How Are Pens Made?

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Pens start as small plastic PPC pellets and are put together from scratch by using different machines. There are many steps to the pen manufacturing process that are important when it comes to creating promotional pens. The process involves injection, ink refills, and testing to become the writing instruments we know and love today.

Whether you’re at home or the office, you likely use a personalized pen every day. What is the pen making process? What plastic are pens made from? Let’s take a moment to appreciate all the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into that little writing wonder!

Get ready to learn how pens are made step by step in this exclusive video:

What is Polypropylene Copolymer?

To really understand how to make a plastic pen, you need to first become familiar with Polypropylene Copolymer or PPC. Used in everything from car parts to textiles, PPC was first discovered in 1951 by a pair of petroleum scientists named Paul Hogan and Robert Banks. This lightweight material has excellent physical and mechanical properties you won’t find in any other plastic. For instance, it’s completely stain resistant and has low moisture absorption.

Plastic Pens & PPC

Now that you’re a PPC pro, let’s go into the fine details of the pen manufacturing process! There are seven unique steps in the manufacturing of custom plastic pens.

Step 1: Injection

The process begins with the PPC pellets being fed into a large mixer, separated, and measured into the perfect portions. From there, they are poured into a giant funnel known as a hopper. The plastic pellets travel through the machine where they’re melted down and injected into molds in the shape of the pens. These are attached to a plastic framework known as a runner.

The process is repeated for pen caps, clutches, and interior barrels. Once the pens are removed, the runner is ground down and turned back into colored PPC pellets, which are used to make more pens.

Step 2: Ink Refill

After the molds are created, metal tips called nibs are attached to plastic barrels that travel on an assembly line to get their ink. This ink is then injected through the tip of the pen into cartridges called "ink refills" and given a twist.

Step 3: Pen Testing

Nothing but perfection is excepted when it comes to personalized pens. This is why every pen goes through multi-parameter testing machines, which test the ink refill’s affinity, wear rate, and amount of ink flow at various writing speeds.

Step 4: Assembly

Of course, a pen is more than just a plastic barrel filled with ink. Once the refill has been tested, a technician places the ink chamber into the barrel, slides on the spring, screws on the tip, and pops on the thrust tube and push button.

Step 5: Inspection

Every pen is inspected by hand to ensure quality control. If any of the pens are faulty, they are tossed aside. The plastic bits from these pens are ground up and reused for the next batch.

Step 6: Adding Your Logo

This is the entire process for creating plastic pens, but there is one more step when it comes to customization. At this point, the logo is added to the barrel or clip of the custom pens, usually through screen printing, engraving, or debossing. You can also take your custom pens a step further by customizing your ink color or choosing one that comes in a gift box!

Step 7: Packaging

Your personalized pens are all set and ready to promote your brand! To get them to your doorstep, the shipping department wraps your personalized pens in plastic, boxes them up, and sends them your way.

From Pellets to Promos

Each step in the pen manufacturing process for your custom pens is more important than the last. Without a lot of hard work, as well as high-functioning machinery, you wouldn’t be using that pen to jot down your to-do list or draw a temporary tattoo on your ankle. It just goes to show even the most basic items go on a fascinating journey to creation.

Plastic pens are a very popular promotional product, and for good reason. Whether we’re at the office or home, we likely use a pen almost every day. They may start as small pellets, but eventually every pen turns into an INKredible opportunity to promote your brand.