The first time we made designs for the Ratchet Ring was during the most tumultuous few weeks that Project Ratchet had ever seen. The Kickstarter had finished, our backers were eager to get their rewards and we had just started our first ever full production series of rings.
Doing a large series of production for the first time ever was daunting, but we felt safe, as we knew we had a great manufacturer. They were the ones who made the final prototype, and they had displayed a great ability to work with us on fixing problems and helping overcome obstacles, even with the language barrier we had. They only speak Korean.
The time came to collect the first batch of rings - 250 size 12’s. Long story short, they didn’t work. You see, these rings were made out of grade 2 titanium, and titanium doesn’t have great frictional properties when it comes to moving parts and tight tolerances. The turning was tough and it made these hideous screeching sounds.
After trying everything: grade 5 titanium, mixing materials, adjusting tolerances - we knew we had to switch back to 316 stainless steel. This was the material that the last prototype was made in.
Breaking the news to our backers, the people that had supported our dream from the very start, was not going to be fun. We knew it could be messy. People love titanium, and we do too. We were afraid of disappointing those that meant the most to us.
So we came up with something else to offer, as a “please forgive us” gift to our beloved backers.
We made 5 designs for our backers to choose from, and they ended up being a big hit. Around 30% opted in for one of them, and they were highly appreciated even by those who decided to keep their ring minimalist.
The designs were made to order, and the backers had around 5 days from the time of the announcement to let us know which design they wanted. We only made a small surplus to account for size exchanges, around 30 in total.
This meant that we did not have a lot of designs available after the initial launch to our backers. As time went on after this and we got new eyes on the Ratchet Ring, the legend of the designs was reborn, and we kept getting emails and comments from people wanting us to bring them back.
So, as we got a good opening to make some designs with a fresh batch of rings, we decided it was time. We didn’t quite have the capacity to make all five, but we felt that three was a number where we could strike a balance between keeping our inventory moderate but the choices plentiful.
However, we didn’t want to just go with our old designs and call it a day. That would feel sloppy and lazy. So we started thinking - what can we do differently?
We have an internal master document dubbed “Opportunities Project Ratchet” where we take note of everyone who reaches out pitching a collaboration, offer or other interesting propositions. I remembered that someone had reached out a long time ago and offered their design services for the Ratchet Ring.
I went back, found his email and read over our earlier conversation and checked out his portfolio. Then and there I remembered why we had decided to take keep his contact info close.
His work is awesome.
His name is David Alan, and he is the graphic designer behind the Deco design that is currently available on our website, along with the earlier Cubic and Turtle designs.
After discussing a collaboration, David sent in over 15 different designs in a matter of days. He was just as excited as we were about the collaboration, and it was a blast working together.
Here are a few of the other designs David made:
We got to pick our three favourite ones to include in the planned vote. We then quickly sent out an email to our newsletter subscribers and posted on our social media to let the final decisions be made by our supporters.
The final vote ended shortly after, and the decision had been made: Deco, Cubic, and Turtle were the winners.
We launched these rings shortly after, and they can be found here on our website under the Design/Finish tab.
The designs were never meant to be permanent, rather they were a solution to an immediate problem. Despite this, we feel that they have become a staple in the Ratchet Ring line of finishes, and we can't wait to create even more in the future.
Perhaps the incompatible properties of titanium were a blessing in disguise.