So whats the deal Ian, why are we talking about rollerballs? Ill get there...
TLDR: I made a new tip for my Pocket Six that turns it into a roller ball pen!
------- lets dive in------
A fountain pen has a metal "nib", a feed for managing ink flow and then the ink cartridge (with liquid ink!). This can be seen in the Pocket Six I introduced last year.
A ballpoint pen has a rolling ball in its tip, a sealed cartridge and is disposable when the ink runs out, swapping for a new "refill" like my Classic Machined Pens that use the fisher space pen cartridges.
A rollerball has a rolling tip similar to a ballpoint, but like my fountain pen, uses a liquid ink cartridge and the tip is not disposable each time you refill the pen.
So whats the deal, why make all 3? Well, the ballpoints are no fuss, robust and super utilitarian. I love them for every day carry pens.
The fountain pens are just so fun to make and really are just a pleasure to write with. Less practical that a ballpoint since the liquid inks take longer to dry and they cant write on all surfaces as well, but bring me and many others joy when writing with them. A luxury and a way to spice up a normally mundane writing task. I have fallen deep in love with fountain pens and I didn't see it coming!
The roller ball is smack dab in the middle! It is a free flowing "wet" tipped pen like a fountain pen, but less tricky to use than a fountain pen. It uses the liquid ink, but is less fuss than a fountain pen. If you are interested in a wet pen that takes short international fountain pen ink cartridges, this is for you! Or maybe you want one of my fountain pen designs, but with a ballpoint writing experience? yeah, this will do that!
I have an early pen sketch in a notebook from 2010 and under it I wrote the words “modular design”. As a budding engineer I wanted product flexibility that allowed people to have their cake and eat it too, but as a designer I wanted a minimal simple aesthetic. These tensions are not easy to manage and at some point you need to make a decision and just make something. Recently I realized that the Pocket Six Fountain Pen offers flexibility in its part architecture (due to its size and the way I designer it) and now that I own my machines I can finally push on the “modular” piece of the puzzle a little more by setting aside time to machine new stuff and experiment! Only 10 years since that original sketch, not bad... These grip sections and roller ball tips use the same liquid ink cartridges as the fountain pen and have a very similar feel to a fountain pen in a surprisingly satisfying way. A neat alternative for non fountain users who want to dip their toes into the fountain pen lifestyle a little by using liquid ink cartridges. Or maybe for the ballpoint pen person who wants one of my colorful pocket six designs but with a ballpoint instead of nib!