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Ballpoint Refills Test

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#1 usk15

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 12:18

JETSTREAM & easyFLOW

 

In my pursuit for a perfect ballpoint refill I’ve came across with these 2 brands: JETSTREAM & easyFLOW. Why ballpoints? Because sometimes you need something else then a fountain pen to write on different surface:  like napkins, fabric, wood, skin, you never know when or where. So I have narrow down my options for these hybrid ballpoint refills. Both write smooth, dark lines and both have water-proof and sun fade-proof characteristics.

 

uni-ball JETSTREAM was developed in 2003, it’s an evolution of their gel refill “Signo 207”. Can be found in medium or fine strokes, also the main refills can be adapted to replace gel refills like Pilot G2 or European standard roller-ball refills. The blue refills are actually blue, quit dark lines, black is almost true black.

 

SCHMIDT® easyFLOW 9000 was introduced later, in July 2007. Their main characteristic is based on Parker style refill (large capacity refill size G2 as per the standard DIN EN ISO 12757), making them ready available for many ballpoints producers, without any modification. The blue refill is more on the purple side, but still a vivid colour, black is a bit much darker then JETSTREAM. Also easyFLOW smudge a bit more than JETSTREAM.

 

Somewhere back in 2014 I had to use a pen to write a polite note for a car parked illegally on our parking lot at work (a standard A4 printed polite note where you need to write registration number, date and time). And I used a Parker Big Red roller ball. Big mistake, with a bit of rain all my writing was washed out, completely! The car’s owner comes down to check what was with that note on his car and all my writing was gone. That was the point to search for a better ballpoint refill with water-proof characteristics, smooth writing, fast drying and vivid colours. After a lot of research I bought my first two hybrid ballpoint refills: easyFLOW 9000 in blue and black. After a while I have found JETSTREAM to be as good as easyFLOW 9000, but for different pen body, like roller-balls or Energel, other than Parker style.

 

That being said I run a test to prove water-proof and sun exposure fading test of these two refill brands. For this test I have used some common refills along with my 2 favourites. I have used normal paper and glossy paper (from a magazine). One normal paper and one glossy paper it was washed through heavy water after 2 minutes of writing have dry. Everything was exposed in a closed shed with windows, where the sun can reach for about 3-4 hours daily, when not cloudy. Also there is high humidity on our little island, temperatures varying from 25˚ summer to 8˚ winter times.

 

Refills in test:

 

  1. Schmidt easyFlow 9000 blue
  2. Schmidt easyFlow 9000 black
  3. Uni-ball Jetstream  1.0 blue
  4. Uni-ball Jetstream  1.0 black
  5. Uni-ball Jetstream  sport blue
  6. Uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 black
  7. Pentel Energel 0.7 blue
  8. Pentel Energel 0.7 black
  9. Schneider Topball 0.5 black
  10. Inoxcrom gel M black
  11. Fisher Space M black
  12. Faber-Castell B black
  13. Parker M black
  14. Parker Quinkflow M blue
  15. Parker M blue
  16. Lamy M66 black
  17. Senator M blue
  18. Zebra F-series blue
  19. Pilot G2 0.5 black
  20. Pilot G2 0.7 black

 

After this test I will stick with easyFLOW and Jetstream as my main refills for ballpoints. Also Inoxcrom gel refill and Lamy are really good, recommend them. A big surprise is Parker Quinkflow failing so hard.

The test was run in my condition, feel free not to accept my observations. Also if you click on the pictures you can download them from Flickr and enlarge them to see some close ups. Except on single photo, the rest are scanned.

 

Starting test June and July 2016

 

Normal Paper running water, June 2016

 

30707152534_bd84d5aeb0_b.jpg

 

Normal paper, photo, not scan, July 2016

 

31548005095_53a3d52ae5_b.jpg

 

Glossy paper, July 2016

 

31401414432_1ba33ae9a6_b.jpg

 

Ending test December 2016

 

Normal Paper running water

 

31432542021_270b48528c_b.jpg

 

Normal paper

 

31432565781_751e812c88_b.jpg

 

Glossy paper running water

 

30707270454_f440815f28_b.jpg

 

Glossy paper

 

30738797833_8b125bb73e_b.jpg


Edited by usk15, 10 December 2016 - 18:18.


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#2 dennis_f

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 17:15

Wow... very thorough!  I love that you added the glossy paper test!

 

I'm a bit surprised by some of your findings.  I was especially surprised by the Lamy M66 Black; my own experience with Lamy refills has been hit-and-miss and I usually find the ink to be very faint, which doesn't seem to be the case with your refill. 

 

I noticed that none of your gel refills seemed to leave behind blotchy marks.  I've found this to be the case with almost all the gel refills I've tried (visconti, jetstream, and especially parker).  Any thoughts on this?  Have you ever had this happen with your refills, or are the tests pretty representative of your experience.

 

Thanks a million for posting this.

D.



