Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies






Photo

What's The Deal With Twsbi And Alcohol? (I'm Intrigued)


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 31 July 2017 - 16:37

What's the deal with TWSBI pens and alcohol? I know they say not to use it, I can't for the life of me figure out why:

 

The pens are (according to what I read on TWSBI's blog) made from polycarbonate. Isopropanol will not harm polycarbonate, as I've been using it to clean my polycarbonate glasses and safety glasses for years. A solution of isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and deionized water is industry standard for cleaning lenses, including those made from polycarbonate, as well as the frames, of any material.

 

Isopropanol is not known to harm most plastics. I've actually never met one that didn't tolerate it.

 

There is a coating baked onto the polycarbonate, according to TWSBI's blog. I don't know what this coating is. I would think it would be similar to that used in the manufacture of polycarbonate lenses, which again, is not harmed by isopropanol. Nor are the incredibly delicate coatings on camera lenses and the like, which are also cleaned using a solution of isopropanol. However I have no idea about this coating and without knowing what it is, there's no way to research it (other than experiments that I'm not willing to do with my Eco).

 

Contrary to what has been stated in some places, rubbing alcohol does NOT contain acetone. Acetone is a very different chemical which does indeed dissolve plastic. Acetone is present in nail polish remover, but not rubbing alcohol (which is a high percentage of isopropanol in water, usually around 90%. This is harsher than the 70% which is pretty standard for use such as cleaning lenses, however I wouldn't expect 70% to be safe and 90% to start melting things in this case. I could be wrong here.) Rubbing alcohol also sometimes contains fragrance depending on the manufacturer. I think I had some that was wintergreen scented one time.

 

So what gives? The reason I ask is twofold- one, scientific curiosity. :) Two, the #1 solvent used at work, to clean everything, including numerous varied types of plastic and rubber, is 70% isopropanol. This is important to note if I would ever bring a TWSBI pen to work, which may influence my buying of TWSBI pens because inadvertent exposure (I don't mean "soaking in") is imminent. Since wiping a pen down with 70% isopropanol (another of our standard practices, although I don't use my fountain pens in the "everything that enters this room must be cleaned with isopropanol before crossing the tape line on the floor" area...I use whatever ballpoints are already in the room.) does absolutely no harm whatsoever to the cheapest ballpoint you can find, even the ones with rubber grips, I'd be amazed if it would destroy a $50 pen.

 

Does anyone know what's going on here, or have real world experience with it? Or perhaps more interestingly, does anyone have a broken TWSBI laying around that they're willing to experiment on?



Sponsored Content

#2 Oranges and Apples

Oranges and Apples

    Vantage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,002 posts

Posted 31 July 2017 - 18:24

How about the feed? 



#3 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 31 July 2017 - 20:02

How about the feed? 


That I don't know. I believe it to be generic plastic.

Then again, they may just mean "don't soak this pen in concentrated alcohol for hours". I don't know why anyone would, but people never cease to amaze.

#4 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 02 August 2017 - 12:01

@KellyMcJ,

Indeed, Polycarbonate (PC) thermoplastic is resistant to both Isopropanol (a.k.a. Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol) and Ethanol (a.k.a. drinking alcohol). See here:

* chemical_resistance_guide_polycarbonate_sheet.pdf

https://www.theplast...onate_sheet.pdf

So it may very well be another part of the pen that TWSBI is concerned about, the feed maybe, or the piston. Or perhaps TWSBI doesn't want the silicone lubricant dissolved? I dunno...

 

Send TWSBI an Email and ask them. Let us know what they say. Here's the Email to TWSBI direct in Taiwan:

info@twsbi.com



#5 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 02 August 2017 - 16:15

I've sent them an email! :)

 

This is what I wrote:

 

Hello,

 

I have a question regarding exposure to TWSBI pens and alcohol (note I am not talking about soaking the pens in alcohol or any other solvent for cleaning, I’m only talking about incidental exposure here). My reasons for asking are twofold: one, simple curiosity. Two, I work in a manufacturing facility where 70% isopropanol (a more dilute form of what’s commonly called “rubbing alcohol”) is used for everything from a step in the manufacturing process to a generic cleaning agent for everything in general (including our hands), to a specific cleaning agent for use in certain cleanliness controlled areas where everything must be disinfected.

