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Twsbi Vac 700 Broken

twsbi vac 700 cracked

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64 replies to this topic

#1 tonybelding

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 00:27

I reached for my smoke colored TWSBI Vac 700 today and started to uncap it -- and only part of the cap came off.

 

twsbi_vac_700_broken.jpg

 

This is the second Vac 700 of mine that's had a major component snap in two.  I didn't abuse it.  There was no warning.  It just came apart.

 

I went through the cracking problems with the Diamond 530.  I assumed TWSBI had figured it all out and fixed things on the Vac 700.  They had years to straighten out their difficulties, and the Vac 700 was their new flagship pen, and I hadn't heard about anyone else having problems with them.  And besides, I simply adored EVERYTHING else about these pens.  After the first one failed, I was willing to shrug and chalk it up as a freak occurrence that probably would never happen again.  But no more.

 

The only thing I can figure out is that TWSBI are injection-molding these pens out of styrene, or some sort of thermoplastic that simply isn't durable enough for the job and is never going to be.  That's how they can make their pens so cheap, but no amount of jiggering the design is ever going to turn this into a durable material.  This is why other pens companies machine theirs from rods of cast acrylic plastic, or similar materials.

 

I've been recommending these pens to everyone, and now I am ashamed.  Obviously I won't be doing that anymore, and I won't be carrying and using them anymore.

 



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#2 corniche

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 00:39

Hello Tony,

 

I know how you feel, but you needn't feel ashamed- you were acting in good faith, based on your personal experience.  I've been praising the Noodler's Ahab pens to anybody that would listen and here lately, now that I've been using them a little while, I have noticed some quirks- I have a couple that write beautifully for a while and then stop dead in the middle of a sentence - out of a clear blue sky.

 

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with the TWxxx.... sometimes I wonder if it isn't better to own just two or three top quality pens and leave it at that.

 

All the best,

 

Sean :)


Edited by S. P. Colfer, 17 August 2013 - 00:46.

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#3 Striated

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:08

I know how you feel, but you needn't feel ashamed- you were acting in good faith, based on your personal experience. 

 

+1!

 

Your Vac review was great.  I got a Bexley Corona in part because of the also excellent review you did on that.  You have no reason to reproach yourself.


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#4 Brian C

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:19

I rode the same TWSBI roller coaster. They've been in business too long now to be having these issues. 



#5 Mathemagician

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:34

have you contacted them about it? the one thing that I know about them is that they have excellent customer service.  How did that come apart though? From my vac 700 it seems like the caps one piece of very sturdy plastic, but from your picture it looks like they are separate pieces?



#6 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:41

I won't comment on your specific experience because I've really liked my TWSBI experience.

However, I will note that two experiences are a suggestive sign, but not yet a trend. But, with a pen of this price, I really do understand your concern. Have you contacted the company? I've found them to be remarkably honest when it comes to faults or problems with their product.
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#7 Laura N

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:44

I gave up on the Vac 700 because mine had one of the notoriously dry nibs that so many of us initial purchasers received.  My plunger didn't work very well, either.  As a result, the Vac 700 is my least favorite TWSBI, and the only one I'd never recommend.

 

I love the company's ethos and their customer service.  But I join those who think that they've been in business long enough that their products should work without so much need for customer service.



#8 tonybelding

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 04:31

have you contacted them about it? the one thing that I know about them is that they have excellent customer service.  How did that come apart though? From my vac 700 it seems like the caps one piece of very sturdy plastic, but from your picture it looks like they are separate pieces?

 

Whenever I have asked TWSBI for a replacement part, they have sent one promptly.  It's just really getting old, though.  Out of the four TWSBI pens that I've had, every one of them has now had a plastic part crack or break.  That hasn't happened with other brands.

 

And yes, the cap was one piece of plastic.  Now it's two pieces.  The plastic broke apart right where you see in the photo.



#9 hari317

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 04:37

 They've been in business too long now to be having these issues. 

+100


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#10 novarider

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 12:26

You know you can get the nib replaced right? 

 

I gave up on the Vac 700 because mine had one of the notoriously dry nibs that so many of us initial purchasers received.  My plunger didn't work very well, either.  As a result, the Vac 700 is my least favorite TWSBI, and the only one I'd never recommend.

 

I love the company's ethos and their customer service.  But I join those who think that they've been in business long enough that their products should work without so much need for customer service.



#11 Christi0469

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 13:13

That's a shame. I really like my 540 but i already have had to replace the section (cracked badly enough to leak) and now I noticed a crack in the cap. The customer service was excellent though. Sadly I won't buy another TWSBI until I am completely satisfied that the cracking issues are resolved, just as I won't buy another Noodlers pen until they cease to be 'learn to adjust you pen' kits. Life too short to constantly deal with these issues.

#12 Laura N

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 14:59

You know you can get the nib replaced right? 

 

 

Now, you can apparently get a replacement nib.  But I got the pen when it first came out, over a year ago.  Would you wait a year?  I tried to fix it myself, but couldn't.  It was either have someone fix it, return it, or have a pen I couldn't use.

