Enthusiasts know TWSBI offers exceptional fountain pens at affordable prices, but what does TWSBI stand for?
It’s difficult to pin down in English, since the acronym is actually a compilation of Chinese characters, but according to the company’s official website,
TWSBI's name stands for the phrase "Hall of Three Cultures" or "San Wen Tong.” The character "Wen" translates into language and culture. The phrase "San Wen Tong" also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy.
The initials of the phrase "San Wen Tong" were reversed and turned into "TWS.” The last letters "Bi" were added with the literal meaning of "writing instruments,” combining the two segments to create TWSBI.
Although it’s an intriguing bit of trivia, the significance of the TWSBI name really has less to do with the brand’s advantages than its company origins.
Who Makes TWSBI Pens?
Once Ta Shin Precision decided to branch out and rebrand itself as TWSBI, the company that had previously manufactured all sorts of products for global brands narrowed its focus to exclusively design writing instruments people could connect with in the modern age.
As a result, TWSBI craftsmen are able to draw experience from a 50 year history in production and apply techniques used in manufacturing plastic parts like legos to the art of creating exceptional fountain pens!
With three international offices, TWSBI is in Shanghai, China; Taipei, Taiwan; and Los Angeles, California. Its mission is, “To inspire and recapture the romanticism of art and literature…starting with the pen” by manufacturing high quality writing instruments tailored to specific customer needs and providing dedicated customer service.
It’s the unique positioning within the production process and manufacturing chain that allows TWSBI to pass savings on to its customers without compromising quality. The pens coming out of this brand are some of the best in their price ranges and have gathered somewhat of a devout following within the fountain pen community.
Are TWSBI Pens Good?
Some of the most obvious advantages to purchasing TWSBI fountain pens are their affordability, filling system options, ink volume capacities, and quality designs.
We hesitate to use the word “cheap” for fear that it implies a lack of quality, but honestly, TWSBI fountain pens are a steal of a deal when you compare them to other pens in the same price range. Again, this fact is largely attributed to the company’s ability to cut costs within the supply and manufacturing chains in ways competitors simply cannot.
TWSBI Filling System Options
TWSBI gives users a lot of choice when it comes to filling systems; you can order a fountain pen that draws ink into its cavity via a button, piston, or vacuum system.
The TWSBI Go Fountain pen, for example, is probably one of the most fun instruments available on the market. Instead of filling it with ink through more traditional methods, you dip the nib into your ink bottle and draw the liquid up by pushing a button on the back end.
It’s satisfying and novel. However, these aspects of the Go model don’t detract from its functionality. It still writes beautifully and would make an awesome gift for collectors and beginners alike.
Vacuum Filling System
If a button sounds too kitschy or unconventional, you might consider a TWSBI Vac700R Fountain Pen or the slightly shorter TWSBI Vac Mini Fountain Pen. To fill either of these instruments, you dip the nib of your pen into the ink bottle of your choice, and pull back on the mechanism at the back of your pen.
This movement creates a vacuum that sucks the liquid into your pen’s cavity, but you may need to push some excess air out and draw in ink a second time to completely fill your pen’s barrel. When full, dip your pen’s nib back in the ink, and finish your stroke by pushing the lever on the back of your pen all the way down. Twist the mechanism to lock it into place, wipe any excess ink, and you’re ready to write.
You’ll get better with practice, and once you do, you can go extremely long periods of time without having to worry about refilling again. A vacuum filling system allows you the most space for ink volume of any TWSBI option.
Piston Filling System
Most TWSBI fountain pens use a piston filling system. You dip your pen in ink and twist the mechanism at the back to draw ink into the body of your pen. Many people prefer this filing system because it is familiar, simple, clean, and allows them to keep a large volume of ink in their pens at any time. Cartridges and converters, in contrast, typically do not.
TWSBI fountain pens with piston filling systems are especially easy to use because their transparent body designs allow you to watch the ink in your barrel as you refill it. For this reason, we’ve even chosen a TWSBI as our demonstration pen in our video “It’s All About the Pistons” which covers some great alternative models as well as more detailed filling instructions.
Most competitor pens that match TWSBI prices are going to be cartridge filling fountain pens or ones that are compatible with converters. These aren’t necessarily bad things as cartridges, in particular, make replacing the ink in your fountain pen insanely simple and convenient. Plus, a smaller ink cavity allows you the chance to experiment with new ink brands and colors more frequently without wasting any.
It’s just that if you have your heart set on using your favorite few inks most of the time, it will likely become irritating to feel like you have to refill the ink in your pen all the time. With a TWSBI pen, you’ll never be caught with your pen running dry at the moment you need it most. The brand’s use of acrylic and plastic materials lets you see exactly how much ink you have left at any time, and the company’s large body cavities hold a lot of ink.
Reliability & Materials
TWSBI fountain pens are most recognizable for their fun designs and transparent body materials. The company is not afraid to use bright colors or expose the inner workings of their pens to users. This aesthetic choice makes TWSBI unique, but so does the fact that this brand makes sure plastic parts do not equate to poor quality construction.
TWSBI fountain pens are fairly durable and reliable. They usually have stainless steel nibs, but customers who want a more sophisticated look are not left out by all the brightly colored product offerings. TWSBI also sells an all-metal design called the Gunmetal Precision that we absolutely adore for its sleek looks, thoughtful engineering, and amazing performance.
Which is the Best TWSBI Pen?
Above all others, we think the TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain pen is the brand’s best writing instrument. Its modern design embodies everything about TWSBI signature styling with its transparent barrel, stainless steel nib, and large piston filling system.
This pen, however, offers much more in terms of weight and durability than other TWSBI models. Another cool aspect of the Diamond 580 is that you can fully disassemble it to learn more about the inner workings of how a fountain pen functions. TWSBI takes great pride in the exploratory, analogue feel this facet gives its pens. They’re perfect for future engineers, machine technicians, etc. to tinker with.
The TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen comes with silicon grease and a complimentary wrench to help you maintain it over time, and its packaging is as cool as the pen itself. This exceptional fountain pen is available in clear, emerald green, purple, silver, nickel grey, and special edition black and rose gold designs.
The writing experience you get with a TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen is really elegant given its price range. The steel nib comes in extra fine, fine, medium, broad, and 1.1 mm Stub options. With so many variations available, there’s a TWSBI for everyone, but we think this one is the best.
Decide for Yourself
If you’re not convinced that TWSBI fountain pens are your cup of tea, browse the rest of our fountain pen inventory or check out our blogs and YouTube channel to do a little more research on which brands and models might be right for your specific needs. We hope you find what you’re looking for and wish you happy writing!