Pen Ingeneer and Designer
Over a period of five years, starting in 1978, I was employed by a German company as ingeneer and designer for pens. I was lucky because, at that company, product quality and consumer satisfaction weighed very highly during decision making. Since then, my passion for fountain pens has been ever increasing.
There is a reason for the spelling of ingeneer
Thirty years later, in 2008, my love for fountain pens wanted to be expressed, and I started writing about it. Writing has been my hobby since 1988. So, here I will tell you my stories about the development of the inner components of a fountain pen. Amongst ingeneers, we say: “A drawing says more than a thousand words”… and often even more. Therefore, there will be many images, too.
To Draw a Fine Line
The desire to draw fine, intricate and continuous lines, in particular for writing, had led to writing with a nib, bringing ink (stain) on paper (writeable surface) in a controlled fashion. For thousands of years, this has hardly changed. Fountain pens facilitate this process.
The studies of books and patents indicated that principally, their structure has not changed over the last two, three hundred years. My own research on several older fountain pens, reaching back into the early 1900th, confirm this statement. In addition, I can assure you, it has not changed since 1980 because that’s when I was there.
Therefore, I assume my knowledge has not become obsolete. It appears to me, in the small enclave of fountain pens, technology has not progressed much at all, there seems to be no need for change. Alas, I have noticed, changes in manufacturing and material technology have reduced reliability and quality.
Fountain pen writers are special people, who, once they have embraced their fountain pen, remain satisfied with and are loyal to their pen even they may deteriorate in appearance and function. For them, tradition is of high significance. Due to this characteristic of their users, fountain pens, it seems to me, are one of the few products, of which many are still designed and manufactured with the intention to last.
Therefore, there is no innovative push (one of marketing’s motivation) in this market. So-called innovation and consumer enticement rely on styling and change in colour, finish and material. The user wants tradition and reliability and mostly shy away from over-featured products (except mobile phones).
Every now and then, I meet people, who talk about their fountain pen, and often, it is the one, I feel responsible for. I hear words of pride and joy. My fountain pen has been manufactured and sold since the early eighties. Multiply this number of years by the number of days, by 12 hours in a working day in the beginning, later 24 hours a day, every twenty seconds, six pens. It’s a huge number.
This assures me, I have contributed towards creating positive the feeling of joy in our world. This makes me happy and proud. What an uplifting feeling this is.
What you find
The work published on this site is based on my own (re-) search for understanding the function of fountain pens. When using this knowledge, my experience as an ingeneer can consciencious person added tangible and practical forms to the ingeneering design of this product. This attitude I had acquired before and continued applying in all my subsequent work.
Occasionally, you may find me mentioning facts, which may sound like divulging company secrets. Far from it. Any mechanical ingeneer could grasp the principles I explain, and once they put their mind to those matters they would work it out because this is what I did, being a mechanical ingeneer and a designer.
I would like to finish with a sentence I found on the internet: “Today, a majority of fountain pen users write with fountain pens primarily for reasons related to writing comfort, expressive penmanship, aesthetics, history and heritage.” And I am proud to have contributed to the upkeep of this tradition.