TWSBI 580AL and TWSBI 580: What’s the Difference?

TWSBI just came out with their 580AL, and here at we’re already getting a lot of questions about them. The #1 question is “what’s the difference?” Understandable, given that the only pen that’s been released so far is the 580AL in silver, which is hard to tell apart from the regular chrome trim and stainless steel nib that’s on the regular 580.

TWSBI 580AL aluminum parts

There are basically 4 parts of the pen that are aluminum instead of plastic, and that’s the difference. The grip is one part, and that’s the only one that you can even touch on the pen. The others are all internal components, part of the piston mechanism: the screw, connector, and screw bolt. These 4 pieces add a little bit of durability, a little bit of weight (4g increase total making the whole pen 32g), and a little bit of bling. The bling will be more apparent when the other colors of the 580AL are released, which will feature aluminum components that are, well, colored. No ETA on these yet.

I don’t think you need to rush out and buy one of these if you already have a 580, unless you’re gathering up a collection (like me). And if you’re debating between the 580 and 580AL, the aesthetics are going to be your main determining factor. That and the $60 price tag for the 580AL over the $50 580. It’s really up to you, either pen is a solid choice. You’re getting the same nib, same body, same ink capacity with either pen. But at least now you have a little more information at your disposal.

If you have any further questions about the 580AL, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T03:41:58+00:00 July 1st, 2014|Pen Reviews|36 Comments
  • Ashley Shell

    What would you say is the biggest complaint that you get about these pens? I have thought about purchasing one, but I have read a lot about the nibs not being so great.

  • TJ

    Ashley, a year or two ago TWSBI settled on Jowo German nibs for all their pens (the same manufacturer that makes nibs for Goulet Pens) and they are super. I have 3 TWSBI pens and 5 nibs and they are all very smooth and feed ink very well. Never been disappointed. You can replace the 580 with any #6 nib easily. TWSBI has an excellent record of customer support for problems. I've never had a problem with a TWSBI pen since I got my first about a year ago.

  • Jeff Johnston

    I bought a TWSBI pen about three weeks ago from GP and I really like it. The nib is very smooth and never railroads like most of my Lamys do. I would buy another TWSBI in a heartbeat.

  • Starchix

    I love my TWSBI nib and everything else about it — except that I can't post the cap, and I find the pen just a bit short for even my medium-sized hand, without the posted cap. It's a nice heavy weight, feels and looks gorgeous (I have the rose gold), holds a ton of ink ….. but having to write without posting drives me slightly crazy. For someone who likes using a pen unposted I would call it a dream pen.

  • They've had some nib issues in the past (largely fixed, as others have mentioned) and they had some cracking issues in versions past, also not as big of a deal as it used to be. TWSBI has phenomenal warranty service though, they'll send replacement parts and whatnot if there are any issues.

  • Which pen do you have? The only one that doesn't post is the Classic.

  • Great, thanks Jeff 🙂

  • Yeah, things have definitely improved for them since the switch.

  • Starchix

    It's a Diamond 580, and it does post, but because of the twisty pen end, the posted cap tends to rotate when taking it off the end to re-cap the pen. Also, with the cap posted, the pen is ginormously long, and feels unwieldy. Maybe it's just me, and I need to get used to it?!

  • Wow I'm sorely tempted! The AL would be totally worth the extra $10 for me. I have a 530 with the v1.5 piston and it has suffered from the most common issue: cracking in the section, under very light use. The AL would fix that and then some. I also managed to screw up the piston mechanism by neglecting to lubricate it but that's another story.

    These are amazing pens for the money but my one beef with them is that it's very hard (at least on the 530) to get the mechanism to screw on just right after disassembly. It takes me a few dozen attempts and it still isn't perfect. Have they alleviated this issue somewhat in the 580?

    Brian, do you happen to have TWSBI/Speedy's email address where I can contact him for a replacement section?

    Also, are you planning to sell this with the 1.1 italic? And do you know if the 530 nib is compatible with the 580 (just the nib, not the entire nib unit)?

    As I said, this version is very, very tempting, but it's not like that money's burning a hole in my pocket so I'll wait a while and see what the impressions are, perhaps wait for a 1.1 nib before buying one.

  • How is the grip section? Does the aluminum make it slick?

  • ypsilanti

    I too am curious about the aluminum grip. I parted with my Monteverde Artista Crystal because the grip was slippery and uncomfortable to hold. How does the grip on the 580AL compare to the Artista Crystal?

  • Robert Dagnall

    Jeff, what does "railroads" mean?

  • Lori Sanders

    My TWSBI 540 — which I love — finally cracked this week. Coincidence, or brilliant timing of planned obsolescence? You be the judge.

