Pentel Energel - Mission Impossible

Pentel Energel 20 Years

Tom Cruise has nothing to do with this - I should just point that out now. And no, Simon Pegg doesn't feature either. Sorry. But it felt like Mission Impossible when Pentel innovators were asked, in the late 1990s, to develop an entirely new ink. Nothing invisible, nothing that would blow up when in the wrong hands (or wrong pen) and nothing that involved helicopters, motorbikes, drowning or plummeting to earth attached only to a piece of string. Rather, it needed to have three very special qualities. It needed to glide smoothly on paper; writing with it needed to be effortless. There also needed to be a choice of colours, ones that were bold and vivid: a red that was blood-red and a black that wasn't just dark grey. But above all, it needed to dry very quickly; few people like smudged words and most don't really enjoy waving a sheet of paper around to dry the ink that's on it. Seemingly, a Mission Impossible.

However, the team of innovators chose to accept their mission. A few years of research, tests and prototype production ensued, and at the turn of the new century, the EnerGel was born: a pen that contained quick-drying, smooth-flowing, vividly-pigmented gel ink.

Pentel Energel Colours

Twenty years later, it's more popular than ever, and for good reason. Well, several good reasons actually. First of all, there is now a whole range of Pentel pens that contain EnerGel ink, so it doesn’t matter if your preference is for a retractable pen, or one with a cap, or one with a bit of heft, because you're covered. Secondly, we all like a pen that's comfortable to hold, where your fingers stay put and your hand doesn't develop an annoying ache after only 10 minutes or so. EnerGel pens all have an ergonomic grip: most have a rubberised grip area while that of the premium metal-barrelled Sterling is ridged. Thirdly, they're refillable (which is good, as none of likes throwing away a perfectly good pen just because it's run out of ink), so you can write in any one of 12 colours, from pink to purple. And the ink, of course, is revolutionary. It's quicker-drying and smoother-flowing than normal gel ink thanks to its low viscosity, which gives it a similar sensation to the sort of liquid ink you commonly find in rollerball pens. Despite its free-flowing characteristics, it dries quickly, so it's great for left-handers and perfect for impatient people.

It's now available in 120 countries, and well over 770 million pens have been sold since its launch - if they were laid end to end they'd go almost 3 times around the planet! Pentel are celebrating with a specially-designed Limited Edition EnerGel. It's a pen for the people, so unlike most limited editions, it won't break the bank; in fact, it's no more expensive than any other EnerGel pen. But it's a very pretty design: a swirly white pattern on a translucent barrel with a silvery-white grip. And it can - if you like - be supplied in smart little gift box. Nothing Mission Impossible about it, but that's its appeal: it's the innocent-looking, unassuming objects that often have the most punch.

17 February 2020

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