Industrial designer and knifemaker Anton Malyshev from Custom Knife Factory talked about new trends in manufacturing and shared his workflow.
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Hi everyone. My name is Anton Malyshev, I am an industrial designer and a knifemaker at Custom Knife Factory (CKF). I have been doing design since 2000. Early on in my career, I worked as a web-designer and CG-designer, then I got into the polygraphy. Now I work in industrial design. A while ago I made door fittings, constructed door locks, etc. There also were concepts of bottles, irons, microscopes but I am not sure that all of them were implemented into life. I got into the knife industry in 2013. Initially, I was going to make one knife that would be ideal for me. But the knife became highly-demanded all over the world. That’s great! All of us are a bit vain. The idea that something will be left behind you is very rewarding.
In recent years, production engineering became very advanced. New materials and manufacturing techniques appear every year. The quality improves, design becomes more and more complex. We had to take it into account to keep pace with the market. It’s tough but very engaging.
The workflow starts when you become obsessed with some idea. When you can’t bear it any longer, you get down to the drawing. Lots of drawing. Tons of drawing. Dozens of cuts and tries, searching for the right geometry, details and technical peculiarities. When the right design is found, it is time to create a model. We use CAD software for parametric solid modeling, it is more suitable for manufacturing then tools for polygonal 3D modeling.
When the design is ready, comes the prototyping stage. Firstly, we print 3D models of all our details. Then we gather them into one model to check the ergonomics and size. We consider the optimization, add some new details that were forgotten in the previous stages (yep, it happens). If the prototype is fine and we don’t want to add or change something, we prepare files for manufacturers. At the factory, millers use them in CNC-machines to cut details.
We can go really crazy with our design. However, we do have some limitations we can’t ignore: knife and fittings sizes, handle thickness, and other technical details. What is more, different countries have different knives legislation. For example, it is illegal to carry knives with a one-handed opening mechanism in Germany. In California, the blade length of a folder cannot be longer than 2.5”. When we make a knife we had to understand that there are places where might be problems with sales.
Manufacture and Materials
All industries have unique limits and rules to follow. Knife production is not an exception.
Manufacturing capabilities and optimization are very important here. It is wasteful to make a small detail from a huge piece of metal, turning the rest of it into shavings. It is more clever to make something separable or change the design for more efficient use of material.
What about materials, we never use free libraries or ready products. People are very jealous, you can be accused of plagiarism of the tiniest screw. That is why we always try to make something unique, never copy third-party products or use someone else's pictures. Although… We want to share with you a secret.
The Spinner Production
When the world became crazy about spinners, we decided to produce more EDC products and made our own spinner. We were going to make it incredibly cool and by all means unique.
It was then that I got an idea to download from the Internet many pictures with interesting objects, pieces of architecture, cars, and so on.
Then I сut the most interesting details, duplicated them and placed around some center to get something like a kaleidoscope effect. The spinners made in this way were sold in great numbers. That’s the story of how we used ready-made pictures in production.
I think, we even set a trend of “space” spinners. Before us, spinners were made from plain titan with bearings. We got a fresh idea and made it extremely popular, it was cool.
The world moves on. New software and new methods of visual design allow climbing higher and higher with each new workpiece. The technical progress helps to implement new ideas and designs. But I want to believe that any tool or machine will always be run by a human.
Thanks for your attention.
Anton Malyshev, Industrial Designer
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev