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Pen Recommendations For Scientists


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#1 keller350

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 15:30

Sorry, this is YAWPSIB (Yet Another What Pen Should I Buy) post!

My brother is a 40yr old man working in science and technology. He writes in a spidery copperplate style with small letters and long descenders/ascenders. Because of his job he writes a lot of symbols - greek letters, math/finance symbols and so on. He tends to write on letter-sized pads or composition books.

Budget is $120, and convenience of refilling is not a problem although he needs to get through a day of meetings, taking notes, without having to rush out and refill. What is important is that the instrument never, ever leaks (ink + labcoat = very unhappy sibling!) And secondly that the writing experience is smooth, especially in transitions when he goes from writing traditional roman script to "italicized" mathematical script.

Taste wise, well he's a scientist and so he doesn't care if it's covered in pink fur so long as it's functional. But the rest of us would.

Finally, he's got longish fingers and reasonably large hands (he's a L in gloves, but he doesn't have gorilla hands).

Any suggestions?

#2 Koyote

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 16:15

Pilot Vanishing Point with a fine or x-fine nib. If the clip bothers him, you can take pen and get him a different Pilot in the same nib size.

#3 tadster

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 16:16

Lamy Studio in stainless steel with fine point. In my opinion, it may be the perfect pen for a down-to-business scientist. Dependable, reliable, beautiful.

Don't forget that a scientist requires permanent ink (e.g. Noodler's bullet proof).
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#4 charliesm

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 16:17

as a scientist doing actual bench work, i find it's hard to beat the price of a lamy 2000 (i got mine new for <$100 on ebay). the pen is discrete, functional, and a workhorse. mine even survived a couple of lab tragedies (e.g falling off the lab bench, getting spilled over with buffers, etc). otherwise, if you are willing to spend a bit more, maybe another $30 or so, perhaps you could get a (used) rotring 600. those things were probably designed for engineers and they are indestructible!

#5 Uncle Red

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 16:39

Cross Centruy II, absolutely reliable but not stunning looks. Nice big converter for lots of ink. Smooth nibs.

#6 JLT

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 17:10

For $120 I would track down a very nice Parker 51 aerometric filler with an XF nib. A true classic of elemental design that should appeal to a scientist. The '51's collector and sac give it ample ink capacity (it takes a loooooong time to write one dry) and XF nibs are fairly easy to come by.
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#7 JasonF

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 18:45

Lamy Studio in stainless steel with fine point. In my opinion, it may be the perfect pen for a down-to-business scientist. Dependable, reliable, beautiful.

Don't forget that a scientist requires permanent ink (e.g. Noodler's bullet proof).

The studio is a nice, simple pen that works well. Personally I think the brushed one is too light and would go for the heavier black version instead.

Lamy's fine is far too bold for my taste (documenting things in lab notebooks, writing out lots of math). The extra fine is too bold as well, but it's at least usable.

#8 Jennings

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 19:50

Speaking as a former scientist, I'd opt for a pen with a stainless steel barrel and cap. And possibly section too if possible. With all the liquids and chemicals about it's just easier for cleaning and preventing discolouration/damage etc in the event of spills. Not bullet proof, but fairly trouble free and takes knocks.
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#9 legume

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 19:51

Science and technology... well that's pretty vague. You mention labcoats and gloves, so I guess he's a researcher? Whatever he is, have you first confirmed that he's actually interested in using a fountain pen at work? If you plan on spending such a considerable sum on a pen (I know $100 is nothing compared to what some of us here spend, but let's be realistic), you had best be sure that it won't lie unused in a drawer after one courtesy fill. I'm sure we all understand the feeling of wanting to spread the wonder of fountain pens to others, but if you push a pen unsuitable for his line of work onto your brother, you would only be doing both of you a disservice. When I'm working in lab with a bunch of chemicals, I don't want to be worrying about my pen, whether it is damage that may be caused to the pen or by it. But this would all depend on what exactly his work entails. I'm not saying don't get him a fountain pen, just be sure that it's reasonable. Also, I would be sure that whatever you get him is discrete. The Lamy 2000 as others suggested is a good example. Would something that screams "look I'm a fountain pen!" be suitable for your brother and his workplace?

