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Why do people use Ballpoint pens ?

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189 replies to this topic

#181 Paulagh


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Posted 18 December 2017 - 15:20


My children and grandchildren rarely write anything though, except my daughter who also journals sometimes.  Everything is typed on their phones!  So for them, the debate is more - digital or pen, not even which type of pen!


Don't give up on the grandkids yet!  I have two teen daughters, constantly on phone, ipad (their schools have provided ipads since the elementary years, and everything is on them - I guess we finally solved the problem of kids' backs getting messed up by huge, heavy backpacks, because they don't haul books anymore) or occasionally laptop.  However, my 8th-grader has decided that she likes the feel and experience of writing by hand and has been admiring my paper & pen collection, so I'm getting her a couple of notebooks with quality paper (a Clairefontaine and a Rhodia) and a colorful set of inexpensive (Platinum Preppy) fountain pens.  With any luck, there is hope for the next generations! 

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#182 bluebellrose


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Posted 03 January 2018 - 20:30

Actually, I found fountain pens work much better on receipts than anything else I've tried on that thermal paper, especially those Bic Round Stics they often have up for use that never seem to work. However, when I hand the clerk the receipt after I sign it, I tend to protect the signature by handing her the other end. Sometimes I'll tell her that the ink is wet. Since the paper is so slick, a roller ball doesn't roll too well across the paper, so no ink is placed.
The main advantage of ballpoints is they are cheap and disposable. I think the luxury ballpoint market developed because the ballpoint was so familiar to many and as always people try to fit something so functional in a much nicer shell, much akin to putting a cheap Clic Stic core in a New Orleans Saints logoed body. Instead, if most went through the effort of trying to learn to use a fountain pen properly, I think we would see many more in popular culture.

I've gravitated towards a uni ball signo for signing purposes. Bulletproof and idiots can use it easily. For accepting cashback lol. I may invest in something like the pilot v7 cartridge system and refill with a syringe. If the rollerball tip dies me or the pen breaks off it goes to the staples recycling bin. I just dumped some dead pens at staples when I went there to buy Parker quink

#183 leewm



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Posted 04 January 2018 - 12:04

I may invest in something like the pilot v7 cartridge system and refill with a syringe. If the rollerball tip dies me or the pen breaks off it goes to the staples recycling bin. I just dumped some dead pens at staples

no need to throw pen away.

in aliexpress u can buy replacement nib and feed, wrap some tape around it and fit it into pen body. u then hv a brand new fountain pen. it costs just a few cents.

pls see youtube search for replace nib varsity

#184 MYU


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Posted 04 January 2018 - 15:33


Exactly!  Writing under ideal, or even good, conditions, a fountain pen is better.  But we don't always get ideal conditions.  And for a quick signature, or jotting down a word or two, you don't have that much time to think about the difference anyway.


My always with me ballpoint is a Fisher bullet Space Pen, and I usually have a mechanical pencil, too.  One thing I've noticed in about seven years of using fountain pens is that they have taught me to use ballpoints more effectively.  I don't press as hard with ballpoints as I used to, and have found that I usually don't need to.


Still, I probably lend my ballpoints to others more often than I use them myself.


The Fisher Space Pen pressurized refills are brilliantly designed.  I've yet to find one prematurely stop working.  The thing I have no patience for are the old style ballpoints with very thick viscous ink inside the tube/reservoir, as they very often experience ink separation.  You look at the translucent tube and see plenty of ink, but when you go to write with it there's nothing coming out, or lots of skipping.  I've even had those wide metal Parker ballpoint refills stop writing when they hardly saw much mileage.  I once experimented to see if I could salvage it by two methods:  1) attaching the refill to a string and whipping it around forcefully, using inertia from centrifugal force to try moving the ink forward to the tip, and 2) heating up the refill in hopes of re-flowing the ink into one contiguous pool.  Neither methods worked for very long.


The only real solution to the ballpoint ink flow problem is to simply use a more modern ink.  Some "capless" ballpoint inks have come a long way.  They have these "hybrid" type ink formulations now that are somewhere between the easy flow of a true gel ink and the thick viscosity of old style ballpoint ink.  While Pilot G2 is labeled as "gel", it's thicker than the typical gel inks and does a great job of not separating.  I've also discovered Pentel makes some terrific new inks as well, like the EnerGel.  But I do find it best to use those with capped pens, which extends the lifespan.  These inks do write well on a number of paper surfaces.

Edited by MYU, 04 January 2018 - 15:50.

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#185 Orange25


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Posted 11 January 2018 - 17:54

I think a lot of it comes down to ease.  For most people, a ballpoint pen is familiar and easier to use.  


