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Nib Tip Welding


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#1 zhuangzhou

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:31

Hi All,

Was surfing Mont Blanc's website on how they were making their fountain pens and saw this process called Nib Tip Welding where they weld this tiny iridium ball onto the front of the fountain pen, such that the material in contact with the paper is more of the iridium than of the gold used to make the nib. (It also states that the size of the iridium ball regulates the width of the nib)

And hence this sets me wondering the following:
a) does a pen with 18K gold nib (for Parker Sonnet in particular) write with gold or does it have a tougher material at the nib that is more resistant to being worn out?
cool.gif and assuming if the surface in contact is gold, how long would it take before the pen shows signs of being worn out? (is this iridium tip thing a marketing gimmick?)

Any pen expert can advise ?

Thanks!

#2 Rapt

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:54

Most pens made in the last 50 or more years have some special "extra hard" material usually called "iridium", even though most have no iridium or very little in it.

It is an important part of any pen nib. Look closely and you'll see a blob of silvery material on the writing tip. That's the "iridium"


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#3 Ron Z

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 12:29

QUOTE(Rapt @ Apr 1 2008, 06:54 AM) View Post
Most pens made in the last 50 or more years have some special "extra hard" material usually called "iridium", even though most have no iridium or very little in it.

It is an important part of any pen nib. Look closely and you'll see a blob of silvery material on the writing tip. That's the "iridium"


Actually, the use of a tipping material has been going on for over a century. Early pens used chunks of iridium (see the Sheaffer ads) , but the material often had pits or other flaws in it. Manufacturers eventually developed their own tipping material, usually a hard platinum alloy of some sort formed into pellets and spot welded onto the gold, but the term "iridium" survives.


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#4 Rapt

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 13:03

I didn't know exactly how long, but I knew at least 50... Thanks for making it clear that its been twice that long. smile.gif
RAPT
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#5 Shangas

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 13:03

Hi ZhuangZou,

All fountain pen nibs have some sort of tipping-metal welded onto it. It's a necessity, as untipped pens can be very unsmooth and can wear out faster. Like the others have pointed out, it's frequently called 'iridium', although true iridium has not been used to tip fountain pens in decades. The purpose of the tipping is, of course, to protect the gold of the nib from abrasion with the paper.
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#6 richardandtracy

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 13:17

Given the amazing shapes that Tungsten Carbide is made into these days for Indexible Tips on lathe tools etc, I'm amazed that the point material isn't Tungsten Carbide. Nice & hard, and can be attached to metals really easily these days.

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Richard.


#7 jonro

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 13:55

I'm pretty sure that there are nibs made without tipping materials. Many of the the old Esterbrook nibs had no tipping material. I'm pretty sure I've seen some modern inexpensive stainless steel nibs that were simply "rolled under" at the end and I know I've heard of people regrinding a vintage nib where the tipping material fell off. Aside from these exceptions, I think that all quality nibs have some kind of tipping material at the end.

#8 Ron Z

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 14:43

QUOTE(jonro @ Apr 1 2008, 08:55 AM) View Post
I'm pretty sure that there are nibs made without tipping materials. Many of the the old Esterbrook nibs had no tipping material. I'm pretty sure I've seen some modern inexpensive stainless steel nibs that were simply "rolled under" at the end and I know I've heard of people regrinding a vintage nib where the tipping material fell off. Aside from these exceptions, I think that all quality nibs have some kind of tipping material at the end.


This is quite true - and there are some modern "iridium" tipped pens that have no tipping material at all on them, just a blob of steel. But your quality pens, and quality nibs always have some sort of tipping material. Some of it harder than others too.


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#9 zhuangzhou

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 16:56

Thanks for all the replies! Very enlightening! So I suppose the gold nib of the sonnet is so much nicer because of the flexibility of the material (gold vs. stainless steel) and not purely because it has 'gold' in contact with the paper that I formerly believed.


QUOTE(Ron Z @ Apr 1 2008, 10:43 PM) View Post
QUOTE(jonro @ Apr 1 2008, 08:55 AM) View Post
I'm pretty sure that there are nibs made without tipping materials. Many of the the old Esterbrook nibs had no tipping material. I'm pretty sure I've seen some modern inexpensive stainless steel nibs that were simply "rolled under" at the end and I know I've heard of people regrinding a vintage nib where the tipping material fell off. Aside from these exceptions, I think that all quality nibs have some kind of tipping material at the end.


This is quite true - and there are some modern "iridium" tipped pens that have no tipping material at all on them, just a blob of steel. But your quality pens, and quality nibs always have some sort of tipping material. Some of it harder than others too.