Uni


Dear uni-ball, I give up 2

Dear uni-ball, I give up.

I really tried to liked your erasable Signo TSI pens.

I first got excited about your pens in the mid to late 1990s, when you handed out free eye fine pens outside my Mensa (that’s what they call a university canteen in Germany). I liked them very much and bought more. In fact, I liked writing with them so much that I tried refilling them, so that I could have more colours and a more letters per Deutsch mark spent. Of course that didn’t go well.

When Tesco, a British supermarket chain, had a big uni-ball mixed pen pack I couldn’t resist. Part of this pack were Signo TSI pens. Two of them, green and blue, never worked properly. You get a few millimetres of ink, that’s it. All you can do is use them to carve your message with their sharp rollerball into the paper. It doesn’t matter how hard or light you press, the ink isn’t coming. The other two pens, red and black, work but the coloured lines left on the paper are quite subdued and, to be frank, ugly.

I guess I have to give up and throw them. Trying to get them to work again and again is just frustrating and a waste of time.

 


You can read more about the Signo Erasable, probably the predecessor of the TSI, in this Pen Addict blog post from 2008.


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.


The Uni Shift and a look at 0.4 mm leads 2

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. []

Two deliveries – from Japan and Germany 2

uniqlo-tombow

What an exciting day. I got two deliveries, one from Japan and one from Germany.

Both seem to be XL... (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

Both seem to be XL… (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

The parcel from Japan was sent from Yumiko, a friend of Sean, who helped me get a few things I couldn’t order myself …including Uniqlo’s Tombow t-shirts. I was able to get the Pelikan version here in Europe, but the Tombow version is not being sold here.

I was hoping that the Japanese XL will be similar in size to the European XL, especially since the t-shirts being sold here come with English/Japanese tags, but unfortunately it turned out that the Japanese XL is at least one size smaller than the European version – so the t-shirts won’t fit unless I lose a lot of weight. I guess I should see this as my incentive to lose more weight ..but I don’t think it’s achievable for me to fit into these anytime soon.

...the tags are different though

…the tags are different though

There was also something else in the parcel. Something very special.

Special Hi-uni

Not as posh as the ones shown on Contrapuntalism, but nevertheless extremely nice. Lexikaliker had similar ones, too.

 

The other parcel did contain a replacement Pollux. You might remember that had problems with my first Pollux. Thanks to Lexikaliker, without whom I wouldn’t have any Pollux, I got a replacement

Here’s a quick look at the replacement Pollux.

As a comparison: the second video features a knife sharpened pencil. You can also see Staedtler’s sand paper in the second video.

 

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph


Lexikaliker has a blog post about the unsharpened Mars Lumograph pencils.