June 11, 2018 3 min read


It isn’t exactly a giant logical leap to understand the appeal of metal as a component. The skeletons of skyscrapers are put together from girders made of steel. Metal holds up. It lasts. It resists corrosion and damage if manufactured properly.

Aircraft engineering in particular uses cutting edge metal fabrication techniques to make more durable parts for airplanes. The parts used in aerospace projects and commercial airliners need to be made to exacting specifications and hold up to tremendous wear and tear to do their job. That inspired us to apply those same engineering standards in the creation of our heirloom-quality writing implements.

If you don’t already know, every pencil we put out at Modern Fuel Design is made almost entirely from metal, apart from the rubber eraser and o-ring. We did that because we wanted to make a precise tool, not another forgettable, disposable object. Modern manufacturing tends toward the disposable. We believe in bucking that trend for something better. In this post, we’ll look at the properties of the metals we use in our pencils, and how they help create a product designed to last a lifetime.

So first off, what metals do we use, exactly?

Our pencils can be constructed of:

  • titanium,
  • copper,
  • bronze, or
  • stainless steel

Why did we choose those four metals? We’ll go through them one by one and explain some of the properties that appealed to us, and led us to work with these four metals for the revamped version of our pencil.

Stainless Steel
In the aerospace industry, stainless steel fasteners are employed to keep aircraft from coming apart. This rugged metal is all around us, used to make everything from surgical implements to watches to high-end cookware because it’s durable, corrosion-resistant, and doesn’t require a lot of effort to maintain. If you live in a humid environment, or just like the brushed silver look of a good stainless steel appliance, this is probably a good choice for you.

This choice may raise some eyebrows, as copper is considered a softer, more malleable metal. Not something one would think of right away when they think ‘durability.’ However, by adding a silver-white metal called tellurium to the copper, we increase the durability of the copper for the machining process while keeping its gorgeous look. Copper alloys are so durable, in fact, that they’re used for the bearings and bushings inside aircraft landing gear.

Like copper, bronze has a distinctive golden appearance that makes it appealing to use in things like luxury watches. Bronze takes on a beautiful patina with age and use, which varies depending on how it’s used and the owner’s environment, ensuring that no two bronze pencils will look the same. Bronze is also very resistant to corrosion, especially from water, which has led to the metal being used in ship propellers and rivets. It’s also a bit heavier than our steel pencil, so if you like something with a little extra heft, go with the bronze. We mix our bronze with phosphorus to produce an extremely tough alloy.

Stronger than steel but almost half the weight, titanium is used to manufacture high-wear parts like the components inside jet engines because of its resistance to damage and cracking. According to manufacturing company Continental Steel, about two-thirds of all the titanium produced is used in aircraft engines and frames. When you need it to be tough, you make it out of titanium. This metal is so strong that it takes us extra time and tools to cut it, but if you want something that’ll last generations, go with titanium. Like our other metals, titanium mechanical pencils are highly corrosion resistant, adding even more durability to your new writing tool.

On other mechanical pencils, even ones with a body made entirely of metal, internal mechanisms made from plastic can fail before the body becomes damaged. Because everything in Modern Fuel Mechanical pencils is made from metal except the eraser and o-ring, the only thing you’ll probably need to worry about changing out is the eraser and the graphite inside. That means less worry for you, and more focus on whatever work you choose to undertake. And that’s the way it should be.

Andrew Sanderson
Andrew Sanderson

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