#3 usk15

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 18:28

@ Dennis

 

 

My test was actually about easyFlow and Jetstream refills, and how they compare against some other brands when come down to water and light exposure for long term. You're right when you saying that gel refills leave some blotchy marks, also some of them are hit-n-miss. I've just mentioned that Lamy, Inoxcrom and Pentel are resistant on my test condition, but I will use them just occasionally in my daily writing habits.



#4 dennis_f

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 20:32

Thanks Usk15.

 

I've never had any luck with the JetStreams -- in my experience they've been slow to dry and quite smudgy -- though I've heard good things and do keep trying them... which is why I was paying such close attention to your comparisons (hence my surprise vis-a-vis the Lamy refill).

 

You say in your comments that the JetStreams are an "evolution" of the Signo.  Are they not a gel refill as well?

 

For some reason the Schmidt refills are difficult to find around here (in the Toronto area), but I'll have to give them a try should I come across them.

 

Thanks again.

D.



#5 usk15

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 23:17

You say in your comments that the JetStreams are an "evolution" of the Signo.  Are they not a gel refill as well?

 

 

Nop, Jetstream is a hybrid ballpoint refill, here is a guide:

 

http://www.jetpens.c...ve-guide/pt/758



#6 usk15

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 10:17

I will include some real photos, with close ups, on the end of my test:

 

30728347334_a09a198940_b.jpg

 

31422924832_571cf7b94c_b.jpg

 

30760080503_3ce4d8517c_b.jpg

 

30728298004_fa5ca233f0_b.jpg

 

31531844696_230fa9f79d_b.jpg

 

 

Pens that can take Jetstream refill:

 

Uni-ball Jetstream RT BLX Ballpoint Pen - 1.0 mm
Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Premium
Lamy Tipo Rollerball
Pilot G2 Limited Gel
Waterman Kultur Rolleball

 

31569268985_35d04362be_b.jpg

 

European standard size Rollerball refill vs Jetstream:

 

31453445591_3368ab503a_b.jpg

 

 

Pens that can take easyFLOW refill:

 

Spacetec 0 Gravity by Diplomat
Bexley Duofold Ballpoint
Parker IM Premium Deep Gun Metal Chiselled CT
Parker Jotter Stainless Steel
Parker Vector Sport Ballpoint
Baoer 79 Starwalker Ballpoint
Inoxcrom Stainless Steel CT

 

30727893104_63108eecf8_b.jpg

 

Schmidt easyFlow 9000 Refill vs Parker Quinkflow Refill:

 

30759682203_4c8f638517_b.jpg



#7 Mike 59

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 11:16

Interesting results, fairly similar to what I found a few months ago, just testing for darkness of line, in blue and black, and for waterproofness.  Some of my 'favourites' failed the water test very badly, but that may not be important in normal pen and paper use.

  This is a mixture of types of pen refill, some fibre tip, some hybrid, some gel, it's what I have.

  This sample was written out, then water dip test was done 24 hours later, to be sure the inks were dry.

   What's interesting to me is how taking a photo of the results shows up which refills are darker or more intense than others, and which are weaker.

  The far right of the photo is the water dip test (5 seconds), which shows up some surprising results.


Edited by Mike 59, 11 December 2016 - 11:25.


#8 usk15

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 14:23

Interesting results, fairly similar to what I found a few months ago, just testing for darkness of line, in blue and black, and for waterproofness.  Some of my 'favourites' failed the water test very badly, but that may not be important in normal pen and paper use.

 

I think is important to carry on with this kind of tests, doesn't matter if normal, glossy or recommended paper. Or any other conditions to diversify criteria. We are living in different parts of the world, with different weather conditions and different products available for that market.

 

Maybe the producers will keep an eye open to our results, improving their refills. On the end we will like to have good working writing instruments.



#9 Aramchek

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 19:52

Another test from a few years ago (not my blog): http://u-fr.blogspot...ance-tests.html


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#10 qvxb

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 22:20

USK15,

This was a beautifully executed study. Thank you for the effort. The Parker Quinkflow refill probably did poorly because it had blue ink. One with black ink would more likely do better.

If you repeat the test, I suggest that red and green inks be included.

#11 MYU

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 17:38

Nice.  Schmidt and Papermate seemed to do the best. Rather sad about the Pilot G2.  I love the way those write!


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#12 Mike 59

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 11:18

These tests by usk15 do give some interesting results, the testing was very 'hard' on the inks, but proved which could stand up to long term sunlight exposure, and to the waterproof (or not) qualities of the inks.

   Of course most writing is done in notebooks and diaries which are closed for 99.9% of the time, and never get wet or even damp, so this type of testing is very extreme.

   But I did a much simpler and shorter test and found similar results, in that some very popular inks didn't do very well at all with just a drop or two of water splashed on to a sample, and this could be important in a real life situation.

   As for fading over time, also some very surpriising results, if a person wants to keep records over 5 or 10 years or more, which would still be readable?

   It's also clear that there are older formulas of inks still being used by some makers which are surely due for a rethink, as many new inks outperform them in every way, as would be expected. 

 I know which ballpoints I reach for when I want to write in a card or diary.



