For those who don’t know my day job is an engineer in manufacturing. I have been in the industry for about 10 years at the time of writing this and learned a lot during my time. One of the main lessons I learned was from a project at my last job that involved a large automotive battery tray. This tray utilized new technologies and processes our company was still learning. We made prototypes for our customer in a way that was differently planned than how we wanted to make the production parts. This led to huge problems during our initial production runs which caused me a lot of headaches.

I carried that lesson from my day job to GondekEDC. We always prototype all our products (metal and non-metal) to make sure they can be produced to our high standards in an efficient manner. There have been times where this was very productive such as with the Reaper. The initial design did not work well in pulling out nails and the design needed to be modified for the product to function as intended.

When it came to our EDC friction folder prototyping wasn’t even a question and we kicked off two metal prototypes about a month ago. These were to be built exactly like the production ones using titanium for the scales and sv35 for the blade. When we received these prototypes, they looked amazing but there were some initial fitting issues with the pivot and the newly added backspacer. The pivot holes in the scales were about 0.001”- 0.002” too small (about ½ the width of a human hair). This is a simple machining change but good to catch now to make the required changes. The backspacer fits but it’s a little too snug and we prefer it to be easier for assembly. A little more clearance will be added to that component as well. The lesson learned on this one is to send a few assembly components to the machine shop to try the fit in order to catch this even sooner.

These are very small changes but finding them out earlier than later will save time and money in this project. That allows a smoother release when the time comes and the ability to make it as affordable as possible. The next steps are to purchase a reamer to open the holes slightly, finish the blade, and send it to heat treat. If all goes well, we plan on selling one of them as an early release! Still about a month or so from that point but we are continuing to make progress.

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As an engineer, I have always been interested in 3D printing. My love for it started at my first job out of school. I used plastic 3D printers for part prototypes, functional stands for machining, and even a replacement part for someone’s snowblower. I moved to metal printing of tooling components in order to perform complex geometries not possible with conventional machining.

My love for printing did not stop and has continued to grow over the years. At GondekEDC we have a small desktop plastic printer (Ender Pro) that is used for part prototypes, stands, and of course the Hamilton Hank holder. Last year this expanded even the future to 3D printed lanyard beads in steel. This was our first venture into metal 3D printing and was a great success.

With the success of the beads, we have been looking to expand further into 3D printed pry tools. We first started looking into generative designs in order to utilize AI in order to design the best shape for the given task (an example is shown on the left). We were able to do a few iterations of this, but the application didn’t work great with the simple load structure of a pry tool. The geometries it came up with were either too simplistic or crazy complex and not pocket-friendly.

After scraping that idea, we moved towards an internal lattice structure to build a complex shape as well as reduce weight. In 3D printing, it is rare to print a solid piece and the different printer slicing software makes a complex internal structure that decreases material used and print time while keeping strength as high as possible. The idea was to utilize this approach on the pry tool. This would allow for it to be lighter, help keep the print as economical as possible, and provide a design like never before seen in a pocket tool. After multiple iterations of different structures, the final design is shown below.

With this design completed the next step is to print it in metal (316L stainless steel) and see how it functions. Can’t wait for the print to be completed and test out our first functional 3D printed pry.

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Designing our hanks is not as simple as picking out a cool-looking fabric and cutting to size. There is a lot more that goes into each fabric we choose.

The specific material is a big aspect as all fabrics are not created equal. There are lots of differences between them and picking the best is always important. There are also fabrics that are harder to work with which increases the time to make them. To keep the hanks at $10 we really need to be able to crank them out. A thin, strong, cotton tends to work the best and what we lean towards.

Next comes the actual design itself. There are some patterns we pick where just about 100% of the fabric we purchase can be used. These tend to be repeating patterns without a major focal point (stripes, polka dots, etc). These are great for yield and allows us to be efficient with our fabric. There are other designs that have a specific pattern that works better to center the hank on (for example our Harry Potter Hank). These must be sized just right in order to work. They make a great hank, but not all the fabric gets to be used.

Finally, there are custom hanks. We design and print our own fabric (TI, Cu, and Chloroform hanks are examples). This involves really putting all the pieces together on material and sizes while driving the design we are looking for. These are the most creative hanks we make but the fabric is also some of the most expensive. Worth it in our eyes to have extremely unique designs (like the bill hank).

We are always trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t. We also love ideas so comment below or shoot us an email (

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