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3D-Printed Caps For Pilot Vanishing Point Nib Units


Ashram
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After discussions with a fellow fountain pen enthusiast about the problems with loose and spare nib units for Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point/Capless pens a solution has been found. I was asked to assist with the design and testing of a custom made cap to fit over the end of the nib unit to protect it from damage, make them easier to transport, and keep them from rolling off tables. Many prototypes have been tested and now a final working product is available. Here are those caps in use:

http://i.imgur.com/oDkM3hW.jpg

They are available through my friend's Shapeways store: http://www.shapeways.com/designer/ArmillarySphere. They are 3D-printed with a Selective Laser Sintering machine and come in 2 varieties: smooth that match the diameter of the nib unit and fluted to keep the nib unit from rolling. I personally tested them on over 25 VP nib units and they fit every one made from the year 2000 to the present. Earlier nib units have more variation in diameter and fit can not be guaranteed. Check these out. I am glad to be able to help develop this useful VP accessory and I hope that others find as I useful as I do.

 

Note that the 6 packs of caps available are printed together as one piece with small bridges of plastic connecting them together at the ends. This makes them much less expensive per unit. They will need to be cut apart and lightly sanded. The individual caps are ready to use as-is.

http://i.imgur.com/Bftqofd.png

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Love the idea idea of these - but the cost of delivery to Australia is greater than the cost of the cap!

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In for a 6-pk, thanks!

Current Wishlist:

Visconti, Visconti, and...more Visconti! (And some ST Duponts too). (Ok fine, getting on the Omas and Montblanc trains now too. Toot toot.) (And maybe on the Montegrappa one too, but only for the Miyas.)

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Really good idea. I'm in for 1. ;)

"The Great Roe is a mythological beast with the head of a lion and the body of a lion, but not the same lion."

My Personal Blog | My Creative Writing Blog | My Heraldry Designs

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Love the idea idea of these - but the cost of delivery to Australia is greater than the cost of the cap!

I posted my method of making simple and cheap VP nib caps recently on FPN. Not as elegant as these 3D printed caps, and not as rugged, I keep them in plastic tubes, but cheap and simple and they keep my spare nibs wet and fresh for many weeks so I can switch between nib assemblies without flushing and re-inking. They are made from inexpensive plastic pipettes. Not rugged, but I store the capped nibs in plastic tubes to protect them.

 

Here's the link: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/291506-keeping-extra-vanishing-point-nibs-inked/

 

This 3D cap design is really elegant and practical. Thanks Ashram for posting this. Any chance the design could be changed to make the 3D cap air tight so you can cap inked nib assemblies? An O-ring on the ID where it slides over the area above the nib? Then the end sealed? Just a thought for those like me who like to keep different inks in my spare nibs so I can swap on the fly.

Edited by graystranger

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obfuscation

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Thanks for the tip. I just ordered a six pack.

In for a 6-pk, thanks!

Really good idea. I'm in for 1. ;)

Thanks a lot! We hope you find them useful.

 

This 3D cap design is really elegant and practical. Thanks Ashram for posting this. Any chance the design could be changed to make the 3D cap air tight so you can cap inked nib assemblies? An O-ring on the ID where it slides over the area above the nib? Then the end sealed? Just a thought for those like me who like to keep different inks in my spare nibs so I can swap on the fly.

Making these sealed poses problems. In the future it may be possible to produce something like you are looking for but for now it is not. I will ask the designer to see if they have any further input.

http://i.imgur.com/Bftqofd.png

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Thanks a lot! We hope you find them useful.

 

Making these sealed poses problems. In the future it may be possible to produce something like you are looking for but for now it is not. I will ask the designer to see if they have any further input.

Thanks for responding, I suspected it might not be so simple. Getting a sliding, smooth air tight fit on the shank of the nib assembly would be tricky. I wondered if it would be possible to design an O-ring groove in the ID and to seat an O-ring in it for the seal. Probably not easy either, as the groove needs to be very smooth to give the O-ring a sealing surface. Always easier to imagine than it is to do.

 

These are very neat caps by the way, well done.

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obfuscation

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Mine arrived! They have a really cool texture to them. A little gritty, but that makes them easier to hold and less likely to slip in your hand.

 

http://i.imgur.com/5rKcDGS.jpg

 

 

http://i.imgur.com/EUGbWuk.jpg

Edited by StrawberryJam

Current Wishlist:

Visconti, Visconti, and...more Visconti! (And some ST Duponts too). (Ok fine, getting on the Omas and Montblanc trains now too. Toot toot.) (And maybe on the Montegrappa one too, but only for the Miyas.)

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Thanks for picking some up, StrawberryJam and others!

 

Regarding sealing the caps so that they are airtight, it might be possible but there are a number of factors holding the design back:

  • If they are airtight, then it might necessitate removing the converter so that air pressure does not build up in the cap when you are putting it on. This could make the cap pop off or actually prevent you from fully seating the nib
  • The nylon material currently available is extremely porous. It is sintered together using a CAD-guided laser, so it is naturally a pretty loose matrix. This is nice for the caps as it means I could design them a tiny bit small and rely on expansion/smoothing of the matrix to give a tight fix. However, it means that they will leak a bit of air, aren't watertight, and likely will suck up ink coloration like no other (could be cool looking though).
  • There is a watertight material that Shapeways produces, a UV-cured acrylic, however that has some less desirable mechanical properties. It is somewhat brittle, and does not expand or smooth at all. While the printing accuracy is much higher, I worry that machining tolerances in Pilot's factory aren't actually as tight as the UV litho printer. If the cap ends up smaller, it will probably crack on insertion. If it is bigger, it probably will never sit nicely.
  • Adding a groove for a little o-ring would be pretty easy, provided you were willing to insert an o-ring.

I'm happy to design and set up for printing a small batch for the UV-cure acrylic. I can make no guarantees they would work, though. In fact, I have strong doubts. Feel free to message if you want to experiment.

 

Ultimately, the easiest thing would be to take the CAD files and have them cut into injection molds. They should be pretty easy to build and the runners wouldn't be complicated. Too bad that is uneconomical for anything but huge order sizes.

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I got mine today. I ordered a single black fluted cap--and it fits great.

 

Odd thing, though. I ordered a single cap. It came in a box big enough for a teen's pair of shoes. They probably spent more on the box and bagged air than they made in profit. I'm glad it was free shipping.

"The Great Roe is a mythological beast with the head of a lion and the body of a lion, but not the same lion."

My Personal Blog | My Creative Writing Blog | My Heraldry Designs

http://dcroe05.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/crestdr.png?w=100

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Yes, haha. Shapeways has two box sizes: too big and huge. I wish sellers had more control over that stuff.

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