#13 JohnD5633

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 22:40

Thanks for doing this thorough test.



#14 sidpost

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 16:37

JETSTREAM & easyFLOW

 

In my pursuit for a perfect ballpoint refill I’ve came across with these 2 brands: JETSTREAM & easyFLOW. Why ballpoints? Because sometimes you need something else then a fountain pen to write on different surface:  like napkins, fabric, wood, skin, you never know when or where. So I have narrow down my options for these hybrid ballpoint refills. Both write smooth, dark lines and both have water-proof and sun fade-proof characteristics.

 

uni-ball JETSTREAM was developed in 2003, it’s an evolution of their gel refill “Signo 207”. Can be found in medium or fine strokes, also the main refills can be adapted to replace gel refills like Pilot G2 or European standard roller-ball refills. The blue refills are actually blue, quit dark lines, black is almost true black.

 

SCHMIDT® easyFLOW 9000 was introduced later, in July 2007. Their main characteristic is based on Parker style refill (large capacity refill size G2 as per the standard DIN EN ISO 12757), making them ready available for many ballpoints producers, without any modification. The blue refill is more on the purple side, but still a vivid colour, black is a bit much darker then JETSTREAM. Also easyFLOW smudge a bit more than JETSTREAM.

 

<..snip..>

 

That being said I run a test to prove water-proof and sun exposure fading test of these two refill brands. For this test I have used some common refills along with my 2 favourites. I have used normal paper and glossy paper (from a magazine). One normal paper and one glossy paper it was washed through heavy water after 2 minutes of writing have dry. Everything was exposed in a closed shed with windows, where the sun can reach for about 3-4 hours daily, when not cloudy. Also there is high humidity on our little island, temperatures varying from 25˚ summer to 8˚ winter times.

 

Refills in test:

 

  1. Schmidt easyFlow 9000 blue
  2. Schmidt easyFlow 9000 black
  3. Uni-ball Jetstream  1.0 blue
  4. Uni-ball Jetstream  1.0 black
  5. Uni-ball Jetstream  sport blue
  6. Uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 black
  7. Pentel Energel 0.7 blue
  8. Pentel Energel 0.7 black
  9. Schneider Topball 0.5 black
  10. Inoxcrom gel M black
  11. Fisher Space M black
  12. Faber-Castell B black
  13. Parker M black
  14. Parker Quinkflow M blue
  15. Parker M blue
  16. Lamy M66 black
  17. Senator M blue
  18. Zebra F-series blue
  19. Pilot G2 0.5 black
  20. Pilot G2 0.7 black

 

After this test I will stick with easyFLOW and Jetstream as my main refills for ballpoints. Also Inoxcrom gel refill and Lamy are really good, recommend them. A big surprise is Parker Quinkflow failing so hard.

The test was run in my condition, feel free not to accept my observations. Also if you click on the pictures you can download them from Flickr and enlarge them to see some close ups. Except on single photo, the rest are scanned.

 

 

Interesting results, fairly similar to what I found a few months ago, just testing for darkness of line, in blue and black, and for waterproofness.  Some of my 'favourites' failed the water test very badly, but that may not be important in normal pen and paper use.

  This is a mixture of types of pen refill, some fibre tip, some hybrid, some gel, it's what I have.

  This sample was written out, then water dip test was done 24 hours later, to be sure the inks were dry.

   What's interesting to me is how taking a photo of the results shows up which refills are darker or more intense than others, and which are weaker.

  The far right of the photo is the water dip test (5 seconds), which shows up some surprising results.

 

Thank you for doing such a thorough test, documenting it so well and, sharing it with us.

 

As I have mentioned before, I used "Industrial Sharpies" in the past to sign checks while in Arizona to defeat 'check washers'.  However, Sharpies aren't very good for normal writing and are a pain to carry around with a checkbook.  I have also had very infrequent issues with ballpoint signatures on signed documents that were later photocopied and used for a purpose different than intended.

 

While I love my new found passion for fountain pens and 'document inks', having a better Rollerball or Ballpoint is something that will benefit me and most people a lot more as very few of us will cram a Fountain Pen into a Blue Jeans pocket or work backpack.  As you demonstrated in your tests, real world non-office use suggests fade resistance and waterproofness is a very valuable property for most 'real world' uses of modern pens and I will further note that many of us don't even have recycled copy paper to write on many times during the day, further highlighting the value of tests like these.

 

Thanks again!

Sid


Edited by sidpost, 10 February 2017 - 16:42.

On a quest for better pencils and pens in rural East Texas.   :)


#15 MYU

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 03:06

Lots of great info here.  

 

I'm wondering if anyone has come across a ballpoint refill that is compatible with vintage Platinum Pen (Japan) ballpoint refills?  They use a refill size somewhat similar to a Parker style refill, but is more narrow... so the Parker won't fit.  The only refill I've come across as nearly compatible is a Papermate one, but it's too long (and being steel, it's not feasible to cut it).

 

EDIT:  I think I found it.  BSP-200B


Edited by MYU, 11 November 2018 - 03:36.

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