The ink lasts a long time, no risk of spillages, no inky fingers, no risk of leaking, disposable (for the cheaper pens), no risk of smudging, no feathering or bleedthrough (except for some ink ballpoints) - it fits in better with how most people see writing. 


For most, it's not a hobby - it's something functional for work and/or study, usually because they don't have something cheaper and/or more convenient to hand.  An easy to use, cheap (though not always cheaper) disposable instrument for writing is perfectly fine for most.

#186 MYU


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Posted 12 January 2018 - 05:07

I have to believe that the highest consideration is maintenance.  Most people want maintenance free performance.  You're not going to get that from a fountain pen... although some are well designed enough not to dry out quickly and as long as you keep them in action, they don't dry out (plus refilling is easy).  It's when you set that fountain pen down and forget it for a month or two... then you've got the dried ink in the feed headache.  But clearly the fountain pens always had that fine writing experience over ballpoints.  No need for heavy pressure to get the ink out.  And while gel pens initially solved that, they didn't do it all that well and would blob, bleed, skip, dry out, etc. 


The big thing now is the new formulations that perform so beautifully... write with effortless liquid, while not drying/clogging out so easily.  Plus they can usually take to papers that would trouble a fountain pen.  I think this new ink technology is another challenge for the fountain pen market.  Some people may switch over if the convenience and performance becomes attractive enough.


I won't give up my fountain pens just yet.  I'm also sold on the "vendor independence" aspect... You aren't dependent upon proprietary refills!  ;)

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#187 Mike 59

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:05

Hi, I've tried many of the latest types of inks and pens, the quality is usually good, but the gel pens vary greatly.

  The gel ink is used up so quickly, and I've had several where the ball 'bearing' seems to catch in a certain place as it turns, then it skips. In the UK we seem to only be offered medium or 0.7mm, which is touch too wide for me, the high street shops don't appear to know there are other widths made, in my opinion the 0.5mm should be the default rather than 0.7.

  With the hybrid inks, Uni Jetstream, Pilot Acroball etc, these are so much better than the 'old' style ballpoints, it's just progress of the ink technology, and the makers trying different formulations, so that the 'old' types of ballpoint, as I used at school, (70s) are poor by comparison, but that's to be expected,

 Strangely, in the era of phones and touch screens, I see more pens in the shops than ever, more types of pen and more ink colours.  If you like to to buy online the choice is vast, spoilt for choice !

Edited by Mike 59, 12 January 2018 - 10:33.

#188 Fuellerfuehrerschein



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Posted 12 January 2018 - 16:50

I keep a Chinese stainless steel ballpoint in my coat for writing in inconvenient situations.




The Jinhao 182 is an affordable Waterman Expert series inspired twist action pen.




Its larger than average size and heft make it write tolerable for me and people generally like it when I loan it to them.

#189 Aquaria


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Posted 18 January 2018 - 13:18


If your hand is getting tired because you're applying pressure to write, then something else is wrong. Modern gels and rollerball pens take almost no pressure to write. Ballpoints with hybrid ink are the same. The weight of the pen itself should be sufficient to write.


Perhaps the way you hold your pen is incompatible with the balance of your pen?




My hand doesn't get tired. My thumb becomes wracked with pain. Big difference.


I did say I had a hand injury. Specifically, I broke my thumb in multiple places. The reality is that even when broken bones heal, they're not the same after that kind of injury, they will never be the same again, and no amount of physical therapy fixes it. It's not like my thumb is useless now. It does nearly everything it should. Prolonged writing with a BP is not one of those things, though.


Same thing with my voice after thyroid surgery. While I could talk again like usual (and as much as usual!), I lost my singing voice (especially all of my high range and nearly all mixed registers), and it's unlikely that I'll get it back. But it was get the thyroid surgery or die. I chose to live, and take my chances with my singing voice. It didn't work out as I'd hoped, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.


Even Signos and Jetstreams don't write as smoothly as FPs, because they still require friction to write, to get that little ball inside rolling, and it is the friction that creates the pressure that makes writing with those pens difficult to impossible for people like me. You still have to bear down to get them to go, even if it's only slightly in comparison to "normal" ballpoints. Yes, I can write longer with a Jetstream--but only longer relative to traditional BP pens. It's still not as long as I can write with an FP. So maybe I can handle one college class with a Jetstream, but the second class after it? Not happening.


Until you've had a hand injury like mine, you can't begin to comprehend how even the slightest pressure like that can create excruciating pain--or how quickly it can happen.


That's why I use FPs for classes now, whenever possible.

Edited by Aquaria, 18 January 2018 - 13:25.

#190 flatline



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Posted 19 January 2018 - 01:18

Ah. I'm glad you have found writing instruments that work for you. Sorry about your hand.



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