“We use permanent markers on a daily basis at the shop,” writes mechanical engineer Daniel Bauen, who runs Georgia-based industrial design and manufacturing studio Soul Built. Bauen ticks off the pain points of standard markers: “I don’t enjoy having to remove the cap every time I use it. The existing plastic retractable markers have many issues, the worst being that they often extend while clipped onto (they are also terrible at staying clipped on) a pocket, and then will leak and stain everything. I’ve ruined many a pair of pants like that.”
Bauen, who previously invented a folding chef’s knife to keep the blade protected during travel, set about designing a retractable permanent marker to meet his needs. Soul Built being an EDC brand, his resultant Marksmith is of course made from 100% titanium and features a bolt action that’s “fun to fidget with and guarantees that the [point] will only extend when you want it to.”
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The Marksmith, which takes Sharpie fine-point permanent marker or chisel-tip highlighter cartridges, is available in three different finishes.
In this video Bauen explains why designing a sliding pocket clip is so challenging, and why if it eventually wears an L-shaped scratch into the body of the pen, “it’s not a defect in the craftsmanship:”
On the one hand, I’m astonished that there’s a market for such a pricey product (the Marksmith currently retails at $120). But there undoubtedly is; when Bauen Kickstarted the product a couple of years ago, he landed over $220,000 in pledges. And on the other hand, I am impressed—indeed, envious—that he was able to design a self-desired, cost-is-no-object product and can continue to run a successful company producing them. My hat’s off.