How Are Permanent Markers Made

How Are Permanent Markers Made

The permanent marker has been around since the 1950s. It was created to replace the ballpoint pen, which had not yet been invented. Permanent markers are made with a combination of dyes and solvents that form an oil-based ink that is both long-lasting and so easy to use.

The solvent evaporates through a fine point tip, causing the dye molecules left behind to stick together in a solid film on paper or other materials coated with it.

Permanent markers use oil-based inks more durable than water-based ink found in most pens. The durability of the marker's mark comes from a strong chemical bond created between the dye molecules and the substrate they are writing on (paper, plastic, wood, etc.). 


Where Does Permanent Marker Develop

variety of markers on a bottle

Permanent markers were initially developed in Germany by Harold Rubin from DURO-Putzmittel GmbH for removing pencil marks on glass and plastic surfaces. The first model of the marker was produced in 1956, but it took several years for the product to catch on. DURO-Putzmittel's 

German competitors Schwan Stabilo and Staedtler began producing permanent markers shortly after. However, until 1959, Sharpie brand markers were manufactured in the United States by Sanford and Co. 

Sharpie markers gained popularity in the 1960s and 70s as a 'magic marker' used for writing or doodling on any surface, including the skin. Permanent markers were also heavily marketed to children during this period due to their low cost.


When Was Sharpie Permanent Marker Introduced

In the early 1990s, numerous brands of permanent markers began appearing on the market, including the famous Sharpie brand, which was introduced in 1984. The first permanent markers to be sold under the Sharpie brand were black and white markers marketed for making strong marks on a wide array of surfaces.

These were closely followed by smaller, more colorful models that were also widely accepted by consumers. Permanent markers continue to evolve into numerous shapes and colors and different mediums and tips for writing or drawing on other surfaces.


Remarkable Achievement Of Sharpie Permanent Marker

In 2000 Sharpie created a new permanent marker category by releasing the first permanent marker designed primarily on plastic and other non-porous surfaces. The Sharpie fabric marker line was also completed in 2007 with the addition of two unique markers that provide a fade-proof, non-flammable marking solution for people working with flammable fabrics.


How Do Marker Stays On Its Permanence

aligned black markers

Permanent markers are made by combining dyes, solvents, and pigments, 

and the compounds are baked into a solid resin that is insoluble in water. "Permanent" is not always true! 


The permanence of markers depends on:

  • How well you protect them from light
  • What sort of surface they're written on
  • How long they've been around
  • Dye(s), pigment(s), or solvent(s) the marker contains
  • Maintenance of your markers - washing them out, getting rid of invisible ink you don't write with, and a few other factors 


What Are The Chemical Components Of Permanent Marker

  • Solvents

liquids that evaporate quickly

Toxicity: Non-toxic to quite toxic

  • Dyes

Chemicals that stay behind from solvent evaporation

  • Pigments

Chemicals that also stay behind from solvent evaporation

They are particles, not molecules, of color and can be defined by their size.

Pigment particles may or may not have all of their edges exposed (some pigments look a bit like grains of sand).

Pigments are generally safer than dyes and pigments we use to color foods, textiles, and inks. So that's the good news. The bad news is that they also have been tested for toxicity in animals.

  • Xylene

Nasty solvent that causes headaches

  • Toluene

Neurotoxic and strong irritant and flammable

  • Alkylamines

Less toxic than xylene but still can be irritating to the skin or eyes

These days, the most common marker dyes come from the azo, triphenylmethane (TPMS), indigo, and phthalocyanine classes of compounds. All of these are still tested for toxicity in animals, which is not surprising. 


What Is Alkyl Amines In Painting

I do not recommend writing with alkyl amines on painted walls because the paint may bubble and peel off over time due to reactions between the marker and the paint unless you're OK with that. 


What Should You Know About All Of These Compounds

These compounds are water-soluble and may be dangerous if you drink water contaminated by the marker(s). In addition, some of these compounds are known to cause cancer or disrupt hormone actions. They can also be toxic if inhaled in large amounts.


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