Tayla Ansell tries out some of the latest introductions from leading pen manufacturers

Posted on Jan 12 2017 - 10:00am by Editorial

Pukka Pens

Pukka pens

Pukka pens

Pukka Pen gel pens, Pukka Pad’s first foray into the pen market, come in a blister pack with four colours (black, blue, pink and purple). Each ink colour is bright and corresponds to the bold casing making it easy to reach for the colour you need. The black ink seemed slightly greyer and not as dark as other black pens tested.

Pukka Pads marketing manager Natalie Garner says comfort was an important factor in the design of the pens. “We had full control over the design of our gel grip – we wanted to make sure they were easy grip and comfortable to use,” she said. And in this respect they don’t disappoint; the rubber grip makes the pens comfortable to hold and easy to write with for prolonged periods. Smooth and affordable, these mark a successful introduction to the pen market for Pukka Pads.

Pentel EnerGel

Pentel launched its first gel pen in 1990 and named it the Hybrid to advertise the fact that the ink was a fusion of thick, oil-based and thinner dye or water-based technologies. The pen initially came in just four colours but Pentel quickly added an extra 22 shades, including ‘fluorescent’, pastel and metallic options. Hybrid became a global sensation.

Ten years later Pentel launched its best selling EnerGel range featuring a longer write-out length and ultraquick drying times. Gel pens typically lay down a lot of ink, which can be a problem for left-handed writers like me. I was impressed by how quickly EnerGel dries – no more smudging or ink stained hands!

Today, the EnerGel range includes fine, medium and broad nibs; cap-style or retractable tips; slimline or chunky barrels; and up to eight colours. The newest member of the range is the EnerGel Permanent. The ink is as smooth flowing and quick-drying as other pens in the range, but is also water-resistant, lightfast and fade-resistant, making it ideal for signing contracts, cheques and other important documents.

Ink density test

Ink density test

I tested the ink’s permanence by writing on a sheet of paper and then soaking it with water. Black ink written with a normal EnerGel feathered, grew thicker and yellowed slightly, while text written with the EnerGel Permanent remained unchanged.

Pilot FriXion Ball

Pilot Pen has a number of gel pens in its portfolio, including the G2, one of its oldest and best selling gel pens, now available in more than 40 colours and designs; the G Tech C4 featuring a microtip that produces an ultra-fine 0.2mm line; the B2P retractable pen made from recycled drinks bottles; and the FriXion Ball erasable pen, which Pilot introduced in 2006.

This very clever pen uses thermo sensitive ink that disappears when rubbed with the eraser on the end of the barrel. This was my first experience of heat-sensitive ink and it impressed me greatly – rubbing really does make the ink disappear. You have to go over it a few times to get rid of all the ink but once it’s gone you can write over the blank space with no problem. A neat alternative to crossings out.

Pilot G-Tec C4
I also tested out the Pilot G-Tec C4. This pen took a couple of seconds to get going and felt a bit scratchy at first, but once the ink starts flowing it is surprisingly smooth considering how fine the tip is. Capable of producing a line 0.2mm thick, this pen is ideal for applications that require precision, such as technical drawings. I liked it so much that I used it for notetaking in a press conference. It worked brilliantly to start with but after an hour or so the ink flowed less smoothly – perhaps the tip needed cleaning.

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