The fountain pen vs ballpoint pen debate has been around for quite some time, and it is still being discussed today. So what is truly better to write with: fountain pens or ballpoint pens? If you’re spending a significant amount of money on your writing instruments, then you would want to know which is the better pen to invest in.
Here, we’ll cover some of the main differences between the two and compare them to see which pen reigns supreme.
Fountain pen vs. Ballpoint pen: What is the difference?
The ink is the first significant distinction between the two. Ballpoint pens (also called biros) have thicker ink that dries considerably more slowly over time. A tiny ball in a socket at the nib of the ballpoint pen is responsible for putting ink on paper and other surfaces. Ink is forced onto the ball from the reservoir (which is usually a plastic cartridge) using gravity.
The ink used in fountain pens is liquid-based and takes longer to dry, but it also makes the pen easier to write with. The fountain pen’s design is also quite different. It has a nib that is divided into two tines rather than a ball in a socket. A collector that is attached to the feed sits on top of the nib. The reservoir, usually a fountain pen ink cartridge, is attached to the feed. Similar to the biro, gravity causes the ink to flow through the pen and into the feed and down to the nib.
Compared to fountain pens, ballpoint pens can write on more surfaces. This is a result of the construction of a fountain pen. The fountain pen's tines will become damaged on rough surfaces. Furthermore, ballpoint pens can draw lines in any direction. Fountain pens are limited in this aspect as incorrect use of the nib may damage it.
Comparing the two
There are various aspects of the two pens that can be compared when trying to answer the question of which one is better. Here are some things to consider if you’re choosing between either of these types of pens:
Ballpoint pen ink is thick and oil-based, so it doesn't flow as well as fountain pen ink does. Writing with fountain pens causes less surface tension since the ink flows more freely and effortlessly. Because of the way they are designed, fountain pens can be used with a light touch on paper and still have ink flow through the tines. For the ink to flow from a ballpoint, additional downward pressure is required, which can give it a scratchier or rougher feel when writing.
A ballpoint pen carries enough ink to write a continuous line that is four to five kilometers long, whereas a fountain pen cartridge would give you about seven to fifteen pages of writing. The ballpoint pen is clearly superior in this aspect.
Ink color and variety
Fountain pens lay down more ink on a page compared to ballpoint pens. As a result, their lines are more saturated and vibrant. Fountain pen manufacturers also produce more ink colors that are richer, with a greater variety of textures and finishes. It would be difficult to achieve the depth of a fountain pen with your typical biro.
A fountain pen requires less pressure to use since the ink flows more freely through it. On the other hand, using a ballpoint pen for an extended period of time will be more uncomfortable since you have to write harder to dispense more ink.
Ballpoint pens are undeniably more practical than fountain pens since they can write on various surfaces, have ink cartridges that last for years, and are less likely to leak.
The Bottom Line
Based on our criteria listed above, the fountain pen inches ahead and comes out to be the better pen in terms of smoothness, color, variety, and comfort. However, if ink capacity and convenience are more important to you, then it would be better to go with a ballpoint pen — you can try models from brands like LAMY, Parker, and Waterman.
There isn’t a clear-cut winner here; it all depends on your needs. Knowing more about the history of these writing instruments, including who invented fountain and ballpoint pens, may help you make your decision.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting