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Thread: Nib steel

  1. #1
    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Nib steel

    Another facet of thinking about steel nibs is the consideration of what kind of steel they are made from. Why ask? Well, there are certainly steel dip nibs still being manufactured, which leads me to ask what the difference is between the types of steel used in, for example, a Jowo nib and a Zebra G dip nib. The dip nibs are flexible, some noodly, so why can't makers like Jowo have that characteristic in their steel nibs? Are there are any metallurgists or material scientists on the forum who could explain this?

    Personally I don't believe the knowledge on how to make flexible gold nibs has been lost per se, rather than it being an uneconomic process today (as compared with 1920), but steel nibs... surely there's some potential there considering the dip nib market.

    Anywho, there it is. Any info is appreciated.
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    Senior Member Detman101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nib steel

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Another facet of thinking about steel nibs is the consideration of what kind of steel they are made from. Why ask? Well, there are certainly steel dip nibs still being manufactured, which leads me to ask what the difference is between the types of steel used in, for example, a Jowo nib and a Zebra G dip nib. The dip nibs are flexible, some noodly, so why can't makers like Jowo have that characteristic in their steel nibs? Are there are any metallurgists or material scientists on the forum who could explain this?

    Personally I don't believe the knowledge on how to make flexible gold nibs has been lost per se, rather than it being an uneconomic process today (as compared with 1920), but steel nibs... surely there's some potential there considering the dip nib market.

    Anywho, there it is. Any info is appreciated.
    Dip Nibs = Spring Steel
    FP Nibs = Stainless Steel

    Spring Steel = Will rust
    Stainless Steel = Will not rust

    It is possible to heat-treat a Stainless Steel nib and make it noodly soft like a Spring Steel dip nib.
    I have performed this once before.

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  4. #3
    Senior Member Ray-VIgo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nib steel

    Not all steel nibs were created equal.

    The old, third rate FP nibs were basic steel, and those nibs corroded to hell when exposed to ink for prolonged periods. You still see these sometimes in the junk bins at pen shows. The pens would sell for a few cents at the local general store or the corner drug store. During the Depression they offered a cheap and temporarily useful writing instrument for little money and seem to have been particularly common in the 1930s. The nibs would pit, darken, and fall apart eventually, but for a couple years it worked for the user. There was minimal corrosion resistance and they might last a couple years and then be sent to the bottom of the desk drawer. These nibs were un-tipped in the sense that the steel nib would be stamped to shape with a "tip", but there was no harder alloy present. Today's steel nibs like the Pelikan M200 and the better vintage nibs like you might find on the Esterbrook J offer much better durability than the old 3rd rates of the 1930s.

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