The Flâneuse and the pencil

I’m familiar with the German verb flanieren (to stroll), but I didn’t know that is seems to be a ‘serious hobby’ and art until I heard about the Flâneuse on Radio 4 on my way to work this morning.

Why is this of interest in a pencil blog? ..because it all starts with the need for a pencil – from Street Haunting:  A London Adventure (1930)

…so when the desire comes upon us to go street rambling the pencil does for a pretext, and getting up we say: “Really I must buy a pencil”.

We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one’s own room.

Radio 4 talked about it at 8:21am when presenting the idea from a book by Lauren Elkin.

It’s very good if you find a pencil on your stroll through the streets because part of this hobby seems to be that you then write down what you have observed.

Good that there’s a happy end. At the end of the clip they luckily do find a pencil shop.

You can listen to it on the Radio 4 web site. You have to jump about 2h 21m into the programme to hear the part about the Flâneuse (and the pencil).


Designing a 3D printed pen

…just a quick follow up to yesterday’s blog post about Staedtler’s 3D-printed pen.

Staedtler’s app needed to design the 3D printed pen is (currenlty) only available for the iPad. When I got my hand on an iPad another problem came up. You can only get Staedtler’s app from the German Apple App Store. I did manage to get access to the German App Store, but it wasn’t not easy, so I thought I make a quick video of how the process of choosing/designing your pen looks like – for those unable to try it out themselves.

Here’s a look at ‘designing’ a Fusion-Line pen.

In the YouTube comments Julie Paradise pointed out that the difference between the  M and the A (beginner) nibs is that A nibs

…have the tipping of the nib shaped differently, more “forgiving” to rotating the pen while writing instead of having a smaller “sweet spot”.

Here’s a look at ‘designing’ an Icon-Line pen.

I guess we’ll see many more 3D printed pens in the future. As a start in this new era Staedtler’s Fusion and Icon-Line seem rather good.


Staedtler’s 3D printed Pen

I just noticed that Staedtler let’s you design your own pen in 3D. They will then 3D-print it and send it to you.

What a great idea.

Image © Staedtler

Image © Staedtler

As far as I can tell this service is currently only available in Germany and you need an iPad to design the pen.

PS: For Staedtler’s web sites you can’t leave out the “www.”, so staedtler.de will (currently) not work. You can find the page for this pen at https://www.staedtler.de/de/produkte/staedtler-3dsigner/.

 

I believe that the use of the image shown, taken from Staedtler’s web site,  in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


The Magno – a magnetic lead holder

A few days ago I have received a Magno from HribarCain. First I wasn’t sure what to think of it and its unique feature, but now that I have tried it for a while I have to say that I really like this pencil and love the mechanism used to propel the lead.

The Magno is a lead holder with a magnetic mechanism, invented by HribarCain – a team of two British design engineers who started working on this pencil one and a half years ago.

Magno by HribarCain

The mechanism

The special thing about this pencil is the magnetic mechanism used to propel the lead. Instead of clicking a button (..and the lead ‘falls out’) you first loosen the front of the pen. You then move a ring on the outside of the body which will move a magnet inside the pencil. This magnet is attached to the lead. This gives precise control over how much more lead you want to expose.

I know that some people who bought the Penxo, a very different Kickstarter pen  in a similar price range, had problems with the lead breaking easily. I did some initial drop tests and the Magno seems to cope well with being dropped: the lead didn’t break.

The Kickstarter

My understanding is that everything is in place to produce the Magno and it will get made anyway, but instead of just selling these pencils in an online shop HribarCain is launching a Kickstarter campaign on 22 July where early backers can get this pen for £20. The money raised will then be used for other design products they plan to make.

Magno by HribarCain

The options

The pen will be available in four colours that have an iPhone vibe to them, but unlike the Lamy LX the Magno’s colours aren’t a copy of the iPhone colour, which I think is a good thing.

Conclusion

When I saw the photos I thought the Magno is a bit on the bling looking side, but in reality the pen was more ‘serious’ looking than I expected. The ring is still a bit shiny for my taste, but overall the Magno  is serious looking enough to use at work.

Magno by HribarCain

I hope this pencil will sell well so that there will be even more versions in the future. A Rotring-style matt black version, maybe even hexagonal, with a slimmer ring would be such an amazing pen, at least for my taste, others will disagree.

The Magno is very well made and when keeping in mind that there are many lead holders and clutch pencils with a plastic body that cost nearly as much, £20 is great value for money.

You can find the Kickstarter at this address.

