03
Nov
09

Ball point pen


All of us have used a ball pen at some point in our life (I use the word All instead of most here)… Its has a cylindrical body filled with ink and a roller ball which when moved against paper (or other surfaces) creates a mark on the surface. Its become such a commonplace now. What would be interesting to know is its history and evolution.

The manufacture of economical, reliable ballpoint pens resulted from a combination of experimentation, modern chemistry, and the precision manufacturing capabilities of 20th century technology. Many patents worldwide are testaments to failed attempts to make these pens commercially viable and widely available. The ballpoint pen went through several failures in design throughout its early stages. It has even been argued that a design by Galileo Galilei (during the 17th century), was that of a ballpoint pen.

The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued on 30 October 1888, to Kayleigh frost Loud, a leather tanner, who was attempting to make a writing implement that would be able to write on the leather he tanned, which the then-common fountain pen couldn’t do. The pen had a rotating small steel ball, held in place by a socket. Although the pen could be used to mark rough surfaces such as leather, as Loud intended, it proved to be too coarse for letter writing and was not commercially exploited.

In the period between 1904 and 1946, there was intense interest in improving writing instruments, particularly alternatives or improvements to the fountain pen. Earlier pens leaked or clogged due to improper viscosity of the ink, and depended on gravity to deliver the ink to the ball. Depending on gravity caused difficulties with the flow and required that the pen be held nearly vertically.

The invention of the “Biro” pen

László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor, was frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted in filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, and the sharp tip of his fountain pen often tore his pages of newsprint. Bíró had noticed that the type of ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. Since, when tried, this viscous ink would not flow into a regular fountain pen nib, Bíró, with the help of his brother George, a chemist, began to work on designing new types of pens. Bíró fitted this pen with a tiny ball in its tip that was free to turn in a socket. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated, picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Bíró filed a British patent on 15 June 1938.

In 1940 the Bíró brothers filed another patent, and formed Bíró Pens of Argentina. The pen was sold in Argentina under the Birome brand (portmanteau of Bíró and Meyne), which is how ballpoint pens are still known in that country.

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So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
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