I've only just bought that promotional pen and it has run out already, I hear you say. Well we have all experienced that at some time and discounting the fact that the odd one here and there is faulty there are good technical reasons why some customised pens last longer than others.
Firstly, not all inks are equal. Ballpoint pens use a very thick oily solvent which does not evaporate quickly even with the cap off so they are less prone to drying out. Not only that but the pigment to solvent ratio is high so it needs less ink deposits to achieve strong blacks or blues and hence less is used. Rollerballs on the other hand require solvents that are very thin so they can flow more easily and these tend to evaporate very quickly. Hence, a cap is normally required on a rollerball to prevent the solvent drying out. The pigment to solvent ratio is also lower in a rollerball so a larger amount of wet ink is actually deposited when writing to achieve the same density of colour as a ballpoint pen. This problems also seen with promotional markers and promotional highlighters where very volatile solvents have to be used to aid fast drying when used for writing or marking.
There is one other very important consideration when analysing the reasons some personalised pens dry out quicker than others and that is because cases can be made from different materials. Some are porous and allow the solvents to evaporate through them even when the cap is in position. As a general rule plastic pens or highlighters made from Styrene, PVC or ABS will not last as long as metal pens or pens made from polypropylene
because these materials are not porous and consequently the solvents cannot migrate through their walls.
So, why are promotional pens, markers and highlighters not always made from metal or polypropylene because surely it would solve this problem of drying out? There are two primary reasons why they are not always made from metal or polypropylene and these are either price or difficulties in printing the barrels when used as a business gift or a promotional item. Polypropylene has to be flamed to reduce the surface tension before it can be printed and this is dangerous and costly. If the cases are made from metal they are expensive so as price is king in the promotional pen market some manufacturers choose to use normal plastic materials which gives them a price advantage.
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