Flavio Ikoma is a legacy designer at CRKT—his powerful designs and hardworking knives are defining pillars that have held CRKT up for a quarter century. So when Ken Onion approached Doug Flagg, CRKT’s VP of Marketing and Innovation, with an incredible new knife design and a need for an equally powerful mechanism, he knew just who to call.
When Flavio revealed to Doug what he had been working on as a solution to Ken Onion’s usability problem, Doug was floored. “I’ve been in the knife business for 25 years. I’ve brought a number of industry-changing mechanisms to market. But I’ve never seen something so simple and compelling.”
When the designers attempted to apply the mechanism to Ken Onion’s patented design, though, there were simply too many hang ups. “In the end, it was too complicated a problem to solve with this simple, beautiful mechanism,” Doug reminisces. “So for the moment, we put Ken’s knife design on hold and moved Flavio’s mechanism into the spotlight.”
The Creation of Seismic™
“In my industry,” explains Flavio, “oftentimes the strength of the lock depends on the width of the folder. That’s why my first sketches of the knife that was to become the Seismic™ features a Tanto blade. Proving out my concept that this truly is one of the simplest, strongest mechanisms the industry has ever seen is so much more impressive when done in a long, thin folder.”
An Innovation in Plain Sight
“Sometimes innovation comes with a familiar face,” explains Flavio. This mechanism doesn’t feature a new, fancy bell or whistle; it’s not flashy or an unnecessary to the function, and that’s what makes it so ingenious. So at face value, it’s not extraordinary. But look a little deeper, and there’s so much more to this innovation beneath the surface.
Deadbolt® is not simply one of the strongest mechanisms on the market, it’s also supremely easy to use, is safer than most other mechanisms (fingers never need to cross the rotational path of the blade), it’s reliable, easy to maintain, has an adjustable detent, and, “something that the public might not realize,” explains Flavio, “is that it allows for freedom of design.” So once the Deadbolt® design becomes open sourced to other top-shelf CRKT designers, the sky's the limit to the form it will take and the purposes it might serve.
Making a Production Seismic
“There is a big difference between custom and production models,” says Flavio. “I have sent CAD files and prototypes in the past, hoping that they wouldn’t have to change them that much in order to create a production model, but that’s just not always the case.” The crux of the process is getting the manufacturer to understand the concept behind the design and which details are not up for compromise—with Deadbolt®, shares Flavio, that was a real point of contention.
When the first prototype came back from the factory, Flavio discovered that the knife didn’t hold up to his weight expectations. “Good enough isn’t good enough,” he remembers saying to Robin Leong, CRKT’s VP of Engineering and New Product Development. From Robin’s perspective, “the factory has their own processes and expert perspectives that impact the creation of a production model. Particularly with Deadbolt®, the metal injection molding posed an interesting challenge.”
Eventually, after several years of refining and perfecting, Flavio, Robin, and the factories came to an excellent compromise. “In the end, they nailed it,” says Flavio.
“There’s a real testosterone economy out there. There will be people out there buying the Seismic™ just so they can try to get the mechanism to fail.”
It’s Not Just About Strength
“There’s a real testosterone economy out there,” says Flavio. “There will be people out there buying the Seismic™ just so they can try to get the mechanism to fail.” That’s fine, from his perspective, because he thinks that the real challenge will be that the bar is not only raised on strength of the locking mechanism, but the design flexibility, safety, and ease of use. “You buy the car because it has 1000 horsepower,” he grins, “but you like it because it’s comfortable and reliable.” He’s proud to have created a mechanism that raises the bar for strength, safety, and usability across the board.
Take it in hand and you’ll see: steel bolts interlock with the blade when it’s deployed to yield outrageous strength. A prominent button sits at the pivot point for simple, intuitive disengagement without fingers crossing the path of the blade.