The information below is taken from an archived Pentel blog post and retranslated.
In the heart of Pentel’s mechanical pencil and refill development and manufacturing process lies the Yoshikawa Factory. Two key figures who have been instrumental in creating the Orenz mechanical pencil, Mr. Shigeki Maruyama, head of the 7th development department at the Central Research Laboratories, and Mr. Akinori Furuichi, chief specialist, shed some light on its origin and features.
Contrary to popular belief, Orenz isn’t the first mechanical pencil with a 0.2mm lead. The “Graph Pencil,” a 0.2mm mechanical pencil for drafting, was sold back in 1981. The Graph Pencil was specifically intended for a limited range of occupations.
Dating even further back, in 1973, a mechanical pencil with a 0.2mm core called the “Pentel Sharp Slide 02 (PS1042)” was sold. This was not a drafting pencil, but a general one. Priced at a hefty 1,200 yen, it was indeed a luxury item for its time. This pencil had a unique mechanism where the slide pipe would pop out with a single knock, allowing the user to write with another knock. Just like the “Orenz”, it was designed with a mechanism that smoothly retracted the stainless steel pipe as the user continued to write. Unfortunately, due to its high cost and the general public’s lack of attention to finer details, this pencil disappeared from the market.
Fast forward to today, with more students taking neat, small-letter notes, there was a pressing need for a 0.2mm mechanical pencil. Orenz, using the “Slide 02” mechanism as its base, managed to meet this need and keep the price affordable.
The most notable feature of the “Orenz” is its stainless steel pipe that feeds out the lead and gradually retracts inward as you write, always covering the lead. This ensures a smooth writing experience, even with a lead as thin as 0.2mm, without worrying about the lead breaking.
Other mechanical pencils with a similar retraction mechanism for this stainless steel pipe exist, but those are primarily for storing the stainless pipe when not in use. The Orenz’s pipe does not take a load when it retracts and simply pulls you in naturally, providing a wobble-free writing experience.
Another advantage of the Orenz is that the slide pipe can be disassembled and easily cleaned by the users. Simply rotate the tip and remove it from the body shaft. But caution is required, as a delicate stainless pipe unit comes out from the inside of the tip, which requires careful handling. A “cleaner pin”, found inside the knock button when the eraser is removed, can be used to clean the accumulated scum inside the stainless steel pipe.
Finally, the unique shape of the Orenz’s mouthpiece was designed to improve visibility around the pen tip, especially when writing small characters with a 0.2mm core. This thoughtful design consideration makes the Orenz even more user-friendly.
In conclusion, the Orenz mechanical pencil beautifully blends historical innovation with contemporary user needs and practicality.