Remember when paintbrushes, quills and fountain pens, were all the rage? Probably not. Maybe you remember when ballpoint pens, James Bond's spy pens and digital pens were new and popular?
Lately, the evolution of the pen has taken a new leap, a leap into the future. The 3Doodler is a pen that can create objects in thin air. Much like a hot glue gun, this 3D printing pen uses heated plastic to create shapes either on a surface or completely in midair.
How does it Work?
Much like a 3D printer, this 3D printing pen can extrude or "print" with plastic. If you know how to work a hot glue gun it'll be easy to figure out the 3Doodler. In the back of the pen, insert a stick or "strand" of ABS or PLA plastic (that tough plastic material Legos and IKEA furniture are made out of). When you turn the pen on, it heats up, melts the plastic, then it flows out of the hot tip of the pen just like the ink in a regular pen. By pushing either the slow or fast button, the plastic will flow and quickly harden as it cools in the air.
It doesn t defy gravity though the laws of physics still apply. If you want to draw a house for instance, start with the foundation, somewhere the plastic can sit on a surface. Then draw walls, (yes vertically) use to pen to start from the bottom and draw upwards and stop in midair when your house is tall enough. The plastic will stay where you left it!
What Can I do with it?
You might ask: "what could I possibly do with a 3D printing pen?" Well, the possibilities are nearly endless and range from purely creative to extremely functional. You can draw 3D jewelry, toys, models, glasses, artwork, replicas and much more. Personalize existing objects like phone cases, posters or holiday decorations too. Plastic welding with the 3Doodler can mend broken appliances and fix plastic trinkets in seconds.
If you run out of ideas or need some inspiration, there are free templates and stencils on the 3Doodler site. Fun things like the Eiffel Tower, Christmas ornaments, boomerangs, light fixtures and new items are added all the time.
How do I get started?
Turning on the 3Doodler is easy. A power supply cord is included with the printer, just plug it in. When the pen is on an indicator light will let you know when the tip is heating up and when the pen is hot enough to use. There are two speed buttons, fast and slow, and pushing either will extrude plastic. Stop pushing the buttons and the plastic, or flow, will stop. Designed for left or right-handed people, the 3Doodler is ambidextrous, but it's a bit heavy, about seven ounces. It'll takes some practice to keep your hand steady while drawing 3D designs. The pen is recommended for use by anyone over the age of 12 because the tip does get extremely hot, so don't touch it!
When you order your 3D printing pen you'll also choose from an assortment of 50 complementary plastic strands available in either PLA or ABS. Each strand is 10 inches and can produce more than 10 feet of doodled creations. ABS is more malleable and easier to work with, but does emit a nasty burning plastic smell. PLA is a bit more rigid, smells sweet and can be recycled.
What Should I Keep in Mind?
Creating freestanding plastic objects sounds amazing, but it's not as easy as it looks. The 3Doodler isn't perfect, you'll need lots of practice to be able to maneuver it. Lines won't be extremely straight either, that's just the nature of working with heated plastic. The plastic comes out in wiggly lines and it's hard to get the plastic to flow smoothly. Also, you'll need to deal with the sound of the whirring fan keeping the pen cool, it can get annoying after a while. Even with its minor flaws though, this 3D printing pen is still fascinating to watch in action, and even more fun to use!
Where Can I find it?
The 3Doodler site is well equipped to help you find resources and solutions for your 3Doodler pen. Email support, social media, a community forum, a blog, FAQs and more are all a click away on the site. There are templates to download, spotlights to read and additional plastic for sale. A pack of 25, 10-inch strands in various color combinations is $9.99 and equals more than 100 feet of finished creations. A one-year warranty also covers your pen from defects and in our experience, 3Doodler is easy to contact, and quick to respond with helpful information.
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