The TWSBI Eco was released in mid-2015 and has proved quite popular since. Available in black, white, and (soon) full demonstrator versions, the Eco is a lower-cost offering by the Taiwanese brand. At USD35 (MYR140 – 160) or less, the Eco is one of the very few piston-filler pens available at such an affordable price. Besides nib sizes from extra fine to broad, it is also available in 1.1 italic stub – also rare at this price point.
The Eco is similar in design to the TWSBI Diamond 540/580, being a piston-filler with a clear plastic body and cap. Some aesthetic differences are apparent, however, probably to bring the cost down. The barrel is completely smooth and round, lacking the facets of the Diamond series, and the finial on the cap is a simple plastic insert instead of the TWSBI button found on their other pens. The barrel and grip section are also made as a single piece, so don’t try to unscrew the section.
A nice bonus with TWSBI pens is that they come with practically everything you need to maintain the pen. The Eco, despite its price, is no different as it comes with a plastic wrench and a small bottle of silicon grease. The wrench is used for removing the piston assembly, while the silicon grease is used to keep the moving parts running smoothly.
How does it perform? I tested both the medium and the 1.1 stub nibs. Both were pleasantly smooth – smoother than Lamy steel nibs. While the TWSBI nibs are German, the medium nib drew slightly thinner lines than other German mediums. Somewhere between Japanese and German medium. The stub was well rounded, allowing easy writing but with less line definition than a sharper italic. Ink flow was neither particularly wet nor dry – average and sufficient for everyday writing. According to TWSBI, the feed on their pens with stub nibs have slightly greater flow. I couldn’t tell if they were any different, but had no flow issues with either pen out of the box.
Options for changing nibs on an Eco are limited. They are not exactly a ‘standard’ size, and can only be found on the Eco, Mini, and Classic. Attempts to use 3rd party nibs have met mixed levels of success using #5 and #5.5 size nibs. There is at least one custom nib maker, however, that sells custom nibs for the Eco.
Overall, the TWSBI Eco offers a great deal of value for its asking price. It creates an opportunity for early enthusiasts to own a ‘serious’ fountain pen with high capacity piston-filler, demonstrator body, and stub options. Compromises were made in terms of aesthetics, but build quality gives you a solid, reliable performer. In the budget segment, you’d be hard pressed to find all the same features in another pen.