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Pencil production on TV

This wood will become Wopex material

This wood will become Wopex material (Image © Pro7)

Earlier this month I was in Germany and was lucky enough to have been part of a Staedtler factory tour in Nuremberg.

Sharpening the pencils

Sharpening the pencils (Image © Pro7)

Staedtler’s pencils are actually made or assembled in Neumarkt, but the leads are from Nuremberg, so even though I wasn’t able to see the pencils being made I was able to see how the leads are being made there …but more about this another time.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 16.20.24

(Image © Pro7)

I am mentioning this because Mr Rüdel, who showed us around, told me about a clip from a TV programme that has recently been filmed in the factory. You can watch it here. It’s about Staedtler’s pencil production. Unfortunately the clip is in German only and if you live outside Germany it might not play form that web site and you might need to use some tricks to get it to play, but I’ve added some screenshots to give you a rough idea what the video is about.

Mr Rüdel making pencils as a medieval craftsman

Mr Rüdel making pencils as a medieval craftsman (Image © Pro7)

I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post, taken from episode 191 from the 2016 season of Galileo, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Staedtler’s 3D printed Pen arrived

Here’s a quick follow up to my previous blog posts about Staedtler’s 3D printed pen.
Staedtler 3Dsigner

A while ago I designed a 3D pen and ordered it from Staedtler. I paid €23.89 (~$31.40; €28), that’s €19.99 for the fountain pen and €3.90 for postage. When I arrived in Germany earlier this month it was already waiting for me, but I only had a chance to look at it now that I am back in the UK.

Staedtler 3Dsigner

Here’s a quick look at some points I want to mention:

  • In reality the cap doesn’t look as oversized as I thought it might.
  • I ordered an M nib, but got an A nib. Luckily I got the right handed version, which is the one I need.
  • The printed text doesn’t align as shown on the photos.
  • You can see from the surface structure that the body of this pen is 3D printed. This adds to the charm of the first 3D printed pen from a big manufacturer, I think you should be able to see it.

Staedtler 3Dsigner

The wrong nib might be a one off problem, so I’ll just disregard this as a simple mistake. I am sure Staedtler would send me an M nib if I’d complain1.

In the designer software the text is on the side

In the designer software the text is on the side

The text on the real pen is much lower

The text on the real pen is much lower

The printed text being lower than shown on the iPad is more of an issue for me. It means that whatever you print is resting on the hand, between thumb and index finger when you write. In case of your own name, like in my case, I prefer it not being visible – so it’s fine for me, but the point is that what you get is not the same as what you see when you design the pen – it’s not WYSIWYG.

You can see from the surface that it's 3D printed

You can see from the surface that it’s 3D printed

For some pens, like the Lamy Safari, front and body can be screwed together in two ways – so that the logo is on the top or on the bottom. The Staedtler 3Dsigner front and body can only be screwed together in one way, so the text you printed will always end up in the same place.

Not everything is 3d printed - the logo for example isn't

Not everything looks 3d printed – the logo for example isn’t

Recently I took part in a factory tour at Staedtler where I asked a few questions about this pen. I also saw the room where these are assembled (but it was empty when the factory tour took place). My understanding is that Staedtler would like to make these 3D printed pens available outside Germany, too, but getting them to the customers on time doesn’t seem to be a trivial problem. I hope they’ll be available in the UK and other countries soon, too.


Price and exchange rates: August 2016

  1. As far as I know they’re quite nice to their customers. They’ve certainly always replied to my emails, but other companies haven’t. []

Be high-tech 2

Everyone and their dog are using computers - have been for decades... Be high-tech, be progressive, use a pencil with Wopex material instead
The name Wopex is now being used for the material, not for the pencils, so for now I refer to the Noris eco etc as pencils with Wopex material.

Everyone and their dog are using computers - have been for decades... Be high-tech, be progressive, use a pencil with Wopex material instead

The uni-ball AIR and the missing flex 7

An unusual post for Bleistift: not pencils and not fountain pens, either.
Last week I saw the uni-ball AIR for the first time. I was in a WH Smith’s store, a chain of stationery stores in the UK. What grabbed my attention was the fact that it was being advertised as writing like a fountain pen, i.e. pressing down more should produce a wider line.

I was tempted, but a pack of two was £5.99 and a pack of three was £6.99. I didn’t really want to buy more than one of this pen for this prize, in case I don’t like them.

At home I then found a place where I could order them for £1.99, including postage. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that there’s a medium and a broad version of this pen. I bought the broad one by mistake.

Well, at least for the broad version the advertised flex effect isn’t very strong on most paper, have a look at my video, where I compare it to a Pelikan F nib.

The paper used in the video is Banditapple‘s new 4G paper.

The flex properties of this pen might be disappointing, but it is still a nice pen to write with.

A close up of the uni-ball Air

A close up of the uni-ball AIR

Since I made the video I noticed that Tesco had a lot of stationery offers.

Stationery offers in Tesco

Stationery offers in Tesco

I bought a pack of 12 uni-ball pens for £12, hoping the uni-ball AIR pens would be medium, not broad (the pack wasn’t marked) and that the medium pens have more flex, but unfortunately it turned out that the AIR pens in this pack were also broad.

12 pens for £12

12 pens for £12

You can read more about this pen at Clicky Post and Office Supply Geek.

Designing a 3D printed pen 2

…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.