TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen
- Description: An updated version of the TWSBI 580 featuring an aluminum grip and piston mechanism, for added durability and a classier look
- Refills: Internal piston mechanism
- Body: Plastic / Aluminum
- Measurements: 5.6″ long closed, 7.0″ posted
- Weight: 32g
- Color Options: Clear with silver aluminum accents
My past experiences with TWSBI have been hit or miss, mostly on the miss side. I was impressed by the price point of the ECO, but it just didn’t click with me. My old Diamond 540 was plagued with cracking pieces, I’ve given up emailing customer support. The Mini was cool, but once again, it just didn’t get used. My Vac700 was a very poor writer, and in my opinion, not very comfortable in hand. So I’ve had a good amount of experience with several of their pens. I figured the “AL” version with aluminum parts would be more durable, better looking, and overall more reliable. Read on to see how the 580AL has held up to over a year of ownership and use!
Appearance and Packaging:
The TWSBI 580AL is a sharp-looking pen. I’ve always loved the way the Diamond series looks, and in my opinion, it’s even better with the blinged out updates. There’s an aluminum grip section that’s made of two pieces, and an aluminum piston rod and mechanism. It definitely looks more premium than the old 540 and 580s. The faceted barrel is crystal clear, allowing you to see whatever ink you have sloshing around inside. In the photos, it’s filled with J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor – an awesome ink to have in a demonstrator. TWSBI has won awards for their packaging, and this one is no exception. The box is made of plastic, with the pen sitting on a pedestal inside. It looks very Apple-esque and I like it. Overall, the pen looks great, and has an awesome presentation. It would make a great gift, and it looks great on my desk.
Filling System / Nib Performance:
The filling system in the 580AL is an integration piston mechanism. It’s fully removable, whether it be for cleaning or tinkering. This updated aluminum piston replaces the plastic version seen on the standard 580, but I don’t believe it’s much of an improvement. I’ve had the piston get stuck (like REALLY stuck) a few times, and it’s definitely an annoyance. It’s nerve-racking to have to apply pressure to the piston knob, not knowing if it will give way and shoot out ink everywhere. It looks great in there, but I think the plastic version on my 540 was much smoother. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve had similar experiences with your TWSBI’s aluminum piston.
I went for the medium nib on the pen. TWSBI uses western nibs, so the line width was right about where I’d expect it to be. The 580AL didn’t go un-modified for long. Straight out of the box, I found the pen to be a bit dry and I knew it could definitely have been smoother. While at the DC show in August of 2014, I had it adjusted by Mike Masuyama. I requested that the pen have increased flow, and be smoothed a bit. He informed me that the slit in the nib was not perfectly centered, which is what was causing the sub-par flow. After a few minutes on the grinding wheel, the TWSBI was writing perfectly. Given that the pen was a reasonable $65, investing another $30 in a perfectly smoothed nib wasn’t a bad decision. Steel nibs in this price range can be hit-or-miss, but luckily they’re easily fixed.
TWSBI’s 580AL weighs in at a comfortable 32g. It’s nicely balanced, and provides a good amount of heft. It weighs enough so you know it’s there, but not too much to the point where it will tire you out. The grip diameter is comfortable, and flares out just a bit before the nib. I have found the aluminum to be slippery though. There’s no texture to the grip and it tends to get slick. If you have sweaty hands or prefer to a tight grip, be wary of this one. I prefer to write with the pen unposted, but it is capable of posting. There’s a silver ring on the back of the pen that the cap securely posts onto without interfering with the piston. For me, it makes the pen very off-balanced and way too long. If you want a TWSBI that posts, definitely consider the Mini. The molding on the plastic pieces is nicely done, with no visible seams or blemishes. It’s polished to a high-shine and smooth to the touch. The materials appear to be quality, but time will tell if they start to get the signature TWSBI hairline cracks over time.
- Price is reasonable
- Nice weight
- Comfortable in hand
- Looks awesome when paired with interesting ink
- M nib was dry and scratchy out of the box
- Piston has stuck multiple times
- Slippery grip section
I’m very on the fence as to whether or not I like the TWSBI 580AL. There’s just about as many Pros as there are Cons, and my experience hasn’t been great with TWSBIs in the past. At $65, this pen is not terribly expensive, but it’s also not in the “impulse buy” range. I’d definitely say that I like the pen, but I don’t love it. Since getting the nib adjusted, it’s been much better. It doesn’t see a ton of use, but for some reason I’ve held onto it. There aren’t enough negative aspects as to not recommend the pen, but there aren’t enough positive aspects to suggest it either. Overall, this pen is really a true middle ground fountain pen for me. Not bad, not great, really just okay.
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on the TWSBI 580AL in the comments below!
9 thoughts on “TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review”
Ed, I don’t have any experience with the 580AL, but my Diamond is overrun with cracks. What was your experience with customer service about that? I have not even owned the pen a year. It only gets desk use, and has inside the threads on the cap and a chunk of the plastic has come out of the threads along the barrel of the pen where the cap meets the barrel. I’m very frustrated, and I know it’s not the most expensive of pens, but I expected better quality.
You can email them, they should send you new parts. That’s what I did twice. I’ve grown tired of trying to fix the pen, it’s now in a drawer somewhere.
Jon, TWSBI customer service is amazing. They’ve replaced the cap on my Mini twice and the nib assembly once with no questions asked. I’ve had a reply in half an hour and a shipping notice the next day.
I’ve had no problems (knock on wood) with my 580 classic. The Mini has been a train wreck. That’s what’s kept me from buying an AL version.
I love the looks but the poor cap posting and TWSBIs seeming inability or unwillingness to address the quality issues even in this updated model still prevents me from buying it. I have a Vac 700 that once opened up a bit writes well but it dries out so quickly when left uncapped for even a few minutes that it’s not very practical to use.
Thanks for the great review.
I had a 530 that was The Best Drawing pen… and I’ve been trying to replace it ever since it passed on to the great yonder due to use. I’ve been frustrated – while TWSBI customer service is great, I can’t get the new pens to be as nice as that one. Either the nib isn’t quite good or the balance isn’t quite there or the flow is irregular – and I remember how good the first one I had was. I was willing to live with the poor posting, etc. just because it felt right.
So now I’m on a search for a decent drawing fountain pen to replace it, and just getting somewhat frustrated. I went to the 580 AL when it was time to admit the 530 was dead (after having a mini with So Many Bad Flow issues), and it is a decent pen… but not quite there. Not quite as good flow, not quite as good feel, and the nib it came with has a smaller sweet spot (I swapped in my old nib, and that only served to fill me with longing for the way the old pen Worked.)
considering it looks very similar to my Diamond 530, i think i’ll pass. unless… they come up with a smoke-black finish.
Just bought one of these. I am just unscrewing the nib assembly and filling it with a syringe and needle without touching the piston. So far so good with the cracking issues. Imho the best customer service is the one you never have to call on. I also bought a jowo 18K fine nib to replace the stock steel one. Hope it improves the overall package.
Bought my twsbi diamond 580 aluminum 5 months ago. I have quite a few hours on it after replacing the medium nib with the 1.1 mm. Love it, love it, love it. I see no evidence of cracking and it is my daily use pocket pen, The piston is black plastic and is a little stiff but works well. Enjoy using it a lot.