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Noodler's Bulletproof ink torture test....

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by MacTech, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. MacTech

    MacTech Empty Pockets

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    It's refreshing when I discover an *honest* company, a company who's grandiose product claims are actually true, be it SureFire's *under*reporing of their lumen outputs, or Spyderco's truly *RUSTPROOF* Salt series H-1 knives

    Add Noodler's Ink company to that list....

    I just recieved my bottles of Noodler's today (Luxury Blue and Manhattan Black), and was eagerly awaiting putting them to the torture test;

    I also inked the test papers with Waterman Blue-Black, a UniBall Signo 207, a Bic Crystal Gel, a Sharpie, a Fisher Bullet, and Zebra 701
    the test paper was generic 20# bond scrap paper that had laser printer toner on the backside, one sheet was the Xylene test, the other, the 409

    stage 1, water exposure (1 minute running water)....
    Noodlers inks; unaffected
    Uni-Ball; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; slight feathering
    Sharpie; unaffected
    Fisher Bullet; unaffected
    Zebra 701; unaffected
    Waterman Blue-Black; 90% washed away

    Stage 2 (home solvents, soaked until saturation then air dried);
    Lysol Bathroom Cleaner with Bleach and the Goof Off 2 Citrus cleaner did nothing
    Formula 409 Glass and Surface cleaner;
    Noodlers inks; faint feathering
    Uni-Ball; distinct feathering
    Sharpie; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; slight feathering
    Fisher Bullet; unaffected
    Zebra 701; unaffected
    Waterman Blue-Black; 95% washed away

    Stage 3; Original Goof Off Xylene formula (also known as offset printing press deglazing solvent, the stuff used to clean ink off the printing press ink rollers)
    Noodlers inks; unaffected
    Uni-Ball; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; heavy feathering
    Sharpie; heavy feathering
    Fisher Bullet; light feathering
    Zebra 701; heavy feathering and ink seperating into base colors (yellow and black)
    Waterman Blue-Black; 99% washed away
    **note, the Goof Off was also eating away at the laser printer toner on the back of the paper at this point, it's nasty stuff....

    Stage 4; take the Formula 409 test sheet and expose it to water, let dry, then expose to Xylene;
    Noodlers inks; unaffected
    Uni-Ball; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; 90% gone
    Sharpie; heavy feathering and blurring
    Fisher Bullet; medium feathering
    Zebra 701; heavy feathering and ink seperating into base colors (yellow and black) 80% gone
    Waterman Blue-Black; washed away

    Stage 5; take the Xylene test sheet and expose it to Formula 409;
    Noodlers inks; unaffected
    Uni-Ball; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; 90% gone
    Sharpie; indistinct black blob
    Fisher Bullet; medium feathering
    Zebra 701; no further effects
    Waterman Blue-Black; out of the running

    Stage 6; expose the Xylene test sheet to water;
    Noodlers inks; unaffected
    Uni-Ball; unaffected
    Bic Crystal; 95% gone
    Sharpie; featureless black blob
    Fisher Bullet; medium-heavy feathering
    Zebra 701; no further effects
    Waterman Blue-Black; Disqualified, nothing there at all

    From this most unscientific (and confusing) test, I can gather the following info;

    the clear winners in this test are the Noodler's "Bulletproof" inks, they *are* truly eternal, any ink that can stand up to Xylene exposure so powerful that it strips toner off the *other side of the paper* has real staying power, for some reason, however, the Noodlers took more damage from the 409 than from the Xylene, the 409 caused light feathering, but did not remove the ink from the paper

    for some reason, the 409 was a tougher test than the Xylene for the Noodlers, yet the Noodler's shrugged off the Xylene which really hit the other inks bad

    the Uni-Ball Signo did surprisingly well, not bad for a $2 pen, the pigment-based ink it uses is almost as durable as the Noodlers

    the Sharpie was a surprise as well, it really was hit bad by the Xylene, and once damaged by it, other chemicals and even plain old water exposure really made it worse

    the Fisher bullet feathered more than i thought it would, but it wasn't bad per se

    the two biggest dissapointments were the Waterman Blue-Black, that failed the simple water test, and the Bic Crystal Gel wich just did nothing well, it was mediocre all around

    the biggest surprise overall was the Zebra 701, it held up far longer than I thought it would

    So; final rankings;

