Fountain pens come in an array of filling systems, and sometimes it can be confusing to figure out how they work. There are so many different ink filling systems that we can’t possibly feature them all, but we will focus on a few of the most common. With each process, we assumed you would be using a new or empty fountain pen. Now let’s check out some different types of fountain pens and how to fill them!! We’ve also included a short how-to video referencing some of the most common types of fountain pen ink filling systems.
Thanks to Vanessa Langton for working with Pen Chalet on today’s’ How To Video: How to Fill Different Types of Fountain Pens.
What are the Different Types of Fountain Pens?
Cartridge Fountain Pen Fountain Pens and How to Fill Them
Cartridge fountain pens are one of the easiest and most convenient when it comes to filling your fountain pen with ink. With this type of filling system, the ink comes in a disposable, pre-filled, and convenient cartridge. To fill a cartridge fountain pen, you simply insert the new fountain pen ink cartridge into the back of the feed unit of the fountain pen. As you add the cartridge, it will puncture the cartridge, which allows ink to flow into the feed and down to the nib. This capillary process uses gravitational force to draw the ink into the pen. The method may take a minute. If you can’t wait, you can always “prime” the cartridge by squeezing it to force the ink into the pen. Once the cartridge has been inserted, and the ink is flowing, you can re-assemble the fountain pen.
Advantages of a Cartridge Fountain Pen
- Travel-friendly: The fountain pen ink comes in a pre-filled, disposable cartridge that is great for travel.
- Minimal Hassle: Easy and quick filling process with little or no mess.
- Cost: Cartridge fountain pens tend to be more budget friendly.
Disadvantages of a Cartridge Fountain Pen
- Ink Selection: Reduced ink selection. Not all cartridges fit all pens. You may be limited to ink selection available of the cartridges that fit your pen. Some pen brands will only accept their own ink cartridges. Also, not all fountain pen inks are available in cartridge form.
- Ink Capacity: Smaller ink capacity.
Eyedropper Fountain Pens and How to Fill Them
Many fountain pen enthusiasts love eyedropper fountain pens because they can hold a significant amount of fountain pen ink. Some pens are designed explicitly as eyedroppers, but many pen options can be converted to become eyedropper pens as well. (We’re not going to discuss the conversion process today. , but if you are interested in learning more about fountain pen conversions please check out our previous blog post which details the steps necessary to convert a Platinum Preppy fountain pen to an eyedropper.
To fill an eyedropper fountain pen, you use an eyedropper or syringe to transfer the fountain pen ink from an ink bottle into the body of the pen. Make sure you leave some room for the pen section to screw back into the body of the pen. Reassemble the pen and start writing!
Advantages of an Eyedropper Fountain Pen
- Ink Capacity: Eyedropper pens can hold a large amount of fountain pen ink which allows for more writing with less stopping to fill.
- Ink Selection: Eyedroppers can use any fountain pen ink.
Disadvantages of an Eyedropper Fountain Pen
- Less convenient: You need to have a separate eyedropper or syringe to fill the pen. You man need additional materials to prevent leaking, such as o-rings or silicone grease.
- Risk of Leak: Eyedropper pens may be more prone to leaking.
Converter Fountain Pens and How to Fill Them
The first pen we discussed in today’s post was a cartridge fountain pen. The converter is a small piston that attaches to a cartridge fountain pen rather than the ink cartridge we previously discussed. The converter allows the fountain pen to use other inks outside those that are available in the fountain pen’s ink cartridge form.
To fill a converter fountain pen, remove the section of the pen to reveal the converter. Make sure the converter is inserted firmly. Some converters are threaded while others are a compression fit similar to that of a cartridge. Next, place the nib of the pen into the bottle of fountain pen ink covering the breather hole. With the nib submerged, either twist or pull the knob on the converter to draw fountain pen ink into the pen. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to completely fill the fountain pen with ink. Remove the nib from the ink and clean off the excess fountain pen ink.
Advantages of a Converter Fountain Pen
- Ink Selection: Able to use any fountain pen ink.
Disadvantages of a Converter Fountain Pen
- Ink Capacity: Smaller ink capacity, similar to an ink cartridge.
Crescent Fountain Pens and How to Fill Them
Crescent fountain pens contain a small bladder inside the pen. To fill this type of pen, you must first release the locking mechanism by twisting it to align with the crescent arch. Press and hold the crescent while inserting the nib of the pen into the bottle of fountain pen ink until the breather hole is covered. Keep the nib in ink, release the crescent mechanism. You may have to repeat the process to fill the pen entirely. Remove the nib from the ink and clean off the excess ink.
Advantages of a Crescent Fountain Pen
- Ink Selection: Able to use any fountain pen ink.
Disadvantages of a Crescent Fountain Pen
- Ink Capacity: Smaller ink capacity, similar to a cartridge.
- Difficulty Filling: It can be difficult to fill the bladder completely.
Piston Fountain Pens and How to Fill Them
Piston fountain pens come with an integrated piston that allows the body of the pen to hold the ink. To fill a piston fountain pen, first, make sure the piston has been moved to the front of the pen next to the nib or section. Most pistons use a twist knob on the end of the barrel of the pen. Submerge the nib into the bottle of fountain pen ink until the breather hole is covered. Keep the nib in the ink and use the knob to draw the piston away from the nib toward the back of the barrel. The suction draws ink into the barrel of the pen. Remove the nib from the ink and clean off excess ink (a soft rag works well).
Advantages of a Piston Fountain Pen
- Ink Capacity: Piston fountain pens can hold more ink.
- Ink Selection: Piston fountain pens can use any fountain pen ink.
Disadvantages of a Piston Fountain Pen
- Cost: Piston fountain pens tend to be more expensive.
Considering all the different types of fountain pens and how to fill them can be intimidating, but once you understand how they work…it’s easy and fun! Playing with different types of fountain pens and discovering which filling systems you like the best is just part of the fun of falling in love with fountain pens. Check out an ink filling system that’s new to you. Then come back and tell us what you think! Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to try something new. Maybe you’ll even find another piece of the fountain pen world that will have you falling in love with analog life all over again!
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