Quality Bic pen

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The two limitations of the reed pen; however, were overcome by the quill pen (Figure 3) which was first used in 600 A.D (History of Pens, 2018). The quill pen consisted of a single body similarly to the reed pen. The difference was that the body was not made from a reed plant but instead of a turkey, geese, or swan feather (History of Pens, 2018). The feather was heat treated to remove any oils that might chemically react with the ink. The lightweight, thin, and soft body of the quill pen made it much easier to manipulate and allowed people to write letters that were finer in resolution and more intricate in design. Another benefit of the quill pen was its ability to store ink. When the quill pen was dipped into a container of ink, some of the ink would fill up the hollow cavity of the feather (History of Pens, 2018). Through this mechanism, the feather acted as an ink storage and allowed scribes to write for longer periods of time before replenishing the ink. Although quill pens were much more durable than the previous reed pens, they still needed routine sharpening.


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The ball-point pen invented by Hungarian newspaper editor Lazlo Biro in 1931, made major improvements over the fountain pens of the time. Biro’s ballpoint pen (similar to Figure 6) consisted of three components: the steel outer casing, the ink cartridge, and ball-point tip. Biro noticed that newspaper ink dried much faster than the fountain pen ink and lead to less smudging (History of Pens, 2018). He worked with chemists to develop a new type of fast-drying ink based on the newspaper ink that could be used with pens. The problem was that this ink was a high viscosity fluid that made it unusable with fountain pens since it couldn’t flow between the ink cartridge and the tip. To overcome this issue, Biro invented the ball-point tip. The tip consisted of a ball and socket joint and a tiny tube that connected with the ink cartridge as shown in Figure 7. Just like with fountain pens, ink would fall through the tube due to gravity, but this time it would fall on top of the steel ball. Then as the tip of the pen slid along the paper, the ball would roll and distribute the ink that lay on top into the paper (History of Pens, 2018). Early versions of the ball-point pen made by Biro were expensive and suffered from a major leaking problem which made them very unpopular and lead to Biro’s company going bankrupt.

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