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Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen 712

Posted by samzenpus
from the mightier-than-the-mouse dept.
First time accepted submitter Laser Dan writes "I'm an engineer (robotics) who can't seem to find a pen that satisfies me. Most of my writing is just temporary "thinking notes" on random bits of paper, like diagrams, flowcharts, equations etc, but pens always seem to have one or more of the following issues:

1. They write too thickly — I write very small, and when I start adding extra details to diagrams it gets even smaller. A line width of about 0.2-0.4mm would be good.

2. The ink bleeds, making the lines thick and unclear.

3. The ink is slow to dry or the tip grows blobs of ink, causing smudges everywhere.

4. The first line drawn is not fully dark, as the ink takes a short distance to get going.

5. The lines drawn are faint unless you press hard (I don't).

I have been given several fancy pens (Parker etc) over the years but they all suffered from problems 1, 3 (blobs), 4 and 5. I'm considering trying a Fisher space pen, but it looks like even the fine cartridge writes rather thickly. Have any fellow Slashdotters found their ultimate pen?"
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Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

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  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aardpig (622459) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:23PM (#41837817)

    It's called a pencil.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by gagol (583737) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:33PM (#41837939)
      I agree, but if ink is a requirement : http://www.staedtler.com/Mars_technical_pens [staedtler.com]
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by 3dr (169908) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:03PM (#41838185)

        Yes, these are the pens I was trying to remember.

        The terms the OP should google are "technical pens" or "drafting pens".

        Other pens are the Rapidograph pens, but I think the Mars pens have more sizes.

        Maybe actually try a space pen. I like mine. It looks about 0.3mm wide, and has "instant on".

        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnapster (1401889) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:02AM (#41838895)
          My experience with Fischer space pens was that they exhibited the blobbing problem.
        • Ditto Parent, Rapidograph pens rock. They are pens that are used for drafting and drawing, and they come in a whole range of sizes. The disposable technical ink pens are cheaper, but I love the refillable ones. They pretty much are never going to wear out under normal use. If you get a refillable pen, be sure to buy the special ink intended to go in them. Regular india ink will make a huge mess if you try to use it in them.
          • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:01AM (#41840587) Homepage Journal

            They pretty much are never going to wear out under normal use. If you get a refillable pen, be sure to buy the special ink intended to go in them. Regular india ink will make a huge mess if you try to use it in them.

            If you use quality india ink, it works fine. My mom is a graphic artist who has spent probably collectively years working with those pens (classic rapidographs) and that's all she uses. Her work has won numerous awards. Also, the pens may not wear out, but under normal use, the tips go quick. That's why statistically nobody uses them for writing letters &c.

            • by Card Zero (1126075) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:46PM (#41843457)

              I used a cartridge-refillable Rotring ArtPen for years and considered it the Holy Grail of pens, but eventually I ran into problems replacing the ink cartridges. I'd order direct from the manufacturer (for some reason even the big art stores never kept the cartridges in stock) and invariably the ink would be low-quality, diluted, and prone to leaking right out of the pen. I had the same problem with the Rapidographs. Cleaning the pens didn't help. Replacing the pens/nibs didn't help. Storing them nibside-up didn't help. About $100 later in cartridges and new pens, I finally gave up. Now I use Sakura Micron disposable drawing/drafting pens (they come in .8, .5, .3, .1, and .05 mm thickness) and they work fine--no bleeding or blobbing, but I still pine for the smoothness of the Rotring pens (the Microns "feel" just a bit too dry to me, but I'd be willing to bet most people aren't so picky about their pens as I am). Maybe I've just had bad luck, though. Certainly a number of commenters seem to be having great experiences with the Rapidogaphs, so perhaps it's time to try again.

              There do exist models (the Koh-I-Noor, I think) that connect the pen to an inkwell with a miniature hose, but I've never had a chance to try them.

        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Funny)

          by carnivore302 (708545) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @03:48AM (#41839477) Journal

          Reading the question, seeing that that there were over 300 comments, I thought I was in for an hour of reading one-liners marked funny +5.

