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Which is right?
“The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with.”Marty Feldman
The Young Frankenstein actor
was joking at the time,
but both sides of Feldman’s argument have gained in meaning as digital devices have encroached on our lifestyles and instinctive habits.There are moments when any pen will do, but at other times, the type of instrument we choose can have a bearing on how we feel and the work we perform.
Navigating the many different types of pens is not easy, so it’s worth taking a look at the technical and functional advantages of each.
Understanding these differences helps to make a conscious, more considered choice.
Faithful everyday ally
Without doubt, ballpoint pens are the most prevalent type of pen on the market. Also known as biros (named after inventor, László Bíró), ballpoints use a dense, oil-based ink that lasts a very long time: pick up a ballpoint pen after years without use, and chances are that fluid writing will soon resume.
How do ballpoint pens work? Ink is stored as a thick, viscous paste, which thins when exposed to the friction of the ball’s rotation. This same ball transfers the ink onto paper, which dries on contact with low bleedthrough. As the most economical option, ballpoint pens are especially suited to everyday use, or for large writing assignments on a wide range of papers. Ballpoints require no special maintenance regime.
Fluid and decisive
The rollerball pen is a variation on the ballpoint pen: also using a revolving ball to transfer the ink to paper, but with liquid inks based on water or gel. These types of ink are more easily absorbed by paper, making it easier to achieve even, continuous strokes with low writing pressure.
Rollerballs with regular cone tips tend to preserve the ball better, while needlepoint rollerballs use an extended cylinder to reduce friction. Always remember to keep a rollerball capped, because its ink can evaporate quickly. Rollerball pens are easy to recharge, but are more expensive than ballpoint pens.
Now we come to the queen of writing instruments: the fountain pen, with its incisive strokes and fluid action. Liquid ink wets the nib using a highly efficient distribution that relies on gravity and capillary action. The wetness of fountain pens means that ink dries more slowly on the page, making them preferable for use on absorbent and thick surfaces.
Fountain pens need regular care, especially when they are not used over long periods: ink inside the pen can dry and cause irreparable damage if left unchecked. A trick for getting the best from a fountain pen is to use it at a low angle – just enough to be able to smear the surface of the paper with the underside of the tip. It is not necessary to hold the pen vertically: the weight of the pen alone is sufficient to ensure a sufficient amount of ink flow.
Choosing the right pen
Selecting from these three different types of pens depends on several factors. Before anything else, it is necessary to consider whether it a pen is required for personal use, or as a gift. In the case of the latter, the significance of the gifting occasion is important to bear in mind. For special events, the prestige of fountain pens makes them an automatic choice. Fountain pens have mechanical complexity and aficionado appeal, and their value can run into the thousands. But beware: a fountain pen is also a responsibility. To keep them working at their best, it is important to know how to appreciate and take care of them.
If, on the other hand, a pen is for personal use, it is important to consider the required application and one’s readiness to look after it. For daily writing and intensive tasks, ballpoint pens offer speed, reliability and ease of use. Rollerball pens can be more comfortable over longer periods, and are also recommended for more decorative work – especially on smooth papers. Fountain pens offer the greatest scope for artistic expression, with a feedback that gives an acute sense of interacting with the page.
Montegrappa is Italy’s longest-standing fountain pen manufacturer, but its traditions of high-calibre engineering and Italian handcraft extend to all pen types. Most of the prestige maker’s models include options across all writing modes, with shared characteristics of weight, balance and beauty.
Knowing that every pen type has its own strengths led Montegrappa to create its unique Configurator service.
This online custom-design platform makes it possible to create all types of pens, and focus instead on the aspects that make it uniquely yours.
Colours, materials, detailing and engraving options can all be set from a single design dashboard, and the decision to choose ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen can be settled with just one click.
The elegance and refinement of fountain pens, the boldness and comfort of rollerballs, or the speed and ease of ballpoints. Which pen are you?
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