I’m an aspiring writer, and thus a rabid inkpenophile, and I’m always on the lookout for better pens. I stumbled across a link recently for an “inkless metal pen” with “an endless supply of ‘ink’” that will “last a lifetime”. I was immediately interested, so I picked one up.
According to the website, the inkless metal pen has a special alloy tip that deposits small amounts of itself into the paper. Though visible, this amount is apparently so minuscule that the pen will last a lifetime. That’s pretty vague… it doesn’t specify the length of the life or the frequency of use. Still, it purports to last a LONG DAMN TIME, and that’s pretty impressive.
The first thing I noticed was that the anodized aluminum body is relatively slick. I don’t have large hands, and it felt like I had to grip it pretty tightly to get it to perform adequately (that’s what she said). I would recommend using a slide-on rubber grip pad, or dipping/spraying the handle with rubberized tool-dip. Even wrapping it with electrical or grip tape would help if you don’t mind compromising the futuristic appearance. Since I planned to pass this pen along to another reviewer, I refrained from modifying it.
Vat 19 claims that the pen writes under water and upset down. Since i’ve never had a reason to writer under water or upside down, I decided to test it under my most probable conditions: sitting at the coffee table in my living room. Under these conditions, I’m happy to say, it wrote just fine!
The first thing I noticed was that the so-called pen is really much closer to a pencil in both function and effect. It requires pressing firmly to get a line dark enough for my preference, and the amount of friction would make it difficult to write quickly in smooth cursive. Lucky for me, I never write in cursive because it’s 2011. With the amount of grip required, and the amount of force required to make a dark line, I can see writer’s cramp becoming a real problem after a moderate amount of use. The variation in shade that you see was not my doing, but rather, was where apparent variations in the texture of the paper (imperceivable by my touch) were causing more or less alloy to be deposited.
Then I noticed the other end of the pen(cil) – where the solid aluminum body had been cut at a nice shallow angle, leaving a surprisingly sharp edge.
Thanks to reading publications like The Martialist, one thing I’ve always looks for in a pen is its potential to be employed “creatively” in certain… “problem-solving capacities”. *cough* Specifically, when I’m required to enter a building or vehicle that doesn’t allow me to carry my usual implements of utility and defense, I carry a good sturdy metal pen that could be employed as an inconspicuous yawara in a self-defense situation. As long as there’s no law against ink pens, I’ll continue to do so. Thus, almost as soon as I’d decided that the inkless metal pen(cil) wasn’t exactly right for my daily use, I realized that it might be unintentionally perfect for self-defense.
***Obviously, neither Vat19 nor the pen’s manufacturer intended this in its design, nor do they necessarily agree with the idea of employing the pen in this capacity.***
First, I tried cutting paper. Without pressing very hard at all, it made a clean cut through the top sheet, and the sheet underneath it.
Next, I tried something a bit thicker and more fleshy – a delicious spaghetti squash:
Next, I tried stabbing the poor squash… because everybody knows your food tastes better when you kill it yourself:
The back end actually works better, as the sharp edge penetrated the squash more easily than the relatively blunt alloy tip. In stabbing, the small diameter and slick body of the pen again proved problematic, and I wouldn’t advise this without somehow improving the thickness and or grip of the pen, as previously discussed.
So, in closing, while I can’t recommend the inkless metal pen(cil) for prolonged daily use, I can absolutely recommend it for special carry where your pocket knife isn’t allowed, pending some modification. Also, the back edge would make a great improvised box opener, screwdriver, scraper, or light-use prying tool.
I can also say that I WILL be buying more of these pens to put in my car and my various bug-out bags. Far too often have I needed a writing implement in the car only to find that the pen I stole from the bank drive-through all those years ago no longer works. I never compose sonnets or write lengthy correspondences in the car – I’m usually just trying to sign receipts or fill out checks, and for short-form uses like that, the inkless metal pen would be PERFECT.
As for my bug-out bags – if I the need for them ever arises, chances are that scavenging working pens and ink refills will be pretty far down my priority list, and making small notes will undoubtedly come in handy. When the pen factories have long been shut down and picked clean, and the pencils have all been sharpened into dust, those of us with inkless metal pens will be the ones rewriting the history of the world… and we’ll probably have bigger things to complain about than writer’s cramp.
P.S. – Vat19.com has some of the coolest damn things I’ve EVER SEEN. Here are some favorites: Swiss Army Pen, Solar-Powered Sun Jar, .375 Bullet Pen, Firestash Keychain Mini-Lighter, Spotlight Rechargeable LED Vehicle Flashlight,
And Ho-ly-shit. I have GOT to get one of these for Tuco, my B.O.V.: PowerDome EX 400 Compact Generator/Radio/AirCompressor/Inverter/Jump-Starter/etc.