  • Jason B

    Railroading is usually talked about in flex-nib pens. Here's a picture with some red arrows (I Googled "fountain pen railroading" and added in the arrows; the underlying image is not my work):

    Railroading can be caused by different things, but it happens when the surface tension of the ink between the tines breaks and you end up with a couple of parallel lines instead of a nice thick line.

  • sarah

    nice video, brian! It's unfortunate you have to buy a stub nib separately. However on the bright side you can get a custom ground twsbi straight from pendleton brown with a custom stub/italic. He can even make cutouts in the nib to make it semi-flex! i got a broad twsbi mini from you guys and sent it to pendleton for the stub and flex mod and it is awesome! easily one of best writing pens, except for a mottishaw oblique/flex on a nakaya and minuskin stub on a visconti wall street. – theres a link if anyones interested.
    one of these will hold me over, i think, as i (not so patiently) wait for the vac mini.

  • sarah

    if you dont mind a little extra cash, get it from pendleton!
    I promise you, you wont regret it.

  • Lois R

    Wow, that's a beautiful pen! I just checked out the pictures in your shop and they have me drooling. I'd love to see what it looks like inked up. I can never quite commit to a demonstrator pen, because I am afraid it will look messy with all that ink sloshing around in there.

    I, too, am interested to hear whether the chrome grip is slick or not.

  • Lois R

    Oh, and I'd love to know what the other colors are that will be coming out at a future date.

  • Matt

    Any idea what the other colors offered in the 580AL series will be?

  • Isaac Yochelson

    Will the special USA 580 be aluminum or plastic inside?

  • TJ

    Why would you pay $30 more for the same pen? I don't understand. You could add a second nib assembly for less than that?

  • sarah

    its a custom ground nib. you are paying pendletons grinding fee… which is pretty reasonable for a nibmeister of his caliber.

  • TJ

    That's not bad then. It wasn't clear to me when I went to his web site. Looked like the standard TWSBI was selling for $90 and the custom nibs were more. Wish he had something on this web site that let you compare his different nibs, like Brian's videos. Thanks Sarah.

  • sarah

    yeah, his site is definetly lacking, especially compared to the goulet's who have done a superb job in making a e-commerce site as easy to use/navigate as possible. on this page – – there is a pic that has a picture and shows roughly what a broad stub, med, and fine will look like. no prob.

  • Marlo Gonzales

    I've just gotten my 580AL (from GP). I haven't written with it much yet, but I can spot a couple other small differences, but none of them actually make much of a difference.

    This may actually be an overall improvement for 580s, and just reflected here because of the newer cap, but the plastic underneath the finial at the very top of the cap is actually significantly thicker. This is likely to help solve cracking issues (minor ones i've already experienced on my own regular 580s)

    The other difference is actually with the filling mechanism. Compared with the 580 standard, the piston for the 580AL actually rests noticeably higher inside the ink reservoir. I got out a syringe and an ink sample vial to try to measure the difference in capacity, but it is honestly imperceptible. So don't be too concerned when actually looking at the two side-by-side that you will lose ink capacity.

  • On another website I heard that the piston in the AL is not actually aluminum but merely metallic coated. Would you know if that's true?

  • Marlo Gonzales

    Hmm.. I have inked up my pen and won't be able to just pull out the mechanism, but it does appear to be solid aluminum.

  • Marlo Gonzales

    Third observation: the piston mechanism can stick a bit more in the fully filled position than the plastic version. You may have to put a bit of force into turning it.

  • Thanks! That would be nice to know. Actual metal would give me more confidence, as I've had some small issues with the plastic piston in my 530.

  • Ashley Shell

    Thank you for the information. I was reading reviews that were a bit aged, now that I think about it. Sounds like a pen I need to get 🙂 Thank you so much for the information. Glad to know that they fixed the issues with the nibs.I always worry about nibs. My Lamy's are great, but I really like a smooth, nice flowing nib 🙂
    This may be a new addition to my collection.

  • Dave

    Brian, is there any update on the color models?

  • Charles Duffy

    Is the special grease they use for lubricating the aluminum parts in the 580AL (per available anywhere aftermarket?

  • Henrik QP

    Is it possible to change parts between the pens? and get the non clear grip section to the 580 diamond?

  • Nick

    Difficult choice. Deciding upon purely aesthetic, I’d go for the AL, BUT its £10 more (I’m in the UK). The other difference is the 4g weight difference, small, but it’s is 30% or so over the regular fully plastic one. I think you need to have an idea of what weight of pen feels right for you. Uncapped, the Lamy Safaris’ 10g body feels a bit light, the Jinhao X750 is 20g and feels good, so… 14g or 18g. ARGH

  • robert

    Now I know how to remove the nib and section. Thank you.