 

As such, any pen I bring into that environment is highly likely to have inadvertent contact with isopropanol.

 

I’ve read on your blog that TWSBI pens are made from polycarbonate, which would not be harmed by the isopropanol (it’s industry standard for cleaning polycarbonate lenses) however I don’t know about the other parts such as the feed, any coating, etc. And of course, filling the pen with alcohol runs a decent risk of eating away the silicone grease or damaging the piston seals.

 

Can you clarify? Is there any appreciable hazard to incidental exposure of the outside of the pen to isopropanol, or is this warning mainly not to fill the pen with it or soak it as a means of cleaning?

 

Thank you for your time,

Kelly

 

I'll update this thread when I receive a response.



#6 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 03 August 2017 - 02:22

I've sent them an email! :) I'll update this thread when I receive a response.

 

Nicely done Email. Let's see what they say... Rgds, David



#7 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 04 August 2017 - 02:50

 
Nicely done Email. Let's see what they say... Rgds, David


I'll be sure to report back. No response yet. How long does it usually take?

#8 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 04 August 2017 - 04:11

I'll be sure to report back. No response yet. How long does it usually take?

 

Short answer: I'd give them five working days to reply and if there's nothing back by then, ping them again and mention we're waiting for an answer on the Fountain Pen Network (pass them the link to this discussion thread).

 

In the multiple times I've had to deal with TWSBI, I've always used the Taiwan contact Email (same as I posted above). TWBI's headquarters is in Taiwan, and I prefer to deal factory-direct when it comes to technical issues.

 

I've always received a reasonably fast reply from TWSBI - usually the same or next day, and within three working days at-most. But keep in-mind that I am in Asia (Indonesia), so my time zone is similar to that in Taiwan (Taipei is UTC+8 hours). In the U.S. your time zone is significantly earlier. Also, my discussions with TWSBI were relatively simple such as warranty issues, replacement parts, etc. The question you posted to TWSBI is more technical in nature, so it may have been forwarded to someone else at TWSBI who may take longer to reply.

 

I have seen reports of poor response times from TWSBI. But that has not been my experience with them to-date. The last time I dealt with TWSBI is around two years ago.

 

Regards, David


Edited by Drone, 04 August 2017 - 04:18.


#9 EHV

EHV

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 59 posts
  • Location:Milford, PA
  • Flag:

Posted 04 August 2017 - 14:32

    I have read that it will discolor the clear plastic.         I have no clue how or why, especially after viewing scientific info and seeing for myself, (cleaning glasses lenses, etc. every day) but I was under the impression that acetone was added to rubbing alcohol and that may be the possibility but I guess not...?  

 

               I've recently received multiple clear/demonstrator pens from China; Wing Sung 698, Caliarts Ego, SKB , Jinhao 992 and one of them had a note from the manufacturer specifically stating NOT to use alcohol to clean the pen.            

    I didn't save the packaging on those, (odd for me because I usually always do save all of it) so I don't recall which one had the note but if I were to guess, I'd say the Caliarts but don't hold me to that.   Maybe someone else can chime it as to which pen that note comes with. 



#10 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 04 August 2017 - 15:47

    I have read that it will discolor the clear plastic.         I have no clue how or why, especially after viewing scientific info and seeing for myself, (cleaning glasses lenses, etc. every day) but I was under the impression that acetone was added to rubbing alcohol and that may be the possibility but I guess not...?  

 

               I've recently received multiple clear/demonstrator pens from China; Wing Sung 698, Caliarts Ego, SKB , Jinhao 992 and one of them had a note from the manufacturer specifically stating NOT to use alcohol to clean the pen.            

    I didn't save the packaging on those, (odd for me because I usually always do save all of it) so I don't recall which one had the note but if I were to guess, I'd say the Caliarts but don't hold me to that.   Maybe someone else can chime it as to which pen that note comes with. 

 

No, rubbing alcohol does not contain acetone (nail polish remover, however, does). Unless there is some rogue brand of rubbing alcohol out there that does, or, possibly, in other countries it does. In the states it does not- it's a 70-90% (usually, some is higher) dilution of isopropanol in water. It's possible that in Asian countries acetone is added to the rubbing alcohol that's commonly sold there- I really don't know. Maybe someone from that area of the world can chime in here and let us know.



