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Leaky Ball Point Pens

  1. Feb 24, 2017 #1


    Staff: Mentor

    I'm so old, that in 2nd grade school we still used ink wells, and ink dip pens. (And yes I did get whacked for dipping a girl's pigtail in the well.) But they were replaced by ballpoint pens,

    But ballpoint pens in the 50s were terrible. They leaked ink profusely. If my memory is right, leaky ballpoints became less frequent in the 60s and still less in the 70s, but were still common enough that engineers had good reason to wear pocket protectors. After the 70s, undamaged but leaky ballpoint pens seemed to disappear. It has been many years since I saw a pocket protector for sale in a clothes store.

    Clearly there was an advance in engineering that eliminated the leak problem. What was it? Who should we credit?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Our desks in the early years had the ink wells but no ink. Several desks linked together by the cast iron framing, so if one student jerked around so did every one else. Lift up top to the space to put all your stuff, wooden pencil cases, and the pull out drawer under the seat, excellently functional. And solid wood too!

    As to the ballpoint pens, some do leak, so do beware.

    Off the cuff, would change in clothing wear be a contributing factor. Tiny fibres coming off the thread act as a wick. Cotton, for example, may have more of a wicking tendency than some of the synthetic threads.
  4. Feb 24, 2017 #3
    I also remember ink wells in desks, but they were not used when I was in school.

    As far as leaky pens, I'd just assume tighter tolerances, better machining, better ink formulations? Incremental improvements rather than any one big thing to point to?
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