What Does a 3D Pen Do?
You may have heard of 3D printers, but have you ever heard of a 3D pen? If so, have you ever wondered what a 3D pen does?
A 3D printing pen works by replacing regular ink with a special type of plastic that melts at a high-enough temperature. By doing so, you can draw not only on a surface–which by the way doesn’t have to be flat–but also in the air if you so wish. This allows you to create three-dimensional physical objects that come to life right before your own eyes.
With 3D pens, you can control the heat temperature, extrusion speed and even select the type of plastic filament. This allows you to customize your individual preferences and project requirements.
What makes 3D pens so amazing is that they can be used safely by both adults and kids (we recommend children older than 8 years old). The heat generated is just enough to melt the plastic and not harm you in any way.
The History of the 3D Pen
Did you know that the first 3D pen had its humble beginnings as a Kickstarter campaign? The inventors of the 3Doodler, the first 3D pen, built their first prototype in 2012. At that time, they had waited for almost 14 hours for a 3D printer to complete its job, only to realize that the machine had missed out on one line. It was that frustration that led them to keep things simple and make a 3D pen instead.
The founders then launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 with an initial target of $30,000. The fundraiser reached its goal in just a few hours on launch and would go on to raise more than a million dollars within 4 days.
The 3Doodler might have been the first, but several makers have come along since then and offered competitive models to challenge the original. Today there are almost several brands and varieties to choose from. Later on in this review, we will show you which 3D pen is the best.
How Does a 3D Pen Work?
A 3D pen works by using an extruder to heat up a plastic filament (usually ABS plastic, and the same kind used by 3D printers) and pushes it through a tiny nozzle. The plastic simultaneously cools as it exits the nozzle, allowing the user to create three-dimensional objects.
What’s the Best 3D Pen?
As mentioned earlier, the 3Doodler might have been the original, but we have more than enough brands to choose from now. How expensive is a 3D pen? They’re not quite as expensive as you might think. In the next section, we will review 10 products to help you decide which 3D pen to buy.
The Soyan is an easy-to-handle 3D pen that is both slim and light. The extrusion speed can be controlled to facilitate a smooth operation during your drawing sessions.
The Soyan 3D pen comes with 30 grams of 1.75mm gray filament and features 12 colors in 20 feet lengths. It also comes with a power adapter and a quick start guide so you can start drawing immediately.
With the Soyan, you can make prototypes in real time without any complicated software.
Just imagine and draw it out.
The Smarson 3D pen features a nozzle that filters the filament and heats it up through the body of the pen. As the filament exits the nozzle, it cools and creates any kind of object that you create.
The Smarson has an LCD screen to display the temperature for precise melting levels. The side buttons allow you to control the type of filament as well as the temperature and speed easily.
A light indicator flashes red during the warming up phase. Once the pen is ready to draw, the light changes to blue and you can begin drawing.
The Smarson 3D pen works with ABS, LEA, or PLA material as long as it is 1.75mm. It comes with a filament starter pack, a power adapter, and a specially designed pen holder.
If you’re looking for a budget 3D pen to start with, then the E-MALL is just what you need. It is the cheapest 3D pen on this list. But don’t let its price fool you - this is a solid 3D pen.
The E-MALL uses fused deposition modeling technology – the same as that used by leading 3D printers such as MakerBot. It is suitable for kids, and anyone who is keen on 3D drawing and creation. You don’t have to be an expert to use the E-MALL. Newbies can have fun with this pen too!
This E-MALL 3D pen features an auto-standby function which shuts the pen off after 5 minutes of idling. It also has a unique thermal control and filament jamming detector which makes it easy to use. The pen operates quietly and can be used with both right or left hands. There is a speed adjuster that controls the filament extrusion rate, which can be adjusted with a single finger.
The E-MALL comes with three sets of 1.75mm ABS filament material with random colors (5 grams per loop), a power adapter, and an instruction manual to get started quickly.
Wondering how expensive is a 3D pen? With the E-MALL, you can safely get started without blowing a hole in your wallet.
The MYNT3D, like the Smarson, features an OLED display to help you gauge and monitor the heat settings. The temperature can be fine-tuned from 130 to 240 degrees in 1-degree increments, which allows you to control the filament’s thickness and flow-rate.
The MYNT3D 3D pen also comes with an adjustable extrusion speed control to regulate the speed at which the filament exits the nozzle. It comes with a power adapter and 3 colors of ABS plastic. The MYNT3D is FCC, RoHS, and CE-certified and can be safely used for outdoors.
The Excelvan is a classy looking 3D pen in dark gray. It is extremely slim and has a curved-style design for easy handling. It only weighs 55 grams and can be used by children as well.