#11 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 05 August 2017 - 13:01

No, rubbing alcohol does not contain acetone (nail polish remover, however, does). Unless there is some rogue brand of rubbing alcohol out there that does, or, possibly, in other countries it does. In the states it does not- it's a 70-90% (usually, some is higher) dilution of isopropanol in water. It's possible that in Asian countries acetone is added to the rubbing alcohol that's commonly sold there- I really don't know. Maybe someone from that area of the world can chime in here and let us know.

 

Here in Indonesia over-the-counter (OTC) medicinal alcohol is most often dilute (70%) ethanol (a.k.a. drinking alcohol), with some sort of distillate added to denature it (make it undrinkable).

However in recent years OTC dilute isopropanol based products have appeared here, some are imported and many contain additives such as oils and/or perfumes, both of which are bad idea when it comes to fountain pens.

So yes, what you think of when it comes to OTC medicinal/industrial alcohol in the U.S., may be domething quite different in a foreign country. But the chances are that no matter where you go, what you get will be in large-part based on either ethanol or isopropanol, both of which are safe with polycarbonate plastic.

To be safe, what I use here in Indonesia is 80 proof (40% ethanol) imported grain vodka for cleaning ethanol tolerant parts.



#12 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:57

I received a response this morning:

 

 

ref no. E170807/s39

 

Hello Kelly,

 

Thanks for your e-mail, as we know now only ECO be involved by alcohol, due to barrel material is PMMA (acrylic), other pens should be o.k. but we do not to test all pens, so, we do not suggest to use it.

 

Best regards,

 

Rebecca Shih

 

 

This really surprises me, as I had thought acrylic to be just as impervious. I had thought about an Edison for an EDC at some point because they're solidly reliable pens with no flow issues or hard starts and solid as anything. However this is making me rethink that (I've worn acrylic hair sticks for years and though they don't take the abuse that a pen potentially could, I was under the impression that those acrylic pen blanks were impervious to anything but fire.)

 

I'll have to do some research on PMMA and see what I can come up with.



#13 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 07 August 2017 - 14:20

I received a response this morning:

 

This really surprises me, as I had thought acrylic to be just as impervious. I had thought about an Edison for an EDC at some point because they're solidly reliable pens with no flow issues or hard starts and solid as anything. However this is making me rethink that (I've worn acrylic hair sticks for years and though they don't take the abuse that a pen potentially could, I was under the impression that those acrylic pen blanks were impervious to anything but fire.)

 

I'll have to do some research on PMMA and see what I can come up with.

 

Acrylic (a.k.a. Plexiglass, Perspex, PMMA or Polymethyl Methacrylate, see Ref.-1) is not very reactive with dilute (e.g. 40% aq.) ethanol (a.k.a., ethyl or driniking alcohol), and somewhat reactive with pure ethanol.

Acrylics are rather reactive with isopropyl alcohol (a.k.a., isopropanol) and contact should be avoided. Acrylic paints are sometimes used with isopropyl alcohol for artistic painting because they react before drying.

Phenol is highly reactive with Acrylic and should be avoided at all times. Phenol is normally avoided as a material when making fountain pens because some inks today still use phenol as a biostatic agent to protect the bottled ink against contamination by the likes of molds or fungi (a.k.a. SITB).

Modern Japanese and vintage inks are more likely to include phenol, examples are inks from Pilot/Namiki and Sailor. While the phenol concentrations in ink are quite low (typ. 1% or less), I still do not think it is a good idea to use acrylic when making a pen where the pen material is in constant contact with the ink - like in the TWSBI Eco.

* Chemical Resistance of Plexiglass Acrylic (See Ref.-2)

- Ethyl Alcohol (Absolute), G

- Ethyl Alcohol, 40%, E

- Isopropyl Alcohol, F

- Phenol, Liquid, N

Conditions: 68 deg F / 20 deg C

E - 30 days of constant exposure with no damage. Plastic may even tolerate chemical for years.

G - Little or no damage after 30 days of constant exposure to the reagent.

F - Some effect after 7 days of constant exposure to the reagent. Solvents may cause softening, and swelling.

N - Not recommended for continuous use. Immediate damage may occur such as severe crazing, cracking, or permeation losses.

* References:

Ref.-1, Poly(methyl methacrylate) - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia...l_methacrylate)

Ref.-2, Chemical Resistance of Plexiglass Acrylic

http://www.eplastics...xiglass-Acrylic


Edited by Drone, 07 August 2017 - 15:01.


