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More Staedtler at Insights X 3

As mentioned in the previous blog post about the updated Mars technico 780C I want to show a few of the other new Staedtler products. This is the second of two blog posts about Staedtler at Insights X 2016.

Metal sharpeners

The well known metal sharpeners 510 10 and 510 20 (double hole) are now also available in a range of metallic colours. You can read about the golden anniversary edition in this blog post and about the change to the Wopex friendly version in this blog post.

Some of the new metallic colours

Some of the new metallic colours

I think these sharpeners should be available an day now. I am not sure about the price, but assume it won’t be very different to the existing 510 sharpeners.


Mess free pencil case sharpeners


Zipped pencil cases, like the leather one shown here or the very affordable one shown here, are very common in continental Europe. The problem though is that the sharpeners that fit in these cases tend to make a mess as they don’t have a container.


You obviously don’t sharpener over your pencil case, but bit of graphite will still stick to the sharpener and ‘pollute’ the pencil case over time.


The new plastic sharpeners aim at solving this problems by also closing the holes of the sharpeners while trying to keep the size to a minimum, so that it still fits into these pencil cases. my Eberhard Faber pencil case

…in my Eberhard Faber pencil case

This new sharpener, 512 60C, should be available from January 2017 for €1.80 (~$1.95; £1.60).


‘Geometric compasses’

I previously mentioned there is also new set of compasses that

  • convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that
  • convey the idea of colour through a special paint.

Well, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of these compasses when I was at the Staedtler stand. Sorry.


Rulers and set squares for right and left handed use

I was only able to take a photo of the 30cm rulers for right and left handed use, article number 562 300 PB, but there is also a set of two 15cm rulers and a geometry set (set square, ..) for right and left handed use. The rulers will sell for €1 (~$1.10; 90p), the geometry set for €2 (~$2.20; £1.80).

Ruler 562 300 PB

Ruler 562 300 PB

The Noris eco in 2H, H, HB, B and 2B

Well, of course I saved the best till last. We’re finally getting some pencils made from Wopex material in different grades!

You might remember that, despite being a fan of the Wopex, for example because it doesn’t exhibit graphite transfer issues like other pencils, I was quite disappointed with the previous 2B and 2H Wopex – just because there was virtually no difference between the different grades.

The Noris eco in five grades

The Noris eco in five grades

The good news is that the new version of the Noris eco, available in five grades, seems to have solved this issue. I believe that they are still working on improving the ‘lead recipe’ even further, but the new grades will be available early next year.

Staedtler at Insights X 5

Welcome to the first of two articles about Staedtler at the Insights X 2016. This one is looking at one of the great minds working at Staedtler: Helmut Hufnagl.

Helmut Hufnagl

Helmut Hufnagl

Helmut Hufnagl loves to solve problems.

Wopex pencils have a different material, so sharpeners don’t work well with them?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with a Wopex optimised handheld sharpener als well as the crank sharpener 501 180.

Normal rulers are created for right handed people, so left handed people might struggle with them?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with new rulers that are equally suited for right and left handed users.

Sharpeners make a mess in the pencil case?

No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with a sharpener that won’t leave bits of wood and graphite all over the pencil case anymore.

For 2017 he also came up with a new set of compasses that convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that convey the idea of colour through a special paint and a new set of metallic coloured sharpeners.

..but the best one is yet to come and it reminds me of a story I read many years ago about Adi Dassler, the boss of a German sports shoes and clothing manufacturer, who is also from the Nuremberg area. Not only did he equip Jesse Owens who went on to win four gold medals, he once watched the Olympic Games on his telly from his home in Bavaria and noticed that one of the athletes at the Olympic Games in Montreal 1976 was running unevenly. He advised over the phone how to adjust the shoes and Alberto Juantorena, the athlete we saw on telly, went on to win two medals.

Well, Mr Hufnagl’s story is quite similar. He spotted a problem in another part of the world when he was reading an article in Wall Street Journal about his favourite designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man who designed the original VW Golf, the DeLorean (Back to the Future), the Lotus Esprit (James Bond – The Spy Who Loved me) and many many more.

In the article in WSJ Mr Giugiaro wrote:

I can’t live without: my blue Staedtler pencils. I use the pencils with the hardest lead when I have to draw the most precise contours, and softer leads for drawing shadows or for 3-D effects. When I draw one-to-one scale figurines, I prefer charcoal pencils and chalks.

Mr Giugiaro's lead holder

Mr Giugiaro’s lead holder (Image © Wall Street Journal)

The article also features a photo of Mr Giugiaro’s Staedtler ‘pencil’ – it has a beige mark, presumably to indicate which type of lead is in the lead holder. This is where Mr Hufnagl realised that it is easy to help Mr Giugiaro and others by introducing a lead hardness indicator. This was the birth of a classic with a new twist, the Mars technico 780C with a lead hardness indicator that can bet set to 4H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, red and blue by twisting the clip. I find it amazing how a simple idea can improve a tool that has been around for decades. The special black edition of this lead holder, pictured here, is being released at the same time as the traditional blue version gets the lead grade indicator update.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico

The new lead hardness or lead grade indicator is probably especially useful if you don’t use Staedtler leads. If you buy the original leads each different grade is supplied with a different colour replacement push button (they are however only push buttons, the lead holder comes with a more useful push button that doubles as a pointer/sharpener). This is not being mentioned on the Staedtler web site, but you can find this information in the comments on Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, on the Cult Pens web site or in Pen Paper Pencil’s review of the lead holder.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico

Mr Hufnagl is changing his role within Staedtler, he stopped working as a Product Manager in the area of sharpeners and technical drawing and has started his new role as Head of Trade Marketing. I hope he will still have an opportunity to develop new products in his new role.

