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It's the pen with a refill that launched a thousand ships—no, Kickstarter campaigns. With its clear plastic body and simple design, the Hi-Tec-C by Pilot Japan is deceptively ordinary. Yet, this humble pen makes the finest of lines flow out effortlessly and smoothly. It's the stuff pen lovers' dreams are made of.
The secret is two-fold: one, the tip design, and two, the ink. The tip features three indentations that support a revolving carbide ball. This helps it rotate in a frictionless, more natural manner so that the ink flows effortlessly. Second, Pilot uses ink made of a special biopolymer consisting of resin made from microbes such as yeast. As a result, the ink's viscosity is increased, which prevents it from feathering or bleeding.
Since Hi-Tec-C's 1994 launch in Japan, it has been a pioneer of gel ink pen innovation. Various iterations and colors have emerged, and it even won the Good Design Long Life Design Award in 2012. Well-loved by pen aficionados everywhere, it's only right that we pay homage to this cult classic.
Characteristics of the Hi-Tec-C
There are several different product lines of the Hi-Tec-C on the market now that all stem from the basic line, which features the classic plastic body. Though the technology behind the tips and inks remains the same in all of the different product lines, some people prefer a pen body that is more luxurious, trendy, or multi-functional. There have even been Kickstarter projects devoted solely to creating the "perfect" pen body worthy of the Hi-Tec-C ink refill. Regardless, Pilot has come out with several lines so you can choose one that is appropriate for your setting. You can click through the product pictures to see the different pens.
The Hi-Tec-C comes in four different tip sizes: 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.4 mm, and 0.5 mm. Some lines offer all these sizes, while others offer only a select few. Although all tips write consistently without being scratchy, you do get some "feedback" as you write with the pen, especially on toothier paper. The smaller the tip size, the more feedback there is. The smaller tip sizes also may require some priming before they start to flow. The 0.25 mm size is so thin, some people mistake the writing for lines from thin mechanical pencils. Depending on your preference for the level of fineness or how much feedback you can tolerate, tip size is important to consider. Click on the tip sizes at the top of the table or the green checks within the table to see the products that feature the specific tip size.
As the popularity of Hi-Tec-C has grown, so has the demand for different colors. Not all the product lines carry the same amount of colors; for example, the Hi-Tec-C with Grip line only has black, red, and blue. However, in some of the other lines, Pilot has developed a rainbow of colors ranging from bright jewel tones to lovely neutrals to soft pastels. You can click on the colored text and colored circles to see the specific products that offer the featured color.
Hi-Tec-C and G-Tec-C
The classic design of the Hi-Tec-C is instantly recognizable. With its no-fuss, no-frills plastic body, all attention is on the writing experience. You can write smoothly with incredible precision using the 0.25, 0.3, 0.4, or 0.5 mm tip sizes. There are 21 colors offered with the 0.3 and 0.4 mm tips, 10 for the 0.25 mm tip, and 19 for the 0.5 mm tips. The Hi-Tec-C's counterpart outside of Japan is the G-Tec-C. The G-Tec-C is exactly the same as the Hi-Tec-C, but only comes in 3 colors without a 0.5 mm tip size offering. This pen may be labeled under different names depending on the region.
Hi-Tec-C with Grip
If you're looking for a slight upgrade to the basic Hi-Tec-C, the Grip version comes with a rubber grip for a more comfortable grasp. Colors in this line are limited to black, blue, and red, and the line only comes in 0.3, 0.4, and 0.5 mm tip sizes. However, you can take the refills from the regular Hi-Tec-C line and install it in your Grip pen.
The Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock is a mini retractable gel ink pen, perfect for taking with you anywhere. It provides the same smooth writing experience as the original Hi-Tec-C, but in a sleek, compact form. The body also has a rubber grip for added comfort, and body colors match the ink color inside. It comes in seven colors and 0.3 and 0.4 mm tip sizes. Those with larger hands may not find this pen comfortable to write with for long periods of time, but it'll do in a pinch.
The classy-looking, metallic silver Slims is the same length as the Slim Knock, but comes with two Hi-Tec-C refills inside. 0.4 mm black and 0.4 mm red refills are included, and 0.4 mm blue refills are also available separately for this multi pen. To switch between colors, just twist to the left or to the right. Its sleek look and small size are perfect for professionals on the go. Like the Slim Knock, those with larger hands may find it uncomfortable to write with for long periods of time.
The Coleto series is a line of customizable multi pens that also include non-Hi-Tec-C components such as mechanical pencils, erasers, and styli. Available Hi-Tec-C cartridges include 0.3, 0.4, and 0.5 mm tips in a variety of colors. The Coleto also features different bodies with varying designs, capacities, and finishes. In addition to the basic Coleto, choices include the luxurious Lumio, soft and cute Sweet, easy-to-fill N, sleek Smart, and bright Me series. From transparent to opaque to metallic finishes, you can choose which pen body you want based on your needs.
Elegant and sophisticated, the Hi-Tec-C Cavalier is a fine tipped pen worthy of any professional setting. Its refillable glossy brass body is accented with gold for a luxurious look. It uses the same technology and ink of the regular Hi-Tec-C, but the ink refill is designed differently, so the regular refills will not fit in this model. However, the Cavalier refill will fit in most other Pilot pens, such as the Pilot Metropolitan. The Cavalier comes in 0.3 and 0.4 mm tips with a choice of two body colors. Black, red, and blue refills are available.
This snazzy looking pen has the same, reliable Hi-Tec-C technology, but with a shiny, jewel-like body. The Maica comes in a rainbow of 12 colors, each with its own matching body color. That's why it's named "Maica," a Japanese abbreviation for "my color" that encourages you to pick your own color. We like all the little details put into this pen, from the sparkly jewel on the cap that matches the embellished "M" logo to the cap loop where you can string charms. It has a nice weight and its wider barrel makes it comfortable to hold.
The Pen that Started It All
You wouldn't be mistaken if you called the Hi-Tec-C our flagship product. Back in 2005, when our founders Shu, Lily, and Adrian decided to start a business together in their last year of university, Lily proposed bringing in the Hi-Tec-C first to test the waters. She was introduced to it during her time studying abroad in Asia, and she believed in its magic. Our founders pooled together $5000 and stuffed one large suitcase full of Hi-Tec-C pens in 36 colors and 4 tip sizes. They brought them back to Shu's dorm room and launched JetPens.
The rest, as they say, is history. While the Hi-Tec-C is the pen that started it all, our attachment to it goes beyond sentimentality. With its simple, but highly functional features, the Hi-Tec-C is a pen that truly stands on its own.
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