And you thought pen names were long?
Mechanical pencil leads get after it too, like this Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead. I’m surprised they didn’t spell out Dia-mond in the name, because that is the selling point: Nano-diamond pieces that strengthen the lead. Hashtag Marketing!
Before we get to that, I wanted to spend a minute on a graphite I eliminated from testing without a full review. I found the Rotring Tikky Hi-Polymer HB 0.5 mm lead not good. One of the “features” of most mechanical pencil lead is that they are mixed with plastic (polymer) because pure graphite would be too brittle to function in the tiny diameters needed for mechanical pencils. As it turns out, hi-polymer leads may not be for me.
I want my mechanical pencil leads to have a bit of feedback. They don’t have to feel like a traditional wooden pencil, but I don’t want them to feel alien either. The Tikky Hi-Polymer felt fake to me, and I didn’t enjoy it from the moment I loaded it up. On top of that, it is one of the most expensive per piece leads on the market. Those things in combination make it a hard pass for me.
The Uni NanoDia H 0.7 mm, on the other hand, is good. It’s not great, which we will get to in a minute, but it is good.
For testing, I loaded it up in the Uni Shift Pipe Lock 0.7 mm Drafting Pencil, and got to writing. First off, there was some feedback in the line. Not a lot mind you, but after the plastic feeling of the Tikky, this one felt more normal. It was durable too, without feeling like a rock. Maybe nano diamonds are for real! The tip held its point consistently, and for long writing sessions. I didn’t extend the lead once on the handwritten page for this review, and no one side of the lead became overly sharp or angled in the process. My normal hand rotation when writing kept it even.
But I didn’t love it. Part of this test is to figure out what I am looking for in a mechanical pencil lead, and smoothness at the cost of natural feel is not it. Also, 0.7 mm is a tough size for me. Like with fountain pen nibs, I enjoy the opposite ends of the tip size spectrum - EF and 1.1 mm stub for example - not the center. 0.7 mm is the medium nib of the mechanical pencil world.
I think the Uni NanoDia lead is perfect for students who are writing page after page with their mechanical pencils. It will thrive in that environment, and I think that is the reason why it is so popular. I need something more from my leads, and this project is helping me sort out what exactly it is that I am looking for.
I have a huge batch of testing to complete, but if you have found your perfect mechanical pencil lead please let me know in the comments so I can check it out.
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