    First Place; Noodler's Luxury Blue and Manhattan Black, these inks are truly bulletproof
    Second Place; Uni-Ball Signo; in terms of durability per dollar, it's a clear winner, the best value of any of the inks/pens
    Third Place; Fisher Bullet; it feathered more than expected, but ended up just a hair behind the Uni-Ball in final readability
    Honorable Mention; Zebra 701, it put up a valiant fight, and performed far better than expected, but ultimately it *did* fail

    Biggest Dissapointments;
    Sharpie and Bic Crystal, just no real durability to speak of
     
  2. HoopleHead

    HoopleHead Banned

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    nice, cool report! good to see theres a decent, cheap alternative out there (uni-ball signo)
     
  3. houdini28

    houdini28 Loaded Pockets

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    Fun report you did. I am not surprised by how well the Signo 207 and Noodler's ink did. I am; however, surprised by how poorly the Sharpie did. I just would have expected better. None the less, I will continue to use them since they have never failed on me under normal conditions. Thanks for the info.
     
  4. MacTech

    MacTech Empty Pockets

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    Actually, I took a look at the Xylene sheet that I exposed to 409 before heading home, at this point the paper was dry, a bit on the curly side, but still usable, however, there *was* some faint feathering from the Noodler's inks, still readable, i'd hazard a guess less than 5% feathering

    *something* in that 409 really reacts with Noodlers......

    Hmm, I was looking through my old aquarium supplies, and found a bottle of Melafix (1% Melaleuca Alternafolia Tea Tree oil), Melaleuca oil is a very powerful natural solvent, even 1% is very pungent, has a kind of pine-y, citruss-y aroma

    So I grabbed another sheet;
    Noodler's Luxury Blue and Manhattan Black; definite feathering and runniness, probably 10-15% depending on how heavy the ink was laid down, definite blurring of letters, still readable though, and obvious that the ink had been tampered with
    Cross Fine-Point ballpoint; maybe 5% feathering
    Fisher Space Pen; 30% or so feathering, this one was hit hard by the melaleuca oil, letters are getting a little blobby
    Waterman Blue-Black; GONE! nothing but a blue blur
    Parker Quink; GONE! nothing but a black blur

    expose the melaleuca treated sheet to water...
    ....Fascinating.....
    the Noodlers inks actually got *less* feathery, it looks like the water was simply washing away some of the ink that didn't bond with the paper, ink that the melaleuca oil loosened
    Cross; same thing, a little sharper
    Fisher; same thing; the water was simply washing away the "excess" ink that didn't bond with the paper
    Waterman Blue Black; wait a minute, I'm *sure* i wrote something here, but there's nothing to see, no evidence of ink....
    Parker Quink; same thing, nothing there

    so, the powerful solvent Melaleuca oil only loosened the excess ink on the Noodler's, Cross and Fisher line, but obliterated Quink and Waterman B/B....

    then again, obliterating Waterman B/B and Quink isn't exactly difficult then, is it? ;)
     
  5. Blades

    Blades Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the info! and the hard work.


    Jason
     
  6. MacTech

    MacTech Empty Pockets

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    Today at work, I decided to do a little "Check Washing" test, I grabbed one of my old voided checks, and inked it up with Noodlers, the Uni-Ball Signo 207, a generic Paper-Mate ball-point, a Bic Crystal Gel, a Fisher Bullet, and Zebra 701 ball-point, the check was allowed to dry completely between "treatments"

    Test 1; Xylene exposure;
    Noodlers; unaffected
    Uni-Ball Signo; unaffected
    Bic Gel; unaffected
    Paper-Mate Ball-point; *heavy* feathering, and 50% reduction in ink intensity
    Fisher Bullet; heavy feathering, but otherwise unaffected
    Zebra 701; unaffected
    Anti-Tampering features of the check; activated, the check is riddled with red and blue spots which do not fade after the xylene dries, it's obvious the check has been tampered with

    Test 2; expose the Xylene-d check to a water rinse (one minute, hot water)
    Noodlers; unaffected
    Uni-Ball Signo; unaffected
    Bic Gel; 90% washed away, only a faint residue of ink remains
    Paper-Mate Ball-point; 95% washed away, almost completely gone
    Fisher Bullet; heavy blobbing, the letters are starting to run together
    Zebra 701; 10% reduction in ink intensity
    Anti-Tampering features of the check; activated, the spots become more prominent with water exposure

