Pen Review: Delta Fusion 82
Nib: 18k Fusion
Filling System: Standard International Cartridges/Converters
Length (Capped): 142mm
Length (Uncapped): 126mm
Length (Posted): 169mm
Section Diameter: 11.5mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 13.5mm
Cap Max Diameter: 15.3mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 14g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 24g
My best friend is a marketing genius. He has been working in marketing since he was in college, through a degree in music production, an MBA in Marketing, and 15 years in the industry after that. He enjoys marketing. He’s good at it. And he’d be the first person to tell you that most of marketing is complete and utter crap. Having spent nearly a decade in the technology industry myself, and having seen product marketing in action, I have to agree.
Never have I seen quite as perfect an example of marketing run amok as I have in the case of the Delta Fusion 82, and more particularly, around the Delta Fusion Nib that inhabits this pen. But before we get to the nib, let’s talk about the pen.
The Fusion 82 is a beautiful pen. It’s long, but feels almost slender or willowy, with a sleek profile. The production line of this pen comes in a variety of different colors including blue, brown, black, and the color of my pen, fuschia. The acrylic from which the pen is turned is nothing short of stunning. It’s completely alive with movement, with swirls of white and silver, highlighted with accents of black and grey. Although it is almost cliche to say, it’s hard to capture the depth of this material in a photograph or video. It evokes an almost galaxy-like nebula flow.
In addition to the production-line versions of this pen, there are a whole variety of limited edition or retailer exclusive versions of the pen with even more interesting materials in a vast panoply of colors.
The pen itself is a nice shape–a modified cigar-shaped pen that feels almost lanky in the hand, without being too thin to be usable. The cap is made of out a solid piece of acrylic, with a perfectly domed top that swells slightly to a double cap band in silver. The wider of the bands features the Fusion 82 logo in script around the band. The pen’s clip is has a rather modern, industrial feel with a unique profile and shape. It’s solid, though, and does a nice job of holding the pen in place. The rest of the pen tapers down to another perfectly rounded point on the bottom. It’s a beautiful pen, and appears to be made with an superb craftsmanship. It’s perfectly turned, and beautifully polished.
The cap unscrews on super-smooth threads to reveal a slightly tapering section. The section unscrews from the barrel exposing an acrylic tenon, meaning the pen is eyedropper compatible. In addition to its eyedropper compatibility, the pen accepts standard international converters and cartridges (both long and short.) The Fusion 82 comes with a screw-in type converter as well, for those who like the extra security of a converter that is pretty much guaranteed to stay in place.
Then, at last, we get to the nib, and the reason for my anti-marketing screed at the top of the blog post. The heart of the Fusion 82 is Delta’s fusion nib. It is, essentially, a steel nib with an 18k gold saddle attached to the face of the nib. This makes for an interesting-looking, although somewhat confusing, nib–but the real fun comes when you start to read the marketing blurbs around the Fusion nib.
“The nib was developed to improve the efficiency of the fountain pen by enhancing the physical-chemical properties of ink within its assembly system. The foundation of the Fusion nib is a steel alloy covered and decorated with a layer of precious 18K gold: the ink is made more viscous on the tip of the nib because the thermal conductivity of the precious metal plate will heat the underlying steel – the higher temperature makes the ink flow more smoothly. The combination of gold and steel on the flexible nib gives it a unique and appealing look. It is strong and durable for long writing sessions – much more so than solid gold nibs. Hence, the fountain pen is more precious and at the same time less expensive!”
Now, I’m not a metallurgist. I am not even particularly scientifically-minded. (Considering my sojourn through the American education system followed by a degree in musical theatre, that’s not all that surprising.) However, even I, with my limited understanding of the world of physics, find the above paragraph to be a load of bull plop. If my reading is correct, having a gold plate soldered to the top of a steel nib will cause the gold to heat the steel and in turn, the ink in the nib slit, to the point that it would have a noticeable impact on the ink’s viscosity. I don’t think that’s quite how thermal conductivity works. If it were, my All-clad skillet wouldn’t even need to be on the stove to cook my food. Unless Delta’s scientists have discovered what, in essence, is a new battery which will never run out of energy, this sentence is little more than marketing run amok. Gold by itself doesn’t heat steel alloy.
There is also one other aspect of the paragraph above that I’d like to challenge. “The combination of gold and steel on the flexible nib…” This nib is not even remotely flexible. Perhaps they meant something else by use of that word, but if I may quote the immortal Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Now, that being said, I don’t want to tarnish the entire pen due to some overzealous marketing copy. The fact remains that the nib on the Delta Fusion 82 is wonderful. It’s super-smooth, it’s moderately wet, it writes like an absolute dream. In fact, it writes so well that, when I realized I was going to have to give away this Fusion 82 to this season’s supporters, I immediately went online and bought another one just for me. Let me restate: the Fusion 82 was so good I didn’t just buy it once, I bought it twice. And I’d probably buy it a third time.
“But Matt,” you may be saying to your computer monitor, “you just bashed the marketing campaign of the nib, then turned around and said that it was one of your favorite nibs. Don’t you think that perhaps the reason it’s one of your favorite nibs is due to that plate of gold?”
“Ah,” I might reply. “First, you should probably stop talking to your computer monitor. People may question your sanity. I mean, even more than they already question your sanity for watching reviews of fountain pens. But beyond that, let us not forget that correlation does not equal causation. For although my sample size is small, I have anecdotal evidence that perhaps that gold plate is not as a certain marketing blurb might make it out to be.” Then I would stop talking in such wise and just get back to writing my blog post.
You see, with as wonderful a writer as the Delta Fusion 82 is (and it is), and as beautiful as it looks (and it does), there is one potentially significant flaw in the fusion nib design: Sometimes, the gold plate falls off. I had seen reports of this online, which I thought may have been exaggerated a bit…until hit happened to me. (Side note: It’s amazing how easy it is to dismiss others’ misfortunes until they happen to you as well. A good reminder that I need to work on my sympathy skills.) My pen, a Fusion 82 in the Chatterley Luxuries exclusive “moonlight” acrylic had the gold plate of the nib fall off during cleaning after its first inking. And because I am deeply concerned about data points (*cough*) , I spent some time testing the nib without the gold plate in place before I sent it back to Delta’s US distributor for repair/nib replacement. The nib looked ugly without its gold lamé sarong, but it was still a wonderful a writer. I noticed no difference in performance without the gold saddle.
Despite the silly marketing and the potentially faulty nib, the fact remains that I just adore this pen. I’ve had the Fusion 82 (the one I’m giving away in the raffle) inked almost non-stop since I got it. The pen is light, it’s beautifully (and beautifully manufactured), it writes like a dream, and it fits absolutely perfectly in my hand. Even though I know I’m being pitched some rather ridiculous marketing, not to mention overcharged for a labor-intensive, over-manufactured nib with a slight tendency to fail, I just can’t make myself care. Perhaps I’m setting myself for up disappointment, but I can’t help myself: I really do like this pen a lot. I am waiting with bated breath for my own Fusion 82 to return from repairs. Then I may find myself with a new EDC pen.