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Pens offer a useful and cost-effective way to promote your business, organization or event. Unlike sticky note cards or can coolie, pens slip into a person's pocket and see constant use.

Plus, using pens to take notes actually helps people remember pertinent details.

Of course, even buying pens can prove a process filled with decisions. One of the main choices you'll face is whether to get metal pens or plastic pens.

Both kinds are readily available and have pros and cons.

So let's jump in and see if we can't make choosing a little easier for you.


Most people jump to cost as the first factor in their decision making, so we'll start there.

On a per pen basis, you can get a basic plastic pen for around $0.44 and a metal pen for about $1.22. The catch is that most companies only sell in bulk and insist on minimum order quantities. 100 pens is a fairly standard minimum order size.

So your base cost for 100 pens will run around $44 for plastic and $122 for metal ones. At close to three times the cost, metal loses this battle. That's assuming that price is the only concern.

Plastic makes sense if a business owner just wants something her employees can write with that has the business name on it. Shelling out three times the cost doesn't make any sense.

When cost isn't the primary concern, metal often makes more sense because the pens offer better durability. Say you're throwing a retirement party. Then you might opt for metal so your colleagues will have a keepsake to remember you by.


The intended purpose of the pens also plays a role in the plastic vs metal pen decisions.

For example, pens make a good promotional object to send out in mailers. They're small, light and fit in most size envelopes. You can put your logo, business name and website address on it.

If you plan to send out 50-100 mailers to affluent leads, it's practical to pay the extra for economical metal pen. It creates a subliminal connection between your business and quality without putting a hurt on your wallet.

If you plan to send out 5000 mailers to promote a sale at a retail outlet, plastic pens are far more practical. There's no need to create the subliminal connection. Retail products are commodity products, so there's no prestige issue.

Using the per pen cost from above, metal would run you $6100 to plastic's $2200. Saving close to four grand on a retail sales promotion is the smart move.

A different scenario is if you're buying pens for your personal use. Most people develop preferences for particular styles and materials in their pens.

Some people prefer the heft of a fountain pen or a good metal one. Other people like cheap plastic ones they can lose without feeling bad. In those cases, comfort should drive your choice.


Strong businesses constantly seek ways to help cement their brands in customer minds. A brand is a strange combination of story, text, visual cues, and abstract ideas.

The text and visual cues often go hand-in-hand, such as pairing up brand specific colors and taglines or logos. You've probably seen this in action with promo items that slap a logo onto a brand-color coffee cup.

You can do the same thing using pens.

This can prove a little hit or miss. The company you want to buy from may not have the exact shade of blue you use or may not offer color combos. Your logo and slogan offer salvation here.

The whole point is to provide enough cues to trigger brand recall in the person. Pairing your logo and slogan with your business name a close color should prove enough to remind them of you.

The more often someone gets reminded of your business, the faster they'll recall it when they need your services.

The metal vs plastic pen debate comes up a draw here. It all boils down to which material you think sends the right brand message.

A store that sells magic tricks won't get much brand mileage out of metal pens. An investment firm might lose brand value from plastic pens.


An area of concern that's related to branding is impression building.

Let's say that you're a young lawyer. You got hired by a respectable, but unremarkable law firm. There are two levels of branding at work now.

The firm has a brand that it wants to support and largely expects you to support. Within reason, you need to operate inside those expectations.

Then there is your personal brand. It's entirely possible that you want your brand to be distinct from the firm's brand.

Let's say that the firm issues plastic pens with firm's name on it to everyone. Those send the message of practical and affordable.

A simple way to set your brand apart from firm's brand is to order metal pens with your name and the firm's name on it. That sends the impression that you offer a higher level of quality.

A tactic like that keeps you inside the bounds of the firm's branding. At the same time, it lets you start creating a separate brand identity of your own.

On the other hand, let's say you work at a business that doesn't use branded pens. Plastic pens that note your name, position and phone number set you apart without stepping on the business brand.

For impression building, the choice between metal pens and plastic pens is all about context. You want to offer something that makes you a little more memorable without stepping on toes.


The choice between plastic and metal pens doesn't offer many certain answers.

If the price is the final deciding factor, plastic pens will always be cheaper. If a feeling of quality is the deciding factor, metal typically wins. Beyond that, the decision becomes a matter evaluating the context.

You need to consider which material sends the right message for the audience. Does it support your personal branding effort? Does the perceived benefit of one material outweigh the difference in cost?

Once you can answer those questions, though, you should know which to buy.

