In this world filled with smartphones, a ballpoint pen may seem like an obsolete tool. But now and then, we still reach for a pen to fill out a form, write a list, or even journal. Ballpoint pens are still very much relevant today. You may have even wondered how they actually work, particularly the ballpoint tip that comes in contact with the paper and makes writing possible. Here, we’ll share how ballpoint pen tips are made so you can better understand and appreciate how this innovative invention changed the world.
Making ballpoint pens: The basics
Ballpoint pens are manufactured using a relatively simple process.
First, the metal ball at the pen’s tip is clamped into a chamber. Manufacturers ensure it has enough space to move freely without falling out. One end of this chamber opens into the ink reservoir, while the other reveals the metal ball.
Next, the ink reservoir is filled with an oil-based ink.
Lastly, manufacturers place a grip and barrel around the ink reservoir and the ball-and-socket mechanism.
The most demanding part of the process is creating the ballpoint tips themselves. In the past, steel was used for the sphere at the tip of the pen. Today, textured or rough tungsten carbide balls are used because they are more resistant to deforming.
These balls are molded from raw metal powder and fed into a machine, where they take the desired shape. An abrasive paste is then used to smooth the balls into perfect spheres at a high level of precision. This process is extremely stringent; if even one out of 5000 ballpoints is imperfect, then the entire batch is discarded. Excess metal that doesn’t fit into the mold is scraped off and recycled.
The part that holds the ball is made of brass, an alloy comprised of copper and zinc. Brass is also highly corrosion-resistant and easily shaped into the desired form. Apart from the tip that holds the ballpoint, it is also used for other parts of the pen, such as the ink cartridge, the body, or the spring.
High-precision pen manufacturing facilities make creating ballpoint pens an efficient and straightforward process. Different parts, including the ballpoint tips, are molded and formed into the right shapes. Ink is then mixed and placed inside the reservoir. The parts are all put together to form the ballpoint pens that we all know and love. After the coating and decorations are added, the pens are cleaned, packed, and ready to be sold.
The bottom line
And that is all there is to it! Ballpoint pen tips are made with extremely precise machines to ensure that a perfectly spherical ball is formed and fits into the tip of the pen. This gives us a quality writing experience each and every time. Now that you know more about the pen manufacturing process, it’s easier to appreciate the work that went into it and, ultimately, how the ballpoint pen impacted society.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting