Table of Contents
- Product Overview
- How We Designed Sapphireskates Gen2
- The Rounded Edges
- An Ultra-Gentle Gradient Between the Skating Surface and Edge
- New Manufacturing Process
- How Low is the Friction For Gen2?
- Which Mice and Mousepads Should I Pair with Gen2?
- How Do I Install Gen2?
GEN2 PRODUCT OVERVIEW
Introducing Sapphireskates Gen2: an evolution of the World's First Sapphire Mouse skates. After 1.5 years of development, Gen2 brings several improvements while retaining the best parts of original design. It features a new leveled-out profile, ultra-polished skating surface, and extremely rounded edge chamfer with a gradient-like curvature.
Gen2 is made with a new gemstone manufacturing process, which adopts processes from the crafting of our moissanite skates: it's a gentler process which takes more time, but results in greater precision, fewer errors, and improved uniformity.
Available starting June 27th at 2:00 PM Pacific at https://sapphireskates.com/products/sapphireskates-gen2-ruby
- Leveled profile: the skating surface is more supportive, but still retains the extremely rounded edges of the original Sapphireskates.
- Ultra-polished skating surface: the skating surface is polished to a mirror finish, which results in a smoother glide and less friction.
- 5 pieces. 7mm diameter. 1.07mm thickness*: compatible with most gaming mice. No need to re-buy skates to install on a new mouse.
- Extremely rounded edges: ensures smooth glide performance during off-axis conditions. Floats past any debris.
- No sharp angles: a gradient chamfer are used to create a gentle rolloff that transitions from the flat skating surface to the rounded edges.
- Immortal durability with 9 Mohs hardness. Nearly impossible to scratch (except with a diamond).
- Pure sapphire. Manufacturing starts with whole single crystal boules are cut down with diamond tools and ground into shape. The skates are then polished to a mirror finish using diamond polishing compounds with increasing fineness of grit.
- No surface coatings or treatments: the color is not a surface coating, but is woven into the crystal lattice using 0.05% chromium for a deep ruby color. Color and glide will not wear off over time.
*Note: due to the nature of manufacturing sapphire, thickness may vary. However, we ensure that thickness is within a tolerance of +/- 0.08mm. Furthermore, every set is matched to within 0.02mm.
The first product to be released in Gen2 is Ruby as it has been our most popular product and overall best price-to-performance. We will roll out other colors in future production runs.
MORE INFORMATION FOR THE CURIOUS:
1. How We Designed Sapphireskates Gen2
Although a profile (shape) of a mouse skate like SAPPHIRESKATES, seems relatively simple on the surface, there's more to it than it seems. We considered and designed many different profiles. You can think of it like keyboard keycap profiles: each has a unique feeling. Each have pros and cons. For example, our flat-top Type 2 profile was more supportive whereas the original SAPPHIRESKATES was better at consistency.
The idea of Gen2 is that it represents the best of all worlds. I have stated in the past that there are tradeoffs with every type of mouse skate, in regards to both shape and material. However, I believe that Sapphireskates Gen2 has minimal downsides. With Gen2, you get a leveled and more supportive profile which is suitable for many types of mice and surfaces. But we are still able to retain the extremely rounded edges of the original Sapphireskates.
Over the course of each production run (spanning 1.5 years at the time of writing this), we make slight tweaks to ensure quality and to keep improving the product. It led us towards the direction of a flatter profile, better curve "gradients" and proper edge rounding. Gen2 represents a bigger step in that direction, in terms of both design as well as a new manufacturing process.
2. The Rounded Edges
The rounded edges are just as important as the skating surface of mouse skates. When you are moving a mouse around, it is never going to be completely flat and parallel to the surface (in fact, flat planes are never found in the real world, but are still helpful abstract mathematical concepts). I use a term that I call "off-axis performance" to describe how well a mouse skate performs when it is not perfectly flat. This accounts for when you do lift-offs, pivots with your wrist, or even just moving your mouse around in general. It also relates to being adaptable to different surfaces (which again, can never have perfect conditions).
The curvature of the edges matters. Like our original Sapphireskates design, the edge curvature is intended to ensure contact at the most common angles of lift-off. If the rounded edge is too steep or too flat, it won't "catch" during off-axis conditions.
Another reason for the rounded edges relates to improving the glide during on-axis conditions. A mousepad is bound to have dust and lint on it, even if you can't see it. It's unrealistic to have a gaming environment that is completely free of dust. The rounded edges help to prevent the mouse from getting caught on dust particles. In the design of any sort of vehicle, you see rounded edges everywhere. This is because it helps to reduce drag and to allow particles to flow around the vehicle. Next time you see a car or airplane, you will notice rounded edges everywhere.
3. An Ultra-Gentle Gradient Between the Skating Surface and Edge
There isn't just the edge to consider, but also the transition between the edge and the flat skating surface.
When we designed Sapphireskates Type 2 (not to be confused with Gen2), it employed a flat skating surface but had a sharper transition to the edges. The problem with this is that it required more precise conditions in order to provide the best performance. Having any sort of abrupt change in angles in the design will create a sharp edge which you can feel.
The design of Gen2 is more advanced than it may seem at first glance. Sapphireskates are not only composed of a skating surface and an edge. There are actually more than 4 different parameters that are involved in the design. The first is the flat skating surface. Moving from this part towards the edge, you can think of this part as the "transition" area. It's kind of like the part where water gently starts to flow down a waterfall: if you were to zoom in on this part, you would see a gentle change from flatness to curvature. Next, there is the edge itself which is going to be more circular.
You can think of these parameters each as its own mathematical function, but I will spare you the details. However, if you are an audiophile, you may be familiar with how to use a parametric equalizer to get the best sound based on adjusting the frequency response of your headphones to better match a specific target such as a Harman Curve.
This is a parametric EQ in which I quickly mocked up a representation of Sapphireskates Gen2 using 5 different bands. The area above 0db is the Sapphireskate. You can ignore the area below 0db. The center band (band 3) is the flat skating surface. You can think of it as having a very low Q value which means that it is very wide. Next to it on both sides, you have bands 2 and 4 which have a higher Q value. This is when the slope of the edge starts curving more aggressively. Finally, you have the cutoff filters which allow the edges to curve down even more.
4. New Manufacturing Process
Gen2 is made with a new gemstone manufacturing process, which is based off learnings over the past 2 years both at the factory and from my own polishing of Sapphireskates at my home lapidary workshop.
As I've been creating Match-Grade Sapphireskates, initially I was using a hard diamond abrasive wheel to grind the skating surface to be flat. After that, I would transition to a soft polishing wheel to create the ultra-smooth finish. However, I found that the sharp "transition" zone created from using the hard diamond wheel was difficult to round after this step. Instead, by only using a soft polishing wheel, while adjusting the pressure, speed, and direction of rotation, I was able to create a more gentle transition zone.
That is the general idea of Gen2, but another aspect of the manufacturing process is something that the factory came up with while working on Flexskates which are made of Moissanite. Over the past 6 months or so, our Flexskates have been made with a more precise process. I'm not going to be providing the details, but I'll give you some background on this.
When we first started making Flexskates, we were using a process that was similar to how we made our original Sapphireskates. Although sapphire is extremely hard, it is softer than moissanite. Secondly, the raw moissanite crystal is much more expensive than sapphire. In order to efficiently make gemstones, you can never simply convert every gram of material into finished goods with 100% yield. There is always going to be some amount of waste. A simple analogy is when you are baking cookies that have a certain shape: let's say a gingerbread man. You roll out the dough, get your gingerbread man cookie cutter, and start cutting out the shapes. But you can't convert 1kg of dough into 1kg of gingerbread men. Also, unlike dough, you cannot simply re-melt crystal and re-use it to create more "dough".
So, in order to maximize the yield, you have to be very precise with how you cut the crystal. To craft a very hard crystal like sapphire or moissanite, you need the following:
- A very hard material to cut the crystal with, hence why diamond-infused tools are used.
- Application of a mechanical force, such as a grinding wheel, to cut the crystal.
- Lots of time.
The factory came up with a new process that is able to cut the crystal more precisely, originally this was to simply reduce waste. However, we found that this process also improved the consistency and improved the important aspects of what makes a good mouse skate that I outlined earlier in this article. Gen2 adopts the same manufacturing process that we've been using to make our Moissanite Flexskates.
5. How Low Does the Friction Go for Gen2?
A reasonable, common, and difficult-to-answer question is: "how low is the friction?". If you read the stuff I've written on blogs and emails, you will know that friction depends on selecting two surface pairings and then a multitude of other factors. Lately, I have been trying to move away from measuring the performance of mouse skates by simply static friction. Furthermore, low-friction is not inherently better than some friction for gaming mouse skates.
However, most of our customers (and myself) do prefer to keep friction as low as possible so here's what I can say about Gen2: it has the same low-friction glide as our original Sapphireskates and better low-friction performance in more situations. We use the same ultra-polished surface finishing techniques as before. But the more supportive skating surface will reduce things like the incidence of "dig" while using it with heavier mice on a soft pad.
6. Which Mice and Mousepads Should I Pair with Gen2?
The TL:DR answer is:
- Sapphireskates Gen2 works with most mice due to the 7mm diameter.
- Sapphireskates Gen2 does not "officially" work with Logitech G-Series mice due to the rear channel being too tight of a fit.
- Sapphireskates Gen2 works with any soft pad, as well as plastic hard pads.
