What if a ball point pen tip was taken and put into a top tip, in addition to a bearing? Would that let the top slide on its tip, theoretically allowing for cool contact juggling-esque tricks? Or would a ball-point never be frictionless enough for that to be possible?
I’m pretty sure there was an early wooden top that employed such a tip, Ta0 will know more.
I’m almost certain that the reason pen ballpoints roll smoothly is because there is fluid pressure from the other side suspending the ball more than if it was just dry. The concept itself is really neat, but I’m not sure that it would be frictionless enough to work as well as most would want it to. Again, I’m really not too positive.
This was a great excuse to throw one of my Champion tops from Sock-It Co (later Fli-Back) with ballpoint tips. They are from the 50 or 60s, although the idea has been around much longer. Even after all these years the ball spins freely and you can hear it when it is spinning stationary on your hand.
I tried arm-walker and it does slide much easier than a regular bearing or fixed tip top. Actually, probably too much: I had problems controlling it and completing the trick. So the answer would be that in theory it would help with a contact juggling trick, but lots of practice would be required.
By the way, not all tops with ballpoint tips (a ball trapped at the end of a cone) seemed to have been meant as bearing tip tops (I have several where the ball does not rotate).
Cool… Although I suppose the trick potential is kind of limited.