Inktronics: About the TWSBI ECO

TWSBI Eco - Might that little lip on the section be a weak spot?
TWSBI Eco – Might that little lip on the section be a weak spot?
TWSBI ECO Let me start this by saying I have several TWSBI pens in my collection. TWSBI was one of the first brands I was introduced to after the Lamy Safari broke my death grip. My first TWSBI was the Diamond 530. It was right before the 540 was going to be introduced and the 530 was being cleared out. A few years later and I now have the 530, 540, Micarta (v1), and the Mini. That’s where things just stopped.

I have contemplated the Classic. I have drooled over the Vac 700. The 580 calls to me like a siren trying to make my ship wreck on the rocks of broken pen parts. I made recommendations that TWSBI should build a Vac Mini. (I hear that may become a reality). The full metal TWSBI is a dream and the 580AL almost fulfilled them but things just went cold between TWSBI and I. All the stories of cracked sections, cracked caps, cracked this, cracked that, I had not had that happen to my pens at that point but thought my luck may run out. It did eventually. The nib unit on my Micarta cracked soaking the phenolic resin in ink and darkening the section. The cap on my TWSBI 530 is showing signs that it might shear off at the cap band someday. TWSBI made good and replaced my MIcarta nib unit with no questions asked and super fast shipping. I discovered the cracks under the cap band of my 530 about a year ago, well beyond the warranty and probably stock of 530 parts. I will admit, when the posts started appearing on forums about all the cracked parts, I really thought it was due to inexperienced users used to Bic pens and rough housing with their TWSBI pens. I mean, the 530/540/580 were never meant to post. That was what I saw as a major problem on the cracked caps. People were just jamming that cap onto the pen and breaking it themselves. At least those were my thoughts on the matter. I treat my pens very carefully and I still feel it may be why I have not had more problems with my TWSBI pens.

TWSBI ECO incoming!
So fast forward a couple of years and the ECO is finally a reality. Before it went on sale, I decided the ECO was going to be the pen that broke the ice between TWSBI and I. When I received notification that it was available, I jumped on it. The $28.99 entry fee was reasonable, in my eyes. A piston filler at that price is hard to beat. Some people will directly compare it to the Lamy Safari but is it a fair comparison? Maybe on price alone. Really, that is all you can compare as these are two different animals. I’ll leave the shootout for another post. The ECO looks like TWSBI has addressed the cracking issue. The section and barrel are now one piece. That barrel really seems attractive in that smooth finish. I think I like it more that the Diamond barrel. One drawback to the smooth barrel is that you can see the injection mold lines even though it looks like they made a good effort to polish them out. You really have to look for them though so it is not annoying but catches my eye because they are aligned with the nib. It is just a matter of rotating the nib 90 degrees. One thing you notice are some ridges at the base of the barrel. These stop the piston from reaching the bottom and make for a large air bubble when filling the pen.

TWSBI Eco -The ECO's 1 piece barrel and section design.
TWSBI Eco -The ECO’s 1 piece barrel and section design.

TWSBI Eco - More cost savings.
More cost savings.
It is not a big deal for me but some people may be annoyed that they can’t get a full fill of ink on the first try. It is no fault of the piston, it operates very smooth and pulls up ink very readily. Getting back to those ridges, I asked TWSBI about them on their Instagram account, twice. Both times my questions were erased with no answer as to why. I found that surprising and a big turn off since TWSBI has a history of listening to its customers. Personally, the ridges look like they could be turned into ink windows on a solid colored barrel. Is that the future of the ECO? The plastic box the ECO comes in also has a plastic wrench a slight trade off I assume to keep costs lower. The small vial of silicone grease we have become use to is also there to help keep the piston well greased and operating smoothly. I find that writing with the pen is very comfortable. You do notice these small nubs at the very base of the section that seem to give a slight triangular feel to the section. When holding the pen properly, you will notice your fingers seem to be helped into the proper tripod grip when you grip the pen closer to the nib. It is reminiscent of the Lamy’s triangular section but in a much more subtle way. I think most people will not even notice it. Right at the base you will see a small flair of the section that I typically associate with snap caps. It makes me a little uneasy but if this pen is going to crack, I would say cracks are going to start there. Only time will tell.
The pen is lightweight. Inked it comes in at 22 grams, the barrel is 13.4 grams and the cap a mere 8.6 grams. The section diameter ranges from 9.1 mm to 10.3 mm. The length of the pen capped is 139.1 mm and uncapped it comes in at 131.1 mm. I don’t typically post pens and I think it looks ridiculous at 155 mm.

The nib I chose for my ECO is the 1.1 mm stub. I have one on my 530 and thought about getting another for my 540 but that was  around the time things went cold for me. The nib is surprisingly smooth. smoother than the one I received for my 530. It also seems to be “tuned” a bit more wet that my old 530 nib. I have been using Iroshizuku Syo-Ro in the ECO.  The nib is not glass smooth and I might take some micro mesh to it, but for an out of the box experience, it is very good. Flow is consistent although I can tell the flow starts to slow after extended writing sessions, it has not skipped or stopped. This, even after 60 seconds sitting uncapped, the pen wrote straight away. Not something I see very often, even in much higher priced pens.

TWSBI ECO 1.1 mm ni writing sample.
TWSBI ECO 1.1 mm nib writing sample.
Overall, for a budget conscious fountain pen user, the TWSBI ECO is right at that point where it is  affordable to buy multiples. It holds a lot of ink even on the first fill and keeps the feed well saturated. The nib performance is very good out of the box. I would consider this to be on the higher end of the value spectrum.Pens to consider along with the ECO? Lamy Safari, Noodler’s Ahab (though the ECO is a bit more refined) and the Pilot Metropolitan. The Ahab being the only Piston filler out of those choices. It is no secret that TWSBI has looked to Pelikan for inspiration and it shows. You will never confuse the ECO for a Pelikan mind you. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

Ivan – The Fountain Pen Sith Lord

InktronicsBlog – Where the pen is mightier than the sword, but a light saber?

TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen White Stub1.1 Nib

8 thoughts on “Inktronics: About the TWSBI ECO

  1. I am enjoying my Eco’s. Even the one a friend gave me, with a nib he all but destroyed, could be made into a good writer. I’ve yet to have a crack with any TWSBI. In retrospect, if I were to pass on a model, it would be the Vac 700. I hope that the Vac Mini will be an improvement on the 700’s awkward design and look less a “ladies pen” than the Mini does to me. It’s hard to imagine one doing better than the Eco at the price. A minor quibble: the barrel is round instead of hex like the cap, making it a desk roller. My main complaint is that TWSBI nibs (most can be swapped and the Mini/Classic have the same #5’s as the Eco) cost 70% of the Eco’s price. Thanks for your very good review, Ivan. Lovely ink!

    1. Thanks for reading! Very valid points. I did neglect to mention the nib swap possibilities of the #5 nib. There are a lot of vintage nib options that might work also!

      1. I hadn’t considered vintage nibs. I’m more of an “original equipment” kind of guy, but if the price is right and the results are tasty I’m game for a Frankenpen. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. My Eco has developed a crack at the section by the nib and feed along the longitudinal mold seam line. Right now looks like a surface crack but so I’m praying it doesn’t get deeper.

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