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October 7, 2003 10:31 AM

Broken: Pen design

Katherine Lumb writes:

The Sharpie Twin Tip pen is badly designed. Great idea: a permanent marker with a broad tip on one end and a fine tip on the other. I was impressed by the pen's versatility, and picked up a few on a recent trip to an art supply store. The first time I used the pen, I took the cap off the broad tip and, like virtually every pen-user I know, slipped it on the other end. When I tried to put the cap back on, it didn't fit. Then I noticed that the cap on the fine tip was missing. I realized that the cap on the fine tip, which was significantly smaller than the cap on the broad tip, had been completely swallowed by and become stuck inside the other cap. I hadn't pushed down especially hard when I stuck it on the other end of the pen, but it was really jammed in there tight. It took 15 minutes of banging, prying and swearing to get the smaller cap out.

Was any product testing done before this pen went to market? You'd only have to put this pen through the paces of normal use to discover this fatal flaw. I can only imagine that thousands of other Sharpie loyalists are as frustrated as I am by this botched effort.


This is a design failure of cataclysmic proportions! A writing instrument should be given at LEAST 3 months of solid, board-reviewed testing on cap efficacy ALONE. I'd say you are at the spearhead of a massive class action.

Posted by: CR at November 4, 2003 01:14 PM

I have used these pens and have never had that problem. Not sure why, but strange...

Posted by: Jonathan at November 4, 2003 11:44 PM

I use the double tip Sharpies ALL THE TIME for work and have never had that problem. After reading your post, I tried to jam the larger cap onto the smaller, w/ the intent of getting it stuck... but I still couldn't do it. You must have a gotten a bad batch or something - sorry.

ps: I work for Sanford so I may be a bit biased. However, I will foward your concerns directly to our R&D department :)

Posted by: Jason at November 6, 2003 06:22 PM

I've had the EXACT same thing happen to me so I must have gotten my sharpie from the same "bad batch."

Needless to say, I don't put the cap on the other end anymore. I take my chances with losing it rather than try to dislodge it from the inside of the bigger cap!

Posted by: Traci at November 7, 2003 04:26 PM

Happened to me when they first came out about 3 years ago. Still happens today. I think the folks that say they have no problems are Sanford croneys...

Posted by: Bob at November 7, 2003 06:50 PM

I just tried to jam the cap on my twin Sharpie as described and I'm afraid I failed miserably.

Even belting the thing with a staplegun didn't work. Although I did manage to stuff the fine point end of the marker on the desk surface when I hit it with the staplegun.

Maybe they've fixed the cap jam problem. Now if only they could increase the strength of the fine point so they didn't break under extreme stress.

And no, I don't have any connection with Sanford.

Posted by: SteveA at February 17, 2004 05:42 PM

I use these pens every day and I've never had this happen.

To double check, I just pounded the crap out of one to try to get it to stick to the smaller cap--no luck.

I think this story was made up by jealous Pentel employees.

Posted by: Not Sanford at March 30, 2004 05:17 PM

i have one of these markers but even after banging the cap on i could'nt get it to jam. it is weird though that one cap is so much bigger, i noticed that before.

Posted by: Eric at June 10, 2004 08:07 PM

Never used one, but going by the picture, I don't see a place to put the smaller cap. (?) That's certainly a bad design...

Posted by: well.... at June 20, 2004 03:27 AM

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