Inexpensive, nonfading permanent ink ballpoint pens
Richard H. Zander
Res Botanica, Missouri Botanical Garden
February 23, 2004

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Inexpensive, nonfading permanent ink ballpoint pens


Many a time we have been disappointed to find a nearly illegible specimen or microslide label that we had been sure would tolerate time's abrasion and ultraviolet. A Rapidograph-style drawing pen is tedious to load with ink via pipette or syringe, leaks, picks up link in the tip, and is expensive to use if one resorts to ink cartridges. There are several ball point pens on the market that advertise themselves as being permanent ink pens. These are moderately expensive, however, and they seem to congregate at home instead of waiting dutifully on the lab bench. I've used a fountain pen with India ink, but the ink needed to be diluted or the pen jammed.


A new solution is to buy a ball point pen clearly to control the delivery of fluid ink by the series of disks near the writing end.  Some are very cheap, such as the Beifa "Tank" pen found in "dollar stores" at three for a dollar. The ink is already touted as "permanent" but one can remove the point stem with its disks with a pliers, and replace the ink with India ink (e.g. Rapidograph ink which comes in a small squeeze bottle with a narrow tip), then shove the stem back into the pen.


I've been using such for quite a while and it has not jammed. It is a pleasure to assure oneself that one is using genuine permanent, non-fading India ink.


Expensive Uniball permanent ink ball point, and cheap Beifa Tank pen.


Remove the stem and point with pliers, and refill with genuine India ink.