Monday, November 9, 2015

RECAP: A VISIT TO CONID

Conid
Past saturday, we (my dad and I) went to the Conid Day in Antwerp, not far from where I live. Conid, or rather Komec, is specialised in building custom machinery for other companies, but a few years ago, they ventured into the world of fountain pens.
Conid
It all started when a fountain pen enthousiast called Francis (aka. Fountainbel, pictured below, next to yours truly...) developed a unique filling system that he wanted to bring into production. The innovation and knowledge about fountain pens of Francis, combined with the expertise in precision machining from the guys over at Komec, resulted in a new brand being born: Conid!
Conid
With their first fountain pen, the Regular Bulkfiller, Conid aimed at people wanting the best possible ink capacity with a revolutionary filling system based on a vacuum filler. Since then, Werner, the owner of Comec/Conid, and Francis continued to improve on the original design. And in the past couple of years, they came up with some pretty impressive new pens.
Conid
Loads of different materials! And look at that gorgeous Tibaldi Impero Celluloid at the bottom!
The visit began with a tour around the Komec/Conid factory, organised by Werner. He's obviously very proud of what they do. And with reason! I've never seen a factory - of any kind- as well-organised and clean as his! Seeing the massice CNC machines, where Conid pens are born, is quite impressive. Mind you, since they usually work on much larger-scale projects, and with high-quantity orders, they don't just own one small CNC machine, they have multiple production halls full of heavy machinery, parts, raw materials,... Quite a sight to behold!
Conid
Werner showing us around in his magnificent factory
Conid
One of the Conid employees demonstrating Fountainbel's patented Bulkfiller system
Conid
The testing table, with all the different nibs Conid offers
Werner also made clear that one of their main focus points is to achieve the highest possible tolerances, and how they make sure every part is perfect. In their Hi-tech control lab, they can measure individual machined pieces to up to a thousandth of a centimetre. If I'd remember one thing from the tour around the factory, it would be Werner's insatiable aim for precision. If it isn't perfect yet, it'll never end up in the hands of the customer!
Conid
The new demonstrator version of the Conid Minimalistica
After the tour, we had a friendly chat with Fountainbel. And I also got to meet Wim, the owner and moderator of the Fountain Pen Network forum, who was there to present the new FPN limited edition Conid Kingsize (Another gorgeous pen!)
Conid
Conid
One of the CAISO prototypes
Conid
Apart from the current available models, Werner also introduced their latest design feat: The CAISO (Cap Activated Ink Shut-Off). On first sight, the CAISO is remarkably similar to the Kingsize, but with the addition of several solid Titanium Parts. But the really cool thing about this pen can be found inside the cap and feed: A small metal rod in the cap shuts down the ink supply from the section, which prevents the pen from leaking during transport. Good Stuff!
Conid
A Cut-out version of the CAISO, a true engineering feat!
I've had a great time drooling at all the pretty pens, and talking with passionate people. My respect for the brand has grown considerably, seeing the amount of effort and time they put in every pen. Conid makes expensive pens, no doubt about that, but after taking a look behind the scenes there's no doubt about the impeccable quality!
Conid
The assembly room

6 comments:

  1. You are one lucky dude Dries. How come I didn't know it was Conid day last Saturday?
    By the way: 1 hundredth of a mm is quite precise as tolerance for pen parts:-).
    Nice blog and very beautiful pictures. I loved reading it.
    Regards,
    Steven

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    Replies
    1. I guess it is Komec with a K?
      I checked their site. They do look as clean as a F1 engine factory.
      Wish I was there.

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    2. Yes, you are right, it is indeed written with a K, thanks for the heads-up! Thanks for the compliments on the blog as well, I'm glad you like it!

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    3. You are welcome. F...ing fast response from your side :-).
      Enjoy your day off.

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  2. Awesome write up !!! Thank you for sharing it with us. What a fantastic day it must have been.

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