          This being slashdot I was confronted with hundreds of comments containing advise, sympathy and conflicts over why it is illegal to own certain kinds of pens.

          Take a step back people, we're talking about pens here.

        • I agree with the use of Rapidograph pens. Dark, thin, and crisp lines. Refillable. My daughter drew this using ONLY a single Size 3×0/.25 Rapidograph pen (before it was scanned and posted on an art site). The character was about 7" high on the paper she drew it on.

          http://hayamika.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d5dhnye [deviantart.com]

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:09PM (#41838243)

        Technical pens are for drafting and would be a nightmare for everyday writing.

        They are not agile and require a high degree of control to use. They need to be held absolutely perpendicular to the writing surface at all times, and only work when held vertically with the nib pointing down. They don't write well or at all on certain kinds of paper, often damaging the paper. They are easily broken and are difficult and messy to fill, clean, and maintain.

        Don't get a technical pen.

        • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by floodo1 (246910) <floodo1@garfiasUUU.org minus threevowels> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:25PM (#41838361) Journal
          While I heartily agree, it can be done. I have often used a 0.35 Rotring Rapidograph, but it requires good paper (smooth) and holding the pen within about 20 degrees of vertical. Fortunately this wasn't hard for me to accomodate, and I loved it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by markhahn (122033)

          nonsense. technical pens can be touchy, but not really more than traditional fountain pens. I used them for years, including taking notes in class. yes, it takes some control, but it's not hard to build expertise. conventional pens tend to be more convenient though, easier to carry, and good enough for basic writing.

          the OP's goal of minimizing bleeding, though is a problem, since drafting pens use liquid ink. that'll be OK for good paper, but thicker gel ink (in ball-point pens) avoids bleeding on a wi

        • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by crath (80215) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:47PM (#41838511) Homepage
          Pens and paper are a lot like food and wine: there are good and bad pairings. A well made technical pen paired with vellum is a fabulous pairing.
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:25PM (#41838359) Homepage

        Sorry but those technical pens are as fussy as all hell, go a bit hard a burr the needle and the pen is dead, definitely not the optimum. Definitely go for the mechanical pencil and not a disposable one. Make sure it has a sprung tip, to take the extra load without snapping the lead when you are stressed, something like Paper Mate Flexgrip Elite. Of course if you can get used to the odd sharpening and used to rolling the pen when using it nothing beats the flexibility of http://www.staedtler.com/Mars_technico_780_C_gb.Staedtler [staedtler.com] lead holder, being able to very line thickness on the fly and shading make it ideal for the skilled user. Have an eraser handy and you'll see why a pencil is better than ink every time. I carry a mechanical pencil and a lead holder as well as a disposable biro but given the choice of one only it was the lead holder but then I have experience using it and can make use of the flexibility it provides, second choice is mechanical pencil. For exams et al two mechanical pencils and an eraser, when it counts the most. When it can only be ink, seriously who is kidding who, type it and print it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:30PM (#41838381)

        I have handwritten with Staedtler technical pens for years. The 0.5 mm size is my preferred compromise since it gives a thin writing line, but is easier to maintain than their thinest-diameter pens are.

        My use is for writing notes, really small, in the margin of a Bible. The ink from a technical pen never bleeds through the thin paper, and the writing still looks fresh after 40 years.

        A technical pen also makes fine works of art (pen sketching), if you have the talent for that.

        To make such a pen last longer between cleanings, store it tip upwards. Mine resides on my desk in a shot glass.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pseudonym (62607) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:58PM (#41838141)

      But not just any pencil. [wikipedia.org]

    • Kuru Toga (Score:5, Informative)

      by trout007 (975317) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:04PM (#41838187)

      I bought one for fun thinking it was a gimmick. Nope it works. What it does is each time you lift the pencil off the page it rotates the lead a tiny bit to prevent a chisel tip. This keeps the line width from changing. Very nice.

