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The Pilot FriXion Family

The FriXion Family… sounds like a futuristic sort of sitcom, a bit like The Jetsons or something. It's not though, although FriXion pens, when they first came out, were a bit futuristic! This was because Pilot, the manufacturer, had gone one step further than the makers of other erasable pens of the time in that you really could erase the ink, not just scrub away with an abrasive, sandpapery bit of rubber, brush away the crumbs of paper and pretend you’d erased the ink. So how did they manage that? Well, by using a bit of thermotechnology and harnessing the power of… er… friction. Hence the name - FriXion.

Pilot FriXion Family

When subjected to friction, Pilot's thermosensitive ink heats up to over 60°C and… disappears. It's hot enough to do the job, but not enough to damage the paper (although newspaper might be a bit of a challenge, so maybe photocopy that crossword first). What's more, cooling the ink down to -10°C will make it reappear, so having a freezer to hand can be useful too (although not as conveniently portable as the eraser stub on the end of the pen).

That's all fine and dandy, but how does the ink disappear? Pilot tell us it's because the ink is full of microcapsules that contain the colour of the ink. When you write, the capsules get together quite chummily and you can write things down. If you then heat the ink up - and the safest way is by applying friction - the capsules don't feel the need to chum up quite so closely, and move apart, so you can no longer see what you've written. Chill for a few minutes at frozen pea temperature and the capsules move together (for warmth maybe?) so your writing reappears. Cool, eh?

It all started over a decade ago…


Pilot introduced to the world the FriXion Erasable Rollerball. This is a smooth-writing capped pen with a tungsten carbide ball available in 9 colours. These are pluses in themselves, especially when you consider that it also has an ergonomic grip area, but the real selling point is the fact that the ink is erasable. Properly erasable, in that removing the ink does not also involve removing the top layer of paper. What is does involve is a bit of friction: the ink reacts to heat by disappearing, so all you need do is rub over any unwanted words with the plastic stud on the end of the pen (or any type of hard plastic will do, in fact). What's more, you can refill them. Really - what more could you ask for?


Er… refills. That's what we could ask for, and that's what was introduced the following year. They're now available in a range of colours and with needlepoint, fine, medium and broad tips. That means whichever FriXion pen you prefer, it's essentially everlasting: hold onto the barrel and feed it more ink when it's needed.


Highlighters are really useful pens. They make pertinent words and passages stand out, but the problem is, sometimes you get a bit carried away and highlight the wrong thing. And then what do you do? Cross through it with a normal pen? Try and not see it (in amongst all the other (intentionally) highlighted words?) Or, ooh, how about… erasing it? Enter Pilot's FriXion Light, the world's first erasable highlighter. Highlight it, deal with it, un-highlight it. Perfect.

Pilot FriXion Family


Pilot were so pleased with the Erasable Highlighter they felt they deserved a rest, at least where FriXion was concerned.


A rollerball is a pretty versatile pen: many people like them, and they suit lots of writing styles. But sometimes there's a need for a more precise point to your pen. So Pilot created the FriXion Point. Its needlepoint tip produces a fine 0.25mm line, perfect for those times when precision is paramount.


Some people don't really like caps on their pens. Either they find that they put them down somewhere and lose them, or end up chewing on them, which isn't very nice, or post them on the end of the pen and then find that the pen is now too unwieldly to hold. Thankfully, there are lots of retractable pens out there, so if you don't like capped pens, it's not really a problem. But what if you want to erase things sometimes? Fortunately, in the year that the Olympics came to the UK, along with biblical amounts of rain, Pilot brought out the FriXion Clicker Erasable pen. It's just as smooth-writing and comfortable to hold as the standard rollerball, but there's no cap and you can tuck away the tip with a push of the pocket clip. But what about the eraser stub, we hear you ask? Well, it's still on the end of the pen, and as it's not part of the retract mechanism there's no danger of employing the eraser and finding that you keep clicking out the tip as well.


Pilot were preferring pastels quite a while before others jumped on the bandwagon, and this was evident when they introduced the FriXion Light Soft Pastel Erasable Highlighter. It's a highlighter, but available in far more subtle colours than the usual day-glo yellow and acid green, and - of course - you can easily erase anything you no longer want to stand out.

Pens are a bit like shoes sometimes: there are times when a pair of scuffed trainers is perfectly acceptable, as is an old (possibly chewed) ballpoint; but there are also times when polished leather is the key and likewise, a pen with a bit of authority about it. Pilot realised that in certain circumstances, a FriXion rollerball might not cut the mustard, so they produced the LX. This is a metal barrelled pen with a bit of heft to it - but with the same, efficiently erasable ink as the rest of the family.

A busy year for Pilot, 2014!

Pilot FriXion Family


What happens when you're colouring things in - and you use the wrong colour?? Until 3 years ago you just had to live with it, or try and go over it with the correct colour (which usually turned things a peculiar shade of brown), or maybe - with a bit of imagination and cunning - incorporate the 'wrong' colour into the overall design. But Pilot thought they could do a bit better than having to 'make do', and came up with FriXion Colors Fibre Tip pens, in 12 bright shades. The colours erase away just as easily as with the rollerballs and highlighters, but you don't need to make a mistake to make the most of the erasable qualities of the ink. Use the eraser tip to remove small areas of colour: it's a great way of adding interest to your creations!


Why use four pens when one will do? Especially when you can erase the ink as well. Pilot's FriXion Multipen contains black, blue, red and green ink, which you can swap between very easily. So - not only can you be prepared for any eventuality where ink colour is concerned, you can erase mistakes as well.


So what was left to make erasable? You've got your 'normal' pen, the rollerball, and you can have it capped or retractable, and with different tip sizes. You've got your highlighters, in poke-your-eye-out fluorescent colours or soft and mellow pastels. You've got your needletip pen, your colouring pens and your multipen. You've even got something made of metal and a bit more premium. The only thing missing was a fineliner. But not anymore! The FriXion Erasable Fineliner is the latest member of the FriXion Family. It writes a slim and whippy 0.45mm line, just the thing for journaling, marvellous for mind-maps and ideal for illustrating.

The FriXion Family really is a bit of a success story. The pens write well and the ink erases cleanly. There's a whole range of different types of pen to choose from, and a good range of ink colours. They come with an integrated eraser stub, but even if they didn't, any piece of hard rubber will do to create the friction needed. They don't cost that much, and because they're refillable they're even more - in the words of Pilot - 'ecolonomy'-friendly. Easy on the eye, easy on the pocket, easy on the planet. Ideal.

7 May 2019


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