The Reason Why There’s a Small Hole at the End of Some Pen Lids: It’s to Save Lives

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Every invention has a story which sizzles right behind the scenes, and every little detail on the things we use today that seems insignificant might have undergone tedious brainstorming by engineers.

The pen is one of those. Well, to be specific, the lid of the pen. Its little story might sound insignificant, but the impact it has is surprisingly life-changing.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that most pen lids have a hole at the top, especially those cheap blue pens that we have at least used once in our lives. You know, the kind with the caps that always go missing?

Image: Lehun /

The hole seems pointless to you, or you just thought that it’s a part of the design.

Here’s the thing: one habit that is consistent throughout anyone who uses any pen is the tendency to bite at the end of a pen while in deep thought (or while daydreaming).

Because the lid of the pen is conveniently designed to be put at the end of the pen, which is unfortunately the end that people chew at, there have been cases of people swallowing the pen lids by accident.

Yes, that includes adults. After all, when your mind has wandered somewhere, you won’t even know you’ve swallowed a piece of hard plastic.

Although cases are few and far in between, there are still people who have choked on the pen. And one accidental death is one too many.

In 1991, Bic, a manufacturer of pens, brought in a small hole at the end of its pen lids in order to reduce the likeliness of choking to death. By drilling a hole through the tip of the cap, even if you happen to swallow the small part of the pen, you will still be able to breathe.

This drastically improved the safety of the pen and eliminates the risk of suffocation. In fact, it’s estimated that it can prevent 100 deaths per year.

That’s pretty impressive, if you’d ask me.

So next time, don’t just think that people didn’t put any thought into designing anything. It’s little details like this that make a big difference.

Featured Image: Lehun /

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