#14 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 07 August 2017 - 15:14

Oh wow, that is interesting. That would be why they told us not to use the IPA to clean the CCA windows at work. They said it would "scratch" it. This didn't make sense to anyone, and I can tell you it's been done without ill effect. The IPA evaporates quickly enough that contact is minimal.

 

Is this the same acrylic that acrylic pen blanks are made from? If so, I'm surprised that this hasn't come up before as acrylic pens (Especially Edison pens as Brian actually encourage it) are frequently made into eyedroppers. You would think that if there are inks containing phenol, and phenol reacts with acrylic, this would have been an issue.

 

That said, it seems that incidental contact (since the alcohol would evaporate quickly) would be OK for acrylic pens. No soaking of course. So an Edison is *probably* safe at work should I choose to take the greater risk of losing a good pen by taking it out and about. And the same for a TWSBI. 7 days of continuous contact is hardly what I'm talking about when I say "incidental contact".


Edited by KellyMcJ, 07 August 2017 - 15:18.


#15 Drone

Drone

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts

Posted 07 August 2017 - 17:47

Oh wow, that is interesting. That would be why they told us not to use the IPA to clean the CCA windows at work. They said it would "scratch" it. This didn't make sense to anyone, and I can tell you it's been done without ill effect. The IPA evaporates quickly enough that contact is minimal.

 

Is this the same acrylic that acrylic pen blanks are made from? If so, I'm surprised that this hasn't come up before as acrylic pens (Especially Edison pens as Brian actually encourage it) are frequently made into eyedroppers. You would think that if there are inks containing phenol, and phenol reacts with acrylic, this would have been an issue.

 

That said, it seems that incidental contact (since the alcohol would evaporate quickly) would be OK for acrylic pens. No soaking of course. So an Edison is *probably* safe at work should I choose to take the greater risk of losing a good pen by taking it out and about. And the same for a TWSBI. 7 days of continuous contact is hardly what I'm talking about when I say "incidental contact".

 

Hi Kelly,

 

In practice, materials sometimes play nicer together than you would be led to believe by just reading a raw material data sheet (MDS). When it comes to solvents, much has to do with how dilute the solution is. So in reality, ink with less than 1% added phenol may be OK to use long term in an acrylic piston filler pen, especially if you periodically wash the pen out. It has been for me (read more below on this).

Remember, in a modern cartridge/converter pen the ink may never come into contact with the pen material itself, especially if the pen uses a screw-in injection-molded plastic nib unit, like almost all of the Edison pens do. However, in Piston-fill, eyedropper-fill, vacuum-fill (etc.) pens, the ink is in constant contact with the pen material.

I have used Pilot/Namiki Blue ink, which has a pronounced odor of phenol in machine-turned modern acrylic piston-filler pens for years without trouble. I even add a small amount of dilute phenol solution to big 300ml bottles of Pilot Blue-Black ink (which has noticeably less phenol) to bring it up to similar levels as found in the Pilot/Namiki Blue ink.

You asked: "Is this the same acrylic that acrylic pen blanks are made from?"

It is hard to tell. There are many many formulations and variations that fall under the description "acrylic polymer" or "acrylic resin", but for the most part they share similar base properties. As Wikipedia puts it (Ref.-1):

"Although PMMA is often called simply "acrylic", acrylic can also refer to other polymers or copolymers containing polyacrylonitrile."

Something to to keep in mind when it comes to acrylic pens like those made by Edison versus the Eco made by TWSBI is the very different ways the pens are likely made, even though they are made of essentially the same type material:

Edison's pens are "turned" on a numerically (computer) controlled (NC) machine or tool, most likely a Lathe. The Edison pens are turned from blocks (or blanks) of stock acrylic material purchased from a manufacturer or distributor. Lathe turned pens are complex and labor intensive to make, even with NC-Tools.

The TWSBI Eco on the other hand is molded out of acrylic resin. There is more than one way to mold acrylic:

One way is to pour a pre-prepared liquid type acrylic plastic into a mold and cause the acrylic to harden, typically by evaporating a solvent or by adding a catalyst. The poured casting method is rarely used for objects like fountain pen parts, especially in production level quantities.