    Test 3; Expose the Xylene-d and hot water rinsed check to 409;
    at this point, the check is unusable anyway, so at this point, all I'm trying to do is remove the Noodler's and Uni-Ball inks, both inks are pigment-based and bond with the cellulose fibers in the paper, in theory, making them unremovable without damaging the paper in the process
    Noodlers; unaffected
    Uni-Ball Signo; unaffected
    Bic Gel; 97% washed away, only a faint residue of ink remains
    Paper-Mate Ball-point; 98% washed away, almost completely gone
    Fisher Bullet; heavy blobbing, the letters are starting to run together
    Zebra 701; 50% reduction in ink intensity, the ink is black directly out of the pen, now it's a faint blue
    Anti-Tampering features of the check; activated, the spots become more prominent with water exposure, but not much change with 409

    Test #4; Lysol Household cleaner with Bleach applied to the Xylene/water/409'ed check;
    Noodlers; unaffected
    Uni-Ball Signo; unaffected
    Bic Gel; Completely gone! like it wasn't even there....
    Paper-Mate Ball-point; completely gone, no evidence of any lettering
    Fisher Bullet; blobbing is gone, but the ink has faded a good 90%, faint, grayish-black but still readable
    Zebra 701; Completely gone!
    Anti-Tampering features of the check; activated, hitting the check with Bleach *REALLY* activated the anti-tampering features, the check now has an ugly brown cast on it

    Final thoughts;
    It kind of scares me at how easy it was to remove the ball-point ink, and considering a large percentage of checks and such are written with the mundane, classic ball-point pen, it's a little unnerving to see the ink removed with so little effort, ball-points in general are less secure than pigment-based pens like the Uni-Ball Signo or Permanent fountain pen inks, pigment based inks actually soak into the paper fibers, bonding with the paper and staining the cellulose fibers, ball-point ink sits on top of the paper and if it bonds at all with the paper, it's barely with the top of the paper, bleach strips off ball-point ink terrifyingly effectively, it....just....dissolves

    the solution is obvious, if you want the most secure ink for writing checks or signing legal documents, you need to use a pigment based roller-ball (like the Signo) or a fountain pen with Permanent ink, something that sinks into the paper fibers and bonds with them, nothing short of a direct thermonuclear blast will affect Noodlers or the Uni-Ball Signo ink, once it's on paper, it's permanent

    Pen/ink ratings;
    Noodler's "Bulletproof" inks; Honesty in advertising, this ink withstands every attempt to remove it, the only effective means of removing Noodler's will damage the paper beyond the point of usability, this ink *IS* permanent and eternal
    Uni-Ball Signo 207; a great sleeper of a pen, in terms of value for the money, this pen tops the Noodler's inks, the pen is affordable (about $2 per pen) and uses refills, although for $2/pen it's almost cheaper to toss them when they're empty, the Noodler's inks are more expensive by an order of magnitude (approx. $11-13 a bottle for 1 to 4.5 ounces of ink) *AND* it requires the use of a fountain or dip pen (fountain pens go for anywhere from $7 to the thousands, depending on manufacturer/features)
    Bic Gel; smooth writing, but ultimately not secure
    Paper-Mate; horrible performance and easily removed ink
    Fisher Bullet; decent performance, the best ball-point of the group, even though the ink does run and feather when exposed to solvents, it doesn't become unreadable or fade completely away
    Zebra 701; surprisingly good performance for a non-pressurized mundane ball-point pen, easily outperforms the Paper-Mate, but not the Fisher Bullet

    Basically, if you want a durable ink in your fountain pen, the only real choice is Noodler's, if you just want a good, basic, secure pen and don't want to spend a lot, get the Uni-Ball Signo 207, it passed the same brutal chemical assaults that the Noodler's did
     
  7. HammerHead

    HammerHead Loaded Pockets

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    Mac, just to clarify, the Waterman Blue-Black you tested was fountain pen ink, correct?
     
  8. MacTech

    MacTech Empty Pockets

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    yes, it was the cartridge that came with the pen, and it washed clean with water and/or bleach

    Before I went to my apartment tonight, I decided to stop off at home and scare Mom and Dad with my newfound knowledge...

    I took a couple voided checks, inked them up with various inks, and tried my final chemical test...

