Difference Between Roller ball and Fountain Pen

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What is the difference between a ball point and a rollerball pen? We have been asked that question many times. It is easy to be confused, both of them utilize the same technology; a ball in a socket at the end of a tube filled with ink. When the ball rolls over paper it picks up ink on one side from the tube and deposits it on the other side on the paper. What is the difference?

The simple answer is that it is all about the ink. Ball points use thick oil based inks, rollerballs use thin water based inks. The result is that rollerballs deliver a more liquid and smooth line with a feel similar to a fountain pen. The downside to a roller ball is that they need to be capped when not in use to prevent the ink from drying around the ball. Retracted is not capped, they need to be entirely closed in if not being used for more and a few hours. Rollerballs also hold less ink, so the refill needs to be replaced more often. On lower quality paper, rollerballs may also bleed slightly.

Ball points have the advantage of being a little easier to control and the ink supply lasts longer. The balls in ball points are almost always made of steel, while rollerball balls can be made of ceramic for greater smoothness when writing. There are options for a smoother, wetter line with a ball point. For a rollerball type writing feel with a ball point we recommend the Easy Flow 9000. The Parker Quickflow and Parker Gel are also excellent ink supplies that write with a fluid smoothness.

Our rollerball pens come with a Schmidt 888 or 5888 ink supply, a German ceramic ball roller with what we believe to be the smoothest writing, fastest drying and longest lasting rollerball ink supply made.