We wish to offer you a unique behind-the-scene showcasing how a competitive gaming mouse is created from scratch. Now, we realise most people won’t read this. But there may be some curious minds out there who will find it interesting.
AN INTRODUCTION TO KLIM
Some of you may not know KLIM yet. We are a consumer electronics company with a heavy focus on quality for a fair price. We started from very little and we do not belong to any large corporation nor do we have outside investors.
Creating a new product from scratch is very expensive and we did not unfortunately have the funds when we first created the company.
The maths is pretty simple:
25 000 €: Price of a mould (more about what a mould is later). This a fixed cost. So, if you expect to sell 250 mice, it will come down to 100€ per mouse. If you expect to sell 25 000 mice, it comes down to 1€ per mouse.
This is why we focused on working with factories which could handle the bulk of the cost. Our work has been to consistently improve the products both in terms of performance and durability, with great customer service and an ironclad warranty of 2 to 5 years.
Our mission is that when you buy from us you shouldn’t worry a second, you know you’re buying a high-performing long lasting product, and in the eventuality of something bad happening, we got your back.
Thanks to this relentless focus on quality we’ve grown a lot, and now count more than 800 000 customers. This now allows us develop our own models from scratch.
We thought the Veni would be the perfect opportunity to explain how it all works. And, between us, we have a very meager marketing budget, so we need to be resourceful, this mini-series is a result of that.
Please enjoy this walk-through of more than 1 year of our work.
“How do you actually build a gaming mouse?!” is one of the questions we get asked the most.
With this three-part mini-series KLIM proudly lets you have a glimpse – by presenting you the all new KLIM Veni.
This is going to be a three-part mini-series:
- Part 1: We will guide you through the design process of a mouse
- Part 2: Will focus on why each feature of a mouse matters
- Part 3: We will tell you all about production
This all begins with a big THANK YOU to you personally – and our fans in general. It’s thanks to every single customer up until now that we’ve been able to grow to what we are now.
PART 1 : Peripheral Design 101: A competitive gaming mouse
For this mouse we were bothered that there was no mouse that perfectly suited our needs, thus the KLIM Veni. We decided that we want to make an exceptional piece of hardware. This begets the question: What makes a great competitive gaming mouse?
It was critical to us to hear from you what you are looking for in a mouse, take feedback sent to our customer support and around the internet, forums, comment sections, reviews on YouTube and so on. We compiled a compelling list of requirements for the perfect eSport- and competitive gaming mouse through data analysis.
The most important features:
- Sensor – Easy to customize, highly accurate and fully tested optical sensor with a moderate DPI-Settings range; accurate at low and high acceleration situations
- Sensor DPI – Easy to change without Software
- Sensor/Pads – able to move smoothly on all desktop surfaces, no compromise on reliability
- Polling Rate – Customizable for high-end, medium and low-spec computers
- Connection – 100% reliability and fast transfer of actions
- Switches – Fast, reliable actuation; long lifespan
- Weight – customizable (no rattling, solid mechanism)
- Design – Ambidextrous
- Design – Shaped to fit most users’ palms, adding side grips
- Design – Sleek design. No RGB light, no required drivers.
- High performance, reasonably priced
From analysis to design
As with every good idea it’s always a question of how to make it a reality. After looking at the data at our disposal our first step was to come up with a compelling design.
We set out to do a first drawing.
Illustration 1 – Freehand Sketch
After a few dozen iterations and ideas we finally found a shape that is elegant and smooth; isn’t distractive but has all the required features at your fingertips (#BadPun). For obvious reasons – mice tend to be three dimensional – a 2D-Sketch is only the first step; we had to confirm our good feelings and create a multidimensional sketch to start prototyping.
Illustration 2 – The six sides of a gaming mouse
Looking good – doesn’t it? While this is still considered a sketch we can already see some of the final features implemented. Let’s start the left:
- Side View: Buttons –To fully ambidextrous usage we put thumb buttons on both sides of the Veni.
