Differences between ballpoint, gel, and rollerball pens

Goals

To provide the differences between the ballpoint, gel, and rollerball pens. Specifically, to determine the occasions, use case, and paper pairings for each style of writing instrument, and when it is appropriate to use each type. Examples of pen brands include the Pilot, Uni-ball, Baron, Fig, Muji, Papermate, Sharpie pens. This information will be used to educate users who don't understand the difference today and benefits of each.

Early Findings

  • Ballpoint, gel, and rollerball pens have one common feature: they use a small, revolving ball in the tip to dispense ink.
  • One of the main differences between the ballpoint and rollerball pens is how they write: the rollerball pen is a smoother pen that writes with a thick, vivid line, however, it may smudge because it uses liquid ink. On the other hand, the ballpoint pen typically delivers a thinner, less vivid line, which dries instantly on paper but feels scratchier or less smooth when writing.

Ballpoint Pens

  • Ballpoint pens typically use oil-based viscous ink and they are more economical, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular.
  • The ink inside ballpoint pens is so thick that they write well on low-quality papers with little to no bleed through.
  • The thick ink also means that less ink is used when writing, therefore, ballpoint pens last for a long time.
  • Ballpoints are uniquely suited to writing on slick surfaces like receipts or other thermal papers.
  • The standard tip size for a ballpoint ink pen is 1.0 mm.

Gel Pens

  • Gel pens have a smooth flow, which makes it much easier to write for long periods of time with less pressure compared to ballpoints.
  • The formulation of ink within gel pens makes them precise and vibrant when used in writing. Gel ink consists of pigments suspended in a water-based gel.
  • Gel pens tend to skip more than ballpoints or rollerballs because their tips are not as evenly coated with the thinner, water-based ink.
  • Gel pens provide the widest variety of colors compared to other pens and they are great for everyday note taking.

Rollerball Pens

  • Rollerball pens use up to three times the amount of ink that ballpoint pens use when writing, which is why they are prone to smudging.
  • Ink flows more freely in rollerball pens compared to ballpoint and gel pens so they require even less pressure when writing.
  • However, paper choice is important since rollerballs will bleed through lower quality paper.
  • Rollerballs are also great for everyday note taking and especially useful for people who suffer from hand cramps when writing.
  • The standard tip size for a rollerball pen is 0.7 mm while some are 0.5 mm.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial one-hour research has provided some similarities and differences between ballpoint, gel, and rollerball pens. We have also provided some information about the occasions, use case, and paper pairings for each type of pen.

Proposed next steps:

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