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What is the benefit of "twisty bottom" ballpoint pens over "clicky tops"? Since they take two hands to activate while clickable versions only use one they do not seem to be better designed.

Is it purely because they are different? If so is simply being different from the (better functioning) standard a justifiable design decision?

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  • 1
    Twisty pens are almost impossible to accidentally extend, saying this I still carry a clicky pen in my pocket! Mar 13, 2014 at 11:37
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    Nobody sits near you and keeps nervously clicking their pen. Also, they can be used by creatures without opposable thumbs. Of course, they could also operate the clicky pen by clicking it against any other surface, but that's just silly. Mar 13, 2014 at 12:00
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    I can (and do) twist my twisty pens with one hand... Mar 13, 2014 at 12:47
  • @VitalyMijiritsky: I used to have a colleague who clicked his clicky pen against his shoulder... It never ceased to amaze me, yet silly he wasn't :-) Mar 13, 2014 at 18:53
  • I frequently operate my clicky pens by banging them off the desk, or my forearm, or some other surface. Not, often, my forehead, though. (I used to open hard-boiled eggs on my forehead as a kid. And then my mother switched to duck eggs, which have harder shells. That hurt.)
    – TRiG
    Mar 14, 2014 at 23:56

2 Answers 2

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Click Mechanism

Pros:

  • feedback on toggle: aural, visual, and tactile
  • speed of opening
  • ease of one-handed operation
  • lighter (spring operation)
  • perception: pen is "fun to play with" due to feedback

Cons:

  • accidental opening

Twist Mechanism

Pros:

  • deliberate operation
  • longer life
  • perception: "higher quality" pen due to weight

Cons:

  • difficult to operate one-handed

Additional Considerations

  • Click pens require additional pieces (spring, 2-piece thrust device)
  • Click pens require greater precision in manufacturing (cost largely negated due to injection-molding)
  • Twist pens require greater structural integrity due to the forces exerted (requiring more material)

References:

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  • The playfulness of clicky pens earns them many points IMO.
    – slaterio
    Mar 17, 2014 at 10:38
  • It depends on who the user is. I don't think most corporate executives care about "playfulness." Hence the dearth of expensive clicky pens.
    – SwankyLegg
    Mar 17, 2014 at 17:05
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Just off the top of my head:

  • Fewer parts. So less to go wrong/ break.
  • Fewer parts. So simpler to make.
  • Fewer parts. So cheaper to make.
  • Fewer parts. So more eco friendly.
  • Harder to open accidentally
  • Easier to tell whether "open" or "closed"
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    That's what I thought too, but then I realized the OP wasn't talking about pens where you pull the cap completely off, but about pens where you twist the bottom and the point comes out - and then you twist it back to hide the point. Mar 13, 2014 at 12:20
  • Ah - good point. Didn't read it that way. The "harder to open accidentally" still applies ;-)
    – adrianh
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:13
  • Being harder to open seems like a good reason. Although strange how it is directly opposed against the ease of use argument for design.
    – slaterio
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:19

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