For many stationery enthusiasts, having the right pen for the job is a must. No matter the pen you choose, whether it be a fountain pen or a ballpoint pen, there is a right time and place for each writing tool. This may make you wonder what the difference is between rollerball pens and gel pens. The two seem very similar, so much so that they may even be interchanged. They do have distinct differences that are important to know, and we’ll be covering that in today’s article.
The common thread
Rollerball, gel, and ballpoint pens all have something in common: they each use a small, revolving steel ball in the tip to distribute ink onto paper. As you write, the ball moves and is exposed to the ink reservoir. This coats the ball with ink, which is then dispensed onto paper. Where these pens differ is in the formulation of the ink.
Rollerball pens use ink made of dyes dissolved in water, which is actually quite similar to the ink used in fountain pens. Compared to gel pens, rollerball ink flows more freely. This results in less pressure required when writing with rollerball pens, making them suitable for long writing sessions without dealing with hand strain. This type of ink does require specific types of paper that are not prone to bleed through or feathering; fountain pen-friendly paper is typically a good option. Do note that rollerball pens tend to have some feedback due to the thinness of the ink, so if you prefer a smoother writing experience, then it’s best to go with broader tips and nibs.
Gel pens, as the name suggests, are different from rollerball pens in that they use pigments suspended in a water-based gel. This formulation is what makes these pens more precise, pigmented, and vibrant, which is why gel pens can come in tip sizes as small as 0.28 mm with a great color selection. Like rollerball pens, the ink flow is smooth and makes it easy to write for long periods without getting hand cramps. However, gel pens do tend to skip more than rollerball pens because their tips aren’t as evenly coated with thinner ink. Gel pens may also take longer to dry, so they can smudge if you aren’t too careful.
The Bottom Line
The ink used in rollerball pens and gel pens is what differentiates the two. On the one hand, you have rollerball pens that use free-flowing water-based ink. On the other hand, gel pens give you many colors and a more precise writing experience with their gel-based inks. Both are well-suited for everyday writing. It just depends on what your preference is.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting