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Filling systems in a fountain pen

Filling systems in a fountain pen

What are the different ways to fill ink in a fountain pen?



Read below the transcript of the video:

In a pen, where does the ink go?

Welcome back once again to a new comparative video on our Iguana Sell channel. Today, we have a topic closely related to the world of writing, to the world of fountain pens, which surely will be of interest to our long-time followers as well as new ones who are joining us. And that is: how to fill a fountain pen. What different filling mechanisms can we see and use in a fountain pen? Today, we will tell you everything.

The first system we are going to discuss today is cartridges. This is perhaps the least romantic system, I would say, among all the ones we are going to talk about, and it is the most well-known. What is a cartridge? A cartridge is a plastic cylinder that comes pre-filled with ink. Most of the time, we find these plastic cylinders in very standard colours: blue, black, green, and sometimes red... not much more. The cartridge is very simple. All we have to do is unscrew the body of the pen, screw in the cartridge, apply a little pressure, and we will hear it click into place. And there you have it, our pen is now loaded.

Setting cartridges aside, we have some filling mechanisms that are perhaps a bit more romantic, as I mentioned earlier. If we want to start playing with inks of different colours, or if we even want to create our own mixes, we need one of the systems we are going to discuss.

First, we have the converter. The converter is the closest thing to a cartridge. What is a converter? A converter is already inside our pen. We simply open our pen, remove the body, and you will see a fabulous and beautiful converter appear. This is a converter. How can we fill our pen with the converter? Basically, we move this back part, which allows us to have maximum suction within this mechanism. We dip the nib into an inkwell and start turning it backwards. This way, we extract the ink from the inkwell and our pen is now loaded with the wonderful ink colour of our choice, which we can enjoy. The converter, as I mentioned, is very similar to the cartridge because the converter can even be unscrewed from our grip section.

The next system we have is the piston. The piston is practically the same as the converter because it is based on the same mechanism we saw in the converter. We take our little system, dip it into the inkwell, and turn it backward. And we manage to fill our pen with ink. The mechanism, and in fact the mechanics of this, are exactly the same as the converter. But what is the big difference? The piston comes already assembled in the pen itself, and it usually allows for much larger ink capacity. Look at this diameter that allows us to load much more ink compared to the converter. So to speak: a piston is born, not made

And now we come to the fourth and final system we are discussing today, and that is the vacuum or pressure filling system. Look at this pen we have here, a spectacular Visconti, and you can see it has a mechanism here that resembles the piston but it is not exactly like the piston. This is the vacuum filling mechanism. How does it work? Basically, we twist the back part, and once it has disengaged, we pull it back a little. We have just removed the entire piece in order to fill our ink. How do we do it? We dip it into an inkwell, once again exactly like before, and we basically push this entire piece. By making this movement, we create a pressure difference that allows us to fill the entire body with the ink from our inkwell. We finish twisting, screw it back in. Here we have our perfectly loaded piece. 

As I mentioned before, cartridges are perhaps the simplest mechanism, and as we have mentioned, we have the limitation of the colours: they are what they are. There is an additional limitation, and that is that sometimes, although not always, certain brands require their own cartridges, which can limit our choices. It is also true in favor of the cartridge, which seems to be the villain of the story, that in the end it is very convenient, very simple, we can carry several of them, we can travel with them, we can store them anywhere... In the end, the cartridge has its utility, and I believe we shouldn't demonize our beloved cartridge, which often comes to our rescue. 

Along with that, we have the other three systems. They all share the great characteristic that we can play with different inks, different colors, we can make our own ink, we can be as creative as we want. And that is very nice and enjoyable in the world of fountain pens. Are there any small drawbacks? They are more complex to manage in the sense that it is not as simple as inserting a cartridge, and many times when we fill our ink, what will happen? We will get our fingers stained with green ink, blue ink, red ink... with different colors. Is that good? Is it bad? Well, that is also part of the charm, and in the end, I believe that's what defines us, right?

So, well, to each their own. The most important thing is to write with a fountain pen, use the pens, and enjoy our inks, whether it's with cartridges, converters, pistons, or vacuums... It's a beautiful world, and we can always enjoy it.

Which filling mechanism do you prefer?


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