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Ballpoint Pens Vs Rollerball Pens

Whether we like to admit it or not, at some point or another, we’ve all had a favourite pen. The one that makes your handwriting look so good that you admire it for an extra second or two, that glides across the page and makes note-taking or card or letter-writing a breeze.

Today, we’re going to look at two of our most popular pens; the ballpoint pen and the rollerball pen. If you’re trying to decide between the two, or simply want to learn a little bit more, then read on.

How Do Ballpoint and Rollerball Pens Work?

Both styles of pen, the ballpoint, and the rollerball, use the same mechanism to get the ink on the to page. Inside the body of the pen is a reservoir filled with ink; a small ball in the nib of the pen rolls over as you move it across the paper, dispersing the ink across the page in a line. The ball can roll 360 degrees, keeping the line thickness the same throughout.

What’s the Difference Between a Ballpoint and a Rollerball Pen?

Whilst a ballpoint and rollerball pen work in the same way, the difference is in the ink. A ballpoint pen uses a thicker, oil-based, ink, whilst a rollerball pen uses liquid ink

The ink in a ballpoint pen is paste-like and is carried in alcohol solvent which dries quickly on the page. The ink in a rollerball pen is much thinner as it’s water-based so it comes out more like a liquid and takes a little longer to dry than the ballpoint does.

What’s Better; A Ballpoint Pen or Rollerball Pen?

Whether a ballpoint pen or a rollerball pen is better depends largely on personal preference. We’re going to talk through some of the pros and cons of both styles of pen to help you decide which would better suit your writing style.

Smoothness of Writing (Winner: Rollerball)

When it comes to a smooth writing feel, the rollerball frequently comes out on top. The oil-based ink formulas cause the ball in a ballpoint pen to be less responsive which can result in a scratchy sensation when writing. The thinner ink found in rollerball reservoirs is much thinner and results in a much smoother writing experience.

In addition to this, rollerball pens also generally have a much finer writing line than a ballpoint pen. The line on the paper looks much darker and finer than that produced by a ballpoint pen, resulting in a more vivid finish that really pops on the page.

Colour and Depth (Winner: Rollerball)

The liquid ink in a rollerball pens puts a great amount of ink on the paper then a ballpoint pen. In fact, a rollerball puts around 3-4 times more ink on the page than a ballpoint does which is why the line produced by the rollerball pen is that much more vivid than the line created by a ballpoint pen.

Lifetime (Winner: Ballpoint)

As the rollerball puts more ink on the page than the ballpoint pen, it makes sense that ballpoint pens last much longer than rollerballs. It’s worth noting, however, that the thicker ink in cheap ballpoint pens can dry up in the reservoir much quicker than more expensive ballpoint pens.

Line Quality (Winner: Tie Break)

Line quality is largely dependant on the quality of the paper that you’re writing on. Rollerball pens are unsuitable for writing on poor quality, thin, paper because the water-based ink soaks in to the paper. This can then leak through the paper on to the surface below, or you may experience slight bleeding and feathering. On the other hand, a ballpoint pen is best for writing on thinner paper as the ink tends to float on top of the paper.

Comfort: (Winner: Rollerball)

If you suffer from carpal tunnel or arthritis, or you find that your hands generally get tired quite quickly then it’s likely that you’ll find a rollerball more comfortable to write with. Due to the thinner nature of the ink in a rollerball you need to apply less pressure to the pen to get the desired line which is less stressful on the hand. You should also consider however the barrel of the pen when choosing your rollerball. There are different materials to base your decision on and while many assume the choice is purely down to aesthetic preferences, the texture can effect how comfortable the pen is to hold.

So, what’s the final verdict? Which is better; ballpoint or rollerball? At the end of the day, it largely comes down to personal preference and what kind of paper you use most frequently. Always jotting notes down on thin printer paper? Opt for a ballpoint. Enjoy writing in a journal? Opt for a rollerball.

Whatever pen you choose, though, be sure to store your pens correctly to get the most out of them.

How to Store Your Pens to Prevent Drying Out

Storing your pens correctly is important to keep them at their best for as long as possible. Here are our top tips for storing your pens between uses.

Store Your Ballpoint and Rollerball Pens on their Side or Tip Down

Store your ballpoint and rollerball pens on their side or with the tip facing down. This prevents the ball from rolling down away from the opening of the nib, exposing the ink to air and allowing the solvents to evaporate. It’s the evaporation of these solvents that makes your ink dry out and stops your pen from working.

Always Put a Cap on Your Rollerball Pen

Rollerball pens should always be capped when they’re not in use. Ballpoints that can be retracted either by twisting or clicking should always be closed after use, and if they have a cap, the cap should always be replaced.

Store them in an Airtight Container

If you’re not going to be using your pens for some time store them on their side or nib down in an airtight container. This is especially important for your nicer and more special pens. Don’t have a Tupperware container to hand? Don’t worry; a zip lock bag will do the trick just as effectively. Place your pens in the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible before zipping it closed.