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DESIGNS THAT ENDURE OVER TIME: BIC PEN

 

2018-04-18

Jordi Mata | Senior Product Design Engineer

Throughout the history of design, we come across products that have been integrated into our day-to-day lives without us actually being aware of them. These are products whose shape and materials have responded to a need, and in doing so have established a connection between the product and its user. These products, both iconic and at the same time day-to-day protagonists for many people, have been born at certain moments in history to satisfy a need in the market, to make improvements for a need that was not well resolved, or to resolve weaknesses that featured earlier designs.

Who hasn't used a BIC pen to write or draw more than once, twice, three times throughout their life?

The BIC pen, created in 1950 by Marcel Bich and nowadays well known worldwide, is a design that has remained throughout the history of its creation with barely any modifications being made to its design.

BIC wasn't the first ballpoint pen in the history of mankind - in fact, tools to write or draw existed well before this pen was created - but What contributed to the BIC design that did not feature in other products that were practically the same in the market?

When this iconic pen was born tools for writing or drawing already existed, but none of them established a connection with the user.

How is a product alone able to connect with its user?

If we analyse the characteristics of this unique pen, we will understand the reason for this assertion.

BIC

Its easily interchangeable ink cartridge and its plastic barrel make Bic an environmentally sustainable ballpoint pen.

When a product such as Bic ends up being part of our day-to-day life, we ultimately assign uses for it that, if we stop to think, are far from its originally designed uses: using it as a hair collector, for performing tracheotomies, or for drawing true-to-life works of art.

Its hexagonal shape, since its functionality requires it to be used with the tips of the fingers, facilitates a better grip than that of cylindrical pens, consequently avoiding instances of the pen slipping between the user's fingers. Its shape was inspired by that of wooden pencils, and that facilitated the creation of a product that would achieve a minimum use of plastic in its manufacture.

Its transparent barrel also provides information to its owner, enabling the user to know - at all times - the level of ink remaining in the cartridge.

The small hole in the barrel prevents a vacuum from being generated inside the pen, thus enabling the ink to flow normally towards the lower end, where the ink will come out when we press the tip.

What enables the ink to flow out of the pen is a metal ball:, when we press it against the paper and slide it, the action causes the ball to stain with ink and we are able to write.

The user's penstroke offers a range of possibilities, depending on the pressure we make on the tip to draw a thicker or thinner line.

This has enabled many artists to paint hyperrealistic works of art, with a level of faithfulness to reality that makes it difficult to know if we are in front of an illustration or a photograph:

juan francisco

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