It is extremely common for Wacom pen nibs to wear down, which is why the company ensures their replacement nibs are affordable and accessible. While it’s convenient to have this option that guarantees your Wacom nib is always in ideal condition, it would be more cost-efficient to prevent or slow wear on the one you’re currently using. The best way to do this is to understand what causes the average Wacom pen nib to wear down.
In this article, we are going to discuss the top five reasons why most, if not all, Wacom nibs wear down. As you read, you’ll learn what changes you can make to hopefully extend your Wacom pen nib’s lifespan and what causes of wear are more or less inevitable.
1. Frequency of Use
The primary reason why Wacom pen nibs wear down is an unavoidable factor that is going to take a toll on all nibs.
Unsurprisingly, frequency of use is arguably the number one factor that affects not only how much wear occurs on your Wacom pen nibs, but how quickly a nib’s material degrades to the point of requiring a replacement.
As with most things, the more you use your Wacom pen and its connected nib, the faster that nib will wear down. If you’re the type of person who only uses their Wacom tablet and pen a few times a month, you won’t notice the affect this factor can have as much as someone who uses their Wacom nibs weekly or even daily.
Frequency of use can also extend to session duration as well. Maybe you only use your Wacom tablet on occasion, but when you do, you sit down and scribble with the pen for hours on end. This lengthy session alone will take a significant toll on the Wacom pen’s nib, especially if you’re generating a lot of heat, which brings us to our next reason.
2. User Pressure
This cause of wear on Wacom pen nibs is probably one of the few that is truly avoidable as long as the users is conscious of their techniques and makes the necessary changes.
How hard you press on your Wacom pen and its connected nib is closely connected the amount of friction your create between the nib and the Wacom tablet’s surface and, consequentially, how much heat is generate between the two.
Friction alone can cause a fair degree of wear on your Wacom nibs, but the heat it generates is really what accelerates the proses and poses the biggest threat to your nib and Wacom tablet screen’s integrity. The harder you press down on your Wacom pen, the more strain you are going to put on the nib, resulting in increased friction and heat.
This concept of generating heat and friction connects us back to the previous point on session duration since the longer you are using the pen at a time, the more likely it is going to create friction and heat up. Therefore, it is important to be conscious of how you are holding your Wacom pen/ how much pressure you inflict for different techniques as well as how hot your Wacom pen nib is during long sessions.
3. Surface Texture
Another reason why most Wacom pen nibs wear down centers on the degree of abrasion they encounter per use, and how much friction and heat this generates.
A Wacom tablet’s surface texture plays a crucial role in maintaining a pen nib’s optimal condition or shredding it apart. Contaminants such as dust, dirt, oils, and other debris will scratch against, not only your Wacom nib, but the Wacom tablet’s surface as well, inflicting significant damage to both.
While pressure alone can generate a substantial amount of friction and heat, using your pen on abrasive surfaces can have the same effect, if not to a higher degree.
Compare it to wiping your finger against the smooth surface of a desk. Initially, there isn’t much heat or friction; it either takes a decent amount of time and/or increased speed. Now replace your finger with sandpaper. Not only is the damage significantly more noticeable, but heat is also generated faster because of the friction produced by the abrasive material.
This is why it is crucial to keep your Wacom tablet and nibs as clean as possible and provide a smooth tablet surface with a screen protector. This is especially important for any Wacom Intuos Pro owners, as these screens were specifically designed to have a rough surface (though the company claims this is for improved accuracy, it is likely to accelerate nib wear and require users to purchase replacements more frequently).
4. Pen Is Not Properly Calibrated
The three reasons listed above are really the core reasons why Wacom nibs wear down. However, there are a few other explanations that are worth mentioning, as they often play a role in why poor technique choices, like increased pressure, occur.
Sometimes, Wacom tablet owners find they are pushing harder on their Wacom pen and its connected nib because their device isn’t picking up on their pen’s input otherwise. As mentioned previously, pressing harder on your pen will increase nib wear, but the real reason this usually happens is because the Wacom pen needs to be recalibrated.
A properly calibrated Wacom pen should be registered by the tablet with light to minimal pressure. If, at any point, you find that you need to push a little harder than usual for your Wacom tablet to connect properly with your pen, then it is time to enter your settings and recalibrate before you cause significant wear to your pen nib.
Alternatively, you might want to check your pressure settings, as this might dictate why you feel the need to push harder than usually to get a response. Typically, turning this setting down a bit will help increase responsivity without the same degree of pressure.
5. Overuse of Simple Tools
This is another technique-related cause for why many Wacom nibs wear down quickly, and it predominantly applies to individuals who are new with either this accessory, the Wacom tablet, or graphic design/digital art programs in general.
Overusing simple tools is a quick way to wear away at your Wacom pen nib unnecessarily. Many new users will opt to use a pencil tools (or something similar) in their digital art software to shade in or fill entire sections rather than opting for a blend, shade, or fill tool that would perform the task much faster and more efficiently.
It might seem like a small factor, but, in essence, the less you really use you Wacom pen nib, the less wear you are going to inflict. Scribbling back and forth while you shade in a space will not only take a lot of time, but it will likely generate a lot of friction and heat in the process whereas using a slightly more advanced tool could provide the desired affect instantaneously.
The more you practice and understand the variety of tools in your digital art software and their uses, the less you will need to rely on simple tools that could wear down your nib in a matter of minutes.
While it is inevitable that you will one day need Wacom nib replacements, understanding what causes your Wacom pen nibs to wear down is the first step to making effective changes that can help extend their lifespans. Simple alterations such as limiting session length, only working on a clean, smooth surface, and being conscious of how much pressure you place on your nib and/or friction-related heat you generate can help nibs that would’ve lasted weeks to last months or even years.