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Pen And Nib Performance

nibs pelikan pilot sailor

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#1 essayfaire

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 21:23

In general, I am partial to Japanese pens, and most of my pens are EF or F nibs.  I have a new Pelikan EF which is broader than my Japanese pens (.4 mm versus .3) but I love the ink flow.  The nib is so smooth! I don't know if the pen performs as it does because of nib-tuning or the size - I know that it is a bit wet for doing a crossword puzzle.  Does anyone have suggestions on equally smooth performing pens that produce narrower lines?


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#2 A Smug Dill

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 01:30

I think you may be conflating a number of things there:
  • physical mechanics: ink flow (as rate of delivery through the feed and nib), or perhaps the actual amount/volume of ink laid down on the page per unit length of a pen stroke
  • user experience: smoothness, as a sensation experienced by the user when putting pen to paper
  • practical outcome: line width, as it appears on the page
A nib with highly polished tipping may deliver a smooth writing experience but still have relatively 'dry' ink flow.
A nib that offers a small contact surface area between its tipping and the page -- and is therefore a 'fine' nib -- could leave wider lines because of ink spread after it has been laid on the paper that is (somewhat or very) absorbent, especially when a larger volume of ink is deposited.
A 'wetter' ink increases ink flow from nib to paper, all else being equal.

Personally I'd be looking at changing the ink and the paper first, if I'm not getting the practical outcome I want, but already happy with the user experience of the pen(s) I have.

I'm a fountain pen enthusiast, but not your consultant (as a fellow consumer) to advise on getting better value-for-money from your discretionary spending or protecting your investment in the hobby. I like to share the particularly meritorious or disappointing traits of products I've used, through product reviews and replies to others' posts, but please don't expect (or ask) me to frame things specifically in terms of how it would apply to your choice of pens, inks and paper products, or satisfy your preferences for shading, sheen, wet, broad, cheap, et cetera.


#3 essayfaire

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 15:33

I think you may be conflating a number of things there:

  • physical mechanics: ink flow (as rate of delivery through the feed and nib), or perhaps the actual amount/volume of ink laid down on the page per unit length of a pen stroke
  • user experience: smoothness, as a sensation experienced by the user when putting pen to paper
  • practical outcome: line width, as it appears on the page
A nib with highly polished tipping may deliver a smooth writing experience but still have relatively 'dry' ink flow.
A nib that offers a small contact surface area between its tipping and the page -- and is therefore a 'fine' nib -- could leave wider lines because of ink spread after it has been laid on the paper that is (somewhat or very) absorbent, especially when a larger volume of ink is deposited.
A 'wetter' ink increases ink flow from nib to paper, all else being equal.

Personally I'd be looking at changing the ink and the paper first, if I'm not getting the practical outcome I want, but already happy with the user experience of the pen(s) I have.

 

The interesting thing here is that my paper is good - I have some medium nib less expensive pens that leave a fair amount of ink but, as you pointed out above, leave something to be desired in terms of user experience.  I always try out new pens on brown paper shopping bags as I do the first fill and then my bullet journal. 

 

That ink flow and smoothness may actually be two separate things hadn't occurred to me.

 

Thank you for your always knowledgable answers!

 

Your answer makes me wonder if it is the degree of polishing that is responsible for the different experience in ink flow; I was surprised that a steel nib would feel smoother than my gold nib pens.  My Sailor has always been more "toothsome" than my Pilots, which is why I use it for some tasks but not others.


“It's bad enough wasting time without killing it.”
Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth


#4 sirgilbert357

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 16:44

The interesting thing here is that my paper is good - I have some medium nib less expensive pens that leave a fair amount of ink but, as you pointed out above, leave something to be desired in terms of user experience.  I always try out new pens on brown paper shopping bags as I do the first fill and then my bullet journal. 

 

That ink flow and smoothness may actually be two separate things hadn't occurred to me.

 

Thank you for your always knowledgable answers!

 

Your answer makes me wonder if it is the degree of polishing that is responsible for the different experience in ink flow; I was surprised that a steel nib would feel smoother than my gold nib pens.  My Sailor has always been more "toothsome" than my Pilots, which is why I use it for some tasks but not others.

 

 

You aren't writing with gold though...you are writing with the tipping material of the nib, which is a much harder metal. Steel nibs and gold nibs alike can both be tipped with hard tipping material. I say "can be" because there are some steel nibs that aren't tipped. I know of no gold nibs that are untipped though. The smoothness you perceive is influenced by a myriad of factors, one of which can be how the tipping is shaped and polished.

 

Edit: also, assuming the nib tines are aligned and there are no other issues causing the feedback you perceive, a nib can easily be polished to result in a smoother feel on paper with less of that feedback you seemed to describe as "toothsome". You should practice on cheap pens first that you wouldn't mind screwing up, but a few figure 8's on a sheet of Micromesh is usually all it takes to smooth things out if all you need to do is change the level of "polishing". You can check out Goulet Pens' website for nib tuning supplies...


Edited by sirgilbert357, 07 June 2019 - 16:50.






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