Still Life

A Series of Mental Snapshots

An upgrade to the mechanical pencil

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2008

As a foreword, I am aware that this is one of those ‘out there’ ideas that may never be feasible, but despite that I feel it is a good idea!

The idea came when I was studying for my image processing midterm. I was making notes with my trusty mechanical pencil when I realized that every 3-4 words the lead in the pencil would become dull, I am using 0.5mm lead, in case it matters. When the lead becomes dull my writing becomes very unclear, so I would spin the pencil around about 180 degrees to where the lead was now sharp, and then another 3-4 words I would again spin the pencil to get to the sharp part of the lead. After doing this for a while, I thought to myself, why should I have to spin this pencil 20 times a minute! This is when the idea struck.

I propose that new mechanical pencil designs have a system that results in the lead rotating on its own so that the lead is always sharp. There are a few implementations here, the pencil could have a mechanism where the lead is always turning slightly, the actual amount would have to be ascertained through some calculation in how quickly lead dulls. Another implementation would be for the lead to ‘know’ when to rotate; if the pencil was smart enough it could know how long a person had been writing and the pressure with which they were writing. With this information it would be possible to know when the lead would become dull, therefore at the point of dullness the lead would automatically rotate. A final implementation idea, and probably the most feasible, is to place another button on the side of the pencil that would rotate the lead 180 degrees for you.

The drawback is obviously that it would cost more money to implement this kind of system, and mechanical pencils are meant to be inexpensive. That being said, if there were an automated lead rotating mechanical pencil that did happen to be more expensive, I would definitely be the first to rush out and get one!

–Steve

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4 Responses to “An upgrade to the mechanical pencil”

  1. Kevin said

    I’d buy one!

  2. sl said

    you can check out the kuru toga pencil by uniball. i just found out about it, but it’s sold out!

  3. Jack said

    they’re sold out almost everywhere, but you can find them on eBay direct from Japan at times.

  4. Ming (2B systems) said

    I like your ideas.

    But personally I think they are not very feasible in terms of how costly they would be. I would say that the money spent to design and implement would be much higher than to design better lead to accommodate the situation…

    I personally have never had this problem with mechanical pencils but wooden ones for sure.

    I have to say this is a very interesting post…

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