If you've ever purchased a pen from Karas Kustoms, then you already know what a great designer Dan Bishop is. His minimal designs are functional, beautiful and comfortable. But, like any good designer, Dan spends his downtime thinking about how he can make his products better for the people using them.
Reading my review of the Karas Kustoms Ink, you'll know that I absolutely love the pen. There's not a whole lot not to love. But, one of the things I dislike the most about the pen is the large, blocky clip. It has a very industrial feel to it, but despite its rugged metal build, I think the pen is deserving of something a little more elegant and refined.
Enter the Stylocraft Custom Clips for the Karas Kustoms Ink. Stylocraft is Dan's personal in-house brand and he is leading the charge on customizing the Ink, starting with fantastic new clips. These clips are 3-D Printed at Shapeways (master printers of various 3-D products) from various metals in various finishes so you're bound to find a piece that will fit the color of your Ink.
Dan sent over a couple of these clips for me to take a look at and, spoiler alert, they're fantastic. They are perfectly printed and exquisitely crafted to fit the notch on the top of the Ink's cap with no wiggle or play at all. The shape is lightly tapered to match the slight taper of the pen, with a gentle sweep at the end of it, making it slip over your pocket with ease. There's a cutout down the middle, allowing the cap color to show through and the whole clip carries a much lower profile, making it unobtrusive, comfortable and clean. In my opinion, the initial clip design was functionally fine, albeit a little chunky and utilitarian, but this clip takes it up a notch by adding style and grace while maintaining all of the functionality one would need in a clip.
Installation is a snap. Simply remove the screws holding in the old clip using a properly-sized allen key, insert the new clip and snug down your screws. Be careful not to strip the screws. The pens are manufactured from aluminum (thus their light weight) and aluminum strips easily. So, should you decide to down a carton of Muscle Milk and toss up a couple hundies on the dead lift before doing this and then manage to over-torque your screws, you'll be, well... screwed. So, don't go all Popeye on it and spin the threads right out of your aluminum Ink. You're not attaching tie downs to a carrier deck muchacho, use a little finesse. If you feel apprehensive about doing the install or think maybe you're not cut out for the job, give Dan a buzz and he'll get you fixed right up.
The textured finish, indicative of most things that are 3-D printed, adds a little contrast to the otherwise smooth finish of the Ink. In addition to the light texture, there are small "steps" in the sides of the clips, again, indicative of the manufacturing process. I'm sure some people won't like it, but luckily for them, there are polished options that remove most of this texture and shine up the clip a bit. I didn't have a chance to view the polished versions in-person, but plan to add one to my collection for the purpose of seeing how well they are able to handle the "character" of a 3-D printed product.
If you're wondering about why these can't be manufactured the way the Ink is made (i.e., cutting it with a CNC machine), you're not alone. Fortunately, I've done your homework for you and have spoken with Dan at length about it. It essentially comes down to tooling. It would be far more costly to purchase and/or create the tooling to manufacture these traditionally.
Despite the "blemishes" inherent with 3-D printing, I find that these clips add a lot to the already excellent Ink. They're sleek and slightly more sophisticated, while still maintaining a good, rugged look and feel. Dan did an excellent job designing them and I encourage you to stay tuned for further Stylocraft products and accessories hitting the Shapeways printers soon.
Thanks for reading,