Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Metal Pencils: Not Re-Inventing the Wheel, Quite

"Neither Pen Nor Pencil: Write Endlessly In Metal"
Gadget Lab, Wired (September 13, 2010)

"One of the pleasures of writing in pencil is the friction of two solid materials in contact. One of the delights of writing in pen is that you can write continuously without having to stop to sharpen your stylus. Writing in metal, while expensive, provides some of the benefits of both while exhibiting its own unique beauty.

"These two (that's right, two) different metal pen manufacturers come to us by way of champ design blog Dornob. Both models work on the same principle: A tiny amount of metal alloy transfers from the pen to the page. Unlike pencil, it can't be smudged with your hand, and unlike ink, it doesn't need to dry. The amount of alloy for each stroke is so tiny that the pens are expected to last a lifetime without needing to be refilled or replaced. You can sharpen the tips for a finer point with a little sandpaper...."

One of the products' writing metal "has trace amounts of lead" - which is what "lead" pencils used to have, before we started using graphite.

The Gadget Lab article includes this video:

"The Inkless Metal Pen literally writes in metal"

vat19com, YouTube (August 19, 2010)
video, 1:45

"...The Inkless Metal Pen features a special metal alloy tip. As you write, tiny amounts of this metal are deposited onto the page. The silvery markings may resemble pencil, but they are permanent and completely smudge-proof...."

The Lemming reduced the width of the video, to fit this blog's format - follow the link to see vat19com's video at full size.

The Gadget Lab article points out that metal writing instruments are nothing new - Renaissance artists used them, for starters. On the other hand, the latest crop has a few nifty wrinkles of their own. Including, in some cases, a slightly heart-stopping price tag.

About the "endlessly" part of the title: These new metal writers are supposed to use so little of their substance, that one of them would last a lifetime.

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