Rollerball v. Ballpoint

Rollerball v. Ballpoint

30 Jan 2023

The difference in feel

Many people claim to be able to tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. It’s possible, but let’s agree that they taste pretty similar. In comparison to caramel-colored carbonated beverages, the difference in writing feel between a rollerball and a ballpoint is quite readily apparent.

The rollerball, for example, glides smoothly over the pager. And like a well-used fountain pen, the ink flows boldly from the tip. The downside of liquid ink is that while it does dry rapidly, it’s not quite fast enough to prevent smears and smudges if touched shortly afterward. Left-hand dominant people can attest to having to deal with this drawback on a semi-regular basis. Liquid inks can also bleed through certain papers quite rapidly.

The ballpoint pen - especially early examples - can feel a bit disengaged compared to rollerball (and fountain pens); a liquid ink pen can kind of be dialed in while a ballpoint can feel more ON/OFF. However, they are responsive in their fashion and have several advantages. One great benefit is that they dry pretty close to immediately. You can also use them in space, though what are the chances you’ll be signing a receipt while aboard the ISS? This ink also tends to resist running when exposed to water - archival-quality liquid inks also exhibit excellent water resistance as well.


Rollerball / The Pilot Precise series of rolling ball pens. Take off the cap and the first thing you notice will be the fins that feed ink - visible through the transparent plastic grip. If you could X-Ray a fountain pen, you’d see a similar apparatus used to move ink from the reservoir to the tip. A fountain pen has an open nib and the rollerball does not. Because of this, despite both employing liquid ink, the rollerball is less prone to leak.

Ballpoint / We’ve all used the BIC Cristal at least once or twice. It’s the most ubiquitous pen on the planet. Introduced in 1959 for 29¢ - or around $2.50 today - they were the first mass-market disposable pen. Cheap to buy and cheaper to make, over 100 billion are (unfortunately) floating around. You can see an example at every checkout counter in the world. The ink in this type of pen operates like one of our glue sticks. It consists of pigment and solvent and when exposed to the air the solvent quickly evaporates leaving behind the “ink.”

The preference is yours*

Whatever pen you use is entirely up to you. *We’d politely ask that you not to purchase a disposable one.

Throw away pens aren’t recycled.

Some pens end up in landfills or incinerators or hang out in semi-permanent residence in various drawers within your home. But, they also end up where you might not expect. Like Henderson Island, located halfway between New Zealand and South America in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While humans don’t live there, they are causing major and catastrophic effects on the island. An estimated 13,000 pieces of trash end up on its shores every day - the majority, you guessed it, our friend plastic.

Disposable products are not sustainable.

Instead of a disposable V7, how about you consider the Pilot V7 Hi-Tecpoint cartridge system rollerball. It’s not perfect but you don’t have to throw it away when it’s empty. And while It is made from plastic, 71% of the pen is made from recycled materials. It’s something and better than a pen designed to be thrown away.

We’d also ask you to take a look at agood pen we created. Design and development took half a year and we are proud of the result.

It is made using only natural meadow grass and recycled BPA-free plastics - so it's recyclable and made from compostable components. We also made it affordable and refillable because it is much better to keep on using something you already have than to just throw it away.

Our pen also writes incredibly well, so you’ll want to hold on to and keep using it. If you need to step away from ink for a bit, completely fine, we also sell a matching pencil version. Together, most of your writing needs will be met for years to come.

Next steps

Now that you have all your writing instruments sorted, why not take a look at some of our amazing stone paper stationery products. 😉

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