- Top View: Besides the standard buttons that can be found on all our mice (Left, Right and mouse wheel) we’ve included two dedicated DPI switches (up and down) and an indicator light.
- Bottom View: You see that wavy circle? Yeah – that’s where you put in the extra weights (if you want to)!
From sketching to prototyping´
Illustration 3 – 3D Sketch to determine the size
This is the last picture of us sketching – I promise! After finishing the six-sided sketch we have to convert it into full 3D. This is in order to determine the actual 3D dimensions.
This allows us to calculate our expected weight, decide on materials and many more things. We also rendered the mouse to get a better feeling for how it will look when it’s done – see illustration 4! It brings us to the (at least to me) most thrilling part: 3D printing and prototyping.
Illustration 4 – 3D render of the KLIM Veni
While 3D-Printers for home usage are still far away from “revolutionizing” your life – they are magical when it comes to professional applications.
After defining the dimensions and shape we went ahead and – <insert drumroll> – created the first touchable prototype:
Illustration 5 – 3D print of the KLIM Veni
Okay – let’s get this straight first. I know – it doesn’t look as sexy as the render suggest… yet! But it’s a huge step ahead.
With this prototype we will be able to draft the electronics that will make your game come alive – test if everything fits; works as expected and design a mould.
PART 2: Getting everything right
Now we will focus on the electronics. 2 electronic products can look very alike from the outside, but be vastly different based on the components used, whether it is in terms of durability or performance. Looking good is important, but high performance and durability are our main focuses.
Maybe the most important component of a mouse is the optical sensor. We went for the PMW 3310, probably the favorite right now on the competitive gaming mice market. It combines both high performance and reliability.
A lot of brands are playing the DPI game. The first truth is that a 12 000 DPI mouse won’t necessarily be better than a 4000 DPI one. The second truth is that most professional players play with 2000 DPI or less.
For the Veni we decided to offer a range from 400 to 5000, which should satisfy every style of play. You can, with a click of the mouse, move from 400/800/1200/1600/2000/3200/5000. At all times the light will indicate to you what is your current DPI level.
A second big choice to make is the polling rate, basically how many times the mouse answers back your computer. Normally the higher the better, the higher being 1000hz, BUT on some computers 1000hz can be buggy. This is why currently the gaming mice market is split between mice with 500hz and 1000hz polling rates.
What we decided to do is simply offer the full range, 125/250/500/1000, you can do your research and pick what feels best by pressing 2 buttons on the mouse.
The KLIM Veni also boasts a 1ms response time at 1000hz. 1ms is fast, very fast. The average human’s reaction time is 215ms. So, 1ms is 0,47% of your reaction time.
Another choice with long lasting implication is the micro switch of the buttons. If you had a mouse for which the click stopped working, it’s most likely because of a defective switch.
As we offer a 5-year warranty we could not take any risks, and we went with the newest and best on the market, an Omron switch that offers 50 000 000 clicks lifespan, currently the highest on the market.
Another thing we considered is the actuation force of the click, how much force you need to apply for the click to reflect. It is important for 2 reasons:
- A heavy click has health implications, it causes more of a strain on the fingers, hand and wrist, especially for heavy gamers
- On a lot of games you need to click as fast as possible, a lighter click helps you accomplish this
We spent more than 6 months on the click actuation force alone to get it just right. You’re going to love the end result, it feels just right.
Another part that shouldn’t be neglected is the cable, both the inner and outer parts. For the inner parts we used pure copper, for maximum reliability.
For the outer part we used a new generation weaved cable, much softer than the previous weaved cables (which allows for easier movement) with the added benefit that a weaved cable is much more resilient than a plastic cable. This may not be very important for, let’s say, a keyboard which is quite static, but is crucial for a mouse.
We then jump to the forgotten little brother, the pads. They may not seem like much but they are the key to smooth movement and exploiting the optical sensor’s full potential.
