Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

What Is Zebra’s Emulsion Ink?

Zebra Fortia EM
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Zebra’s Emulsion ink is a bit of an enigma. Most companies neatly categorize their inks ink “ballpoint,” “gel,” and “rollerball” and some even throw in “hybrid” but Zebra ended up with “emulsion.” Does that mean something specific? Is it a translation quirk or brand name? Let’s dig into it a bit.

What Is Emulsion Ink?

Zebra describes their Emulsion ink as a specially formulates ink that glides smoothly like a ballpoint but has the color saturation of a gel.

It has a high level of water-resistance thanks to it being oil-based but it has the deep colors of a gel. It’s also smear-resistant and reasonably quick drying.

Most of us would agree that it’s technically a hybrid ink, but Zebra doesn’t call it that. Because it’s an oil-based in Zebra, like most Japanese pen companies, simply call it a ballpoint when defining it, but Zebra generally calls out Emulsion as being its own class of pens on Zebra’s web sites and other communication channels.

Zebra’s Emulsion Pens

Zebra’s Emulsion ink is generally sold in the Surari and Fortia line of pens. This isn’t the only line of pens to us it, but it’s the one where the vast majority of this ink appears. It’s a rather large family of pens featuring models like the:

Zebra Emulsion Refills

Zebra sells a number of Emulsion ink refill types. These include:

  • EQ
    • Stepped pen refill with a shoulder near the front. Plastic body.
    • Sizes: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 1.0 mm
  • EK
    • Straight refill with a plastic body and no spring step
    • Sizes: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm
  • ESB
    • This is metal, multi-pen refill
    • Sizes: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm
  • CEK
    • This is the EK with but pressed “wing” style spring stops
    • Sizes: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm
  • NC
    • This is the Zebra Blen refill. It’s interchangeable with the EQ, but has a slightly more complex construction
    • Sizes: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm

Zebra Emulsion Ink Alternatives

If you want something like the Zebra Emulsion ink, but from a different line or brand, then you should check out Uni/Uni-ball’s Jetstream line of refills and pens. These are excellent, modern hybrid inks that Uni also call’s a ballpoint, but points out that it has the best qualities of a ballpoint and gel pen combined. Generally speaking the Jetstream inks lay down finer lines and are more prone to having a less solid line, but the Zebra inks are more likely to glob on the pen tip and are slower to dry.