#10 keller350

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 20:43

Thanks everyone - what a great set of responses. I'm going to look into the pens you all mentioned.

My bro is a geneticist, so he gets to wear a lab coat all day and wander around his labs annoying the young researchers, but from what I can tell he mainly seems to spend his days in meetings with people who may or may not fund his teams' research. The joys of a career, eh? At least when he gets to write down, "I hate my job and the fools that come with it" he can do so with a beautiful writing instrument :)

#11 ronw

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:24

Thanks everyone - what a great set of responses. I'm going to look into the pens you all mentioned.

My bro is a geneticist, so he gets to wear a lab coat all day and wander around his labs annoying the young researchers, but from what I can tell he mainly seems to spend his days in meetings with people who may or may not fund his teams' research. The joys of a career, eh? At least when he gets to write down, "I hate my job and the fools that come with it" he can do so with a beautiful writing instrument :)


When I do technical or engineering work, I like a fine point. I like the Franklin Christoph Model 27 with a needlepoint, and the Platinum 3776 EF Shoji. Both are fantastic for extensive note taking and jotting down results.

Edited by ronw, 09 December 2012 - 03:31.

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#12 penhand

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:42

TWSBI 540 / 580 / mini. Clear demonstrator is a geek magnet.
TWSBI 530/540/580/Mini, Montblanc 146, Pelikan M800, Tomoe River paper, Noodlers inks ... "these are a few of my favorite things"

#13 Centigonal

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 05:26

I support the LAMY 2000 camp. Also, take a look at Rotring's fountain pens. The 600 embodies a nice utilitarian aesthetic.

#14 Ylvan

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:05

As a close relative (I am a biologist) I put my vote on the Lamy 2000 (preferably in stainless steel, even though that is a bit over the budget).
Great gift idea btw! :vbg:
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#15 White Expressions

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 16:06

I'd say Lamy Logo, brushed steel version. IMO, nothing fits in better than a big steel tin can of a fountain pen in a lab/engineering environment. Just take care to not drop the thing a story like I did. Granted, you probably can't tell that it happened to it now but still.
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#16 Bernardo

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 20:39

As a working scientist, I recommend the Lamy Safari: light, sturdy, functional, smooth writer, comes in a great variety of colors and nibs, and looks cool. ;)

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#17 JakobS

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 21:23

As a working scientist, I recommend the Lamy Safari: light, sturdy, functional, smooth writer, comes in a great variety of colors and nibs, and looks cool. ;)

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I agree that the Lamy Safari is a great pen for the lab. I have spilled 70-80% ethyl alchol on it, lost it in a soybean field for a week, and dropped it numerous times, with little to show of it.

But, if he is in meetings more than the lab, a Lamy 2000 would better fit the bill. Though my personal preference would probably be a Esterbrook Dollar, but I tend toward more vintage pens.

A Parker 51 could very well work, I have used mine, as well as an Esterbrook SM Deluxe that has a similar metal cap, plastic body design, and both hold up well within the lab, haven't spilled, or set them down in nearly as much stuff as I had the Safari, but honestly good lab procedure should allow this not to be much of a factor. Spilled chemicals, if only an accident, shouldn't be near where you are taking notes, or recording data, nor left to be discovered later by an unsuspecting lab mate!

In reality, most fountain pens can work within a lab environment quite well. As with any profession, if there is a chance to drop, get a pen wet, or sprayed with alcohol or other chemicals you need to consider which ones will hold up better. And, if you do a lot of field work in dirt, mud, or water, something like the Lamy Safari is best, though pencil beats all for rain! But, I have found that I can use even my most cherished vintage pen within a lab setting without having to change my routine, I always record data in an area that is dry, and chemicals are minimal, or not existant. Except for those days in middle of a cornfield in pouring rain!

Just a few thoughts on my time with fountain pens in the lab!

Edited by JakobS, 10 January 2013 - 21:24.

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#18 Ecriveur

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 21:42

"I agree that the Lamy Safari is a great pen for the lab. I have spilled 70-80% ethyl alchol on it, lost it in a soybean field for a week, and dropped it numerous times, with little to show of it. "

The Lamy Safari is indeed a sturdy pen.