What is the Difference Between Gel and Ink Pens?

Most people have no idea what to consider when buying pens. For as long as it claims to write well then they go for it. What about you? Do you know what is the difference between gel and ink pens, and which varieties do they belong to – ballpoints, rollerballs, or fountain pens?

Let’s differentiate!

ballpen and fountain penThe goal of both gel and ink pens is to create a writing tool that can distribute fast-drying thick ink for writing, drawing, or sketching. Though ultimately how users perceive a pen’s performance is somewhat subjective, it’s important to understand these two pens so that you know which ones are most compatible with your writing requirement.



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What is the Difference Between Gel and Ink Pens?

What is a gel pen?

Gel pens allow for even writing and drawing and its tip doesn’t wear out like a felt-tip marker. They combine characteristics from ballpoint and rollerball pens. They use water-based gel ink that has a uniformity between both types of ink, making it less likely to smudge but still flow freely enough for easy writing.

Colorful gel pens

The ink in a gel pen is thick and opaque. This is why it shows up more clearly on dark surfaces than on other pens. While the ink provides finer and more controlled lines of color, it has a slower drying time.

Due to their smooth writing and quick drying characteristics, gel pens are widely used. If you are using the fine-point 0.7-millimeter tip, it is highly rated for its comfort in the hand, smooth writing, and bleed-proof qualities.

Gel pens are preferred for writing and drawing since they typically come in vibrant neon hues. The pens can be used on smooth and non-absorbent materials since they are less likely to bleed through the other side of the paper.

The nibs in gel pens also produce better results in coloring fine details and tight spaces. The smaller nibs even allow for extra control making them efficient in embellishing your coloring books.

Have you tried using gel pens in color-coding presentations, report charts, or texts on planners?


What is an ink pen?

This one seems like a very common question, but apparently, a very interesting one. My mind jumbles whenever someone uses the term ‘ink pen.’ All pens I believe use and contain ink. Therefore, stating that something is a pen automatically means “with ink.”

Although all pens use ink, the fountain pen, also referred to as the ultimate luxury pen, is the closest example of an ink pen. This pen uses liquid ink that is water-based and is delivered through the tip. The ink flows from a tank through a “feed” to the tip, then through the tip, due to passageway action and gravity.

fountain pen beside a bottle of ink and feather

Fountain pens typically use dye-based inks that are found in disposable cartridges or refillable converters, thus filling and using them both take some skill. The size of the nib, which is the tip of the fountain pen, impacts how much ink flows from it.

Though fountain pens can be used on any type of paper, the pen’s watery ink may likely bleed through a thin page. So a thicker paper material may be recommended for best results.

Ink pens in general can be used with permanent or non-permanent inks.

They are among the most popular and well-known oil-based ink pen varieties. They dry more quickly than other varieties of ink, so writing doesn’t blot as much. Ballpoint pens consume less ink while writing since the ink is thicker, extending the life of the ink on the paper.

Users like ink pens because they don’t have to press down hard. Because it’s easier to follow in the flow, it makes writing with a fountain pen lighter allowing one to use it for extended periods without the hand feeling tired.

A ballpoint tip

Which is more affordable? Gel pens or ink pens?

Okay, this is where it can get kind of puzzling because gel ink is used in both ballpoint and rollerball pens. The ink is a water-based gel that isn’t as dense as a distinctive ballpoint. Because gels use pigments, rather than peroxides, there is also more variation in the colors available.

Gel pens (like liquid ink rollerballs) create bold, rich lines. But since the ink is thicker, they also tend to clump up or don’t always coat the ball evenly; leaving skips in the line. Unlike ink pens, gel pens are priced high because of their quality. One cannot deny the writing quality of gel pens so manufacturers are confident to set their prices high.

Ink pens, on the other hand, are the most affordable type of pens. Considering how ink pens have now become hybrid pens, they now embody fairly new progress in ink pen technology. That means the ink pens line now can provide what gel rollerball pens can do giving you the endurance of a ballpoint pen.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, gel pens have thicker ink that is more likely to skip since they use gel and water in the ink. However, because ballpoints employ thick oil-based ink, they may be stored for a longer period of time and still last much longer.

There you go. So whether you’re a writer, teacher, or student, choosing the best pen makes you want to buy everything. The trick is to understand the type of ink in a certain pen so that you are comfortable writing with it.

That’s the most important. The other features are just bonuses.

You might have ideas to add about gel pens or ink pens, in general. How nice it would be if you could share them in the comments.