Kaco has been busy. Their new pen is interesting.
Kaco is a Chinese stationery company that put themselves on the fountain pen map with their Sky model.
The Sky set itself apart is a couple of ways.
- Design - The pen is an original design. Kaco isn’t trying to follow in the footsteps of other brands.
- Materials - The Sky is constructed of Makrolon, the same family of polycarbonate plastics Lamy uses in the 2000.
- Nibs - The pen uses German Schmidt nibs, again taking a different path from traditional Chinese pen makers.
At US$10, I found the pen a bit pricey so I never took the leap. The Sky has now come down to US$6.50 on Taobao, but after my first look, Kaco fell off my radar.
It's back now.
Enter the Edge
A few days ago, the Kaco Edge popped up in this FPN thread. It was clearly something different from the Sky.
The Edge is obviously inspired by the Lamy 2000.
The color and texture of the Makrolon is indistinguishable. With my eyes closed, I cannot tell the difference.
- The two pens are about the same size (the Edge is some 3mm longer). They share similar lines.
- The Lamy is girthier. It feels bigger in the hand. The Lamy is heavier by about 5g uncapped.
- The section of the Edge feels thinner. The section is Makrolon like the rest of the pen. brushed aluminium, again similar to the Lamy.
- The Edge uses a snap cap with a clutch ring like the Lamy. Closing the Edge is not as positive as the Lamy. It takes more force, but you do eventually get a snap when the cap seats.
- The clip on the Edge is a spring-loaded wedge of aluminum that hinges away from the cap just a smidge. It doesn't look like it works very well. It's good for keeping the pen from rolling around. I assume it's the feature that gave the pen its name.
Nib style and filling mechanism are where the two pens diverge. The Edge uses a Schmidt No. 5 nib unit that works cartridges or a converter. It comes with a couple of long international standard ink cartridges but no converter. The nib is steel and comes only in EF
The only branding on the Edge is the Kaco logo on the nib.
- 138mm capped
- 127mm uncapped
- 152 posted
- 24.33g capped
- 12.65g uncapped
The Edge is about 2g lighter than the Lamy capped and 5g uncapped.
The Kaco Edge sells for US$6.50 at the Kaco store on Taobao. I guess Makrolon is just plastic after all.
I elected to use the supplied black ink. I figured if I didn't use it for this experience, I may never wind up giving it a try. The Kaco ink turned out to be very well behaved and quick drying. Nice ink.
The pen was ready to write within seconds of putting in the cartridge. As fast as I can remember. It wrote the first time I put nib to paper and hasn't stopped since. For an EF nib, it is a generous line and medium wet. The nib is remarkably smooth.
I chose a medium 5mm grid TWSBI notebook. The smaller page and grid rule encourages compact writing. The Edge with the EF nib proved perfect for this kind of writing. 5 stars.
It reminded me of my Pilot Custom Heritage 92 14K F nib. So I dragged out that pen, dipped it in some Pilot Irushizuku Take-sumi and had a go. The Pilot ink is a blacker black, but the two pens produce a very similar line. The comparison speaks well for the Edge.
I haven't tried removing the nib unit to try swapping other nibs. At this point, I'm not sure I need to think about that for a while. As is, the Edge is a useful pen. I'm sold.
I have to say, the Edge was a surprise. I wasn't expecting an affordable, original-design pen made with quality parts in brushed black Makrolon.
I suppose Kaco is already a big enough Makrolon customer so getting the material was a not an issue. Given their expertise in manufacturing, hopefully the pen will hold up over extended use. Kaco does make a lot of pens.
The design side of the process is equally interesting. According to the box, the pen was designed by Chen Sen. A little digging turned up the LinFan Design Workshop where Lin Fan 林 帆 is listed as the 2014 co-founder & Design director at Shanghai KACO Industrial Co., Ltd. Among the projects listed on the website are the Sky pen and other work for Kaco, including a stapler co-designed by Lin Fan and Chen Sen in 2018.
So Kaco has some design chops behind their products. That's encouraging. For the Edge, I'm not too keen on the clip, but otherwise I'm a fan.
2-10-19 - Cap Crack Update
After seeing a report of a cap crack by Truthpil on FPN, I went to check my pens. My newer M-nib pens are still looking good but the original EF model has developed the same type of failure.
The crack happened all by itself. The pen has been out of my rotation and kept in quiet storage. It's never been dropped.
At this point the crack is purely cosmetic. The cap still works fine.
Seems a shame for such a nice pen. I can only hope that going forward Kaco figures a way to engineer the problem out. It would be also be a good move to reach out to the pen community to replace caps that have failed.
Any reports of the Sky pen cracking in this way?
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.