Thixotropic, a Quality Pen for Arthritic Writers

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From time to time, we will feature posts about products and ideas that we think will help people with handwriting issues.  View the full Kickstarter campaign here

Thixotropic, a Quality Pen for Arthritic Writers

by Chad Wooters

A fine writing instrument elegantly designed for the specific needs of people with arthritis, hand pain, or tremors.

A fine writing instrument elegantly designed for the specific needs of people with arthritis, hand pain, or tremors.

About this project


My wife has had arthritis since she was 13. For years she has tried all kinds of pens with foam grips, ergonomic shapes, etc. These don’t work. What does work are “Super Big Fat Pens”. Working users of weighted and wide barrel pens, I have designed a fine writing instrument specifically to meet the needs of people with arthritis – people who also value quality and appreciate aesthetics

Apart from its therapeutic value, a Thixotropic pen does not look like a medical device. Its elegantly curved profile and sleek black finish provides an attractive alternative to slide-on plastic pencil grips, foam tubes, odd “ergonomic” shapes, and mass market pens.

Thixotropic pens are fine writing instruments that patients can proudly use to recover their joy and pleasure of handwriting. Even if you do not have arthritis, this jumbo pen will be a sexy and unique addition to your pen collection.


Several studies have shown that grasp patterns do not significantly influence handwriting speed or legibility. With a big fat pen, patients can choose the grip style best suited to them instead of “ergonomic” shapes that force their fingers into the standard dynamic tripod grasp. Using the Thixotropic pen, occupational therapists can guide patients to adopt comfortable grip postures that reduce concentrated pressures on the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints and relieve symptoms of fatigue.

Alternative Grips Using the Thixotropic Pen
Alternative Grips Using the Thixotropic Pen

Thixotropic pens solve the two main components that interfere with handwriting performance. First, their wide tapered grip area is approximately 1-inch (2.54 cm) in diameter. Most patients who have difficulty with grasping and/or pinching find this size easier to hold than other commercially available pens. The slightly textured powder-coat finish prevents the pen from slipping. Second, internal weights can be adjusted to alter the pen’s center of gravity. A forward balance passively holds the pen’s point to the writing surface so that patients are not required to exert excessive pressure. Thixotropic pens use a refillable Monteverde ballpoint ink cartridge that reduces friction between the pen’s tip and the writing surface. Less force is needed for fluid writing motions.


A little background about me: For spending money my brother and I weeded Iowa soybean fields manually with garden hoes. It was hot, tedious labor and my 16 year old brother, tried to break the monotony by talking about the new car he was going to buy with his “bean-walking” money. When he was done elaborating on his plans, he asked me how I planned to spend my money.

As a nine year old, my wants were simple. I wanted a pen. Not just any pen though. I wanted the Flair UltraFine felt-tip which was introduced to the market around 1974-75. With its sharp, thin, and decisive line, it was something I just had to have. My brother didn’t see it that way. If all I wanted out of life was a pen, then as far as he was concerned, I wouldn’t amount to anything and he told me as much, right there in the middle of a field under the hot summer sun. I cried all the way home.

Since then I have drawn portraits with sepia taken directly from squid ink sacs and written love poems with a gold-tipped Mont Blanc. While there is no ‘perfect’ pen, each mark-making task calls for the most fitting tool. This is a pleasure I wish to extend even to those for whom the act of writing can be painful and difficult. This project matters and makes the world a little bit more elegant and joyful.

Please pledge your support.

Risks and challenges


Much of the ground-work for this project has already been completed. Users of the commodity pen that inspired this project have provided extensive feedback about their wants and needs for a premium product. The essential therapeutic features have been identified and incorporated into the prototype.


Most of the project partners have already been identified. The parts will be manufactured by a Chicago-based precision machine shop with CNC capacities. A local not-for-profit that provides employment for the disabled will perform the final assembly and packaging. The supply chain for the advancing and retraction mechanism and ink cartridges has been secured.


The scheduled ship date of final product to Kickstarter backers is expected to occur around August 1, 2016. The production schedule will be as follows:

April 1 to April 30 – pre-production prototypes to optimize mass production processes and for package design.

June 1 to July 30 – Initial production run of loose parts. Order packaging.

August 1 to August 31 – Assemble parts into final product and consumer packaging.


4 thoughts on “Thixotropic, a Quality Pen for Arthritic Writers”

  1. I would love to obtain one of your Thixotropic ink pens, preferably blue ink, ball point retractable, if at all possible. I realize I’m asking a lot. Please advise when they become available. Thank you.

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