Explanation of Fountain Pen Filling Systems

Choosing a fountain pen begins with choosing an appropriate ink-filling system. There are several ways to get ink into a fountain pen. In this post, we cover the most popular methods and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each method.



A cartridge is a small reservoir of ink, usually coming in tube form. This system makes ink filling easy.

1. To install a cartridge, begin by inserting the cartridge’s stopper into the fountain pen’s grip section.

Cartridge Fountain Pen
2. Press the cartridge down firmly into the fountain pen’s grip section until the cartridge stopper is punctured.

Cartidge Fountain Pen
3. Leave the pen pointing downward to help the ink saturate into the nib. This step can take an hour or two.

Products Used
Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen – Extra Fine Nib – Clear Body
Kaweco Royal Blue Ink
Advantages of Cartridges
Cartridges are the simplest way to fill fountain pens with ink. They come preloaded with ink, making it easy to pop in a new cartridge with ease.
Cartridges are lightweight, which makes them more convenient and portable than converters and built-in filling systems, where bottled ink is necessary.
Among the systems covered in this post, they tend to be the least expensive.
Disadvantages of Cartridges
Many fountain pen brands use proprietary cartridges that are incompatible with pens from other brands, which limits color choice.
Cartridges don’t allow the use of the wide range of inks in bottled ink form. However, it’s possible to work around this drawback by using a blunt-tipped syringe to refill a spent cartridge with bottled ink.
Cartridges have less ink capacity than other filling systems since they are separate components from the barrel.

A converter uses mechanical force to create a low air pressure chamber into which ink is drawn. Begin installing a converter the same way that you would install an ink cartridge. Dip the pen into a bottle of fountain pen ink until the nib and part of the grip section is submerged in the ink.

There are two types of converters: piston converters, which use a twist mechanism to draw ink, and squeeze converters, which use a simple press mechanism to draw ink. Below, we explain how to install each type of converter.

1. Piston Converter
1. Insert the converter into the pen and twist the end knob until the piston is fully extended.
2. Twist the piston in the other direction, retracting to draw ink. Repeat if the converter is not full.
3. Clean up by wiping off the nib with a paper towel and reassemble the fountain pen.

2. Squeeze Converter
1. After inserting the converter, squeeze it. Bubbles will appear in the ink bottle as air leaves the converter.
2. Release the converter slowly and as you do so, the difference in air pressure will cause the ink to be drawn into the pen.
3. Squeeze and release again, repeating until no bubbles appear in the bottle when the converter is squeezed.