Ballpoint Pen

A ballpoint pen is a writing instrument which features a tip that is automatically refreshed with ink. It consists of a precisely formed metal ball seated in a socket below a reservoir of ink. As the pen is moved along a writing surface, ink is delivered. Even though ballpoint pens were first patented in the late nineteenth century, they only started to reach commercial significance in the early 1950s. Now, ballpoint pens dominate the writing instrument market, selling over one hundred million pens each year worldwide.



While the idea of a ballpoint pen had been around for many years, it took three different inventors and almost 60 years to develop this modern writing instrument. The first patent for this invention was issued on October 30, 1888, to a man named John J. Loud. His ballpoint pen consisted of a tiny rotating ball bearing that was constantly coated with ink by a reservoir above it. While this invention worked, it was not well suited for paper because it leaked and caused smearing. Two other inventors, Ladislas Biro and his brother Georg, improved on Loud's invention and patented their own version, which became the first commercially significant ballpoint pen. These pens still leaked, but not as badly. They became popular worldwide, reaching the height of sales in 1944. The next year another inventor, Baron Marcel Bich, finally solved the leakage problem and began manufacturing Bic pens in Paris. Over the years, many improvements have been made in the technology and quality of the various parts of the pen, such as the ink, the ball, the reservoir, and the body.



The ballpoint pen was developed as a solution to the problems related to writing with a fountain pen. Fountain pens require the user to constantly refresh the pen by dipping its tip in ink. This is not necessary with a ballpoint pen because it is designed with its own ink reservoir, which uses capillary action to keep the ink from leaking out. At the tip of the pen is a freely rotating ball seated in a socket. Only part of this ball is exposed; the rest of it is on the inside of the pen and is constantly being bathed by ink from the reservoir. Pressing the tip of the pen on the writing surface causes the ball to roll. This rolling action then transfers ink from the inside of the pen to the writing surface.

While different designs of ballpoint pens are available, many of the components are the same. Common components include a ball, a point, ink, an ink reservoir or cartridge, and an outer housing. Some pens are topped with a cap to prevent it from leaking or having its point damaged. Other pens use a retractable point system for the same reason. Here a small spring is attached to the outside of the ink reservoir, and when a button is pushed, the point is either exposed or retracted. Still other varieties of ballpoint pens have multiple ink cartridges, making it possible to write in different colors using one pen. Other pens have refillable ink cartridges. One type of pen has a pressurized cartridge that enables the user to write underwater, over grease, and in space.

Raw Materials


A variety of raw materials are used for making the components of a ballpoint pen, including metals, plastics, and other chemicals. When ballpoint pens were first developed, an ordinary steel ball was used. That ball has since been replaced by a textured tungsten carbide ball. This material is superior because it is particularly resistant to deforming. The ball is designed to be a perfect sphere that can literally grip most any writing surface. Its surface is actually composed of over 50,000 polished surfaces and pits. The pits are connected by a series of channels that are continuous throughout the entire sphere. This design allows the ink to be present on both the surface and interior of the ball.

The points of most ballpoint pens are made out of brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc. This material is used because of its strength, resistance to corrosion, appealing appearance, and ability to be easily formed. Other parts, like the ink cartridge, the body, or the spring can also be made with brass. Aluminum is also used in some cases to make the pen body, and stainless steel can be used to make pen components. Precious metals such as gold, silver, or platinum are plated onto more expensive pens.

The ink can be specially made by the pen manufacturer. To be useful in a plastic ballpen, the ink must be slightly thick, slow drying in the reservoir, and free of particles. These characteristics ensure that the ink continues to flow to the paper without clogging the ball. When the ink is on the paper, rapid drying occurs via penetration and some evaporation. In an ink formulation, various pigments and dyes are used to provide the color. Other materials, such as lubricants, surfactants, thickeners, and preservatives, are also incorporated. These ingredients are typically dispersed in materials such as oleic acid, castor oil, or a sulfonamide plasticizer.

A little about the plastic in our pens

With pens it's hard to avoid not using plastic, so we've done our research and made sure that the plastic we use has the least damage to the environment. An eco pen club pen is up to 85% less plastic than a traditional pen.

Our plastic is safe easy to recycle

The majority of plant-based plastics who claim to be 'biodegradable' only break down in very strict conditions. Our plastic can be placed in household recycling bins.

Our plastic is easy to sort in recycling plants

Plant-based plastics (which we don't use) are not easy to sort in recycling plants and shouldn't be put in mixed plastic recycling bins.


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