Rollerball Vs. Ballpoint pens: What’s the difference?

Ballpoint Pen Writing
Charlie Cooper / Updated: Apr 16th 2020 / Pens

Many people find it hard to tell the difference between rollerball and ballpoint pens. Is there any unique difference such that you might want to choose one over the other? While some people purchase the most expensive executive pens to act as a status symbol, others have no problem picking any pen from the pile. However, if you mind your writing skills, the pen you choose must feel right when putting it down to paper.

This post discusses the significant differences between these two pens to help you choose one that offers an excellent writing experience.

What’s a Rollerball Pen?

Rollerball pens are almost similar to fountain pens because they use gel- or water-based ink. This ink takes more time to dry on paper but dries much faster inside the cartridge. It may be quite overwhelming for thinner paper but adds a better touch to thicker paper and cards.

While the rollerball pen has some similarities with a fountain pen, it functions almost the same way as a ballpoint pen. It contains an ink reserve for holding ink and a ball in its socket at the tip. While writing on paper, the ink moves down in the cartridge as the ball rolls over the surface, releasing the ink.

It has the same features (socket and ball) as the ballpoint pen, first designed in 1888 by John J. Loud, and was patented into a contemporary version in 1938 by Laszlo Biro.

What’s a Ballpoint Pen?

This inexpensive pen is a common household name, and it’s mostly given away as a gift in promotions and other marketing drives. It utilizes an oil-based ink, which after writing on paper, dries up quickly. But unlike the rollerball pen, the ink inside the cartridge doesn’t dry up quickly. Like the rollerball pen, the working mechanisms of a ballpoint pen is the same. It has a socket and a ball at its tip, and it gets covered by ink from the reservoir as you write.

Just like in the case of the rollerball pen, the ballpoint pen was first designed by John J. Loud and patented in 1888. Its initial intention was to be used on rough surfaces and not for letters. Since it wasn’t commercialized, the patent ceased.

Advantages of BallPoint and Rollerball Pens

Ballpoint Pen Pros

  • Its ink is suitable for official documents
  • Ink does not spurt through the paper
  • Its body type can be used single-handedly
  • The ink dries up immediately

Rollerball Pen Pros

  • Uses less pressure while writing.
  • Offers smoother writing
  • Comes with finer tips

Disadvantages of Ballpoint and Rollerball Pens

Ballpoint pens

  • The ink may turn sticky and thick
  • When left for long, it becomes difficult to get the pen writing again
  • Can produce big blobs of ink which can leave smudges when wiped off

Rollerball Pens

  • Require more refilling and are prone to drying
  • Have shorter refill lifespan whether duly stored or not
  • The ink smudges easily in a short while after writing

Final Thoughts

As discussed above, you can now understand the difference between rollerball and ballpoint. This post allows you to make the right choice when finding the best pen for your writing needs. Good luck!