Making Premium Mechanical Keyboards At An Affordable Price
Ponoko has the good fortune of working with amazing designers and engineers to build brand new products. One of these designers is Joe from IV Works, who recently launched Av4, the 4th generation of his mechanical keyboard design. Ponoko makes components for the case (specially the flat sheet parts).
IV Works is able to produce high quality offerings without breaking the bank by using what is known as a ‘group buy’ process. This is where the product is released for a limited amount of time for sale, so that purchasing can be batched to meet minimum quantities and take advantage of volume discounts. The group buy for the Av4 keyboard ends 5/15/22.
The second way that IV Works keeps pricing low is by providing parts rather than fully assembled units. This means their customers are keyboard enthusiasts that hare happy to get involved in assembly and purchase stabilizers, switches, and keys separately. These components aren’t included partially because this allows customers to create a more custom unit (there are lot’s of specialized options out there for parts such as keys and people tend to pick keys best suited to their specific tastes).
We love Joe’s product and recently had the opportunity to ask him about his keyboards and creative process. Here is what Joe had to say:
What is your role/title? How would you describe who you are and what you do?
I am Joe, the dude at IV Works. I have worked in many different design industries, but all with the customer in mind. IV Works is my platform for creating what I personally want, and I am lucky enough that others want it too.
How and when did you get into manufacturing?
I have always made things to make my surroundings more comfortable for me. But I got into real manufacturing while I was attending Parsons School of Design. Since school, I have worked as a designer in menswear and sporting goods.
Who is your product for and what problem does it solve for them?
The Av4 is designed for keyboard enthusiasts with a focus on offering a premium experience at an affordable price.
Are there other products in the marketplace? How is yours different?
My design stands out from other mechanical keyboards since it offers more customization and higher-end finishes and details.
What material/s did you choose and why?
I use mostly frosted acrylic because of its luxurious appearance at a great price. Also, the look achieved by stacking acrylic gives depth and diffusion for the LED underglow, elevating the presence of the board.
What’s the inspiration behind your product?
The inspiration for the Av4 project is rooted in my design language: stripped back and industrial, with a dark edge. As though Nine Inch Nails and Apple had a baby.
Why was laser cutting your process of choice / What were problems with other making processes you could have used?
Since the Av4 case is made from acrylic, laser cutting was the sweet spot of finish vs cost compared to other methods.
What led you to use Ponoko (instead of other options)?
The guarantee to get it right. I am always willing to push a release date back to make sure the product is as good as it can be.
What’s your creative process?
My best ideas usually come to me while not actively designing – riding a motorcycle, taking a shower, or making coffee. I’ll get an idea, then sit in front of the computer until it makes me feel happy.
What specific results have you achieved from using our service?
Being able to upload different designs to maximize features for price. This is all about bang for buck which is a cornerstone of the designs. With quoting built directly into the website, I can make changes very quickly in order to refine the design. Also, I was able to get multiple prototypes in less than two weeks at an affordable price. This really helps make the design the best it can be.
Imagine describing Ponoko to a friend—what would you say?
I get asked every week; “Hey Joe, how do I make a (insert random item?)” Probably because I have made a ton of random awesome stuff in my career. If the project needed laser cutting I would say, “Just use Ponoko.”
What is the best “how to” story you can tell others about ‘how to make or sell’ a product using a laser cutting service / using Ponoko?
If you have an idea, there is no reason to not start prototyping right now with Ponoko. The sampling is easy, affordable, and quick. Once you have the cut in your hand, you will get even more ideas on how to make it special. Nothing beats having the real thing in front of you when designing!
What are the 2 most important cost saving tips your learned using Ponoko?
Use the online quoting system to see how you can get the cost down on your item. Always get a sample cut. Even though I have not had many issues with Ponokos accuracy, getting samples is cheap insurance to make sure I did not make any mistakes. I have been known to be a little too detail oriented… but we wouldn’t be having this chat if I wasn’t!