It needs to be:
- Durable, if the pad goes wrong the mouse goes wrong
- Perfectly smooth, to not affect the hand movement even by a millimeter and make you miss
- At the right height for the optical sensor to accurately transcribe the movements of the mouse
We went with the very reputable Teflon PTFE.
When we collected feedback on the perfect competitive gaming mouse one thing was clear, no one agrees on the weight. Some want it as light as possible, ideally a bit top heavy. Others can’t stand such a mouse and require that their mouse has a heavy bottom for better handling.
In short, weight is a personal preference and each player has their preferred weight. What we decided to do is offer the option of additional weights, 4x5g.
We were especially careful that the weight would NOT move at all inside the mouse, they are surrounded by compact foam, you can shake the mouse (which we don’t recommend) all you want you won’t feel them.
To improve ergonomics we added side-grips to avoid micro-slips. “Micro-slips are slips you don’t even feel but can make you miss that headshot. With our grips you’ll avoid that, even if you are sweating.
Lastly, scroll wheels are a huge source of a frustration. Either because they are too light, not enough, or they simply stop working. We made sure our scroll wheel would work a long time and offered perfect grip. We also did a lot of market research to get the weight just right.
This concludes this second part. We hope you will appreciate the care we put in making sure each feature met our very high standards.
PART 3: Getting close
Today we will focus on production.
To understand production you must first understand what a mould is.
You remember Play Doh? (or maybe you still play, we don’t judge)
It’s more or less the same principle, you use the mould to mould plastic parts to your requirements. The only difference is that this mould weighs 400kg and costs a hefty sum.
An important thing to consider is that all moulds are not created equal, you can have moulds of varying quality. Often when you spot a product with poor finishing on the ABS plastic parts it’s because the mould was not precise enough.
To get the mould right we went through 6 iterations. The way it goes is:
- You test the mould, some part is not perfectly right
- You correct the mould
- and so on
It takes time and effort but we didn’t stop until we felt the moulding was truly perfect.
Once the mould is settled, it’s time for the electronics.
The arrangement of the components is essential both for weight distribution and the reliability of the entire system. We decided to not make any cuts, and ensure each and every single electronic component will last you a long time.
Finally, we can assemble the ABS parts from the mould, the switches, the scroll wheel and the electronic boards we have a working prototype!
Now comes the time to test how it performs, here we measure the mouse reports properly to the computer, this is what determines accuracy.
It’s a pass with flying colors!
As most brands we do not own factories, so we work with one for production.
We first make sure that the factory has high standards and has proven they can do quality gaming peripherals. We then write down all our requirements, this is especially important to ensure consistent, high quality, production.
One of those documents is the BOM, which lists every single components for the mouse. There are hundreds.
An excerpt of the BOM, obviously this is confidential information 🙂
Once the product is considered final and the factory briefed we launched a 100 unit test production. Those 100 units will never be sold.
They were made to be mistreated in the every way possible.
Whether it’s “official mistreatment” such as a machine that keeps pulling on the cable all day long or another one that frantically clicks for weeks.
Or more creative mistreatments such as stepping on it, or spilling water.
Disclaimer: Do not try these at home
This first 100 units batch… did not go well. 60% of the mice did not meet our quality standards.
Luckily we quickly found out what it was, the injection was happening at too high of a temperature and was going too fast (think of a cake) which meant that when the plastic cooled down there were discrepancies. Remember, millimeters matter here.
We were able to make a new batch. 100 perfect mice out of the oven. Not a single imperfection.
The Veni was ready for production!
This concludes this mini-series. We’d love to hear your questions. You can send them in via our Support System (Make sure to mark them as “AMA”-Questions in the first line of your ticket]
We thank you for trusting us, and we hope you can appreciate all the work that went into your mouse.
Do not forget, whether in 6 months or 5 years we’re always 1 email away at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need anything!