    91% Isopropyl alcohol

    the effects were *immediate*
    Noodlers; unaffected
    Uni-Ball Signo; unaffected
    Cross ballpoint; 5 seconds for smearing to occur, ink gone after about a minute or so
    Fisher Space Pen; 5 seconds for heavy smearing, ink 98% gone after about 2 minutes

    Both Mom and Dad were shall we say, stunned at how easily ballpoint ink vanished from the check, but what scared me is the fact that the alcohol barely triggered the tamper-proof ink on the check, unless you knew what to look for, you wouldn't notice the tiny, faint blue and red dots on the check paper, and when the alcohol fully dried, the paper was just as pliable and unwrinkled as it was before it's alcohol bath.

    a cursory glance of the check shows nothing suspicious, it looks like a _blank_ check (aside from the Noodlers and Uniball ink writing), there is just *no* ballpoint ink left on the check, the alcohol removed it totally

    So, after i showed them how easy it was to wash a check, I gave each of them a Uni-Ball Signo 207, and reccomended they use it, they were quite appreciative

    It's great to have a technically-minded, analytical son who does all sorts of unneccecary but cool experiments...
     
  9. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    I highly doubt Noodlers inks are indeed "bulletproof".

    No where in this test are firearms involved. :p


    Seriously, great stuff. Thanks so much for braving the toxic chemicals for us.

    -Ed
     
  10. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    It is too bad that Noodler's Bullet proof ink is only available in bottles for fountain pens.

    Although I have been looking for an excuse to get a Namiki Vanishing Point pen. :)

    Or maybe a Lamy. Anyone have suggestions for a practical EDC fountain pen?
     
  11. herbicide

    herbicide Loaded Pockets

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    When I picked my second 207 up (I didn't notice it on the first or third*), the packaging pointed out the ink's durability and recommended it be used on cheques (endorsed by Kevin Mitnick).

    It's nice to know the claim holds up. Not that I use cheques, but still...




    *they keep wandering off
     
  12. Lion

    Lion Empty Pockets

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    There are rollerball pens made to use with bottled ink. Unfortunately, I can't remember which ones right now. If I one, I'll post a link. I do remember that the ones I've seen are expensive.

    Leo
     
  13. Lion

    Lion Empty Pockets

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  14. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    $5 ? Hope it doesn't leak.

    Would be awesome if it works.
     
  15. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    Ah, well, they're cheap. I placed an order.

    Where's a great place to order Noodler's Inks from?
     
  16. Lion

    Lion Empty Pockets

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    Pendemonium is a good place to get it from. Not the best price out there, but they have some neat colors that are exclusive to them.

    Swisher Pens has a pretty good selection too and very good prices.

    For a more exspencive rollerball that uses bottled ink, try Fountain Pen Hospital. They should have them. Sorry I can't remember exactly where I ran across them. You could ask at one of the fountain pen boards, such as The Fountain Pen Network, as well.

    Leo
     
  17. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    Are the American Eel (lubricating) and Old Manhattan Blackest Black ink Bulletproof as well?

    Since the converter in the roller ball pen is a piston type will it really be better to use the American Eel ink? Or would it be OK to use the Manhattan Blackest Black? I would prefer the darker black color, but not if it will clog up.

    -Ed
     
  18. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    I got the Calypso Roller Ball pens. Waiting on the Noodler's Ink.

    The Calypso is a cheap cheap plasticy pen. Hope it doesn't leak like crazy or clog up. Not expecting much with it's $5 price tag.

    -Ed
     
  19. Edwood

    Edwood Loaded Pockets

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    Just got the Noodler's Ink. Old Manhattan Blackest Black and Luxury Blue.

    I really like the Old Manhattan. It doesn't dry to a lighter gray with "dark tips" like a lot of so called black inks I've seen. Luxury Blue looks fluorescent in the bottle, but on paper is a more faded grayish blue. Looks nice, but it's not a dark electric blue like the bottled ink looks. It's supposedly bulletproof too, but I have a lot more confidence in the Manhattan Black.

    The Calypso Refillable Roller Ball works quite well. Smooth and little to no skipping when writing or drawing quickly. Only downside is it takes a little while to get the ink started if it's been sitting around for awhile. I find that gently tipping the pen back and forth a few times before uncapping helps.

    Otherwise, we'll see how it holds up to clogging and leaking over time. I won't be taking chances. I'll carry it in a ziplock baggie just in case. (more for leak protection).

    -Ed
     
  20. Lion

    Lion Empty Pockets

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    Just remembered this thread. Glad the pen is working for you.

    Leo