Staedtler Mars technico

Staedtler Mars technico

Google also lists a patent with his name on.

I believe that showing the image from the Wall Street Journal in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Interlead 3

Just a quick Interlude (or should that be Interlead) before I continue with the blog posts about the Insights X 2016.

The first edition of the James Bond novel “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” from 1963 features a hand sharpened Mars Lumograph.

( Image from )

(Image from

For comparison: here’s a similarly sharpened Mars Lumograph.

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph

The photo of the James Bond book has been taken from the article about James Bond First Editions from Raptis Rare Books. I believe that showing the picture of the book in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Kaweco at Insights X 2016 2

Kaweco stand

Kaweco’s stand was the stand most visitors would see first as it was just next to the entrance to the first hall.

They showed many of their new products. I particularly liked the red fountain pen. It is a red colour that feels like a red that has been revived from Kaweco’s past, but when I asked about this I was told that it is a new colour they came up with recently.

Kaweco new pens


Kaweco also introduced new packaging in the form of a big plastic screw (you can see it in the back on the left, in the photo above).

The employee at the stand also told me that black is their ‘best colour, so they introduced black as part of their ICE Sport series (that’s the series of Sport pens that are half transparent)

Ink-wise they showed their new colours Smokey Grey and Sunrise Orange.

The new nib holder is at the bottom

The new nib holder is at the bottom


Kaweco’s new aluminium dip pen / nib holder was also being presented at their stand. There is only one nib for now, but more will be available in the future.

What I found most exciting: They brought all the tools needed to assemble their fountain pens. I was lucky enough to have witnessed how these tools are being used and made a little video. The pen being assembled is a fountain pen that is a bit darker than the new Macciato colour. This Caramel colour is limited to 300 pieces.

The last item I want to show is their new pen holder in the shape of a German Shepard, Kaweco’s heraldic animal. The pen is made from artificial stone. I have used Pelikan’s pen holder in the shape of a pelican, but it is made of some sort of ceramic and will scratch the plastic body of Pelikan pens. From the looks of it I think the problem with scratches shouldn’t be as bad with Kaweco’s pen holder, but I haven’t really tried it out.

Kaweco German Shepard pen holder

I was happy to hear that all of these items will be available in the UK.

You can find more information about Kaweco’s new products on their web site.

I found more information about the Kaweco pen holder at


Visiting Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory 4

While in Germany in August this year I was given the chance to part in a factory tour at Staedtler’s factory in Nuremberg. These factory tours are taking place nearly every day, but the audience seems to be predominantly school children. Unfortunately photography was not allowed for most of the tour, so there aren’t many pictures to show.

Staedtler factory tour

Lead production

Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory is just short of an hour’s drive from my home town. Here in Nuremberg they make the leads for wood cased pencils and coloured pencils, They also make mechanical pencils and lots of other pens, like the Triplus, the Pigment Liner and the Lumocolor, just to name a few.

I was able to see how the leads are made, which was very exciting, but unfortunately I didn’t see the wood cased pencil production, as it takes place in the Staedtler factory in Neumarkt, approximately 50 km (30 miles) South East of Nuremberg.

The leads for all Staedtler pencils are made in the Nuremberg factory. That means that if, for example, you buy a Thai-made Staedtler Minerva the lead is still from Nuremberg. Not all leads are the same though. They all use Bavarian graphite and German clay, but the better ones get, for example, a much longer oil bath.

Seeing how fast the machines make the coloured Triplus (running day and night thanks to the adult colouring boom) compared to t how long it takes to make the leads for the pencils I wonder how it is possible to produce the pencils for such a low price.

By the way, I asked which lead is most popular, after HB. After asking around Mr Rüdel, the tour guide and Staedtler expert, told me that the second most popular lead is 2B. I am not too surprised, since many people seem to like soft leads, but on the other hand some of Staedtler’s pencils are not available in 2B, so you’d think B might be more popular…

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler's history in the Staedtler Museum

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler’s history in the Staedtler Museum

Eberhard Faber and Neumarkt

The Neumarkt factory used to be the German Eberhard Faber factory1, until Staedtler bought it in the 1970s.

One of the reasons Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber company was the fact that consumers associate “Eberhard Faber” with “Faber-Castell”, so in 2009 Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber name and trademarks to Faber-Castell, who are now using it to sell their cheaper, lower quality products. Staedtler did however keep the Neumarkt factory and they are making wood cased pencils and leads for mechanical pencils there.

Staedtler factory tour

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of a factory tour and would like to thank Mr Rüdel who showed us around and who answered all my questions patiently, showing great knowledge of all things Staedtler. I would also like to thank Ms Förster who also answered many of my questions, Mr Schindler, who told me about the factory tours, and Mr Hufnagl, who took the time to say hello, despite being so busy.


  1. which was independent of the American Eberhard Faber company []