[From November Issue 2013]
If you want to change or rewrite what you’ve written in your schedule or memo pad, it’s not possible to erase the text written with a normal ballpoint pen or fountain pen in the same way you would with a pencil. The “Frixion” series developed by PILOT Corporation came into being with the concept that “it would be convenient if there were a pen that could be erased no matter how many times you wrote with it.”
Frixion uses special ink that disappears when a certain temperature is exceeded. The unique property of this ink is that when it is rubbed with a special rubber attached to the tip of the pen, the frictional heat created renders it transparent. Therefore, once the ink has been erased, it’s possible to write on that surface over and over again. Besides this ballpoint pen, the product lineup includes felt tip pens and highlighters.
Until now, those wanting to erase text written in pen had to rely on erasers containing sand particles, or on correction fluid. The pen is designed so that the ink becomes colorless with the change in temperature and this means that even when the ink is rubbed with the rubber tip of the pen, residue is not produced. Because of this, the pen has caused quite a stir, and since it was released in France in 2006, more than 600 million pens have been sold in over 90 countries around the world.
It all started in 1975 when the company developed writing tools that used “ink that changes color with temperature.” “It began with toys that would change color in the bath and with applications for printing, but came to fruition with writing instruments, becoming our core business in 2005. To achieve the ideal pigment more than 1,000 kinds of compounds were created, over more than 30 years of study,” says TANAKA Mari of the Sales and Promotion Division.
Tanaka says, “The biggest difficulty was widening the temperature range within which the ink reacts, and to make the grain of the pigment fine enough. At first the original ink we developed changed color with the only the slightest change in temperature, so it was not practical. In addition, in order for the pigments to flow smoothly from the small crevice in the pen nib, the ink grains have to be very small and uniform in size,” she says, looking back on the developmental stage.
Frixion ink uses unique microcapsules that act as pigment. The capsule contains three components and it’s these that combine to react with frictional heat, making the ink turn transparent. The ink has been engineered to change color at a temperature of minus 20 to 65 degrees Celsius. The research lab was given the nickname “fuyajyou” (nightless district) within the company because in order to carry out this research, development continued day and night.
This pen is very convenient for studying. By writing in pink or orange, text can be hidden with a transparent sheet of red plastic, making it especially useful for memorizing important information.
Text: ITO Koichi