What is a Flex Nib Fountain Pen?

Pilot Metal Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen - Burgundy
Pilot Metal Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen – Burgundy

A flex nib (or flexible nib) fountain pen has a special nib design that allows the tines of the nib to curve and spread apart when pressure is applied during writing. The nib’s flexibility produces varying line widths that can add character and beauty to handwriting or calligraphy.

The shape of a flex nib is different than that of a regular fountain pen nib. The flex nib tines are longer and thinner to allow for more flexibility. Flex nibs must be used carefully! If too much pressure is applied to the nib during writing this can cause permanent damage to the nib.

The degree of flexibility varies among flex nibs. True “superflex” or “wet noodle” nibs are no longer manufactured and exist only in vintage fountain pens. Flex nibs found in modern fountain pens are considered to be “semiflex.” These have less flexibility but are easier to use and more durable than their vintage superflex cousins. To get the most flex out of a modern nib, an expert nibmeister can be hired to modify a nib to create a more flexible writing experience.

Noodler's Ahab Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen - King Philip Purple
Noodler’s Ahab Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen – King Philip Purple

When writing with a flex nib you will need to practice, take your time and write more slowly than you would with a regular fountain pen nib. The fountain pen ink you choose to use will affect your writing experience since ink properties vary, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different inks. Noodler’s Ink has created a couple of inks specifically designed for use with a flex nib: Black Swan in English Roses and Black Swan in Australian Roses. Be sure to get yourself some good quality paper such as Rhodia or Clairefontaine.

Some examples of modern semiflex nib fountain pens include:

Writing with a flex nib fountain pen is a great incentive to improve your penmanship. Do you use any flex nib fountain pens? What are your favorites? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with those considering buying their first flex nib fountain pen?

Namiki Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen
Namiki Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen
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2 Replies to “What is a Flex Nib Fountain Pen?”

  1. I use a Pelikan Steno Füller, not really vintage, I bought it maybe 15 years ago, but it is no longer produced. It is a very cheap pen, doesn´t look good, cheap body but the nib works well. Steno means Shorthand, and you can write with this pen very fast. I don´t know how other flex pens work, how are they different? You write that you have to write slow with flex pens, a Steno fountain pen is meant for really fast writing.

    1. I’ve never used a Pelikan Steno Fuller so it’s not really possible to make a comparison. Each fountain pen has its own characteristics which is part of the fun of collecting and using them. Thanks for the comments about your own personal flex nib pen.

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