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I have a tiny, slightly embarrassing confession to make. I positively loathe mechanical pencils. In fact, they scare me a little bit.

No, this isn’t some peculiar of act of Luddism on my part, nor was a member of my family ever murdered by a deranged graphic designer. Rather, it’s because every single time–every single time–I use a mechanical pencil, its lead breaks on me within seconds of being touched to the page. And that, dear reader, always gives me a tiny but not insignificant fright. I have enough terror in my life as it is – I don’t need my writing implements keeping me on edge too.

Thankfully, the Japanese arm of stationery company Zebra knows my pain, and has designed a mechanical pencil whose leads simply cannot be broken, no matter how hard you scribble.

According to the videos released last week by Zebra, you can press so hard with this new range of mechanical pencils, or shaapen as they’re known in Japan, that it’s possible to tear the paper you’re writing on before the lead breaks and startles delicate snowflakes such as myself. True, most pencil leads break because the writer is pressing too hard to begin with, but thanks to special “guard” sections located within these shaapens’ nibs, writers and doodlers alike can be as heavy-handed as they please without fear of the lead suddenly snapping beneath them.

▼ Sciencey diagrams!


Check out the promo video to see for yourselves just how durable these things are:

A second video shows how the lead is partially retracted to prevent breakage:

There are, of course, similarly sturdy mechanical pencils already on the market, but often they retail for a great deal more than your typical high schooler or shaapen-phobic web-based writer would care to pay. Zebra’s new mechanical pencils, however, come in six different colours and cost just 450 yen (US$3.80) plus tax – an amount even the most frugal student wouldn’t be adverse to paying.

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Thank you, Zebra. No longer shall I be afraid to embrace technology and allow machine and pencil to be as one in my home or corner of the office.

UPDATE: Many of you have been in touch with us asking where you can buy these mechanical pencils. Stationers across the country should be stocking them any day now, but they’re also available via online stores including Amazon JP.

Source: Gigazine
Insert images: Zebra