Chances are you have at least a dozen pens within reach right now, but how are they made? Tiny polypropylene copolymer pellets also known as PPC are used. PPC is light in weight, resistant to staining and has a low moisture absorption rate. The pellets are fed into a large mixer, separated and measured into the perfect portions.
The next phase of the process is injection. Pellets get poured into a giant funnel known as a hopper. In some instances they are actually vacuumed up their tubes and directly into the hopper where they are measured and portioned for the injection process. The plastic pellets travel down the hopper and into the machine where they’re melted down and injected into mold in the shape of several pen bodies attached to a plastic framework known as a runner. The process is repeated for the pen caps clutches and interior barrel. Once the moulds are removed from the frame the runner can be ground down and turned back into already colored PPC pellets which are used to make more pens. The metal tips at the end of your pens are called nibs. The nibs are attached to the plastic barrel. The ink refill via the assembly line, then the ink is injected into the cartridge through the tip and given a twist.
Then comes the fun part: testing. Multi parameter testing machines are used to test the refills affinity wear rate and amount of ink flow at various writing speeds and they are mesmerizing to watch. Sometimes a little old-fashioned elbow grease is the best test though.
A technician places the ink chamber into the barrel slides on the spring screws on the tip and pops on the thrust tube and push-button. Each pen is inspected by hand to ensure quality control and if one isn’t up to standard, it’s cast aside. Nothing but the best is accepted! Your pens are complete and ready to write. Logos and messages are printed onto the barrel or clip. Even the ink colour can be customized thus transforming them from ordinary writing tools into brand boosting promotional products! An everyday household pen is a common item with a not so common origin, so the next time you sign a check or just jot down a grocery list, take a moment and appreciate all the hard work and technique that went into creating that handy little pen.