- Sapphireskates Gen2 does not officially work with glass or metal pads due to the risk of scratching the pad. It's still possible to use it with these materials, but please read below for more information.
For those interested in more details, here's a more in-depth explanation:
Gen2 is compatible with all the mice that our original Sapphireskates are compatible with. Due to the 7mm diameter, it gives you plenty of flexibility of positioning usually. If a mouse has recessed cutouts for mouse skates, remove the skates and place them in recessed channel. If the mouse has a flat base, place them anywhere (see section below on positioning if you require assistance).
One thing to note is we can't officially say that it works with Logitech G series mice due to the rear channel near the base of the mouse. Personally, I fit original Sapphireskates and Gen2 in Logitech G series mice by pushing it up against the side wall of the rear channel so that it flexes the plastic a bit, which allows the skates to be installed in a way that is extremely secure and tight of a fit. But I will admit that this is damaging the plastic so please understand this if you want to try it yourself.
Gen2 is compatible with any cloth mousepad and any plastic mousepad. Basically anything that has even a bit of elasticity to it, you won't have any issues with it because the smooth and hard material can safely yield to the elastic mousepad material as it glides over it.
A common question is whether Gen2 is compatible with glass mousepads. Officially, the answer is no because there isn't a way to use sapphire with glass without the risk of the glass getting scratched. What will happen is that initially, the glide will be super fast but micro-scratches will quickly slow it down.
Personally, I have a different opinion about scratches on a glass mousepad because from a physical standpoint, scratches is a form of texture and can also be thought of like a form of polishing. The personal mousepad that I use is made of a hard polycarbonate: the type that is used in lieu of glass for construction purposes to make bulletproof windows for home or commercial installation. After I tried it, first of all it was extremely slow and had the mouse would simply get stuck on it. Furthermore, the optical sensor wouldn't even track on it due to the transparency. But I knew it was possible to refinish the surface into a low-friction and indestructible mousepad using rough sandpaper and then polishing it with a soft cloth. I did this and it worked.
By having these multiple layers of "scratches", you can see how it eventually turns into a polished and smooth surface. However, once again, glass is not officially supported to be used with Sapphireskates. For those who love experimenting with things and are up for it, you can use the technique I described above to refinish glass, metal, or other hard materials into an ultra-low friction mousepad that is essentially immune to scratches.
7. How Do I Install and Position Gen2 on My Mouse?
You can position Gen2 in the same way as you would our original Sapphireskates. Our original positioning recommendation remains the same. You may wonder why 5 pieces are included, and I will explain that in a bit. But first, here are the positioning guidelines:
- Two pieces on the rear of the mouse, one on each side, ideally near the wider part of the mouse. This maximizes lateral stability.
- Two pieces on the front of the mouse, one on each side. These pieces can be placed anywhere on the front, even closer towards the center. You can experiment with this and see what feels best.
- OPTIONAL: one piece on the rear-center of the mouse. This is used for those who pivot the mouse at the base when doing lift-offs. Personally, I do this type of pivot while lifting-off, but others lift-off the entire mouse and so this piece isn't needed.
After doing this for 2 years, I truly believe that 4 or 5 pieces is the ideal number for most people. Let me explain:
- The general goal is to ensure a nice balance, stability, and good contact. Theoretically, the only configuration which guarantees contact at all points is 3 skates. However, 3 skates does not have enough lateral stability (hence why cars with 3 wheels are uncommon).
- 4 skates is an ideal number that provides both good contact and good lateral stability. The flatter profile of Gen2 is more supportive than our original, so 4 skates is perfectly suitable for most people regardless of their choice of gaming mouse.
- 5 skates still has good contact, and some people need it to pivot during lift-offs, but the extra piece is an extra variable that can cause the glide to be slightly uneven.
You can certainly use more pieces if you want. I used to use 8 pieces by combining kits, but nowadays I use 5 (but perhaps it's also because I switched my main mouse to the G-Wolves HSK 4K).
I feel that it's worth explaining why flat and large skates made of glass or PTFE don't necessarily make better/more stable contact than dot skates in a 4 or 5 piece configuration. The reason is because mousepad surfaces, mouse bases, and the skates themselves are not perfect planes. If you place a card on a table and view it from the side, you will see that every part of the card is not touching the cable. Thus, with these large flat skates, you don't control the actual points of contact.
SAPPHIRESKATES Gen2 Ruby is available at sapphireskates.com for $59.99. As our new flagship product, It takes the place of our best-selling original Ruby SAPPHIRESKATES which is now vaulted, but there may be other opportunities in the future to buy it, such as B-stock sales.
We plan to release other colors of SAPPHIRESKATES Gen2 in the near future. But most likely, those colors will be sold at a higher price due to the higher cost of raw crystal. If you are seeking the strongest price-to-performance, we recommend Ruby SAPPHIRESKATES Gen2.