as removing it after cutting, so we beefed up the handle and added grooves for better grip, it increases the material but is much easier to remove, makes it easier to use without a jig, and helps with jig alignment.
- We’ve settled on anodization because tool steel was expensive and would take too much time to differentially harden and annealing that edge was tough. Anodization is key because I’m hoping to get from raw aluminum (as hard as soft steels and brass) to 50-60 HRC (about that of a knife) using a anodic type III hard coating. This is hard to describe, but it will help the tool cut and move easier as well as wear less (although wear resistance is different from hardness). This anodization should take tool life from <100 to hundreds of cycles (you can always buy more than one if you’re worried about wear, most community members don’t have more than a thousand switches and even then a tool steel isn’t economic). Type III anodization is much harder than the typical color and finish you get, for example, on a keyboard case, phone, etc. Anodizing adds 2 weeks to the process and splits up the tools into batches. Without anodization, the tool develops little burs on the edge after a couple dozen cycles that affect the cleanness of the cut while still remaining in spec (engineering nerds: edge-roll plastically deforming due to insufficient hardness doesn’t affect the cleaving walls’ dimensions but can affect the type of cut and inhibit cutting to the base of the tool).
- I’m redesigning the jig to be easier to hold and hold down on a plate for switches in a board.
- I’m designing a Nexus slider jig once some samples arrive from a generous Redditor (who I haven’t asked for permission to name – nevertheless, they’re a champ).
I’m working on several sample sets and will be releasing the data on the measurements of the stems before and after as well as leaving some ABS keycaps on pre-tool and fixed stems for some longer-term stretch tests. I’ve had to sacrifice some switches to see how error-tolerant using the tool is (it’s doing pretty well, even after dozens of cycles of misuse, the cutting edges are fine and the stems are at worst “loose”).
I’ve noticed some extra shavings in testing on the unaffected dimension that’s in spec, so I’ll try to break some of the edges that shouldn’t be unnecessarily shaved.
I’ll provide the test data of the tool in use in future announcements.
Get ready for pre-order this next coming week! Since this is a pre-order and not a group-buy, the tools are already in production and it should be lower risk than a group buy. If you haven’t already, hit up the interest check form and I’ll email you too when the pre-order goes live.
I apologize for the occasional silence, a combination of waiting on the shop, personal loss, job transitions, and design changes have made this last longer than planned. We’re 100% moving forward with this right now. I hope to get some un-anodized samples out to community members. I will be updating with some demo videos, machining videos, progress pictures, etc. I’ll start a new thread for the pre-order when that happens, until then, keep checking this thread.