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General

  • A ballpoint pen (also eponymously known in British English as a biro and pronounced bye-row in Britain but sometimes bee-row elsewhere), is a modern writing instrument.
  • Ballpoint pens are ubiquitous in modern culture. While other forms of pen are available, ballpoint pens are certainly the most common and almost every household is likely to have several. The fact that they are so cheaply available (costing from just a few cents/pence to produce) and so convenient to use means they are often to be found on desks and also in pockets, handbags, purses, bags and in cars almost anywhere where one could conceivably need to use a pen

Technology

  • Ballpoint pen technology has improved greatly since the time of Loud's first patented invention. Future research will focus on developing new inks and better designed pens that are more comfortable and longer lasting. Additionally, manufacturers will strive to produce higher quality products at the lowest possible cost. One trend that will continue will be the development of materials and processes which use metals and plastics that have undergone a minimum of processing from their normal state. This should minimize waste, increase production speed, and reduce the final cost of the pens.

Manufacturing Process

  • 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 That ball has since been replaced by a textured tungsten carbide ball.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.
  • 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

Market

  • Imports of writing instruments have increased year by year, and total imports including parts rose by 9.3% to 17.12 billion in 2004. The key imported products are ball point pens (6.63 billion) and marking pens (2.93 billion) and they made up 55.8% of total import value.
  • Sales of writing instruments have remained strong, despite the advancements and growth of popularity of the PC, Internet, PDAs and other such technology.
  • Pens make up 50% of the market, with sales figures at $2.2 billion. With 25% of the market, markers and highlighters reached $940 million and $200 million, respectively. The rest of the market is made up of pencils (20% at $900 million), refills (4% at $200 million), and pen and pencil sets (1% at $50 million

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