What is a Fountain Pen Converter

The question of “What is a fountain pen converter?” is a very common one, and an important one. Fountain pen converter is one of the three main methods that fountain pen craftsmen deploy for modern fountain to refill and store ink. The following are the 3 methods as well as the pros and cons of each method. After the article you will have an idea of which mechanism is best suited to your need.

Disposable Ink Cartridges

Cartridges are small disposable ink capsules containing ink. They are the ultimate in convenience and speed. To refill the ink, simply unscrew the pen, pull out the used cartridge, throw, put in a new one and screw back.


  • Convenience.
  • Speed. A refill can be done in 10 sec. A traveler’s best friend.
  • No risk of causing a mess with toppling of bottles and spilling during refill.


  • Hurts the environment as the cartridges are disposable.
  • More expensive compared to use of ink bottles.
  • Limited in choices with regards to ink colors and properties. Take for example Lamy, one of the largest manufacturer of writing instruments produces cartridges only in colors of blue, black, blue-black, red, green, turquoise and violet.

Re-fill-able Fountain Pen Converters

Converters have similar dimensions to cartridges but with inbuilt ink pumping mechanism. They are inserted into the pens in an empty state via the same method as cartridges. After insertion, users will twist the pumping mechanism of the converter to draw up ink from the ink bottle through the nib. Most brands designs their own proprietary disposable ink cartridges and converters. One example is the Lamy Safari Fountain pen which uses its proprietary T10 ink cartridges or the Z24 converter.


  • Good for the environment as it does not generate plastic waste with each refill.
  • Filling from the ink bottle is a traditional and special experience.
  • Less expensive compared to cartridges.
  • Opens the user to a wide variety of ink colors and properties. Most of the exotic ink colors and ink with special properties comes in bottles.
  • Ink feed (the parts after the nib) is automatically cleaned as the ink flows through during the refilling process.


  • Can get messy on the first few tries.
  • Typically holds less ink than a disposable ink cartridge. This is so because, for the same size and dimension, converters have to accommodate an ink pumping mechanism.

Piston-operated Fountain Pen

These are pens that can only be filled from the ink bottle. The filling mechanism is inbuilt instead of residing on removable converters.


All the advantages of converters, but with a bigger storage capacity. This will allow you to write longer in between refills.


  • For piston-operated fountain pens, if the pumping mechanism is damaged, the whole fountain pen has to be sent for repair. In the case of converter pens, we can simply replace the converter.
  • Cannot use cartridges. Especially painful when you are traveling and desires the convenience.


We recommend that newcomers start with converter filling pens. That is fountain pens that are able to use ink cartridges and converters. This way we can have the best of both worlds.


We hope we have been of help!

Ink and Paperie
A Premium Corporate Gift Singapore Company. We also curates beautiful, affordable and quality stationeries for working executives in our online shop. We are the authorised retailer for great pen brands such as Lamy and Parker Pen; as well as premium notebooks such as Moleskine in Singapore.