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I just bought a Uniball pen which is fairly expensive compared to other pens which are one tenth of its price. It worked with me for a day very well, then it suddenly became dry and doesn't write although the ink indicator shows it is completely filled up. I tried to heat the pen's tip but it didn't work and same thing with boiling water. How do I fix this as it happens a lot with many different pens?

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    Jan 20 at 13:56

4 Answers 4

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Poor Performance Lifehack:

When a new product ceases to perform as advertised, it is defective and should be replaced with a working model by the retailer/seller. The possibility of drying so rapidly is remote. The possibility of you getting a faulty mass-produced product is much better. Some might say it is a 'lemon'

Return it. If you did nothing to break your pen, return it with the original packaging and receipt as soon as possible. It is faulty. Ask for a replacement or a refund. There may even be instructions to that effect printed right on the product label or package.

The manufacturer, who is most knowledgeable about their product, is the one to determine the cause of the failure. A product engineer might even be able to trace the problem back to a manufacturing reason for the failure.

You know little or nothing about the product. Your vain attempts to make your pen work, may have trashed the pen and given your seller legal reason to refuse your request. As far is the seller is aware, you are the one who is responsible for doing things to your pen which make repair impossible.

If the seller wishes, you may get a replacement by request despite your interference.

Good luck.

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If there is sufficient ink in the pen, one can put applied physics to work to your advantage. Consider to attach the pen securely with a strong cord. Start with about 2 meters or so and spin the loose end over your head with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. The forces resulting will push the ink to the point (be sure to orient the pen properly) and ideally force it out in such a manner as to resolve the problem. This also works for not-completely-dry felt tip pens, although the failure rate is higher.

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  • While this will certainly work, I'm afraid it will work too well and leak some ink. Maybe start with a motion like they used to "shake down" old clinical thermometers? If that doesn't force the ink down, you can still escalate to the pen carousel ;)
    – Elmy
    Jan 20 at 6:50
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    Or do it outside..
    – Caius Jard
    Jan 26 at 9:53
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The problem doesn't seem to be this particular pen, but has peeved you because it is more expensive.

it happens a lot with many different pens

It might have more to do with the paper you write on, than the pen. I find that many pens don't flow ink very well on a modern paper, and quickly sieze up.

It can depend on what the paper is intended for. For example, printer paper is designed for inkjet printers or laser printers, not for ball pens. It's not just the porosity of the paper, but its sizing which affects the roughness, and whether the ball grips the paper (and rotates), or not (it slides).

Moreover, tiny particles from the surface can build up around the edge of the ball, impeding its ability to rotate.

My hack to free up the ball, is

  • Use some ordinary rough paper like newspaper, and run the pen around until the ball frees.

  • Also wetting the ball with my tongue can sometimes help.

It may be too late though, if your attempts to fix the problem have damaged the pen's tip.

Another solution is to buy a different type of pen. I find that gel pens work better than normal ball pens, with most paper taking their ink more easily. Or there are nib pens, and felt-tip style too, all with their advantages and disadvantages.

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Suppose you've had your pen for a while. Now, It just refuses to work.
What to do?

There's a good possibility that the pen has not been stored properly.

Here's a chart:
Note: Replace the cap securely or retract the tip before you put it away.
Pen type — ink form . . . . . . Store it…
Ball-point pens — viscous*. . Point down
Gel Pens — liquid . . . . . . . . . .Flat
Roller Ball Pens — liquid . . . . Flat
Fountain Pens — liquid . . . . . Flat** - Tip down if nib becomes dry
Fineliners & Markers — liquid.Tip down/or flat
Paint marker — liquid . . . . . . .Flat
Double-ended pen — liquid . .Flat
Brush pen — liquid . . . . . . . . .Tip down/or flat
Unsure what kind of pen? . . . Generally, store pens flat

* Remove ball point ink with rubbing alcohol 
** Clean fountain pens completely if you don't plan to use them for a few weeks

Source: JetPens™ has a YouTube presentation that covers different types of 'single-use' pens.
Hints, tips, and hacks are presented for each kind from ball-point to fountain pen, how to revive a dry one, and the best way to store them.

Okay, Fine. Now, I know what may have been the cause.
What to do?

Problem: The thing just refuses to write. You're pretty sure that there's ink in it.
Try: Scribble—draw short lines—back & forth, small circles, figure-8's, etc. on scrap paper
No? …

For: Ball point
Try: Store it tip-down for a few hours or overnight

For: Ball point and gel pens - if ink is visible in the refill but ink doesn't flow
Try: Gently heat the ink. (Remove the ink refill for optimal results.)

  • Use a heat gun or hair dryer in 10 second bursts (maximum).
    Try to scribble after each burst.
  • Put the refill into a cup of hot water point down for 10 - 15 minutes
    Try to scribble

For: Fineliners & Markers
Try: Dilute dried ink in the tip.

  • Dip the pen into hot water for 10–15 seconds…

    and try to write with it.
  • Dip the pen into hot water until you see ink starting to leak from the tip…
    and try to write with it.

For: Dry Erase Markers
Try: Centrifugal force

  • Spin marker attached to string 30cm/12in for up to 30 seconds
    Remove cap carefully over a disposable towel

For: Pilot (brand) FriXion™ Pens
Try: Recharge the heat-sensitive ink

  • Put in the freezer overnight
    Allow it to gradually comes to room temperature.
    and try writing with it.

One more thing™: Use pigment-based pens for official documents (gel pens, fineliners, fountain pens)

Good Luck.

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