What Is the Difference Between Roller Point & Ballpoint Pens?

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A ballpoint pen contains a metal ball housed in a socket that dispenses ink onto paper as the ball turns. A roller point pen, or roller ball pen, also uses a rolling ball but utilizes free-flowing ink for smoother writing.

History

  • Ballpoint pens hit the U.S. market in 1945 and were an instant success. Roller point pens were introduced after the 1950s.

Features

  • Low cost, availability and reliability make the ballpoint pen a popular choice. Various colors and styles help sales of the roller point pen, despite its higher cost.

Considerations

  • Designed to dry quickly on paper, ballpoint pens use a thicker, oil-based ink that allows a slower flow of ink to the paper and is absorbed quickly. Roller point pens use a water-based ink that absorbs on paper faster than ballpoint ink.

Function

  • To understand how the roller point pen works, Jeff Elder of the Charlotte Observer newspaper suggests looking at roll-on antiperspirant: "Works the same way: The ball is in a socket that allows it to roll, constantly picking up the liquid behind it."

Fun Facts

  • More than 146 million BIC Cristal ballpoint pens are sold each year in the United States, according to BIC Consumer Products USA. The ball at the tip of a roller point pen can roll up to 2,500 rolls per minute, according to Leighton Davies-Smith of Newell Rubbermaid.

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References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Andrew Magill Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Danny Hope
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