03 February 2016

Matching (XVIII). Chuanren 3323

The Pilot Petit-1 is already well known on these Chronicles (::1::, ::2::, ::3::). Over three generations of this model, we have seen several modifications, but in essence it has remained the same: a cartridge-only pen, steel nib only available in F, colorful plastic bodies… The nib, might be worth to remember, is shared with that of the disposable Vpen, and therefore it is easy and cheap to have a Petit-1 with an M point. The feeds of both Petit-1 and Vpen carry a wick connecting nib and ink deposit. Some argue that this wick makes the trick for such reliable and ink-ready pens even after days or weeks of inactivity.

The third generation of Pilot's Petit-1 fountain pens.

All that for JPY 200 (USD 1.65 at the time of writing), plus taxes. The main drawback for this pen might be the limited distribution outside Japan.

Then we have a Chinese version—the Chuanren 3323 Student Pen, manufactured by Zhejiang Chuanren Pen Co. in Lishui (Zhejiang province in PR China).

Four decorations for one pen, the Chuanren 3323 Student Pen.

The similarities between the Chuanren and the Pilot are startling, as can be seen on the pictures. But there are also some differences. The Chinese pen is about 2 cm longer than the Japanese one. This extra length allows for the use of an ink converter.

From top to bottom, the Chuanren 3323, the 3rd generation, the 2nd generation, and the 1st generation of the Pilot Petit-1.

Chuanren 3323 and 2nd generation Pilot Petit-1, side by side.

The Chuanren 3323 Student Pen, disassembled.

The nib, as is the case with the Pilot Petit-1, slids off the feed. And the feed does not have any wick in the ink channel.

In fact, the Chuanren 3323 comes with converter and, in principle, there might be no need for a cartridge. However, the converter shows a number of flaws: great interaction with the ink, and limited pumping power. Short Parker cartridges are a clear alternative.

The nib, made of steel, is a smooth F point with a decent flow. The feed follows the traditional pattern—an ink channel without any wick, as opposed to the scheme of the Pilot Petit-1 feed.

Writing sample of the Chuanren 3323. Regular flow for a neutral --neither very dry or very wet-- nib. But the feed is really full of ink, as can be seen on the following picture.

The inked feed. The B engraved on the feed has nothing to do with the nib point. Probably, it refers to the feed and pen color.

And inked Chuanren. The ink sticks to the walls of the converter defying gravity.

The construction quality of the Chinese pen is mediocre and is significantly worse than that of the Petit-1. Cap and body of the Chuanren are never properly aligned when the pen is capped, for instance. Plus, the cap cracked after a couple of days of use, and the nib and feed can be extracted from the section all too easily.

This picture shows two of the issue of this Chinese pen: the cracked cap and the misaligned cap and barrel when the pen is closed.

These are the dimensions of the Chuanren 3323 and the Pilot Petit-1, 3rd generation:

.Chuanren 3323.

Pilot Petit-1
.3rd generation.

Length closed (mm) 127 108
Length open (mm) 113 94
Length posted (mm) 148 132
Barrel Diameter (mm) 13 14
Weight, dry (g) 9.5 9.6
The weights are dry with either an empty converter (Chuanren) or an empty cartridge (Pilot).

As the Pilot pen does, the Chuanren pens come in different colors, and the company often changes the overall looks through variations on the pen graphics.

The typical price of the Chuanren 3323 is around USD 1.75 (JPY 210 at the time of writing), which poses an interesting question: Is it worth to copy an inexpensive model? Sure enough, the Chinese pen offers some advantages over the Pilot Petit-1; but, is that enough to create any economic profit out of a two-dollar knockoff pen? Can the Chuanren 3323 attract the buyers of the Petit-1?

My thanks to Mr. Sunami and to Mr. Mizukushi.

Chuanren 3323 Student Pen – Wagner 2008 ink (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 2nd, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, Chuanren, Parker, mercado

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