An ink cartridge or an converter plus ink bottle are two easy ways to get ink into a pen.
Ink cartridges are arguably the easiest to use–just plug them in and go! They’re also much more convenient for refilling an empty pen when you’re away from home. That said, they don’t have the incredible variety bottled inks do, so you can’t select ink properties quite as precisely. Their plastic shells are also less environmentally friendly than other options.
To use bottled ink, you have two main options. The first is a converter, which replaces a cartridge. Whether by turning a knob to draw up a tiny piston, pulling a plunger, or squeezing, operating a converter creates a vacuum that draws up ink from a bottle. The second is selecting a pen with a built-in filling system. These pens are often more expensive, though some options, like the Noodler’s Konrad Flex recommended in this guide, are quite affordable.
Converters and cartridges both have smaller ink capacities than built-in filling systems, meaning you’ll need to refill your pen more often. That said, starting with a cartridge and moving to a converter is a good way to dip your toes into the vast and vivid sea of inks. If you still feel intimidated, read our beginner’s guide.
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