Ballpoint vs. Rollerball Pens - an in-depth comparison

As people dive deeper into the world of pens, it is often followed by more and more questions. While we at Goldspot are most known for our fountain pens, we also hold a large variety of other pens. Most notably, these include rollerballs and ballpoints. Knowing this, many customers often wonder what the difference between rollerball pens and ballpoint pens are. Today we are going to uncover this mystery.

Similarities between ballpoint pens and rollerball pens


Let’s start off with the similarities. Both ballpoint pens and rollerball pens use a ball and socket mechanism. With gravity, the ink is forced down through the ink reservoir and onto the rolling ball. This technology is similar to the mechanisms you see being used on roll-on antiperspirants or rollerball perfumes.

The pen you probably have seen most in your life is the ballpoint pen. These are the pens you will get from banks and doctor’s offices. One of the biggest advantages in using a ballpoint pen is that these pens don’t easily dry out due to their oil-based ink, which is thicker than the liquid or gelled ink used in their rollerball counterparts. Furthermore, the ink in the ballpoint pen doesn’t smudge due to it’s fast drying time and it does not bleed through paper either. These are some of the reasons it is preferred for everyday use around schools and workplaces. It is also usually less expensive than a rollerball. Beyond this, since the ink is more viscous, it also comes out slower which means the cartridge has a longer lifespan and would require less refills. However, the thicker ink also means that it takes more pressure to write with a ballpoint than a rollerball which can become tiring after long spans of time. Overall, though, these pens are a great pick for anyone who’s looking for a reliable pen that is stylish and easily portable.

One of the more famous examples of the best luxury ballpoint pens is the Fisher Space Pen, which uses pressurized ink cartridges so that it can write in nearly every extreme condition. This pen was created when NASA went on a mission to find a pen that could write in zero gravity due to the fact that graphite pencils were potentially explosive in space cabins. A man named Paul Fisher seized the opportunity to create the Fisher Space Pen which uses a special sealed ink cartridge containing thixotropic ink. This ink changes viscosity upon air contact, and with some pressurized nitrogen gas, it pushes the ink through the tungsten carbide ballpoint tip. Now, Fisher creates ballpoints in all different types of sizes and finishes! Many people enjoy using their bullet ballpoint because it is compact, easy to carry and so adorable! They also have a Fisher Space Infinium Pen which is said to have enough ink to last one lifetime. Fisher Space Pens also come in a myriad of colors such as their matte black space pen and their holographic space pen. However, all of them use the same pressurized cartridge technology, making them one of the most versatile ballpoints we have here at Goldspot.

The differences between rollerball pens and ballpoint pens


Rollerballs, like ballpoints, have their own unique charm. Usually using more liquid, water-based ink, the rollerball pen generally requires less pressure to produce a richer, yet finer line. However, one disadvantage of the rollerball is that due to the less viscous ink, it can be more prone to smudging or bleeding through paper. This is particularly true if the paper is of low-quality, but it can be mitigated by using better quality paper such as the paper in Clairefontaine notebooks. The rollerball also requires almost three times as much ink as the ballpoint pen and needs to be capped to prevent drying out. However, rollerballs also can use gelled ink which allows for more vibrant colors than liquid ink. The gelled ink texture also creates beautiful metallic or glitter color choices. However, gel ink skips more which is why many opt for using liquid ink with rollerballs. For faster writers, the rollerball tends to be a favored pen because of the smooth writing that results, making them good pens for notes. Rollerballs are also great for note-taking as the decreased amount of pressure needed is awesome for preventing hand cramps when taking hefty amounts of notes. Invest in this revolutionary new idea.

Some of the best selling rollerballs that we carry here at Goldspot are the Retro 51 Goldspot Exclusive Tornado Rollerball Pen, Lamy Swift Rollerball Pen, and the Kaweco Skyline Sport Rollerball Pen.

The Retro 51 rollerballs sell especially well here at Goldspot due to the multiple exclusives that we have with them. Retro 51’s Tornado roller balls are twist tops which make them chic and easy to use. They also come in a variety of trims, but the most popular is the chrome trim. They can be used with a rollerball refill or can even be adapted to a ballpoint refill. With Retro 51 Tornado rollerballs, you can really get the best of both worlds. These include fun designs like our Retro 51 Tornado Rollerball in Ombre Avocado which is modeled after one of our favorite fruits (yes, an avocado is a fruit). We also have a Retro 51 Goldspot Exclusive Tornado Rollerball Pizza Pen which boasts a 5 star rating from 26 customer reviews. Clearly, we have some fan favorites among these exclusives! You can check out the rest of our Goldspot Rollerball Exclusives here.


Ballpoint Pens vs. Rollerball Pens


Overall, the difference between the ballpoint and rollerball all comes down to the ink. Ballpoint pens boast a thicker fatty acid based ink while rollerball pens boast a thinner, liquid ink that more closely resembles fountain pen ink. Just this seemingly small difference affects so much, from the amount of ink used all the way to the amount of pressure needed to write. At the end of the day, it is all a matter of preference so your best bet is to try both out for yourself and decide what is most suitable for you!

Which do you prefer? Rollerball vs. Ballpoints?


Let us know your thoughts on the battle between:

Ballpoint Pens vs. Rolleball Pens

Who invented the ballpoint pen?

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Read the short history of the ballpoint pen here

How does a ballpoint pen work?

See the magic of the ballpoint pen's clever design in action.

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Ballpoint vs. Rollerball Pens

How does a rollerball pen differ from a ballpoint? We compare the differences between writing modes.

See the differences between ballpoint and rollerball pens here.

What's the difference between fountain and ballpoint pens

Fountain pens were the original, ink-delivering writing instrument. See how ballpoints evolved from their predecessors.

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How to get a ballpoint pen to work

Troubleshoot a problematic ballpoint pen with this handy guide.

Get a ballpoint pen to start writing again.

What sizes do ballpoint pens come in?

Find the ideal tip size for your writing needs.

See all ballpoint pen tip sizes here.

How artists use ballpoint pens

Pens are used for more than just writing.

Find creative uses for ballpoint pens here.

What are gel pens and how do they work?

Find out how a gel ink pen differs from a ballpoint pen.

See how a gel pen works here.

Mechanical pencil lead sizes & lead types

Find the ideal grade and lead diameter for your mechanical pencil.

Explore the various types of pencil leads here.

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