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:58AM (#41840297) Journal

      As a seasoned engineer, I heartily endorse the pencil as a proper tool. However, I suggest that a 0.9mm line is a better choice for nearly all of your work. The key is that must write larger, write more confidently, and make your work legible at a distance.

      I too once wrote with fine-tipped pens and pencils, finding joy in compressing my work onto individual lines of 5 lpi graph paper. I have learned, however, that writing large allows more scrutiny of one's work, and enhances the ability to communicate more effectively.

      Get a pencil and start writing larger. For $4, the Pentel Twist-erase III, 0.9mm, is my weapon of choice.

  • Mechanical pencil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baffled (1034554) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:24PM (#41837819)

    Added benefit: clean revisions.

    • Pentel .5mm with B leads for me, thank you very much.
    • by kolbe (320366)

      Was just going to say this... I gave up on pens for some of the reasons the original poster mentioned. Beyond that, I carry a writing surface around or dictate things with my phone... just in case I forget to bring a pencil or pen.

    • by pla (258480)
      I came in here to say exactly that. Get a .3mm "drafting" pencil, and you'll have the cleanest, most reliable lines you've ever seen. You can also get different hardness leads to suit your preference of pressure.
    • Yup. Koh-I-Nor Rapidomatic 0.5mm - 5635, same one I used in college in the early nineties.

      /Sits back, breaks hip.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:24PM (#41837825) Journal
    Anything less would be uncivilized.
  • 0.7mm pencil

  • G-tec = answer (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    http://officesupplygeek.com/pen-review/gel-pens/pilot-g-tec-c-4mm-review-and-a-sign-of-things-to-come/

  • Why a pen? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:25PM (#41837839)
    If these are just temporary notes on just scraps of paper, why not just use a mechanical pencil? Line isn't thick, doesn't bleed, and can be seen pretty easily.
  • Consider a pencil (Score:3, Informative)

    by Deltaspectre (796409) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:25PM (#41837841)
    My mechanical pencil of choice is the Pentel Graph Gear 1000. Well worth the money, the one I have now has lasted me over 3 years, which is not bad compared to other pencils/pens that would have clips snap off or otherwise get lost within a year.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      No amount of mechanical quality of your pencil will prevent it from getting lost.

      • Not necessarily the mechanical quality, but the relative cost has kept my pencil from being carelessly lost. I check that it's nearby more than I check for my wallet or phone.
  • Pilot Hi-Tec Pens (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:26PM (#41837845)

    Try these, thank me later: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Pens [jetpens.com]

  • COPIC (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Try Copic Multiliners, they come in very small nib sizes, and they've always performed well for me. They're designed for inking illustrations(ie, comic books) so they're fairly high-quality. Available at your local art store.

  • Inkless Metal Pen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:26PM (#41837857)

    This should satisfy your needs: Inkless Metal Pen [vat19.com]. I have one..... Somewhere in the mess of my desk. It works really well! I haven't had any long term results yet, seeing as I don't know exactly where it is, but I love(d) it!

    • I'd be concerned about the tiny amounts of lead in the metal pen. No matter how small the quantity is.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        I'd be concerned about the tiny amounts of lead in the metal pen. No matter how small the quantity is.

        You must be terrified then to know that the water supply many places uses lead tubes or joints. The chemical symbol for lead is Pb - short for Latin "plumbum".

        The generations before yours lived in houses with lead paint, had lead added to their gasoline, drank from lead glass, and yet managed feats such as the theory of relativity, splitting the atom and putting a man on the moon.

        People get exposed to small amounts of lead all the time, generally without ill effects. I am fairly certain that hysteria kill

  • Space Pen (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:28PM (#41837867)

    I like the look of a gel pen better, but the space pen has too many advantages, for direction, temperature, durability, and good design (I have one of the 'bullet' ones that when capped is half size. You can run them through wash *and dry* cycles and they still work and don't ruin your clothes.

    • by AKAJack (31058)

      I agree. At least try the Space Pen and see if it meets your needs before you run out and buy a dozen different things to frustrate you even more.

