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Inside the Sharpie Pen


Original Sharpie Pen and Refill (top) Sharpie Pen Retractable and refill (middle) Sharpie Pen Grip and refill (bottom)

After a bunch of reviews of different Sharpie Pens, and hearing lots of different feedback on the shade of blue and how long ink was (or wasnt lasting) I decided it was time to get to the heart of the matter and crack these suckers open to see what was going on in there.  Lucky for me I happened to have a blue version of each Sharpie Pen on hand to hack apart for your viewing pleasure…or disgust, I can see either side of that argument.

Now I have to say, it did pain me a bit to do this because I really like writing with these pens, and I don’t really enjoy wasting things, however….I’m a curios person by nature and I love taking things apart so I couldn’t help myself when it came to the Sharpie Pens.  Now that I’ve opened these up, it allows me to address a few things that have come up multiple times:  the shade of the blue ink, the ink capacity, and the “refillability” of these pens.


Original Sharpie Pen Refill (top), Sharpie Pen Grip Refill (middle), Sharpie Retractable Refill (bottom)

So there it is, above you have the “money shot” of Sharpie Pens.  Not too long after the Retractable Sharpie Pen came out, people immediately started to complain that they were running out of ink way too quickly.  My initial response was “well, I have not used mine enough yet” and I didn’t like that answer, which is one of the reasons I destroyed these three defenseless pens.  As you can see from the photo above, it really shouldnt be a surprise that the Retractable Sharpie Pen would run out quickly, as it’s by far the smallest of the three ink cartridges of the group, coming in at almost half the size of the others.  I couldn’t get a perfect picture of all three, but the one in the center of the above photo which is the Sharpie Pen Grip, is SLIGHTLY shorter than the one above it which is from the Original Sharpie Pen.


Original Sharpie Pen refill (left), Sharpie Pen Grip refill (center), and Sharpie Pen Retractable (right)

The next picture shows two different things.  First, staying with the size comparisons, you can see that in addition to just being longer than the other two, the original Sharpie Pen ink cartridge also has a slightly larger diameter as well.  Overall it looks like if you are going to have a marathon writing session and only care about how long your Sharpie Pen will last, then the original version is for you.  I think that the smaller ink cartridge found in the Retractable Sharpie Pen is a trade-off in what you get with the pen being retractable.  You will notice in the very first picture, there is a clear plastic contraption, which houses the ink inside of a plunger with a spring.  This contraption obviously takes up quite a bit of space, so in order to keep the pen a similar and reasonable size, it appears that the ink quantity was the trade-off.

The second thing that this picture definitively shows, or at least I hope it does, is that the ink is absolutely lighter in the original version of the Sharpie Pen.  It might not be easy to tell from the photo, but having them in my hand in person here next to each other, I can tell you for sure that the Sharpie Pen Retractable and Sharpie Pen Grip look darker.  The only thing that I can think of that might be the reason for the visually darker appearance is the smaller diameter of these two cartridges as compared to the original version.  If the amount of ink used is similar but it’s just wrapped tighter to get a smaller diameter, I assume that might give it a slightly darker appearance.

Now the last thing that I want to discuss here is the “refillability” of the Sharpie Pens.  I know that they are NOT refillable, but to me it really appears as if it would not be a big problem for Sharpie to make at least the Sharpie Pen Grip and the Retractable Sharpie Pen so you could refill them.  Making the grip section of each of these pens removable (like many other pens) would give you easy access to the ink cartridges without the need to hack them apart with a mini-saw like I did.  The ink cartridges shown above don’t look like your typical pen refills, however I can easily imagine these cartridges being sold in refill packages that are vacuum sealed similar to what you get when you buy ink for an ink jet printer.  From an environmental perspective I think it would be fantastic if Sharpie took a look at making the pens refillable because there is a lot of plastic being used in these pens, and with the popularity of them, I’m sure ther are lots of them being used and eventually tossed.  Oh, and while Im daydreaming here of my ultimate Sharpie Pen that is refillable….I think the best solution would be if there was a Stainless Steel Sharpie Pen that was refillable.

©2017, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.


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