Another (more common) method used to make acrylic parts is by injection molding. This is very likely how the TWSBI Eco is made. Acrylic (PMMA) is a thermo-plastic. Acrylic material, usually in bead form is melted and then injected into thermally-controlled molds where the casting is carefully cooled, then released.

Injection molding is fast, inexpense, and suited to mass production. But the tooling is difficult to make properly, and requires significant up-front investment. If the molds are not designed properly and carefully maintained, stresses may build-up in the rigid plastic during the cooling phase inside the mold. This may result in cracked parts direct from the mold, or worse-yet parts that crack after they are already sold and in-use in the field.

 

Ref.-1, Poly(methyl methacrylate) - Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia...l_methacrylate)

Have Fun, David



#16 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 07 August 2017 - 20:10

Oh wow! You REALLY know your stuff (or you're a fast researcher).

I forgot too that many Edison pens have filling systems where the ink is in constant contact with the material. If any ink was a problem with that acrylic we'd know by now.

Good point about the injection molding. Different manufacturing techniques really do make a difference, although I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes in this case. However any stresses would likely make the material more vulnerable to solvents.

#17 Sasha Royale

Sasha Royale

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,131 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 08 August 2017 - 17:00

I suspect that there is some concern of the alcohol reacting with the plastic, or with the piston seal.

I recently wrote several replies to letters, using my TWSBI Diamond 540, and Diamine Emerald ink. 

The alcohol I used was Jamison's Irish Whiskey.  I also ate a peach.  Both were delicious, and I had a long nap afterward.    


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#18 Witsius

Witsius

    I was told there would be cake.

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 415 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 08 August 2017 - 17:20

Why do you want to use alchohol on your pen? There is really no reason for it. You can clean your pen with plain water or a little pen flush if needed. Alcholhol won't do any good, and it does indeed ruin some pens. 

 

https://youtu.be/ZH_2R2L-wio?t=2m58s


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.  Hamlet, 1.5.167-168

 


#19 KellyMcJ

KellyMcJ

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,063 posts
  • Location:Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Flag:

Posted 09 August 2017 - 04:33

Why do you want to use alchohol on your pen? There is really no reason for it. You can clean your pen with plain water or a little pen flush if needed. Alcholhol won't do any good, and it does indeed ruin some pens. 
 
https://youtu.be/ZH_2R2L-wio?t=2m58s


I don't. Did you read my post? Or any of this thread? I specifically said I didn't want to or plan to clean my pen with alcohol but it's a common solvent used in my workplace and incidental exposure is inevitable.

#20 Water Ouzel

Water Ouzel

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 772 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 19 August 2017 - 04:08

What's the deal with TWSBI pens and alcohol? I know they say not to use it, I can't for the life of me figure out why:

[...snip...]

The pens are (according to what I read on TWSBI's blog) made from polycarbonate. Isopropanol will not harm polycarbonate, 

Contrary to what has been stated in some places, rubbing alcohol does NOT contain acetone.

 

 

Here we go, once again, into the world not reliably using proper terminology, or at least not using unambiguous terminology. (Which is not to imply that you're being ambiguous.)

 

In this case, "rubbing alcohol" is not strictly limited to refer to an isopropanol/water solution. Usually a 70% isopropyl alcohol/water solution, but not always. It can also label a denatured ethanol/water solution, and here we begin to slip into a possibly iffy realm since (per Wikipedia, you've been warned):

 

"To prevent against alcohol abuse in the United States, all preparations classified as Rubbing Alcohols (defined as those containing ethanol) must have poisonous additives to limit human consumption in accordance with the requirements of the US Treasury Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, using Formula 23-H (8 parts by volume of acetone, 1.5 parts by volume of methyl isobutyl ketone, and 100 parts by volume of ethyl alcohol). It contains 87.5–91% by volume of absolute ethyl alcohol. The rest consists of water and the denaturants, with or without color additives, and perfume oils. Rubbing alcohol contains in each 100 ml more than 355 mg of sucrose octaacetate or more than 1.40 mg of denatonium benzoate. The preparation may be colored with one or more color additives. A suitable stabilizer may also be added."

 

The "Formula 23-H" denaturant would be the culprit. Now, I don't recall ever seeing "rubbing alcohol" made with ethanol in the U.S., perhaps it's more common elsewhere.

 

But that may be the skunk hiding in the bushes here, and Twsbi is just being extra cautious.








Sponsored Content




|