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What makes a flex nib "good"?



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  • antoniosz

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Johnny Appleseed
Pardon 1-2 typos (it seems that I can not avoid them ) but I think the message is clear.

 

Well, just hit the edit button and go back and fix them :lol: :lol:

 

Seriously, I am a bit of a newby to flex nibs, but what you say rings absolutely true. I have had to sample about 20 flex nibs now to know what really works. It isn't always the most flexy - but these factors that you cite here. I will have to post some of my best.

 

John

So if you have a lot of ink,

You should get a Yink, I think.

 

- Dr Suess

 

Always looking for pens by Baird-North, Charles Ingersoll, and nibs marked "CHI"

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In addition to what you have written, I think a good flex nib should have:

 

1. A linear relationship between force, and displacement of the tines, (that is both lateral and vertical displacement)

 

2. A high ratio of lateral to vertical displacement. A small vertical displacement of the tines, should be associated with a large lateral displacement of the tines.

 

(A typical modern 18K nib has a low lateral to vertical displacement ratio.

A large vertical displacement is associated with a small lateral displacement.)

 

3. A maximum of 58.5% gold.

Edited by Blorgy
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1. A linear relationship between force, and displacement of the tines, (that is both lateral and vertical displacement)

Although I believe that in the everwhelming majority of the cases this will be the case for all nibs flex or not, I can not see the reason that non-linearity would be a problem.

 

2. A high ratio of lateral to vertical displacement.  A small vertical displacement of the tines, should be associated with a large lateral displacement of the tines.

(A typical modern 18K nib has a low lateral to vertical displacement ratio. 

A large vertical displacement is associated with a small lateral displacement.)

Excellent point! I have a pen like this, and although one might enjoy writing regularly with it, having a large vertical displacement with moderate tine opening makes control difficult (I do not "know" when to stop pressing). I am not ready to proclaim that a small ratio of vertical deflection to tine opening is optimum but I am convinced that if it is large it makes achieving line width variation difficult. Thanks for bringing up this excellent point.

 

One note on your comment about soft 18K modern nibs. The ratio of vertical deflection to tine opening is defined by the nib geometry (not by the material).

 

3. A maximum of 58.5% gold.

 

Yes, 14K appears to be better than 18K although I am not convinced that we have examined all possible alloys to find the optimum. Because of this I am not ready to claimg that 14K is optimum (it could be 15K but with some "special" alloying addition.

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One note on your comment about soft 18K modern nibs.  The ratio of vertical deflection to tine opening is defined by the nib geometry (not by the material).

I understand that the ratio of vertical deflection to tine opening is defined by the nib geometry.

 

Another idea I had was that a cross section, across the shoulders of a flexible nib, should be semicircular.

 

Instead of being semicircular across the shoulders, modern nibs are generally flatter and wider there. Modern nibs usually have a large radius of curvature across the shoulders. My guess is that flattening the nib (across the shoulders), reduces the ratio of tine opening to vertical deflection.

Edited by Blorgy
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Another idea I had was that a cross section, across the shoulders of a flexible nib, should be semicircular.

 

Instead of being semicircular across the shoulders, modern nibs are generally flatter and wider there. Modern nibs usually have a large radius of curvature across the shoulders. My guess is that flattening the nib (across the shoulders), reduces the ratio of tine opening to vertical deflection.

Yes, the curvature plays a role. More curved more flex. Richard once mentioned the following experiment. Take a cardboard and cut it into a nib shape. Try to flex it flat and "rolled" to see the difference.

 

Blorgy, you might enjoy to read this old post and the discussion in that thread.

Edited by antoniosz
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Antonios,

 

Very nice primer on this topic. You capture a lot of key aspects of flex which the average FP user is not aware of.

 

BTW, do I owe you a snail?

 

Regards - Kirk

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Another idea I had was that a cross section, across the shoulders of a flexible nib, should be semicircular.

 

Instead of being semicircular across the shoulders, modern nibs are generally flatter and wider there. Modern nibs usually have a large radius of curvature across the shoulders. My guess is that flattening the nib (across the shoulders), reduces the ratio of tine opening to vertical deflection.

Yes, the curvature plays a role. More curved more flex. Richard once mentioned the following experiment. Take a cardboard and cut it into a nib shape. Try to flex it flat and "rolled" to see the difference.

 

Thank you, Antonios. I shall read the thread you suggested. I made a mistake when I wrote "semicircular". (None of my flexible nibs are semicircular.) I realized today that "semicircular" was at best, an exaggeration.

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  • 2 years later...

This is quite helpful. Thank you very much for posting all the information!

May you have pens you enjoy, with plenty of paper and ink. :)

Please use only my FPN name "Gran" in your posts. Thanks very much!

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  • 5 months later...

I think this article has to be highlighted. It says clearly something I had difficulty to explain.

 

Thank you Antoniosz.

Pens I use very often: Lamy Accent ("EF": fine), Lamy Accent ("1.1": medium italic), Pilot Custom ("FA": extra-fine flexible).

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Thanks for the info. Good pointers to look out for when I eventually treat myself to my first ever FP (since schooldays).

I'm a complete novice regards FP's but this post explains a lot re: flex nib and requirements. I want a pen that will write

nice copperplate so 'flex nib' it has to be.

Marie

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Just a small point...Maximum, easy flexibility isn't always necessarily a good thing. You occasionally see adverts for flex nibs which are "ideal for Spencerian and Copperplate writing" I believe that this is wrong. Spencerian script, with it's dramatic ever-changing swelled strokes requires a nib which flexes easily and to a considerable width. This same nib is probably unsuited to Copperplate or Engraver's script which doesn't need to flex as much but requires great control to produce consistent, parallel downstrokes. This isn't to say that one is more difficult than the other...they are just different. Trying to write Copperplate with an very flexible nib, can be difficult to control whereas a fractionally, stiffer nib whilst ideal for Copperplate, cannot produce the swelled strokes which are an essential aspect of Spencerian......just my opinion.

 

Edit

I've just discovered an IAMPETH articltle by Bob Hurford which supports the above viewpoint . He writes -

"The type of script one writes is also of paramount importance. Those who prefer ornamental script (artistic writing) generally want a nib that is fine and quite flexible for a good "belly" on the capital stem with thick, dramatic flourishes. Copperplate writers might seek a less flexible point that provides a good, even shade".

Edited by caliken
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Excellent point regarding the difference between hands with different width variations. Thanks!

My thoughts were biased from my Copperplatish hand and my pressumption that the majority of FPN readers would mostly be interested in it.

 

BTW, it is nice to see these early posts ressurected.

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BTW, it is nice to see these early posts ressurected.

I agree with you concerning old posts. Unlike many forums, there is very little here that goes out of date, and the information is just as valuable now as it was when first written two or three years ago. This topic is a perfect example. I'm constantly learning new things from old threads!

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BTW, it is nice to see these early posts ressurected.

I agree with you concerning old posts. Unlike many forums, there is very little here that goes out of date, and the information is just as valuable now as it was when first written two or three years ago. This topic is a perfect example. I'm constantly learning new things from old threads!

 

It's all new to me, and I could spend all day here just reading back! (Plus downloading various guidelines, hehe.)

 

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge!

http://pics.livejournal.com/shuju_the_red/pic/0001f13z/s320x240   "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most."
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  • 1 year later...

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