 

Please note that my pen wasn't a lemon: the first version of the Vac 700 and the Micarta both came with this nib that had a very high rate of problems.  It was either a poor nib or not properly adjusted.

 

Also note that I had three 540s which never gave me a bit of trouble, and I still think that was a great pen.  I'm not a TWSBI hater.  I'm just frustrated with the quality record and think they need to do better.


Edited by Laura N, 17 August 2013 - 15:01.


#13 NedC

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 15:01

It's certainly not polystyrene, it's polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has VERY good tensile strength, they use it for ballistics resistant armour and safety eyeglasses but it's very soft and easily scratched so TWSBI uses a lacquer anti-scratch coating, unfortunately polycarbonate is also very prone to solvent damage, particularly from acetone, and the lacquer coating weakens the polycarb. Another problem with polycarb is that moulding tends to lead to built in stresses, if you've worn prescription glasses made for polycarb you can see evidence of this in night conditions when you see weird, and very distracting , diffraction effects around light sources like oncoming headlights. Other than TWSBI the only other manufacturer I know of using polycarbonate in a self filling, either piston or vacuum, pen is Lamy with the 2000, and they're using a fibreglass reenforced type that comes pre-scratched and without the coating, and have spent almost 40 years working out its manufacturing bugs.

 

Alternative resins have their own issues, PMMA (AKA 'precious resin') is relatively fragile and can crack easily if dropped as some unfortunate MontBlanc owners can attest to, a top of the line Reform pen suffered this fate when it rolled off my desk. ABS is strong and has better chemical resistance but is considered 'cheap feeling' by many and can't be made transparent, AS is easier  work with in moulding and a good compromise from and industrial design POV but reviewers on these boards complain of it feeling cheap, insubstantial, fragile, etc. (look through review of Platinum pens) though it's likely to be stronger and more durable than PMMA at the same thickness.

 

All design is compromise.



#14 heymatthew

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 19:44

It's certainly not polystyrene, it's polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has VERY good tensile strength, they use it for ballistics resistant armour and safety eyeglasses but it's very soft and easily scratched so TWSBI uses a lacquer anti-scratch coating, unfortunately polycarbonate is also very prone to solvent damage, particularly from acetone, and the lacquer coating weakens the polycarb. Another problem with polycarb is that moulding tends to lead to built in stresses, if you've worn prescription glasses made for polycarb you can see evidence of this in night conditions when you see weird, and very distracting , diffraction effects around light sources like oncoming headlights. Other than TWSBI the only other manufacturer I know of using polycarbonate in a self filling, either piston or vacuum, pen is Lamy with the 2000, and they're using a fibreglass reenforced type that comes pre-scratched and without the coating, and have spent almost 40 years working out its manufacturing bugs.
 
Alternative resins have their own issues, PMMA (AKA 'precious resin') is relatively fragile and can crack easily if dropped as some unfortunate MontBlanc owners can attest to, a top of the line Reform pen suffered this fate when it rolled off my desk. ABS is strong and has better chemical resistance but is considered 'cheap feeling' by many and can't be made transparent, AS is easier  work with in moulding and a good compromise from and industrial design POV but reviewers on these boards complain of it feeling cheap, insubstantial, fragile, etc. (look through review of Platinum pens) though it's likely to be stronger and more durable than PMMA at the same thickness.
 
All design is compromise.


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Seriously though, this is an incredible amount of information. Thank you for sharing!
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#15 Xeros

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 21:53

Wow this is exactly what happend to my vac 700 yesterday :(



#16 CAG_1787

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 22:23

It's certainly not polystyrene, it's polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has VERY good tensile strength, they use it for ballistics resistant armour and safety eyeglasses but it's very soft and easily scratched so TWSBI uses a lacquer anti-scratch coating, unfortunately polycarbonate is also very prone to solvent damage, particularly from acetone, and the lacquer coating weakens the polycarb. Another problem with polycarb is that moulding tends to lead to built in stresses, if you've worn prescription glasses made for polycarb you can see evidence of this in night conditions when you see weird, and very distracting , diffraction effects around light sources like oncoming headlights. Other than TWSBI the only other manufacturer I know of using polycarbonate in a self filling, either piston or vacuum, pen is Lamy with the 2000, and they're using a fibreglass reenforced type that comes pre-scratched and without the coating, and have spent almost 40 years working out its manufacturing bugs.

 

Alternative resins have their own issues, PMMA (AKA 'precious resin') is relatively fragile and can crack easily if dropped as some unfortunate MontBlanc owners can attest to, a top of the line Reform pen suffered this fate when it rolled off my desk. ABS is strong and has better chemical resistance but is considered 'cheap feeling' by many and can't be made transparent, AS is easier  work with in moulding and a good compromise from and industrial design POV but reviewers on these boards complain of it feeling cheap, insubstantial, fragile, etc. (look through review of Platinum pens) though it's likely to be stronger and more durable than PMMA at the same thickness.

