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Twsbi Micarta

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89 replies to this topic

#1 productred


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:13

By now most of us who even bother to have a gander at TWSBI would have seen the TWSBI Micarta. The new fountain pen looks absolutely organic - like living organisms can quickly adapt to it's biosphere and thrive. An officemate commented, 'where did you dig that pen from? It looks weird!'

And that is why I love it - in a love at first sight kind of way.

The FedEx bloke delivered mine today. Just in time for the long weekend to Easter Tuesday.

I ripped open the FedEx Express bag and groped for the contents inside. I found my prize and set it on my office desk.

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The packaging will not win awards - in the way the Diamond 540 did. No. The light brown box comes in a sleeve of dark brown with a glossy "TWSBI 'inspired by writing'" printed on top. And a small white sticker on the main brown box with the name 'Micarta -F-' along with a barcode. Very minimalist.

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Cracking my fingers, I then slipped the box out of its sleeve and opened it. The box top flaps are folded on top of the other. The top flap has the TWSBI logo printed on it.

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I was greeted, or more like surprised immediately by the cigar-looking clip-missing pen itself (to be honest, I was expecting the 540 experience.) The pen is 'cradled' on a W shaped fold inside the box. One V holds the pen, the other V holds the included converter in a plastic bag. And nothing else.

It is a bit lighter than the 540 but is more balanced (with the 540 putting more of it weight on it's cap) - or it could be because I have the clipless one. It is also about half a centimeter shorter than the 540 capped. I do not post pens so I did not measure that.

The craftsmanship is fantastic. Brilliant! And the looks, rustic.

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I turned around to grab my 540 and by the time I turned back, the Micarta was no where to be found! The pen has rolled off the table and thankfully, landed on the carpeted floor, capped. Disaster averted.

I proceeded to disassemble the pen. There is this grinding feeling uncapping the pen. Like a medium grit sandpaper on a piece of wood. Then, there it is... I am unable to ignore it. I had to get a second whiff off it's scent. It reminds me white glue and antiseptic. I might as well forget about the chances of any living organisms thriving on this thing.

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The Fine Bock nib is big. Titanic. And golden. And makes the 540 nib look cute beside it. The nib is also as tough as a concrete nail. I tried the nail (pun intended) test and there is absolutely no visible amount of flex. Nada.

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Disassembling the pen further to replace the converter, the twists took more turns than I am used to. All ten turns of it.

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On to the writing test.

I filled the included converter to almost the brim with PR Chocolat, replaced it and twisted the converter to feed ink into the nib. I reached 3/4 empty before the pen started to write anything. What a guzzler.

And as I earlier noted. It. Is. A. Nail.

It is a smooth writer with the proper amount of subjective feedback. On the dry side but it does not skip unless I write too fast.

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There you go.

Overall, I am happy with the how the pen looks. I am still getting used to the nail nib as I love my flex ones.

Edited by productred, 05 April 2012 - 05:34.

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#2 Nonsensical


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:18

It's a nail? I might have to get it then...

#3 jor412



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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:39

Nice, impartial review. I like how you described the physical experience you had with the pen. I like both nails and flexies so this is definitely one to consider. Posted Image

#4 professionaldilettante



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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:56

I am glad to see that the cap matches the body, unlike the pictures that I see on their site. :thumbup:
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.
Blaise Pascal

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Tell me about any of your new pens and help with fountain pen quality control research!

#5 1point1mm


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:06

Okay, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this new offering from TWSBI.

See with what large letters I have written you with my own hand. GaVIxi

The pen is the interpreter of the soul: what one thinks, the other expresses. (MdC)

#6 HLK


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:28

I am interested in the clipless version too. However, it seems that it can roll off a table rather easily. I think I might just wait for the 850.

Edited by HLK, 05 April 2012 - 06:30.

#7 Drone


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:31

I consider the clipless Micarta to be a design fail. The Micarta may post properly - unlike the flawed (IMO) 530/540 which did not post safely, but the clipless version is almost guaranteed to roll off the table and commit suicide. The clipless version should have a faceted barrel and cap. A round barrel as a result of turning is not the only way to form the Micarta material. Fiber reinforced thermoset plastics lend themselves well to vacuum molding too.

TWSBI has not specified the "Micarta" fabric type. If a glass fiber or something similar is used, then I would consider this material to be a health hazard if unfinished with the likes of a polished resin. This is especially the case if the material fractures or breaks, which can expose micro-fibers that may be inhaled.

I believe the word "Micarta" is a registered trademark of the Norplex-Micarta Company of Postville, Iowa. I hope Norplex-Micarta is cool with TWSBI using their name (queue Lawyers).

From my perspective the nib is over-sized for the pen. It looks loud and unbalanced to me.

Finally, at $100 USD each for these pens - I feel TWSBI has lost its way. It was refreshing to see TWSBI innovate and provide quality writing instruments that were actually affordable. This pen moves in a different direction in my opinion.

#8 Soot


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:58

Finally, at $100 USD each for these pens - I feel TWSBI has lost its way. It was refreshing to see TWSBI innovate and provide quality writing instruments that were actually affordable. This pen moves in a different direction in my opinion.