    • Re:Space Pen (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goraek (398392) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:31AM (#41838721)

      be warned, SpacePen ink never actually dries. It can impress on adjacent pages if pressed tightly or if you write double sided. It will easily smudge as well.
      I've found that it will also form blobs on the end of the pen reasonably frequently.

      That said, I still use a SpacePen half of the time. relatively bulletproof and reliable.

      By preference, I use a fountain pen. With practice, I could write maths notes down to 2mm letter size for "you can bring a sheet of notes" style exams.
      I realise it's not for everyone.

  • Papermate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xacid (560407) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:28PM (#41837873) Journal

    No joke - I've settled for those cheap papermates. They rarely clog, don't bleed, and don't give me any guff. The line thickness might be tricky but worth checking out.

    My wife is an artist and is crazy particular about her tools. She also swears by them and was who got me into using them.

    • I like Papermate myself. Pencil is not permanent which can be a problem for some work, but for figuring is probably the best answer here

      The no pressure bit screams fountain pen with high quality ink. Hook up with one of the writing implement forums. Be amazed at what some people think of writing utensils.

      Phil

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:28PM (#41837875) Homepage Journal
    Pilot V5 RT. It's the 0.5 mm Pilot V5 Rollerball in a clickable package. Ink looks great, dries much more quickly than gel ink.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:29PM (#41837881)

    Try using a Kuru Toga 0.3mm or 0.5mm --- the lead rotates so it is always sharp. Uni-Ball just released them in the U.S. (or you can buy imports from Japan).

  • Pentel RSVP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adonoman (624929) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:31PM (#41837903)
    Pentel RSVP - fine, very smooth, and very fast. I've never used a pen that glides like these do - plus they're fairly cheap.
  • by penguinbroker (1000903) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:31PM (#41837915)
    These pens are fantastic. They come in a variety of thicknesses (.25mm and up), are super smooth, don't bleed, and are relatively affordable. Highly recommended. Pilot Hi-Tec-C Pens [jetpens.com]
    • by HalfFlat (121672)

      Let me second this recommendation. I used to bring back supplies from Japan, or inveigle friends to bring them back from work trips to Singapore, but now they are sold locally (Australia)! I use them for everything, but particularly value the ease with which they write, and the fine width which allows the precise writing of both mathematical expressions and complicated characters.

      One downside is that they can vary a little in consistency: if you have the opportunity, try a number of them and pick the best

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:32PM (#41837925) Homepage

    Fountain pen, custom cut tip, no-bleed ink. You can be a fine, as you want when you're making your own tip for a pen that way.

  • Go felt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grimsnaggle (1320777) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:34PM (#41837953)

    Micron felt tip. I'm also an engineer and it's what I use to scribble.

  • Lots of colors, nice, erasable (don't leave a smudge after erasing). Fine and ultra-fine tips.

    I don't know how long each cartridge lasts though.

  • start looking here. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by retchdog (1319261) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:36PM (#41837971) Journal

    if you can't find it in this or another search of the same site, i think you're out of luck: http://www.jetpens.com/search?q=pigment+ink [jetpens.com]

    i don't know exactly what the difference is between a fiber-tip pen and a "pigment ink liner," but the latter go down to 0.05mm (that's not a typo, i really mean 1/20th of a millimeter). they are fiber pens, so they don't have a ball feed, which should be good news for your other requirements.

    i stole a 0.1mm a few months ago and apparently destroyed the tip just by writing delicately (and i do have some experience with extremely fine pens), so you'll have plenty of use for that light touch of yours.

    if you want something more artistic in your off-time, i've heard that experienced chinese calligraphers can control their brush pens to where they can write essentially with a single hair. might be a fun hobby.

  • Pen Connoisseur (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:37PM (#41837979)

    I've tried nearly every pen out there, including the technical pens for Koh-I-Noor. I've found that the pricier pens are usually just better looking, but few if any are more reliable than the cheapest Bic pens. I believe this is due to R&D and manufacturing capabilities.

