Pen ink types introduction

Pen Ink types are very unclear to categories as there is no standard types categorized, only industry accepted and followed types. Choosing a right type of Pen is as difficult as choosing car, for professionals 🙌. The major feel we get for writing is from, pressure require to write and how smooth flow is. Pen ink plays a very critical role for user experience. Pressing accelerator pedal  gives thrill, same thrill we get wile writing with good pen.

Ink was traced back around 40,000 years ago!

Originally in past, ink was made out of different combination of animal fats, fruits or vegetable juice and plants.

In this article we are going to solve & understand most curios question

“What are different type of Pen ink or Pen ?”

We had also covered some of other questions in our another articles like “What is history of Writing instruments?” and “How Fountain pen was Invented?” don’t miss it out.

so lets jump into the ocean of knowledge.

Basics of Pen Ink Types

Ink made out of two basic ingredients : Colorant (Dye or Pigment) + Solvent (Base) (mostly water)

Ingredient characteristics vary, highly depending on the type of ink. Now a days most are made synthetically with pigment or dyes and other additives. Without dye and Pigment everything would be colorless!

The additives in ink has specific purpose like

  • Surfactant is used for smooth flow
  • Fungicides is used to prevent fungal growth
  • Buffering agents is used to control the pH value & give the ink desirable writing characteristics

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Pen Ink Types

Well. there is no standard of ink types world wide which is quite makes this blurry to understand but we managed to highlight types which are accepted and followed by stationery industries world wide.

  1. Fountain Pen ink
  2. Ballpoint Pen ink
  3. Rollerball Pen ink
  4. Gel Pen ink
  5. Drawing (Dip) Pen ink
  6. Hybrid ink
  7. Sparkle ink

1. Fountain Pen Ink

Fountain pen ink : Dye (as colorant) + Water (as Solvent)

Fountain pen ink by pelican

Fountain pen uses water based ink and contains dye for color, and additionally also contains a Surfactant which controls the flow of ink when the nib comes in contact with paper.

While using fountain pen ink it less likely to dribble to leave blobs. Fountain pen ink more watery consistency compare to all other inks. It can leak out from pen, to handle this ink requires some skills to do not ruin your favorite shirt’s pocket.

Ink in fountain pen, flows to nib from reservoir through a feed with capillary action and gravitational force.

Ink reservoirs used in fountain pens are  refillable or disposable. Standard Fountain pen inks are non-corrosive in nature.

Reason behind to use dye as colorant instead of pigment is pigment is thick and can clog fountain pen’s narrow ink flow path. Some ink used pigment but that are rare to see.

fountain pen ink

Fountain pen ink can be in a bottle or cartridge.

We can use both permanent and non permanent ink in fountain pen.

But still Fountain pen ink requires short time to dry on paper.

2. Ballpoint Pen Ink

Ballpoint pen ink : Pigment (as colorant) + Oil-based (Solvent)

Ballpoint pen ink

Ballpoint pen ink requires some amount of pressure to write. Pen ink flow from tube to the ball in the tip of pen when pressure applied. So for long writing this type of pen feels uncomfortable and gives pain in fingers. But its cost effective and every day carry kind of pen.

The Ballpoint pen ink is thick and sludgy, so whenever if ballpoint pen leaks we can see very less amount of inks ooze out.

Due to thick in nature ballpoint pen ink is very difficult to clean off or wipe out.

There are limitless formulas to create ballpoint pen ink but very common or basic is oil based with dye or pigment in it. Color agents are used to gain different color of ink.

Ballpoint pen ink can writes on most of surfaces like glossy magazine covers. It can write longer than other ink with same amount of quantity.

Ballpoint pen dries almost instantly as touches paper, it means less smudging when writing.

3. Rollerball Pen Ink

Rollerball pen ink : Pigment & Dye both (as colorant) + Water (as Solvent)

Rollerball pen ink tip pilot v5 point

Gel ink uses pigment as colorant where water-based ink contains dye as colorant.

Rollerball pen ink similar to ballpoint pen ink, difference is that rollerball pen uses Water based ink or Gelled ink.

Rollerball pen ink is thick in nature which means we can flow ink from thin tip size, so 0.5mm rollerball pen is not  uncommon.

Japanese company ‘Ohto’ has invented rollerball pen in 1963.

Rollerball pen requires less pressure to write which means ink floes more smoothly through ball and less finger pains even writing from longer period of time. Ink is less viscous compare to oil-based ink and deeply saturates the paper, which makes ink color even more darker on paper.

Thanks tho dye and pigment used in Rollerball pen ink, we can get wide range of ink colors & variety. This ink saturates paper while writing.

Rollerball pens can dry out if kept uncapped. There are also cap less rollerball pen and refills available they dry out slowly but time is about one year only. Due to thin ink density rollerball refill gets empty quick compare to Ballpoint pen.

Rollerball pen follows ISO 14145-1 and ISO 14145-2 standards.

4. Gel Pen Ink

Glitter pen Gel ink pen Metallic pen gold ink penGel pen ink are type of Rollerball pen ink. The only difference is that ink is gelled.

Gel pen ink : Pigment (as colorant) + Water (as Solvent) + thickening agent 

Japanese company ‘Sakura’ has invented Gel pen ink in 1984.

Advantage of using gel is that we can use more pigment or dye in the ink to make brighter colors and further more a gel ink can also carry metallic tone where other ink cannot. We can also get Neon and Glitter options. In gel ink we can achieve almost every color including white.Glitter and Gel pen ink splash

Gel pens combine characteristics from ballpoint and rollerball pens.

Another advantage of using pigment is that the color can not be easily washed out of paper.

If you want to make a bold statement but still expect reliability, gel pens are a great choice.

5. Drawing (Dip) Pen Ink

Drawing pen ink : Dye (as colorant) + Water (as Solvent)Dip pen Drawing Pen Glass dip holder

Drawing ink requires Drawing pen which we can dip into the ink for making art or lines. The ink collects on nib at the tip of drawing pen when dip into.

Drawing pen ink is very thin in nature. To use this type of pen and ink it rewires a lot of skill and patience to avoid smearing and dribbling the ink.

Drawing ink can fade over time as it contains dye. Artist and calligraphers uses drawing ink.

6. Hybrid ink

Hybrid ink is blend of Ballpoint and Rollerball inks. Hybrid ink is both water-based and oil-based. Smooth like a gel with quality of ballpoint pen ink.

Well Hybrid ink is one of the most confusing ink varieties among all.

Modern ballpoint pen has hybrid ink like Uni Jetstream series. Check more features.

Uniball Jetstream blue pen with hybrid ink

There is no standard definition of hybrid ink only mutually accepted trade can be seen.

7. Sparkle ink

Sparkle ink is simply Gel ink with powdered aluminum added to it.

Take away

Pen ink type take away image

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