Do you know what that little hole in the side of the BIC pen is for?

BIC pens are a success, to say the least. Every day thousands of them are sold around the world. No wonder you can find one of these pens wherever you go. Not to mention that we always have one in the bag, in the office, on the desk and so on ... Chewed, broken or even without the lid, there is always a BIC pen around, right ?!

It's fun to think that the motivation for creating a ballpoint pen came from László Bíró, a Hungarian journalist who was tired of filling ink pens and having to wait for the ink to dry after writing. And the idea for the invention came the day he saw a ball roll over a puddle, leaving a trail of water wherever it went. From there, he met with his chemist brother György to invent a commercially viable version of the object.

Image Source: Playback / Channel 4

In 1938, the Bíró brothers patented the design that had as its differential a small ball at the end, which rolled and released ink from the cartridge. Although there were previous versions of ballpoint pens, most of them were unsuccessful due to leaks, dryness and problems with ink distribution. Two years later, the brothers began licensing design to manufacturers in the United States and England, and soon the history of BIC pens began.

The secret of the holes

In 1950, French pen maker Marcel Bich released its first version under the license of the Bíró brothers. As he needed to give his product a name, the businessman adopted his own last name with a slight difference and created “BIC Cristal”. In addition, he solved a few more design flaws and began low-cost mass production.

To better control the flow, Bich invested in Swiss technology to get a sphere that allowed the paint to flow freely. In addition, it changed the product viscosity to prevent leaks and dryness. It was also at this moment that the enigmatic hole that emerged on the side of all the BICs emerged.

Image Source: Reproduction / Sight Unseen

As pointless as it may seem, this hole serves to equalize atmospheric pressure inside and outside the pen. Without it, it would not be possible to use the object inside a plane or on top of a tall building, for example. The difference in pressure would cause the pen to burst - and everyone knows how dirty it is. For this reason, British and American pilots made extensive use of ballpoint pens during World War II, as it was the only object that could be written safely in the air, which also helped to popularize the product.

According to the BIC website, about 90% of pens produced today rely on this feature to prevent leakage. But BICs still have one more cryptic hole: in 1991, the pens also gained an opening in the lid. But this time around, the hole is not intended to improve the operation of the object, but to increase the safety of its users. The caps have a hole in the tip in compliance with an international safety measure that aims to reduce the risk that children (and adults who chew BIC pens too!) Will choke on the piece as the hole allows air to pass through if the lid is swallowed.

* Originally posted on 02/20/2014.