    That said, I prefer fine line pens as well. Since i find refillable pens too messy (ink blots, clogs, cleaning between refills, etc.) my favorite pens for the last several years have been the felt tip pens, the Sakura Microns 005 for fine lines, and 05 for a hearty thick line. They have archival ink and it's very dark, about as black as possible and dries instantly. All my engineering undergrad notes are on white archival paper and written in this ink, looks very nice and doesn't fade. The tip is something like a specialized felt tip but it never spreads, and I've yet to have one dry out before I lose it. Best of all they're relatively cheap at around $3 each and available at any art store.

    I've searched for the perfect technical pen since I was a kid, and since I've found these I've used them consistently for several years now.

  • by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:37PM (#41837983)

    Zoloft and cognitive behavioral therapy? There have been a lot of advances in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder over the years.

  • I originally came across the Pentel Slicci 0.4 mm in the stationery department in Tokyu department store, in MBK center, in Bangkok, Thailand. I bought a few then. I have since stocked up by mail order.

    The line is as fine as a Pilot Razor Point, but not scratchy, and the tip is a ball tip as opposed to the Razor Point's fiber element, which can be broken if you drop it on a hard floor.

    As far as I know, the Slicci is not available retail in the United States. Mail order through the Web, or eBay, seem to b

  • That was easy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by narcc (412956) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:39PM (#41837991) Journal

    A quick google search turns up this:


    Sakura Pigma Micron 005 Marker Pen - 0.2 mm - Black

    It's not a pencil, it's crazy thin, and (being a marker pen) should have none of the problems listed. The comments suggest that it's not good for people who write with "a heavy hand" which suggests that you won't need to press down very hard.

    • by periol (767926)
      Totally agree with this. I use these for my own writing, which is meant to be archival (in journals, and I want to be able to read them in 30-40 years). The tip is very fine, there is no bleed, the ink is waterproof and fade-resistant, and the pens last a long time. My current one is from 2010. They're not very expensive, and can be found at most art stores. I've gone through so many pens, and these are the best.
    • These are my favorite sketching / writing pens.
      Read all about them here [sakuraofamerica.com].

  • by stuporglue (1167677) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:44PM (#41838025) Homepage

    I have a Fisher space pen and it writes well enough, but it globs occasionally and is thicker than the average ballpoint.

    I don't currently own a technical pen, but I agree with the guy who posted a link to some. Technical pens are where it's at for that sort of thing.

  • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:45PM (#41838031)

    Not perfect, but they last and have ready supply of replacement ink, all the great colors... Just need pocket protector.

  • by Rydia (556444) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:50PM (#41838071)

    While I prefer the larger tipped version, I've used the micro before and it has a nice, clean small line. Great line of pens in either size.

  • by bored_engineer (951004) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:04PM (#41838191)

    Huh! I didn't know there were others who thought as I do about pens. I'm careful to hide how specific I am about pens, as I've assumed that I was one of about three people in the world who cared much. My favorite pen is the Zebra F-701. They don't accumulate much gunk, and leave a consistently thin line, though I'm not sure that it'll meet your exacting needs. (When the Zebra pen does accumulate gunk, I just clean it with a tissue.)

    My favorite writing tool is a Staedtler 0.2mm drafting pencil, though I also use a 0.5mm pencil. For marking wood, I use a 0.7mm or 0.9mm pencil, for durability.

    Instead of using random bits of paper, look for an engineering pad. I find them at staples. I'm not sure what they do differently with the paper, but it seems to be slightly more durable. I appreciate this as I've been known to erase work to make corrections. (The outfit I work for supplies pads, but I prefer to use my own, as the paper is better.)

    Last thing: I bought a Fisher Space Pen 18 or so years ago and absolutely hated it. The durn thing seemed to be happy to write, but it also left ink blobs everywhere. Yech!

  • Quill? (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:05PM (#41838201) Homepage Journal

    1) Find a goose.