Different direction doesn't mean they're not producing other affordable writing instruments; they're merely expanding their product lines like every other companies out there.

EDIT: Forgot to add, thanks for the candid review, productred.

Edited by Soot, 05 April 2012 - 06:59.

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- A. Einstein

#9 Spector


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:12

Thanks for the review, I found it very helpful

I have to agree with drone, the micarta is priced way too high. TWSBI excelled because it made affordable pens with value with good customer service but with the trend of raising prices with the 540 over the 530 and the high price tag of the micarta, I wonder if TWSBI will continue to make pens with as high value as the original 530
Posted Image "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored" -Aldous Huxley

Parker 45 F, Lamy Safari EF, Lamy 2000 F, TWSBI Diamond 530 F, Reform 1745 F, Hero 616 F, Pilot Varsity F, Pilot 78g F,

#10 Pen Is Mightier

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:56

Great review!

I can't wait to see one of these babies once they have taken on a patina like the one Speedy has.
The Pen Is Mightier than the sword.

#11 skyorchid


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:15

I also agree with Drone. In Taiwan, its price is NT3000, but I can buy Faber E-motion or Heart Sutra pen of Shangyu Tang by identical price.For me, design of Faber and Shangyu Tang is deeply attracted to me than Twsbi Micarta.

In addition, their filling system is the same. About nib, they seem to be the same -- steel nib.

So if I have NT3000, I will rather buy Faber E-motion or Heart Sutra pen of Shangyu Tang. If I want to 14K gold nib, I can choose Platinum, Sailor and Pilot in Taiwan.

Its price tactic lets me feel confused.

Edited by skyorchid, 05 April 2012 - 10:16.

#12 terminal



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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:51

This is a really good review, and an example of how FPN occasionally discourages me from buying a pen I had considered... thank you!
"One always looking for flaws leaves too little time for construction" ...

#13 januaryman


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:58

Yeah, it reinforces my decision to not buy this pen, though I had been looking forward to it. Price and details about the pen related in this review (excellent) have me crossing this pen off my list, using Noodler's Bulletproof Black!
It is easier to stay out than get out. - Mark Twain

#14 GirchyGirchy



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Posted 05 April 2012 - 13:51

Can you continue to update us on how it works after sitting overnight for one or a few days?

#15 Ethereal Winter Wind

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:19

Gah! Mines expected to arrive on the 10th! :( darn easter. Why does TWSBI ship from the US, *pout* I would have gotten it by now if they shipping from Taiwan or China.

#16 enricof


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:40

Got mine (#803, B, clip-less) this morning.

Did not expect the packaging style (but it fits the pen, IMHO).

Filled with Pel 4001 black (my choice ink for first test), wrote perfectly after just a few seconds (let's see how it will behave after a couple days rest).

Looking at the bottom of the barrel, one can see they started from a rod made by rolling up some kind of flexible material. Amazing!

So far I'm not disappointed by my purchase (I agree the admission ticket is a bit expensive, but I think there's value).

I think I will soon try it as a ED filler.
I do not like c/c and I think it would be more coherent with pen's general style (in Italy we could define it "Arte Povera", referring to home furnitures made with almost raw materias and very essential design).
It could be a Mahatma Gandhi or St, Francis pen (with an huge nib...).

Ciao - Enrico
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Daddy, please no more pens - we need food, clothes, books, DENTISTRY...

#17 XiaoMG


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 15:04

I think the material color choice doesn't appeal to me as much as a black would, and the fiber is a bit on the coarse side for my tastes, but I think people are looking at this as if it's supposed to replace the Diamond series that is TWSBI's bread and butter. That is clearly not the case. It was a curiosity project, and one that lots of folks expressed interest in...so they decided to give it a go.

I consider this on a level with the production Edison pens and the like; the aesthetic is a different direction, but the quality seems comparable. If the larger TWSBI nib is of the same quality as the smaller Diamond's nib, it should be a decent general pen. If it were black and a little more rounded and polished, I'd get one for sure. For now, I'll sit on the fence a while.

#18 watch_art


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 15:10

YAY! First Micarta review! 50points!

Lovely pen, too.
I'd get one if I had some spare coin. Love the big #6 nib. I'd love to handle one just to feel it.

fpn_1432247667__cropped-20150427_0641231 sigpic14481_1.gif vanness.jpg?t=1321916122

#19 ethernautrix


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Posted 05 April 2012 - 16:37

So far, I'm liking everything about this pen, from the look of it to the stiff nib to the sparse packaging. It's just... that darn Nakaya Shield. As long as I'm using my Nakayas, I'm wondering why would I want to buy another pen? I've got my eye on this one, though. Just keep lookin'.... *Sigh*


etherX in To Miasto

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#20 Uncle Red

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 16:45

This is a great and timely review, thank you.
As for value, XiaoMG is correct, this is a turned pen not an injection molded one so it costs more to make. The aesthetics and c/c filling don't appeal to me though.

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