The Wonderful World of Inks

We all know about the diverse choices of pen that are available to us but did you know they all use different types of inks? Every ink is made of two fundamental ingredients - a solvent and a colorant along with a few additives that aid in maintaining a smooth flow of writing but these ingredients vary in terms of their quality and characteristics.

Inks aren’t formulated differently for the sake of being different but they help in achieving a multitude of purposes. For instance, ballpoints and fountain pens are aimed at two different types of consumers which means they both use a different blend of pen ink. Here's a brief overview of types of inks used in different pens.


Fountain Pen Ink

Fountain pens have ink cartridges to deliver a continuous and unhindered writing experience. The ink itself is water-based with a color dye and a surfactant to ensure ink flows freely from the nib when it comes in contact with paper. Fountain pen ink is relatively thinner and takes a few seconds to dry up which makes it a better choice for making corrections. There is no oil in the solvent which keeps it from producing accidental smears when writing.


Ballpoint Ink

Ballpoint uses a completely different formula when it comes to its ink blend. Instead of water, it uses an oil-based solvent with a color pigment as the ink is delivered to the nib through a thin and condensed tube onto paper. The ink is designed to dry up almost immediately for additional convenience and to support quick notetaking but oil-based solvent means it can leave smears and smudges on the paper.


Rollerball Ink

These pens use the same mechanism to deliver the ink as ballpoints but the ink is water-based and far less viscous as compared to the oil-based ink. It produces a highly saturated and dense color on the paper which delivers a high contrast writing that’s more aesthetically pleasing as compared to the ballpoint. Since the ink is water based, rollerball pens are available in much a diverse range of ink colors.


Gel Pen Ink

Gel pens use a similar ball based mechanism that draws ink from an internal reservoir. The ink includes pigment that’s blended in a viscous water-based gel. The high gel viscosity helps in accommodating more pigment as compared to regular gel ink and also includes varied types of pigments like iron and copper oxides. Gel pen ink is opaque and viscous and is usually accessible in almost every color - even white. The ink also features metallic, bright neon, and glittery ink blends.


When choosing inks, keep in mind that the base solvent and the type of colorant determine a range of factors including ease of use, ink flow, control, and choice of colors. Most of the time, it’s not the type of ink that’s your major concern but the type of pen you need to get the job done. If you’re a casual note taker, ballpoints would do just fine but if you’re a serious writer then fountain pen is the right choice. On the other hand, artists and creatives may find rollerball and gel pens more suited to their task.


By Some Folks at EndlessPens

Author: EndlessPensFeature Article

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