There are many reasons you might experience curiosity about the inner (and outer) workings of the parts of a pen. It could be that…
In these and other instances, pens and their parts can get a person thinking….
But we’re pretty sure we better make this ‘anatomy of a pen’ course quick and easy or we’ll lose you to YouTube, or a good crossword puzzle, or watching paint dry… So here’s a smattering of info related to pens, parts, and of course (why we’re here), promoting your brand.
Tip or Nose Cone: commonly referred to as the tip of the pen, the nose cone is a metal or plastic piece that holds the tip of the ink cartridge in position when the cartridge is extended for writing.
Ink Chamber or Cartridge: whether it’s ballpoint, gel, rollerball or hybrid, refillable or single use, ink’s stored in the cartridge. When the cartridge is extended, the pen’s ready to write.
Spring: keeps the cartridge retracted until ready for use.
Barrel: the pen barrel houses the inner parts of the pen. The stylus, if there is one, and nose cone are at the ends of the barrel.
Thrust Device or Cam: this is a marvel of mechanical engineering that controls whether the cartridge is extended or retracted. It’s responsible for All. That. Clicking. More on that below.
We know you have a limited lunch break and that surfing the web at work is an exercise in speed reading and snippets, so enjoy this succinct explanation of the complicated click pen mechanism.
There’s a spring at the nose cone (tip) of every click pen. The spring wants the cartridge to always be retracted. The magic part of the click action pen is called the cam or thrust device. The cam sits above the ink cartridge and has little grooves, slants and ledges that push the cartridge into a different position with each click.
Each click does one of two things: pushes the cam against the force of the spring to a groove where the ink cartridge is fully extended but not locked in place; or rotates the cam to one of two grooves that let the spring force the cartridge back up into the barrel until it’s either locked in fully retracted position, or until it’s locked in writing position.
Still interested and confused? Let’s break down the four clicks of the click pen this way:
Done writing? Or just need to hear more clicking sounds like a cat meowing or a wolf howling at the moon? Time for clicks three and four:
The whole process? One could say it’s a beautiful transfer of energy between clicker and clickee. An exercise in potential and kinetic energy. Who can blame the obsessive clicker? Well, those with misophonia for one. Plus anyone studying for a test. Or trying to write a blog post…
If you’ve read this far, you might want to work here…or come down the rabbit hole with us by watching this video: “How a Retractable Ballpoint Pen Works.” (Thanks ‘Engineer Guy’ Bill Hammack!) Then come back and pick one of our top-selling promotional pens to put your name on. Here’s our favourite:
Check out all the other highly clickable, highly customisable offerings within our Best-Selling Alpha Pen Family.
The anatomy of the ballpoint pen is similar to a roll-on deodorant. These photos (thanks, How Stuff Works!) illustrate the ‘point’:
Think of the ink as the deodorant. The steel (or equivalent) pen tip is the deodorant’s plastic rolling ball. And the paper is your arm pit. And just as the top of the roller ball on your deodorant may dry out between uses, the pen’s tip may dry out, too — but the ink inside stays wet. Once the tip touches paper it gets freshly coated with ink and then…let the writing (and deodorising) commence!
The stick pen has the same ball-and-socket (AKA roll-on deodorant) functionality at the tip, but the cartridge is not retractable. The stick pen tip requires no extending or retracting — just a cap. People who love the stick pen? Those partial to cap-chewing, straightforward engineering and the notable absence of clicking. If this is your target audience, check these out:
Rather than a ball-and-socket system to control ink flow like the ballpoint pen, the fountain pen uses a series of internal channels and air pockets that control the flow of ink from the cartridge to the paper. Think of the fountain pen like a water system where the ink reservoir leads to various rivers and streams ending in ink on paper. The regulation of ink flow is key. Managing a controlled ink leak is the fountain pen’s raison d’être.
The fountain pen is for letter writers, deep thinkers and those slightly partial to anachronistic pursuits. Also, fountain pens are not inexpensive so we don’t recommend handing them out willy-nilly at a job fair. Here’s the one we like for promoting your brand on a fountain pen. It’s more affordable than most and has a great reputation for reliability.
And for a deep dive into all things fountain pen, ExplainThatStuff does not disappoint.
Given the above smorgasbord of pen components and related tidbits we just tossed your way, you may feel a bit tickled, intrigued, baffled or vexed. We hope not the latter, but we understand. We commend you for getting this far and encourage you to give yourself a pat on the back. If you want to learn more about pens, don’t miss our blog post about the best pen brands.
Also, we’d love to get your name on one of our promotional pens so you can see for yourself how effective our pens are at pleasing your recipients and advancing your brand. If you still doubt the potential of branded items, read our article on the 25 top statistics of promotional products.
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