Fountain Pens vs Ballpoint Pens

You can’t deny that some of our first experiences with fountain pens go way back when we were kids.  The memory of stained clothes and hands plus smudged writing is way to familiar to most of us.  Most people eventually gravitate towards using ballpoint pens without getting enough time to explore the fountain pens for a while.

To make the right choice, we have to compare different aspects of the two.

How do the two work?

Fountain pens have a nib separated by two tines. The nip of the pen is placed on top of the collector that is connected to the feed. The feed is connected to the reservoir which is the cartridge of the fountain pen ink. Gravity sends the ink through the feed and the collector takes up the ink ensuring it does not spill out. Pressure on the nib separates the tines the disperses the ink.

The ballpoint pen is made to distribute the fast-drying ink without drying up the ink inside the pen.  The thick oil-based ink inside the pen is carried in an alcohol solvent to ensure it dries up fast once it reaches the paper surface.

Fountain pens utilize a liquid based ink that does not dry as fast as ballpoint pen ink would. Fountain pens were invented before ballpoint pens and their delivery allow for a good handwriting.

Main differences between the fountain pen and ballpoint

Which one is better?

Smoothness – The ballpoint pen has nothing on the fountain pen when it comes to delivering smoothness when you are writing. Ballpoint pens have a thick, oil abased ink that does not flow freely like fountain pen ink would.  Fountain pens have smooth and free flowing ink that does not have any surface tension when you’re writing.

Color and depth – When writing, fountain pens release more ink when compared to ballpoint pens. This is what allows them to create vivid lines on paper. When compared, writing done by fountain pens is deeper and clearer.  Only a proper ballpoint pen can come close to giving you the color and debt you get from a fountain pen.

The time span for ink cartridges – The time span you get from a ballpoint pen cannot be measured in pages, maybe distances. A fountain pen can only go up to an average of 10 pages before the ink is depleted while with a ballpoint pen, you could draw a 3km long line with ink in just one pen.

The line quality – the factors controlling quality of the two pens cannot be measured without a third party available. This is because quality can depend on the paper used and type of ink in the pen. Fountain pens have water-based ink which means it may not work well on thin and low-quality paper. Ballpoint pens will give you good line quality on almost all types of paper.

Final word

Anyone that has a broader understanding and interest in pens will definitely side with fountain pens. The truth is, it all comes down to the individual using the pen. Some people are comfortable working with both while many prefer one over the other.