A ballpoint pen is a writing instrument which features a tip that is automatically refreshed with ink. It consists of a precisely formed metal ball seated in a socket below a reservoir of ink. As the pen is moved along a writing surface, ink is delivered. Even though ballpoint pens were first patented in the late nineteenth century, they only started to reach commercial significance in the early 1950s. Now, ballpoint pens dominate the writing instrument market, selling over one hundred million pens each year worldwide.
A variety of raw materials are used for making the components of a ballpoint pen, including metals, plastics, and other chemicals. When ballpoint pens were first developed, an ordinary steel ball was used. That ball has since been replaced by a textured tungsten carbide ball. T
his material is superior because it is particularly resistant to deforming. The ball is designed to be a perfect sphere that can literally grip most any writing surface. Its surface is actually composed of over 50,000 polished surfaces and pits. The pits are connected by a series of channels that are continuous throughout the entire sphere. This design allows the ink to be present on both the surface and interior of the ball.