A photo from the Kickstarter campaign (Image © HRIBARCAIN)

A photo from the Kickstarter campaign (Image © HRIBARCAIN)


I’d like to thank Ashley from HribarCain who has sent me the Magno free of charge for review purposes.


The Uni Shift and a look at 0.4 mm leads 1

The Uni Shift 0.4mm unlocked

The Uni Shift 0.4mm unlocked

Let me start by saying: It’s all Lexikaliker’s fault.

He praised the virtues of 0.4 mm pencils, so I had to order one.

I had a look at various 0.4 mm pencils and decided to go with the Uni Shift for £7.43 from Amazon Marketplace in the UK1, in the USA it sells for $10.20, again on Amazon Marketplace …including shipping. In many online shops this pen can easily cost twice as much, though. I have no idea how the pen can be sent from Japan for such a good price.

The Uni Shift 0.4mm locked

The Uni Shift 0.4mm locked

Despite coming all the way from Japan it only took a few days before the pen arrived. The seller even remembered that I bought form him before.

0.4 mm

In theory

Well, this is my first 0.4mm pencil. You’d think 0.4mm doesn’t seem to be that different to 0.5mm, it’s just 20% smaller, but depending on how you write the difference in the graphite you lay down can easily be 30% or more.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Here’s a little table showing the surface area you cover, depending on which angle you write with and assuming you don’t rotate the pencil(!). The spreadsheet is available as a Google Doc, so you can check the formulas I used. Please let me know if you find a mistake.

Surface area at 40°

Surface area at 40°

Assuming a writing angle of 40° a 0.5mm pencil would cover a surface area more than 50% bigger than a 0.4mm pencil, so there is quite a difference.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

 

In practice

…well at least that’s the theory. In reality things look a bit different. When I checked lead diameters with my caliper I got different numbers. Have a look at the table below. Note: 0.3mm and 0.35mm is used interchangeably my manufacturers.

Nominal value (mm)0.20.3/0.350.40.50.7
Measured value (mm)0.240.360.460.550.68

I am not sure whether I read about this discrepancy in the past, but when I had a look I couldn’t find any information about this on the web. Since my caliper isn’t ‘officially’ calibrated and is just for home use I won’t go into more details and speculation here, other that these might be legacy diameters manufacturers adhere to so that leads and pencil stay interchangeable.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Using the nominal value, an 0.5mm lead used at an angle of 40° has a 50% bigger surface area than an 0.4mm lead. Using the measured values the 0.4mm lead is closer to the 0.5mm lead, but the gap to the 0.35mm lead widens, see table below.

Lead size (mm)0.350.40.5
Surface area (mm^2)(nominal diameter)0.150.200.31
Surface area (mm^2) (measured diameter)0.160.260.37

The main issue with 0.4mm pencils is that the choice of leads is not that big, but the excellent neox Graphite leads are available in 0.4mm.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Uni Shift

The main purpose of the pipe lock mechanism seems to be to make the pencil pocket safe, i.e. the rigid sleeve/pipe is hidden so that it can’t damage your pocket. I guess the mechanism used in the Uni Shift makes it easier to create a pencil where the sleeve is rigid and doesn’t wobble, compared to mechanical pencils with a retractable sleeve. Easier might in this case also equate to ‘cheaper to manufacture’.

All sleeves out

All sleeves out

The mechanism that locks the lead feels a bit clumsy. I don’t find it as nice as some alternatives, shown in the video, mainly because it is more difficult to use single handedly.

I like the grip section. It is made from metal. The upper body of the pen is only plastic. Considering the price of the pen this is however not surprising.

All sleeves in

All sleeves in

The pencil is excellent value for money, at least for the price I paid. If you don’t like 0.4mm you can buy the Uni Shift in many other lead diameters, too.

Uni Shift 0.4mm and Silvine Memo Book


Price: June and July 2016
Exchange rates: July 2016

As usual please open images in a new tab to see a high resolution version. To see the video inhigh resolution please open in YouTube,

If you want to read more about Mitsubishi and it’s link to other companies with that name have a look as Estilofilos.

If you want to be amazed by Lexikaliker’s special 0.4mm pencil have a look at Sonderanfertigung and Sonderanfertigung 2.

The Uni Shift has been mentioned in The Pen Addict podcast, episode 152, at around 30 minutes. One of Brad Dowdy’s favourite mechanical pencils.

The Pen Addict and Dave have reviews of this mechanical pencil.

 

 

 

 

  1. When I bought it it was 3p more expensive: £7.46. []