- 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.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the TWSBI 580AL in the comments below!