eli5 Why is it hard to rewrite over a spot where a ballpoint pen failed, but scribbling elsewhere works?

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I wish I could just attach a picture, but here’s the sequence:

1. Writing and the pen stops working
2. Scribbling and drawing circles to see if the pen still works. It does.
3. Go back to writing in the spot the pen stopped working. It won’t work!!! ?!
4. Repeat 2 and 3

In: Technology

5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

PS how good is the word interrobang ?!

Anonymous 0 Comments

The ball of the pen is hard steel. Zoomed way in, the paper surface is fuzzy. The ball is gripped by the fuzzy surface enough so that it rolls rather than slides, putting down ink as it rolls.

When the pen “fails” the ball gets jammed and is dragged across the surface without rolling. This creates a smooth hardened packed down “channel” or trough in the paper surface. You can scribble elsewhere and get the ball rolling again on fresh paper, but when you come back to the failure area, the paper surface is already compacted and smoothed out by the dragging ball during the failure. So it has less grip on the ball than fresh fuzzy paper surface. This often results on the ball dragging across this area once again. And the more it happens the surface just gets more and more smooth and compacted so it’s self-worsening once the process begins.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ugh, ballpoint pens can be so frustrating sometimes! It’s like they have a mind of their own. The paper fibers get all gunked up in the pen tip and it just doesn’t want to play nice in that exact spot. Really annoying when you’re trying to get something done!

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s often a drop of oil after the ink in the cartridge to prevent it from exposure to air and drying out.

When the ink runs out, you start writing with this oil instead. Writing on oily paper is hard.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ugh, the struggle is real. It has something to do with the oils on the paper from your skin. When your pen stops, it leaves a tiny amount of ink that mixes with those oils and creates a slippery little trap for your nib. Sneaky stuff.