A-Z Of M&G Stationery: I – Ink Types

M&G Basics capped ball pen – ABP64772 Colour fan

We thought that you might find it interesting to learn a bit about the inks that get put into pens.

Ball Pen Ink

As a general rule the ink that goes into a ballpoint pen has one or more colour pigments or dyes. These are dissolved or suspended in a solvent. The solvent can vary, but the most common are oil or water. Additional chemicals such as oleic acid and alkyl alkanolamide are added to improve ink flow.

4 colour ball pen ABP80371
4 colour ball pen ABP80371

Early ballpoint pens had issues. They had tenancies to leak, clog, or smear on the page. Early inks would also have a problem with fading. It took many years to find a formula that would make the pens work well enough to become a replacement for fountain pens as a first choice of writing implement.

Early ballpoint pens were developed in the early 1940s. It wasn’t until 1949 that the pen that became the ink formula that is basically used in all pens today.

Gel Pens

A gel pen uses ink where pigment is suspended in a water-based gel. It shows up more clearly on dark or slick surfaces than the typical inks used in ballpoint pens. Gel pens can be used for many types of writing and illustration. The ink is thicker in a gel pen, because it uses biopolymers such as xanthan gum and tragacanth gum. The result of this means that the colours tend to be brighter, they also have a smooth writing action because of the flow.

Capped Gel Pens AGP13271
Capped Gel Pens AGP13271

The general design of a gel pen is not that different to other pens. It has a barrel with a reservoir filled with the ink. The barrels can be created in many different sizes and designs and grips. Nib sizes range from a fine to a thick nib with different sizes.

Erasable Inks

Erasable pens essentially fall into three types.

AKPH3271 Black and Blue
AKPH3271 Black and Blue

The first type, and the original method is one where the ink is physically rubbed causing it to be removed from the page. This works in the same way an eraser removes pencil markings.

The second way is with ink that is removed by a chemical reaction. When the appropriate chemical is applied, the colour pigment disappears.

Then final method is by using thermosensitive ink. In this case, the ink is removed by friction. Eradicable so becomes invisible – can reappear in certain temp.

Thermosensitive ink has pigmentation contain an equal mix of three substances. Firstly a dye that can change between coloured and colorless forms, secondly colour developer, and thirdly a colour change temperature regulator.

The dye in the ink determines the colour of the writing, but does not actually produce it until it chemically bonds with the colour developer. The colour change temperature regulator stops that bonding at a certain temperature. This results in making the colour disappear, and therefore erasing it. Depending on which regulator is used, depends what temperature is needed to prevent bonding. This temperature is achieved by friction.

The other type is having the correct chemical which when it comes in contact with the ink – it causes it to disappear. This is the ink that is used within the M&G erasable gel pens.

M&G Inks

M&G ball pens use ink from top global manufacturers including Dokumental. The result a high quality writing experience with smooth flow and good colours.

Ink is the vital component of a successful pen, and we believe that M&G’s pens have top quality ink and that our products are great value for money. Try out our product see the range here on our website.