Bic Cristal

) is an inexpensive disposableballpoint penmass-produced and sold byofClichy, Hauts-de-SeineFrance. It was first released in December 1950 and is the best selling pen in the world the 100 billionth was sold in September 2006. Recently, it has become the archetypal ballpoint pen and is now considered ubiquitous,to the extent that theMuseum of Modern Arthas made it a permanent part of its collection. Its hexagonal form and design mimics a classiclead penciland it is sold in 6 types of point and 16 colors around the world.

In 1944, near the end of the Second World War, entrepreneurMarcel Bichbought a factory inClichy, a suburb north of Paris2and with business partner Edouard Buffard foundedSocit PPA(laterSocit Bic) in 1945. PPA stood forPorte-plume, Porte-mines et Accessoires pens, mechanical pencils and accessories. During the war Bich had seen a ballpoint pen manufactured in Argentina byLszl Br. Between 1949 and 1950 the Bic Cristal was designed by theDcolletage Plastiquedesign team atSocit PPA.34Bich invested in Swiss technology capable of shaping metal down to 0.01 millimetres (0.00039in), which could produce a stainless steel one-millimetre (0.039in) sphere which allowed ink to flow freely.5Bich developed a viscosity of ink which neither leaked nor clogged and, under a licence purchased from Br for the ballpoint, launched the Cristal in December 1950.3

Bich invested heavily in advertising, hiring poster designerRaymond Savignacin 1952. That year Bic won the FrenchOscar de la publicitaward for advertising.2In 1953 advertising executive Pierre Guichenn advised Bich to shorten his family name to Bic as an easy-to-remember, globally adaptable tradename for the pen, which fit in with product branding trends of the post-war era.5Early Bic advertisements in France referred to the Cristal as the Atomic pen.6Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Bic Cristals writing tip and ergonomic design helped shift the worldwide market for pens fromfountain pensto ballpoints.

In 1959 Bich brought the pen to the American market: the Bic pen was soon selling at 29 cents (equivalent to $2.43in 2017) with the slogan writes first time, every time.7In 1965 the French ministry of education approved the Bic Cristal for use in classrooms.8

In September 2006 the Bic Cristal was declared the best selling pen in the world after the 100 billionth was sold.9

TheMuseum of Modern ArtinNew York Cityrecognised the Bic Cristalsindustrial designby introducing it into the museums permanent collection.410Its hexagonal shape resembles the typical woodenpenciland grants strength and three grip points giving high writing stability. The pens transparentpolystyrenebarrel andpolypropylenetube show the ink-level.3A tiny hole in the barrels body maintains the same air pressure inside and outside the pen.11The thick ink flows down due tocapillary actionfrom the tube inside the barrel, to feed the ball bearing, which spins freely within abrasstip.12In 1961 thestainless steelball was replaced with much hardertungsten carbide. This ballpoint is firstvitrifiedby heat, then ground down and milled to an accuracy of 0.1m (3.910−6in) between spinning plates coated withindustrial diamondabrasives.12Since 1991 the pens streamlined polypropylene cap has had a small hole to reduce the risk of suffocation if the cap is inhaled.311Polypropylene is used instead of polystyrene because it absorbs impact better, reducing the chance of the pen cracking or splitting if it is dropped onto the cap.12

The pens dimensions are578by12inch (14.9cm 1.3cm).10

The Cristals design has become a target for counterfeiters, especially from the Far East and in particular from China.13Their pens are manufactured at a cheaper price and made to appear similar to the original. One Kenyan pen manufacturer reportedly lost 100,000,000Kenyan shillings(approx. $1.3 Million USD at 2009 exchange rate) to fake copies, forcing them to negotiate cheaper licensing from Bic.13

In 2012 Bic marketed a spin-off product named the Bic Cristal For Her.14The pen, similar to the original, was supposedly designed specifically for women. It was widely mocked on the internet, for instance in the customer reviews section ,15and has been included in the collection of theMuseum of Failure.16

In 2014 Bic released a new writing instrument based on the Cristal, a modified pen with a rubber tip opposite the ballpoint. This model, called the Cristal Stylus, is for use ontouchpads.17Bic funded a website to promote the stylus that crowdsourced a newtypeface, named theUniversal Typeface Experiment.1

List of pen types, brands and companies

Stamp, Jimmy.The Universal Typeface Project Averages the Worlds Handwriting to Produce an Incredibly Average Font.

Editors of Phaidon (2006). Fletcher, Alan, ed.

(1. publ. ed.). London: Phaidon Press.ISBN0-7148-4399-7.

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. New York:The Museum of Modern Art. 27 September 2004

Everyday Icon 3 The BIC Biro Design Agenda Phaidon.

The Art of Ballpoint: Experimentation, Exploration, and Techniques in Ink

. Rockport Publishers. p.12.ISBN978-1-63159-057-3

An early BIC ad campaign referred to the pen as the Atomic Pen.

Larcen, Donna (4 July 1995).Who Says $1 Dollar Wont Buy Anything Anymore.

Smith, David (14 June 2008).Its 70 today, but our favourite pen just keeps rolling along.

Pen best selling. Guinness World Records. 9 January 2006

Bic Cristal in MoMA collection.

Lemon, Michael (28 April 2015).Bic Cristal Pens The Worlds Most Popular Pen.


University of Nairobi Digital Repository

Vinjamuri, David.Bic For Her: What They Were Actually Thinking (As Told By A Man Who Worked On Tampons).

News, ABC.Bic Pens For Her Draw Amazon Flames.

Hauser, Christine; Anderson, Christina (April 21, 2017).At This Museum, Failures Are Welcome.

Liszewski, Andrew (28 January 2014).The Classic Bic Pen Now Works On Your Smartphone Display Too.

Everyday Icon 3 The BIC BiroatPhaidon Pressonline

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This page was last edited on 31 July 2018, at 01:50

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