February update 2: Passed $700,000! Dye sublimation jig for the keys, spring assembly, factory reopens after holiday break

The final parts of the dye sublimation jig have completed production and shipped this week! They should arrive next week. The dye sublimation jig has been custom designed and built based on my research over the past year or two including conversations with a number of helpful long-time dye sublimation industry experts and engineers, including a supervisor of Model F keyboard production at one of IBM’s factories in the 1980s!

Still waiting on the sample sublimation sheets from the dye sub shop and the custom stamped template sheets for the key sets to maximize alignment during the sublimation process. I am hoping to start sublimating full key set samples a few weeks from now. One of the owners of the sublimation print shop I’ve been talking with told me he worked on the IBM Selectric key legend application (non-sublimated) in the early 1980s! He said the process involved a special hard dry ink printed to hard plastic sheets and then transferred to the keys.

This month we passed the $700,000 mark in orders!  A major product milestone – who would have thought? Thanks to all those who have joined the project for their support, advice, and patience throughout the now-resolved factory production delays of the past.

A special thanks to forum member Zed who has just about finished the US ANSI layout (other layouts to follow). As posted a while back, Zed has been making all the fonts for this project, making sure they are accurately representative of the early IBM Model F fonts, with some updates for the more recent Model M style keys and making them match those of the Model F.

New custom keys and new F77 right side block layouts available to order:  If you’d like to see the extra/custom legends available to order here is a new product page showing all the options:  https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/product/new-custom-legend-keycaps/

The factory reopens next week:  The goal for the factory is to assemble some test keyboards based on my instructions, and then fully assemble and ship to me the first few hundred keyboards in March and April. Those who ordered the earliest and those with low/custom serial numbers will be going out first. Currently about 150 of the 1500 ordered keyboards are low serial.

Spring assembly:  The factory is still trying to produce the spring/flipper assembly machines. Their redesigned machines’ first samples showed one perfectly working machine (machine 2) and two machines that still needed work. Assembly may be delayed if these machines are not ready.  I reviewed the latest spring assembly samples recently. Spring machine 2 is excellent, perfect! Only 1 bad assembly requiring adjustment out of 20 total assemblies. If all the springs are like spring 2 samples then they will likely be approved! Spring machine 1 has 10 good and 11 bad springs so it is not approved. Spring machine 3 needs adjustment/improvement. 14 decent assemblies and 6 not good assemblies.

Model F Book:  I am planning on writing a book on the Model F journey after the orders are delivered – hope you’ll consider reading it!  Please do message me if you are interested in reading the book and I’ll let you know when it’s available.  The book will go through bringing back the Model F as well as general recommendations for those interested in bringing a manufactured product to life.

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