Fountain Pen Magic

Function and Fabrication of Fountain Pens . . . shared by an insider

A good Start`

Fountain Pen Magic?  As you start reading, sooner or later, you will ask yourself: “There are so many aspects involved in the function of a fountain pen, and the demands for precision are so stringent, it must be a miracle that it works at all.”

I enjoyed putting it all together, for you, with the hope that you get as much enjoyment from reading and discovering.

Welcome to my Magic Fountain Pen Website

From 1978 to 1983, I worked for a German pen manufacturer and rather sooner than later, I arrived at the same point: There must be some magic involved in the function of fountain pens.  Accepting magic was a big hurdle to jump, for an ingeneer.  (If your wonder about my spelling, click on it and find out.)  I did jump, and the rewards were magical.

During this time, my main project was to make a fountain pen work, which had been handed over to me as a visual design model.  It took almost three years to complete.  This site tells the stories about my search and magical adventures for the technically interested.

You won’t find long tables nor proof. . . “the proof is in the pudding”.  Since completion of my work, all fountain pens of the company rely on the same functional components.

If you are left with questions, ask me.  One thing is for sure, my enthusiasm increases proportionally to your level of interest and participation.  Fair enough?


This site is structured, somewhat.  Each topic starts with general information, then follows the scientific background, then technical and quality details.  When you tackle an issue, I would highly recommend, start at the beginning.

Completed chapters are shown in the Table of Content ⇒⇒
 Click on a title to get there.

The following chapters are completed (or in process).  Click on their dark blue title, they are links to their pages.  One page offers a summary of the standard components of a fountain pen, including all those topics, which still wait to be written.


The making of Ink – Components of Ink – Drying – The Perfect Ink – My Commentary on Comments of Clients

Ink is a significant part of writing, and I wonder why designers and ingeneers neglect it, often. I studied rheology, fluid statics and dynamics and developed reliable test methods. Without this, my fountain pen (the one I brought to life) would be long forgotten.  Time weeds without attachment.


The Magic about Nibs – What is the purpose of the slit? – The “Breather Hole” –  Control of Ink Flow  –  Pressureless Writing  –  Nib Manufacturing Process  –  Materials

It is probably the most significant part of a fountain pen. It is the point, where it all happens. Ink is transferred to paper. The nib determines the characteristics of writing. The width of line alters in response to the pressure the writer applies, providing them with an additional form of expression, only surpassed by the brush.


How does it fulfil its role? –  The Main Task – Physics needed to understand the function – Capillaries – Surface tension – Design – Test – Materials – Manufacture

(almost finished!)
In my early days of trying to work out what it does, I drew up a flowchart of functions, interactions and feedback loops.

Having arrived from computer design, I believed, that only a microprocessor could fulfil this complex task. When I suggested it to management, they looked at me as if I had newly arrived from Mars, a second or two ago.

With a bit of help from miracles, I managed to design a feed without a microprocessor.  Last but not least, I had to because at that time they had been still too large to fit inside a pen.

Seriously, today, with microchips being cheap as chips and being so small, and nanotechnology around, I wonder, why not anyone has taken on this task.


This blog has grown a lot since its inception, and for some of you, all this technical writing and diagrams can appear quite daunting.  Send me a brief note about your interest and I would be delighted to offer you some direction.  Click on Contact, and it will take you to my contact page.


Mark Twain said this: “None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen or half its cussedness, but we can try.”


Amadeus W. Penmacher

29 July 2014


3 thoughts on “A good Start`

  1. Wow! I am very impressed. Simplicity and frivolous beauty in one. Specially, I like the schreiber model (not because it is a German word). Would love to test one and see how it works and writes. What is the price range? The Ultima I like because of the visible nib.


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, insights, and observations. As a biologist and chemist who has become more and more of an an amateur ingeneer each and everyday as I seek to understand how organisms functions, I am deeply impreesed by the clarity and detail of your explanation of fountain pen design, function, and associated topics. You recall me to my love of topics in physics and phyical chemistry.

    Reading your blogs is a life-changing, pleasant experience that causes me to reflect and yes, often smile.

    We have a few things in common as well: both my beloved and much-missed, beloved grandmothers were German, and I was also lucky enough to live for a year in Australia (in that Oz of the West, Perth).

    Please keep writing -I promise, I will keep reading.

    Charlotte, North Carolina USA


    • Thank you Brian for your encouraging and kind comment. I am so glad that you smiled, that’s the hole point… whole.
      My writing is inspired… letters like yours certainly help.
      There is learning everywhere: first I had to overcome the barrier of writing, then putting it out into the wild wide world www. and now, receiving comments ranging widely, from some like yours and others. Won’t leave them the last word!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s