The TWSBI Eco has a unique design that will definitely turn some heads. It’s made of injected molded plastic, but it’s a much thicker and higher-quality plastic than that found on the Platinum Preppy. For those that are new to fountain pens, this is not your run-of-the-mill plastic that you find on your throw-away ballpoint.
I’ve reviewing the white model, but you can also get the Eco in black, lime green, and clear. In all of those models, only the color of the cap and piston nob will change; the barrel maintains its transparency throughout, which I think is one of the defining features of this pen. The barrel houses the piston mechanism, which is made of plastic parts and rubber. Unscrewing the piston mechanism lowers the piston rod, while tightening the mechanism retracts the rod back to its starting position, which, when the nib is placed in a bottle of ink, will fill the barrel with ink. Although a pretty standard mechanism in fountain pens these days, I remember being absolutely fascinated by this process and was a huge reason why I bought the pen.
The cap screws onto the section with smooth threads and stays secure with a black rubber “O” ring that is nested at the back end of the section threads. This ring is meant to keep the cap secure and air-tight while capped. In practice, I don’t love this design, but I understand the purpose.
The section tapers down with a slight flare-out at the end. It isn’t slippery, but I do wish they made the section a little bit wider, especially near the nib. I have relatively large hands, so I prefer my sections to be on the wider side (around 10-11 mm). If you have smaller hands, this section won’t be a problem.
Lastly, another cool part of the design: you can take it all apart! The pen comes with a plastic wrench that you can use to disassemble and remove the entire piston mechanism. This helps with cleaning and is just fun to be able to take everything apart and see how everything works.
Fit & Finish (4.5/5):
For an injected-molded pen that can be completely disassembled, I think the fit & finish is superb. Everything fits together exactly as they should, and the whole pen feels tight, secure, and well-made. The only downside is that I can definitely still see the injection lines in the plastic, but it’s not a huge deal. The pen holds up really well under normal use; I don’t see any scratches, and all of the nobs and parts twist and function as they should. Some people have had issues with their TWSBI’s cracking in the past, but I’ve never experienced this on the Eco, and I own 3 and use them quite heavily.
I believe all of TWSBI’s pens come with steel JoWo nibs, which are known to be great, reliable nibs (JoWo actually provides the nibs for a ton of pen manufacturers today). As was the case with all of the JoWo nibs that I’ve tried, this nib (Broad) wrote very well when I first inked it up. It has just a touch of feedback (to be honest, more than I typically like), but it doesn’t skip and has good ink flow. I did ultimately use micromesh to smooth it out just a bit.
Writing Experience (5/5):
All in all, the pen is quite comfortable to use. The length is great for me to use uncapped, and because the pen has such a large ink capacity, it is well suited for longer writing sessions. The feed keeps up well with the ink flow, even in the broader nibs.
Overall Impression (18.5/20):
The TWSBI Eco is a reliable writer and arguably the best value fountain pen in the under $50 price range. It’s practical, it holds a ton of ink, it’s durable (so far), and it doesn’t need to be babied like more expensive pens…..it just works. For those just getting started in fountain pens, the Eco is a must buy. For seasoned veterans, you probably already own a bunch, but you could always use another designated pen for high-maintenance inks.
*Photos shot and edited on iPhone
Length Uncapped (nib tip to end of barrel): 131 mm
Length Capped: 138 mm
Length Posted: 167 mm
Section Diameter: 9-9.8 mm
Barrel Diameter: 12.5 mm
Weight Uncapped: 13 g
Total Weight: 21 g