Part 1 making a pen series. Choices.

Part 1 making a pen series. Choices.

Before you ever begin to make a pen there are several decisions to be made, unless you know what you plan to make before you start. If not, then your first choice will be what type of pen will you make? You have three basic choices:

  1. Fountain Pen
  2. Rollerball Pen
  3. Ballpoint Pen

Each of these three basic pen type choices can and will lead to other choices as you go. Let’s start with a ballpoint pen, since they are the most widely used type of pen on the planet. At one time or another almost every one of the roughly 8 billion people on the planet have used or will use a ballpoint pen. So, if you are planning on making many or just one pen a ballpoint is a good choice. Now that you have chosen to make a ballpoint pen your next choice is a simple one, it’s about function.

For any pen to write, the ink must flow to the nib or the point. If the nib is left exposed to the air it picks up dirt and dust and the quality of writing diminishes. Also, if the nib is left exposed to the air the ink in the well or refill will dry out eventually. You can’t write anything with dry ink. So, the best way to keep the point clean and slow the drying out process is to not expose the nib until ready for use. In fountain and rollerball pens this is usually done with a cap. Where the nib is only exposed when the cap is removed. In ballpoint pens, generally, there is no cap so the nib must be exposed in another way, but how? In a ball point pen the ink reservoir with the nib attached, called the refill, has two positions in the pen. The storage position, where the nib is covered, and the writing position where the nib is exposed. So how do you move the refill from the storage position to the writing position?

The same way you would get a car to move, with a transmission. Just like in a car where the engine provides the power, but the transmission, along with the drive train, transfers that power into motion. In a pen you are the engine providing the power, and the transmission transfers that power into movement of the nib from a storage position to the writing position.

In the ballpoint pen world, there are two primary types of pen transmissions. There is the twist type, it operates with a twist of part of the pen to move the refill into the writing position. The other is the click type that operates with a press of a plunger of some kind to move the refill forward. There is also a bolt action but really, it’s just a modified click type transmission. For ballpoint pens these two transmissions I call functions.  Both functions work well, and both work with one hand. There are a plethora of component sets available in each function, for this blog we will pick the twist type function.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.