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Parker Pen Story
Ballpoint Pens Work
History of the Ballpoint
How Pencil made
Proverbs of Pen
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Proverbs of Pen
The pen is mightier than the sword.
No more sword to be feared than the learned pen.
When writing about women, one must dip one's pen in a rainbow.
Misunderstandings are best prevented by pen and ink.
A pen often reaches further than a sword.
The pen of the tongue should be dipped in the ink of the heart.
The pencil of God has no eraser.
Pen and ink is wit's plough.----unknown
The pen is the tongue of the mind.
The pen can kill a man.
--so use your pen correctly
There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does
not know till he takes up a pen to write.
----William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist(1811-1863).
Nothing weighs less than a pen and nothing gives as much as a
The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own
----Irene C. Kassorla
A good handwrite never chooses his pen. English counterpart:
"A bad workman complains of his tools".
A pen and a drop of ink/Makes the whole world think
---ancient Persian saying
As much as a pen knows.
what it's writing, or the ball can guess where it's going next.
Students today depend too much upon ink. They don't know how to
use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never
replace the pencil.
----- National Association of Teachers, 1907
A formal manipulator in mathematics often experiences the
discomforting feeling that his pencil surpasses him in
----Howard W. Eves
pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.
To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the
pencil, you're overdoing it.
----John Greenleaf Whittier
For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these:
'It might have been.
Man's wisdom is at the tip of his pen his intelligence is in
his writing. His pen can raise a man to the rank of a king.
The idea is to get the pencil moving quickly.
---- Bernard Malamud
Point your pencil. Put your idea into practice.
How Ballpoint Pens Work
In this electronic age of
voice mail, e-mail and cell phones, there is still no substitute for pen
and paper. Even as you browse the Web, you probably have a pen within
easy reach to jot down notes, scribble phone numbers, or even to doodle!
Modern ballpoint pens are so inexpensive that we don't even think about
them anymore -- you might have a cup on your desk that contains a dozen
or so different pens that have wandered in from who knows where!
Have you ever held a ballpoint pen and wondered how it works? Why
doesn't all the ink come flowing out? In this page of pen, we will
introduce the history and technology behind these popular writing
instruments so that you can understand them completely!
A pen is a tool used for
writing or drawing with a colored fluid, such as ink. A ballpoint pen is a pen
that uses a small rotating ball made of brass, steel or tungsten carbide to
disperse ink as you write. It is very different than its pen predecessors -- the
reed pen, quill pen, metal nib pen, and fountain pen.
All of the pens that preceded the ballpoint used a watery, dark India ink that
fed through the pen using capillary action. The problems with this technology
are well-known. For example:
The ink can flow unevenly.
The ink is slow to dry. The ink is exposed to the air while
it is flowing through the pen, so it cannot dry quickly or it would clog the
When it does accidentally dry in the pen, the ink gums the
whole thing up and requires meticulous cleaning.
When you add to this list the fact that fountain pens tend to flood when you fly
on an airplane with them, you can see that all pens up until World War II
presented some significant problems for their users -- the world awaited a
History of the Ballpoint
Hungarian journalist Laszlo
Biro was well aware of the problems with normal pens. Biro believed that the
idea of a pen using a quick-drying ink instead of India ink came to him while
visiting a newspaper. The newspaper's ink left the paper dry and smudge-free
almost immediately. Biro vowed to use a similar ink in a new type of writing
instrument. To avoid clogging his pen up with thick ink, he proposed a tiny
metal ball that rotated at the end of a tube of this quick drying ink. The ball
would have two functions:
It would act as a cap to keep the ink from drying.
It would let ink flow out of the pen at a controlled rate.
In June 1943, Biro and his brother George, a chemist, took out a new patent with
the European Patent Office and made the first commercial models, Biro pens.
Later, the British government bought the rights to the patented pens so that the
pens could be used by Royal Air Force crews. In addition to being sturdier than
conventional fountain pens, ballpoint pens wrote at high altitudes with reduced
pressure (conventional fountain pens flooded at high altitudes). Their
successful performance for the Royal Air Force brought the Biro pen into the
limelight, and during World War II the ballpoint pen was widely used by the
military because of its toughness and ability to survive the battle environment.
In the United States, the first successful, commercially produced ballpoint pen
to replace the then-common fountain pen was introduced by Milton Reynolds in
1945. It used a tiny ball that rolled heavy, gelatin-consistency ink onto the
paper. The Reynolds Pen was a primitive writing instrument marketed as "The
first pen to write underwater." Reynolds sold 10,000 of his pens when they were
first introduced. These first publicly sold pens were very expensive ($10 each),
primarily because of the new technology.
In 1945, the first inexpensive ballpoint pens were manufactured when Frenchman
Marcel Bich developed the industrial process for making the pens that lowered
the unit cost dramatically. In 1949, Bich introduced his pens in Europe. He
called the pens "BIC," a shortened, easy-to-remember version of his name. Ten
years later, BIC first sold its pens on the American market.
Consumers were reluctant to buy the BIC pens at first, as so many pens had been
introduced in the U.S. market by other manufacturers. To counter this hesitancy,
the BIC company created an exciting national television campaign to tell
consumers that this ballpoint pen "Writes First Time, Every Time!," and sold it
for only 29 cents. BIC also launched television ads that depicted its pens being
fired from a rifle, strapped to an ice skate, and even mounted on a jackhammer.
Within a year, competition forced prices down to less than 10 cents each. Today,
the BIC company manufactures millions of ballpoint pens a day!
The key to a ballpoint pen is, of course, the ball.
This ball acts as a buffer between the material you're writing on and the
quick-drying ink inside the pen. The ball rotates freely and rolls out the ink
as it is continuously fed from the ink reservoir (usually a narrow plastic tube
filled with ink).
