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Ebonite Vs Plastic Feeds


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Very new to this forum, so forgive me if this question has been asked before. I have a few questions regarding "feeds". Are ebonite feeds better than plastic? I have several Jinhao pens that have plastic feeds. Are there ebonite feeds available to replace the plastic ones in the Jinhao(159, 450, 750) and Keigelu (316)? Thank you for your help...

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Technically speaking, ebonite is a plastics material, but here we mean injection moulded thermoplastics by the word "plastic". Ebonite feeds can be fine tuned - by heat-setting - to match the nib it's fitted with, to give intimate contact between them to ensure proper ink supply to the nib slit. By contrast, injection moulded plastics cannot be deformed by heat, so the nib has to be accurately and consistently made to be sure that proper contact is achieved.


If you are going to change nibs from one brand to another, an ebonite feed would be a better idea, for obvious reasons. But most C/C pens require the feed to have a thin "tail" that fits in the cylindrical "plug" at the end which pierces through the cartridge, or mates with the socket of the converter. In that sense, replacement might not be a good idea, even if a suitably sized ebonite feed can be found.

No, I am not going to list my pens here.

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There has been a lot of debate about this in other parts of FPN. A quick summary is that ebonite is more traditional, but thermoplastics can be made in much more complex (and presumably, useful) shapes. Some people feel that the way ink behaves on the surface of ebonite makes it a superior material for feeds. Others argue that minor chemical additions to plastics, which the mainstream pen makers learned to do years ago, can make ink behave just as well on a plastic feed.

My uninformed opinion is that with modern plastic feeds, there is no advantage to ebonite. The difference between a poorly-manufactured and a precision-manufactured feed is much greater than the difference in materials, I think. And the difference between a feed that has been flushed to remove manufacturing residues and one that has not, or that has residual dried ink on it, is much larger than any difference caused by materials.

Having written that, I understand there are some examples of early plastic feeds that were so hydrophobic (that is, the surface of the plastic caused ink to bead up instead of flowing by) that you simply could not get ink through them reliably. I don't believe I have encountered one of these myself.


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