Ballpoint Pen

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What is it? A ballpoint pen, or commonly known as ball pen. Pen, from the Latin word pinna which means feather, is a long, thin, rounded device used to apply ink to a surface usually paper for the purpose of writing or drawing. There are several different types of pen, including ballpoint, roller ball, fountain, and felt-tip. A ballpoint pen dispenses viscous oil-based ink by rolling a small hard sphere, usually 0. –1. 2 mm and made of brass, steel or tungsten carbide. The ink dries almost immediately on contact with paper. This type of pen is generally inexpensive and reliable. (Wikipedia) Ballpoint pen has a long history. It passed on many developmental stages before it became as a worldwide tool for writing. The story begins on 1888 when John Loud, an American leather tanner, patented a roller-ball-tip marking pen. Loud’s invention featured a reservoir of ink and a roller ball that applied the thick ink to leather hides.

However, it was never produced for the ink was the major problem – if the ink was thin the pens leaked, and if it was too thick, they clogged. Depending on the temperature, the pen would sometimes do both. After almost fifty years, an improved version of Loud’s patent was invented in Hungary in 1935 by Ladislao Biro and his brother, Georg. Ladislao Biro, who studied medicine, art, and hypnotism, was editing a small newspaper-where he was frustrated by the amount of time he wasted filling fountain pens and cleaning up ink smudges. Besides that, the sharp tip of his fountain pen often scratched the newsprint (paper). Determined to develop a better pen, Ladislao and Georg, who was a chemist, set about making models of new designs and formulating better inks to use in them. One summer day, the Biro brothers met Augustine Justo, the president of Argentina. After the brothers showed him their model of a ballpoint pen, President Justo urged them to set up a factory in Argentina. A few years later the Biro brothers fled to Argentina and found several investors willing to finance their invention, and in 1943 they had set up a manufacturing plant.

The Biro brothers devised a new design, which relied on “capillary action” rather than gravity to feed the ink. The rough “ball” at the end of the pen acted like a metal sponge, and with this improvement ink could flow more smoothly to the ball, and the pen could be held at a slant rather than straight up. One year later, the Biros were selling their new, improved ballpoint pen throughout Argentina. But it still was not a smashing success, and the men ran out of money.

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