The ball is kept in place -- between the ink reservoir and the paper -- by a
socket; and while it is in tight, it still has enough room to roll around as you
write. As the pen moves across the paper, the ball turns and gravity forces the
ink down the reservoir and onto the ball, where it is transferred onto the
paper. It's this rolling mechanism that allows the ink to flow onto the top of
the ball and roll onto the paper you're writing on, while at the same time
sealing the ink from the air so it does not dry in the reservoir.
Because the tip of a normal ballpoint pen is so tiny, it is hard to visualize
how the ball and socket actually work. One way to understand it clearly is to
look at a bottle of roll-on antiperspirant, which uses the same technology at a
much larger scale. The typical container of roll-on has the same goals a
ballpoint pen does -- it wants to keep air out of the liquid antiperspirant
while at the same time making it easy to apply. At this scale, it is easy to see
how the mechanism works.
The ball fits into the socket with just enough space to move freely. The size of
a ballpoint pen's line is determined by the width of the ballpoint. A "point
five millimeter" (0.5 mm) pen has a ball that will produce a line that is 0.5-mm
wide, and a "point seven millimeter" pen (0.7 mm) has a ball that will produce a
0.7-mm line. Ballpoints come as tiny as "point one millimeter" wide ("ultra
(View More Pictures)
Ink is a fluid or paste that comes in a variety
of colors -- usually black or dark blue -- used for writing and printing. It is
composed of a pigment or dye dissolved or dispersed in a liquid called the
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, writing inks date from about 2500 BC and
were used in hieroglyphics found in ancient Egypt and China. They consisted of
lampblack ground with a solution of glue or gums. The resulting mixture was
molded into sticks and allowed to dry. Before use, the sticks were mixed with
Various colored juices, extracts, and suspensions of substances from plants,
animals, and minerals also have been used as inks, including alizarin, indigo,
pokeberries, cochineal, and sepia. For many centuries, a mixture of a soluble
iron salt with an extract of tannin was used as a writing ink and is the basis
of modern blue-black inks.
Modern quick-drying inks usually contain three things:
The ink vehicle can be either plant-based (linseed, rosin, or wood oils), which
dries by penetration and oxidation, or solvent-based (such as kerosene), which
dries through evaporation. The vehicle is a faint bluish-black solution that is
difficult to read.
To make the writing darker and more legible, coloring ingredients (dyes) are
added. Coloring ingredients can be pigments, which are fine, solid particles
manufactured from chemicals, generally insoluble in water and only slightly
soluble in solvents; agents, made from chemicals but soluble both in water and
in solvents; or lacquers, created by fixing a coloring agent on powdered
Black, the standard ink color, is derived from an organic pigment, carbon.
Colored pigments are inorganic compounds of chromium (yellow, green, and
orange), molybdenum (orange), cadmium (red and yellow), and iron (blue).
The additives stabilize the mixture and give the ink additional desirable
characteristics. Depending on the medium that the ink is being made for (pens,
printing presses, printers) and the material to be printed, the proportions
In the case of ballpoint pen ink, the ink is very thick and quick-drying. It is
thick so that it doesn't spill out of the reservoir, but thin enough that it
responds to gravity. That is why a normal ballpoint pen cannot write
upside-down -- it needs gravity to pull the ink onto the ball.
Two of the more interesting
developments in the world of ballpoint pens include space pens and
Space Pens, or pressurized pens, are a technological novelty. Take, for example,
the Fisher Space Pen. A space pen's ink reservoir is pressurized (~40 lb/sq.
in.), and the ink is a special viscoelastic ink (like thick rubber cement). The
ballpoint must rotate in order for the thick ink to liquefy, allowing it to
write smoothly and dependably on most surfaces, even under water. Ordinary
ballpoint pens rely on gravity to feed the ink and have an opening in the top of
the ink cartridge to allow air to replace the ink as it is used. There is no
hole in space pens, eliminating evaporated or wasted ink as well as leakage from
the rear of the ink reservoir. In addition, a space pen can last up to 100
years, compared with the average two-year shelf life of a standard ballpoint
Since the 1960s, when the "Space Race" began, space pens have been used by the
U.S. astronauts on all manned space flights, including lunar trips, and were
also used by many of the Russian cosmonauts on the Soyuz space flights and the
MIR space station.
Erasable pens were tremendously popular when they were introduced in the early
1980s. They combine the readability of brightly colored or black ink with the
eraser functionality of a pencil. While the pens are still manufactured under
names like Gillette Eraser Mate, they aren't as commonly used as they were
What makes erasable ballpoint pens so different from traditional ballpoint pens
is the "ink" -- instead of being made from oils and dyes, it is made of a liquid
rubber cement. As you write, the ballpoint rolls on the paper and dispenses the
rubber cement ink (the resulting mark is known as a trace). Modern erasable pens
work by allowing a ballpoint pen to leave a definite and intense black or
colored trace which looks like an ink trace, but is capable of being easily
erased shortly after writing (usually up to 10 hours). After that time, the
trace will harden and become non-erasable.
Erasable ink generally consists of 15 percent to 45 percent (by weight) natural
rubber that is dissolved in a series of volatile organic solvents with varying
For more information, check out the next introduction.
How Pencils Are Made
The picture at left illustrates the steps involved in the manufacture of
a wood pencil.
It starts with a block of cedar (1) which is then cut into slats (2)
The slats are then stained (3) and grooves are cut into one surface (4).
Prepared leads are placed into the grooves (5) and a second slat is
placed on top and bonded with the first (6).
This 'pencil sandwich' is then passed through a milling process (7) to
separate the individual pencils (8).
The pencil is painted and finished (9 & 10), a ferrule crimped onto the
end (11), and finally, an eraser is crimped into the ferrule (12).