Most, if not all, of us have used a ballpoint pen at some point in our lives. They are convenient, easy to use, portable, and can write on various surfaces. This pen is such a common writing instrument today that it is easy to take for granted. However, it has a long and significant history. In the 1930s, inventor László Bíró designed a pen with ink that would dry much faster than fountain pens ink did. The rest is history.
As efficient and intuitive as they are to use, sometimes things can also go wrong with ballpoint pens. You may have experienced ballpoint pens that skip or fade when you write. Sometimes, your pen may stop writing altogether, even though there is an ample amount of ink left in the reservoir.
Don’t fret, as there are several ways you can salvage the situation. Here’s how to fix a ballpoint pen:
How Does a Ballpoint Pen Work?
Before discussing how to fix your ballpoint pen, it is important to understand how they work. The most important feature of this writing instrument is its bearing ball, found at the very tip of the nib. It is a small metal sphere made of steel, brass, or tungsten carbide.
Using gravity, ink is pulled down from the refill cartridge towards the nib of the pen, coating one half of the bearing ball. As you write, the ball rotates and transfers the ink from inside the reservoir and onto the paper. This cycle continues, allowing a consistent release of ink which allows ballpoint pen users to keep writing.
Why Ballpoint Pens Stop Working
Ballpoint pens are designed so that air is kept out of the ink cartridge. However, there are some cases where this can still happen, especially if the pen is left uncapped.
Many people may think that their ballpoint pens dry out because they have stopped writing for long periods. While this is partly true, a better explanation is that the ink inside the cartridge has trouble flowing freely. Ballpoint pens can also stop working because the ink left in the ball was exposed to air and caused a clog.
How to Fix Ballpoint Pens
One of the problems that you may encounter when using ballpoint pens is inconsistent ink flow. A simple solution would be to store your ballpoint pen with the nib facing downwards to resolve this issue; remember that these pens depend on gravity to release the ink. Air bubbles may also get stuck inside the cartridge. In this case, shaking your pen may help push the ink back towards the nib so that it can write smoothly again.
For most people, a broken ballpoint pen no longer writes. Before changing the ink cartridge, there are a few things you can try to restart the pen.
Scribble on a piece of paper.
Sometimes you just need to get the bearing ball moving so that the ink starts flowing. Often, a scribble is all a ballpoint pen needs.
Apply pressure when writing.
Unlike fountain pens, ballpoint pens can withstand much more pressure when writing. Try pushing your pen harder into the paper to encourage movement from the bearing ball to get the dried ink unstuck. Bear in mind that ballpoint pens use a much thicker ink, so using a bit of force is needed to get the ink to flow.
Use a lighter or boiling water.
You may not wish to try this method on your more expensive biros, but for inexpensive pens that refuse to write, it is worth a shot. Hold a lighter to the very tip of the nib. This will melt any ink that is clogging the ballpoint pen. You may also try dipping the nib into boiling water to dislodge any hardened ink. Be very careful with either of these methods, making sure that you only expose the tip of your pen to avoid damaging it.
Blow into an open ink cartridge.
Sometimes all the ink needs in your pen is a little push. If you can open the back of your pen to expose the end of the cartridge, then try blowing into it with pressure.
Write on a different surface.
Paper may not provide enough friction to move the bearing ball again. Writing on a rubber surface can help unclog the ball in the nib.
What If My Ballpoint Pen Still Doesn’t Work?
If none of the solutions above have worked for your ballpoint pen, it may be time to replace the cartridge or upgrade your pen. There are many excellent options from brands like Parker or LAMY, both at budget-friendly prices and more expensive options.
Overall, ballpoint pens are reliable, accessible, and easy to use for your daily writing needs. Fixing them can take a bit of effort, but being able to squeeze out that last drop of ink makes it worth it.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting