There have been quite a few multitool products launched on Kickstarter, even a few for your pocket, but do any of them pop the top of a bottle and let you tighten a 8mm hex head on your fancy scooter? NO. Not like the Ringtool does anyway. Ringtool is a single-piece multi-tool, designed by Jonathan Sabutis, that just hit funding on its Kickstarter campaign. Without the unfolding, flipping or flicking you get nine tools packed into a wee stainless steel ring that attaches to your keychain and fits inside your pocket. We asked Jonathan about the design, the prototyping and manufacturing process of this simple, smart design.
One tool, many options
Jonathan Sabutis lives in Brooklyn, beginning his career with Machineart Industrial Design working on aftermarket products for BMW motorcycles. He’s now a Senior Designer with Harry Allen Design in NYC where he helps in designing lighting and furniture. Ringtool is his first Kickstarter project.
“I started working on the Ringtool about a year ago.” Jonathan says, “The design process was rather brutal as cyclists are often very harsh critics, but that is what you want when you are trying to make a product perfect.” He went through a dozen iterations based on feedback from several cyclists, designers, and material experts before getting to the final optimized form and then used Shapeways to print stainless steel prototype models for testing. That was the easy part.
“The modeling itself was not very challenging, but finding the right manufacturing process with the right factory in the United States was very difficult. First, most manufacturing for small metal parts has gone overseas. Second, the few that remain mostly do contract work for the military, so you really have to dig deep to find an American manufacturer who makes consumer products. All that said, I believe the toil is worth it to keep these amazing businesses alive. Yes, it is more expensive, but being able to visit the factory yourself means you can avoid miscommunication and enforce better quality control which ultimately makes for a better product. If it can’t be made locally, I don’t want to make it. It is definitely not easy, but I would encourage other designers and engineers to be similarly disciplined.”
The Ringtool is designed to be kept on a key-ring, quickly accessible for bike adjustments, assembling furniture, opening that ritual end-of-the-day-beer and other miscellaneous daily needs. It’s just the right size too, easy to hold, much like the turning of a door key, between the thumb and bent forefinger. The project has aceived funding so manufacturing is moving forward with estimated delivery set for October 2013. You can get your own on the Ringtool Kickstarter campaign site for $30 with free shipping in the US.