    2) Pluck a large quill feather.

    3) If the point isn't fine enough, keep plucking

    Note: the goose will probably be annoyed after your first choice. Annoyed gueese have a way of convincing you that your current quill selection is good enough.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:05PM (#41838207)

    I have a similar taste in pens, and I've settled on the Pilot G-2 0.38mm.
    The ink takes about 2-3 seconds to dry. That fits my quick drying criteria; yours may be different.

    Other than that it fits the bill. You can get them at staples for maybe $7 for a six pack.

  • by God of Lemmings (455435) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:21AM (#41838669)
    This here sir, is the pen you are looking for. Anything else is just common garbage.

    google search for Pilot G-Tec-C4 [google.com]
    It comes in both 0.2mm and 0.4mm, although I would recommend 0.4mm on thinner paper.
    It is a steel tip gel rollerball pen, and the ink dries fairly quick and writes evenly unless the tip is dirty,
    which is a little difficult to clean. It can a fair amount of pressure while writing as well.

    It somewhat recently became available in America and is available in multiple colors as well,
    although I have been using them for years by importing them from other countries.
  • by dbrueck (1872018) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:36AM (#41838751)

    +1 to all those who cited the Zebra. Relatively cheap, no mess (and I'm a lefty), fine detail for my tiny writing. There's a gel variant - avoid that.

  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:44AM (#41838809) Journal

    This is one of the nerdiest posts I've seen in a long long time.
    As just a normal IT nerd and regular to slashdot, thank you for continuing to come here, it's good to see some really smart guys here.

    I always like hearing good old 60's / 70's / 80's stories from people like you regarding big cool interesting projects / problems - not just same old IT stuff you can get anywhere.

    This is why I keep coming here, unique people and history.
    P.S - can't help with your pen problem, I'm just one of those normal nerds. Try a palm pilot!

  • by GrantRobertson (973370) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:45AM (#41839053) Homepage Journal
    Yes, "Better" is part of the name, and they truly are.

    I have used this pen for decades now. (OK, not the same one.) It is listed as having a .5 mm tip but it writes much more fine than that. I once legibly signed my name (Grant S. Robertson) with one in about 1/4 of an inch. Not .25" HIGH... .25" long and only about 1/16" high. You can't do that with any gel pen or drafter's pen. It writes on just about any surface, including photographs and thermal receipt paper. It never globs up. It rarely needs to be "started" by scribbling on a piece of scratch paper. The line is even, without those spaces where you can see that the ball pushed the ink out of the way as with cheaper ball-point pens. They last a really, really long time. They don't look fancy so no one will steal them from you. And they are super inexpensive. You can get some here: http://www.amazon.com/Better-Ballpoint-Retractable-Ribbed-PIL30000/dp/B00006IEB8 [amazon.com].

    I even got a bunch of refills so I won't ever have to worry about doing without them for at least ten years.
  • Fisher Space Pen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AdamTheTech (1623441) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @03:08AM (#41839321)
    For a quick comparison, I can write as small as the date that appears on a penny with a Fisher Space Pen. http://i46.tinypic.com/34zzpyh.jpg [tinypic.com] However, you will have issues with its ink smearing like any other pen.
  • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @03:18AM (#41839357)

    If you want a very fine-tip pen, you need to start looking into Japanese imports. In the US, you spend about $5 on a several pens. In Japan, you spend that much on one. As such, Japan has a thriving pen/pencil market--very high quality pens and pencils, the latest technology, great materials, and fairly cheap prices. I've seen pens in Japan with writing sizes as small as 0.18mm. As some people have mentioned above, JetPens [jetpens.com] is a great site to purchase them for cheap.

  • by RockDoctor (15477) on Saturday November 03, 2012 @04:21PM (#41867121) Journal
    ... It'll be stolen. Guaranteed.

    Don't bother ; find a cheap one that is good enough, buy a box full (or a couple of bodies and a box of refills in several colours), then get on with your life.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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