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

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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  • Mechanical pencil (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    Added benefit: clean revisions.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:50PM (#41838077)

    What kind of engineer needs to ask hundreds, or thousands, about what type of pen to get?

    That said, from the description, a sharpie ultra point would meet his needs of being thin, not having to press hard, dries instantly, and doesn't blob.

  • 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.

  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:13PM (#41838275) Journal

    it's just like the pencil recommendations above; sometimes people get the question wrong. the potential to have this pointed out is the major benefit of asking a human being (or several) about something, rather than google.

    and op is a bit harsh, but there may be some truth to it. looking back on my life, the times when i've been obsessed with micro-writing were also times when i was extremely anxious and neurotic. over time, my obsession with extra-fine writing faded, and my writing interests have moved to fountain pens and high-quality papers and inks, which is much more fun and interesting imho.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by floodo1 ( 246910 ) <floodo1@garfias . o rg> 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:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by markhahn ( 122033 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:41PM (#41838467)

    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 wider variety of paper.

  • 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: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.

  • 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.
  • Re:It's Halloween (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:31AM (#41839001)

    The reasons are quite simple: blood coagulates shortly after being exposed to air. This causes it to gel up and plug the vein on the quill/nib, resulting in irregular line width, globs on the sheet, dry tip, etc.

    What if you're a hemophiliac? Maybe their blood is better for use in pens.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rkohutek ( 122839 ) <randal.weberstreet@net> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:21AM (#41839177) Homepage Journal

    This. Pilot G2 ultrafine (.38) are fantastic! Very narrow tip, tough, gel ink so no blobbing, instant drying. Very nice.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:10AM (#41840359)
    [ / off-topic rant] I've been seeing this attitude more and more in the Ask Slashdot submission. "Why are you asking questions? Why aren't you researching everything there is to know about $SUBMISSIONTOPIC on your own?" I don't understand why it's such a big deal for someone to ask a question. Asking other people for advice is not a weakness. It's a recognition that no one person can obtain all the world's knowledg on their own. By asking like-minded people for advice, the submitter gets starting points for jumping off into his own research. For a community of people who bemoan people not taking the time to ask questions, we sure do bitch about it when they do.
  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @07:24AM (#41840421) Homepage Journal

    Look, it's someone with possibly religious beliefs! ATHEIST DICKS, ASSEMBLE!

  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:05AM (#41841071)

    does it matter? by mentioning his use he illustrates that is possible to use such a pen on very thin easily torn paper, such as that commonly used in a bible, thus addressing most of the issues brought up by people saying "dont use a technical".

  • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @03:43PM (#41845707) Journal
    Actually, you are spreading ignorance, hatred, bigotry, war and subservience. Atheism and codified religion are two sides of the same coin of ignorance.

    You assume that he has religious beliefs. All he said was that he takes really small notes in a bible. He didn't even personalize it to say his bible.

    Now, given that he is writing notes, it's quite possible he isn't an unquestionning sheep. Why notes? Is he questionning the dogma? Is he a researcher? Perhaps he is an ignorant inconsiderate prick like yourself and likes to sneak into church and write dirty limericks alongside Psalm 23?

    Your lack of logical thinking is a control mechanism far more daunting than religion.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.