Pen question

Why is it that when a pen seems like it is running out of ink, you can scribble on another part of the page and get it to work, but you can’t resume writing in the area you were working on when it ran out of ink?

7 thoughts on “Pen question

  1. Brilliant!
    I have been asking myself that very same question, literally since i was six or so.
    Although rather frustrating also in a very simpel way a bit magical. one of those “mysteries of life”

    But i am looking forward to the internet generated answer

  2. Here’s my theory: when you’re trying to write with the inkless pen, you flatten the paper down so it’s quite smooth. Scribbling elsewhere gets the ink flowing since the fresh paper is rougher, but when you go back to writing on the original spot, the paper is flat and doesn’t grab the ink. Try writing on a hard and smooth surface like glass and you’ll see the same effect.

    -Todd

  3. This is an example of planned obsolescence by pen manufacturers. They have placed two, precisely spaced air bubbles in the ink of the pen at various intervals within the ink tube. The first air bubble causes the initial drying up of ink which can be worked through by scribbling in the margins of the paper to get the ink flowing again. After years of research, pen manufacturers have determined that people tend to scribble for an exact length of time which is a closely guarded trade secret. The second bubble is timed such that it will arrive at the tip the instant you top scribbling. The hope is that you will either think the pen is empty or will become frustrated and throw the pen away and grab a new one. These sets of bubbles are spaced out at random intervals down the ink tube and the bubbles are larger the farther down you get. People not frustrated by the first set are often caught up by the second and by the 4th set 99% of people have thrown the pen away. For those of us in the know, we simply continue scribbling through each set. I have determined that a typical disposable pen can last up to 20 years with moderate daily use. If this secret were revealed to the general public, the disposable pen market would “dry up” in a matter of a few months.

  4. This would be a guess, but it seems reasonable to me.
    When you originally tried to write, you ended up by applying pressure on the paper.
    When you returned to that part of the paper later, you would have found that the paper was compressed and therefore had lost most of its absorbency and could no longer accept the ink.

  5. Likely it’s not the pen but the surface. Some writing surfaces, including some papers, don’t offer the right resistance to the pen’s ball, which then can’t rotate within its socket and distribute ink. A typical example is the thermopaper that’s used for machine-generated receipts that you have to sign. It can also happen with cheap post-it type pads, where the paper has a kind of waxy coating that is hard for the pen to write on.

    Just a thought, anyway.

  6. Ah, one of the rare occasions where my obscure paper manufacturing knowledge may be of some use. I bet you intended that as a rhetorical question, but in this case, there is an answer.

    I cannot know for sure without testing the paper where you encountered this problem, but I have a very likely guess. It is due to improper “paper sizing.” No, this has nothing to do with the dimensions of the paper.

    Paper has a chemical in it called “sizing,” it helps the paper absorb ink properly. Sometimes there are bad spots in the paper where there isn’t enough sizing, it can be hard to get the ink to come out of a ballpoint pen on those spots. The ink adheres to the sizing, which helps the little ball in the point roll as it moves across the paper. But when there’s no sizing, the ink has nothing to stick to, it’s like writing on glass, so the point doesn’t roll and the ink doesn’t come out.

  7. Maybe when you are writing, your hand rests on the paper which deposits oils from your hand on it. The margin of the paper would have no oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.