 

All design is compromise.

 

Posts like this are part of the reason why FPN is such a treasure.

 

To the OP - sorry about your loss! I have one, though it doesn't get used often for other reasons, and I'd be sorry to see such a breakdown.


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#17 UK Mike

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 22:47

It's certainly not polystyrene, it's polycarbonate. Polycarbonate has VERY good tensile strength, they use it for ballistics resistant armour and safety eyeglasses but it's very soft and easily scratched so TWSBI uses a lacquer anti-scratch coating, unfortunately polycarbonate is also very prone to solvent damage, particularly from acetone, and the lacquer coating weakens the polycarb. Another problem with polycarb is that moulding tends to lead to built in stresses, if you've worn prescription glasses made for polycarb you can see evidence of this in night conditions when you see weird, and very distracting , diffraction effects around light sources like oncoming headlights. Other than TWSBI the only other manufacturer I know of using polycarbonate in a self filling, either piston or vacuum, pen is Lamy with the 2000, and they're using a fibreglass reenforced type that comes pre-scratched and without the coating, and have spent almost 40 years working out its manufacturing bugs.

 

Alternative resins have their own issues, PMMA (AKA 'precious resin') is relatively fragile and can crack easily if dropped as some unfortunate MontBlanc owners can attest to, a top of the line Reform pen suffered this fate when it rolled off my desk. ABS is strong and has better chemical resistance but is considered 'cheap feeling' by many and can't be made transparent, AS is easier  work with in moulding and a good compromise from and industrial design POV but reviewers on these boards complain of it feeling cheap, insubstantial, fragile, etc. (look through review of Platinum pens) though it's likely to be stronger and more durable than PMMA at the same thickness.

 

All design is compromise.

 

Quite correct - I covered some of this in a previous post regarding the 580. In industrial injection moulding, most polycarbonate mouldings are subjected to a stress relieving heat treatment, which can be as simple as placing in hot water for a period. From Speedy's response when this was discussed I was lead to believe at that time that there is no heat treatment process on the TWSBI mouldings.

 

One of the other problems of polycarbonate is that of water absorption which can cloud the plastic and severely affect the impact strength of the material. It is also affected by UV light - and on TWSBI pens there is a protective lacquer coating applied after moulding.

 

The glass fibre filled Makrolon material used by Lamy has the advantage, as with any composite, of the fibres improving tensile strength by limiting the opportunities for crack propagation, The fractures I have seen of TWSBI pens have all been typical brittle fracture failures where a small initial crack propagates rapidly and catastrophically through the material.

 

In short, although polycarbonate is a useful engineering material it does have its flaws and quirks that require a full understanding of the manufacturing techniques and some knowledge of the projected environment.  It is not the sort of plastic one can simply squirt into a mould and hope for the best.

 

Evidence is beginning to point to the fact that clear polycarbonate is perhaps not a suitable material for these pens without more careful mould design to eliminate stress-raising points and some additional heat treatment.


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#18 dspeers58

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 13:12

My 700 did the same thing.  Speedy did replace the cap. It does seem tiresome to have to replace parts.  However, I just got a Pelikan m800 with an IB nib and it would not write for (bleep)! That is a pen that lists for  10xs as much as the TWSBI, and along with some other Pelikans, I seem to get nibs that have troubles.  Maybe it is just me.  Chartpak is great!  They will swap nibs/stand behind troubles in a great way, but for a pen that lists for $150 or $500 that should not be. So I commiserate with the OP, but have to say, this is not just about a relatively young company struggling, making mistakes. Seems that even a well-established, old manufacturer can seem to have regular problems, and that with a part that costs $200-300 to replace. There is no excuse for a $300 nib to be out of adjustment.



#19 heymatthew

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 17:44

My 700 did the same thing.  Speedy did replace the cap. It does seem tiresome to have to replace parts.  However, I just got a Pelikan m800 with an IB nib and it would not write for (bleep)! That is a pen that lists for  10xs as much as the TWSBI, and along with some other Pelikans, I seem to get nibs that have troubles.  Maybe it is just me.  Chartpak is great!  They will swap nibs/stand behind troubles in a great way, but for a pen that lists for $150 or $500 that should not be. So I commiserate with the OP, but have to say, this is not just about a relatively young company struggling, making mistakes. Seems that even a well-established, old manufacturer can seem to have regular problems, and that with a part that costs $200-300 to replace. There is no excuse for a $300 nib to be out of adjustment.

 

I think this is important to keep in mind. Any manufacturer is bound to have mishaps. I think TWSBI has had more than their fair share of them, but their pens are user-serviceable and they will send any part you need for free (or just a small amount of money). I can easily forgive a failure on a $50 or $100 pen. If I purchased a $500 pen and had any issue at all, I'd be far more disappointed.

 

Even Maserati has a repair department...


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#20 tomgartin

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 18:04

luke-skywalker-noooooo.jpg

 

 

 

 

p.s. I am very sorry about your pen, and about your experience with continual breakage. :(


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