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Hailed by many as the holy grail among gel ink pens, the Uni-ball Signo line is lauded for its legendary archival quality ink and continuous smooth flow. With tip sizes that range from 0.28 mm to 1.0 mm and a vivid array of colors to choose from, it's revered by pen lovers everywhere.
The extremely viscous formula behind the gel ink is what sets it apart. As the ink passes through the tip of the pen, its viscosity is reduced by the rotating ball to enable smooth writing. When the ink touches the paper, it returns to its original viscosity to prevent feathering and bleeding. The pigment contained in the ink is water-resistant and light-resistant, so you can enjoy your work for a long time.
A recent innovation of the Uni-ball Signo that is particular to the retractable RT1 line is its "edgeless tip." Instead of conventional cornered tips, the tips of the RT1 are rounded to reduce friction against the paper. This allows the pen to glide more effortlessly across the page.
Characteristics of the Uni-ball Signo
The product lines under the Uni-ball Signo brand can be split into capped or retractable. Within those aspects, there are also slight variations in factors such as grip material, length and weight of the pen, and so on.
Uni-ball Signo product lines feature a wide range of tip sizes: 0.28 mm, 0.38 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.8 mm, and 1.0 mm. At one point, the legendary Signo Bit UM-201 in the 0.18 mm tip size was also offered, but has since been discontinued. (0.18 mm refills are still available on JetPens.) Some product lines offer more tip sizes, while others only offer one. Although all Uni-ball Signo pens write effortlessly, the larger the tip size, the smoother the writing.
The Uni-ball Signo pens have a whole range of colors you can choose from. Different product lines offer different colors and finishes. While some of the names of the colors are the same across the product lines, there are slight differences between a few of the colors. We sorted the different product lines into Writing and Craft lines. The writing samples for the Writing lines are in the table below, while the samples for the Craft lines are in their own sections further down this post.
Product Lines for Writing
UM-151 Gel Ink Pens
With their comfortable grips and balanced weight, these fine-tipped pens are great for everyday writing. There is a huge range of colors, but we're especially smitten with the off-black colors (Green Black, Bordeaux Black, and Lavender Black) only offered in the 0.38 mm tip size. They're the perfect alternative to plain old black ink. Some of you may know these pens as the Signo DX, which is what they are called outside of Japan.
UM-100 Gel Ink Pens
These pens are for people who don't want anything extra in their pen and just need it to write well. Going back to the basics with their stripped down, economical body, the UM-100 pens offer normal writing colors in 0.5 mm as well as fun, bright colors in 0.7 mm for writing. You can use the normal colors for taking notes in class or at work, and use the other colors for journaling or writing notes to friends.
RT UM-138 Gel Ink Pens
For those who can't be bothered with a cap, we recommend the retractable RT pens. Extremely lightweight, these pens are comfortable to hold and use. They carry a bit more of weight toward the top of pen where the clicker is, so you may have to adjust your grip accordingly. Regardless, they carry the same Signo gel ink for a smooth writing experience.
RT1 UMN-155 Gel Ink Pens
Also retractable, the RT1 pens feature the innovative tip design mentioned earlier. The tip is rounded to reduce friction against the paper and allows it to glide effortlessly across the page. The design of the pen mirrors the writing experience, with a simple body consisting of a clicker with clip and a rubber grip that blends almost seamlessly into the barrel. Slightly fatter than its capped counterparts, the pen is light and easy to hold. The C line is purely cosmetic, and signifies that the pen holds black ink with an unmatched body color.
207 Retractable Gel Ink Pens
These pens have slightly larger tip sizes, ideal for people who enjoy writing with a thicker line. The 207 BLX pens feature different shades of black that provide a subtle softness to the normal black, while the regular 207 offers more standard colors. Great for legal and official documents, the 207 line has been used in countless check washing demonstrations to prove its prowess in adhering to paper. The secret is Uni-ball's special gel ink formula that are also be found in other Uni-ball gel ink pens in darker colors such as black, blue, red, and purple. The ink contains tiny color pigments that get trapped within the paper fibers, making them virtually impossible to remove.
Check washing is a form of identity theft where ink is removed from a check by using common household products such as acetone. In the demonstration to the left, we dipped a check written with a regular ballpoint pen and the Uni-ball Signo 207 in black into nail polish remover (acetone).
Product used: Uni-ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Ink Pen - Black Ink.
Product Lines for Crafting
UM-100 Gel Ink Pens
We've already mentioned this line in the Writing section, but the Gold and Silver colors deserve their own segment. Their 0.8 mm tip is not too thick and not too thin, perfect for laying down metallic accents in your craft projects. We especially love the look of these pens on dark paper.
Broad UM-153 Gel Ink Pens
For those who prefer a thicker line, the Broad UM-153 is available in a variety of colors in 1.0 mm. This line contains one of our most popular pens, the white UM-153, famous for its high opacity and versatility. If you like the look of the UM-100 silver and gold, but prefer a bigger tip, the UM-153 also offers silver and gold. The silver and gold pens in this line are remarkably similar, if not the same, as the Uni-ball Gel Impact Gel Ink Pens in silver and gold. This pen is great for both crafting purposes and writing.
Angelic UM-120AC Gel Pens
We look to this line for all our scrapbooking needs, because of its opaque and acid-free pigment. The ink in these pens is different than the ink in other Signo lines. It has a milky texture and look to it, which translates well on dark paper and photos, no matter which color you choose.
Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pens
These glitzy pens add sparkling glitter to your craft project. Use them to glam up your notes, artwork, scrapbooks, cards and more. Their 1.0 mm tip gives you a solid thick line of ink that showcases the fine particles of glitter beautifully. You can try it on both light and dark paper, but the glitter shows significantly better on light paper.
Noble Metal Metallic Gel Ink Pens
If glitter is not your cup of tea, but you still want a bit of shine, the Noble Metal pens give your crafts a lovely metallic sheen. The colors catch the light and change ever so slightly for a multi-dimensional effect. On dark paper, the colors look more muted than on white, so they're perfect for subtle accents.
The milky, opaque ink of the Angelic line is perfect for scrapbooking. Whether you're writing on photos, light, dark, or patterned paper, the ink shines through clearly.
The Uni-ball Signo offers an extensive line of pens that are perfect for everything from everyday writing to craft projects. The smooth writing qualities of the archival gel ink make it a must-have for our pen cases. What's your favorite Uni-ball Signo pen?
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