The nozzle uses a patented ceramic tip for lower temperatures so it won’t hurt you if you accidentally come into contact with the nozzle. The Excelvan has a sleep mode which shuts off after one minute of inactivity.
A unique feature of the Excelvan 3D pen is the ability to remove any clogged up filament residue inside the pen. The nozzle can be removed to facilitate this process.
The Excelvan comes with a power adapter, a pen base and two types of filament material – ABS and PLA.
The slender Samto 3D pen features an auto-standby mode which shuts off the mechanism after 5 minutes of inactivity. Its heating temperature can be adjusted between 160 to 230 degrees, and can prevent filament jamming with its advanced thermal management system.
The Samto is super silent to operate, and its extrusion speed can be adjusted with just one hand via a stepless speed changer.
The Samto uses either 1.75mm ABS or PLA filaments and comes with a power adapter, 3 ABS filaments, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
The Artlike 3D pen lets you create three-dimensional works easily with its user-friendly extrusion speed control. The pen warms up in less than 1 minute and allows you to adjust the extrusion speed via its side button controls.
The Artlike 3D pen has an unclogging mechanism to prevent jamming and also comes with an auto-standby mode. After 5 to 10 minutes of continuous use, the pen goes into standby mode to prevent overheating of the pen.
What’s in the box? The Artlike comes with a power adapter, 3 types of filaments with different colors and a user manual.
The VectorMoon is an affordable 3D pen with a slim design and a smart extrusion feature. One common complaint about 3D pens is the need to hold the extrusion button down. This can get tiresome after a while. With the VectorMoon, the button can be double-tapped to enable the filament to stream continuously.
Another unique feature of the VectorMoon is its power-bank compatibility. If you find yourself out of battery juice while outdoors, just plug the VectorMoon into a power bank and you can continue with your 3D drawing.
The VectorMoon 3D pen comes with a power adaptor, 3 loops of colored filaments and a temperature adjuster toolkit.
Here’s the original that started it all, the 3Doodler. Many would argue that this is the best 3D pen on the market. It’s a little pricier compared to the rest of the pens on this list (the most expensive in fact), but you do get what you pay for, and that’s quality.
Which 3D pen is the best? The 3Doodler is undoubtedly the world’s best-selling 3D pen. It features the slimmest and lightest design in the market, and you can trust the creators to continually improve on this flagship product’s design and features.
The 3Doodler offers a wide range of plastics to work with. This includes clear, matte, glossy, glow, sparkle and flexy-type plastics. There are also a ton of accessories to choose from such as changeable nozzle sets in different shapes.
If you are really serious about 3D drawing or are wondering about which 3D pen to buy, then you simply can’t go wrong with the 3Doodler.
The OOKU 3D pen features an auto-feeding system that feeds any 1.75mm ABS or PLA plastic into its nozzle. It has a ceramic head for low-temperature operation and fits comfortably in your hand, thanks to its ‘natural fit’ design.
The OOKU is plug and play. Just connect it to the power adaptor and you can be up and running in minutes. The extrusion speed is adjustable as well, which allows you to make incredibly detailed 3D objects.
An auto-standby function shuts the pen off after 5 minutes of inactivity. With the OOKU, you can use it safely anywhere without worries of overheating.
The OOKU comes with 3 multi-colored 1.75mm PLA filaments, a pen holder and a power adapter.
Why Choose a 3D Pen Over a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer is a highly precise tool for making prototypes and parts to exact specifications. It requires a particular file called an “STL model” for it to work.
A 3D pen on the other is a creative tool that is perfect for adults and children to explore their ideas and imaginations. With a 3D pen, you can begin to create a shape without worrying about “wasting” resources. You also don’t have to spend hours drawing up model files to begin a production process. With a 3D process, the process starts with your idea.
Price Is No Barrier
Another reason is the price point. A 3D pen can be had for as low as $30 to $40, whereas the cheapest 3D printer still costs several hundred dollars – not to mention the parts required to operate and maintain the printer.
A 3D pen can also be easily carried and brought anywhere. Going on a holiday? This is your perfect opportunity to pack a 3D pen along with you and make something awesome while lounging in your hotel room.
The possibilities are endless. You can bring it to work, school, the library, even to your favorite cafe. Try doing that with a 3D printer. In this regard, we consider the 3D pen the ultimate tool for creative designing.
Children Will Love It
Here’s something you don’t see every day. Children are easily amused by creative objects. A simple pen or pencil is common but a pen that brings ideas to life? That’s something truly extraordinary. If you have a child who enjoys drawing, or you are trying to nurture that quality in her, then go ahead and give 3D pens a shot. You might be surprised by the stuff they create!
Start Creating Today
If you’ve ever thought about getting into 3D drawing, now is the best time to start. In fact, with 3D pens, your investment is relatively small, but the possibilities are endless.
So which 3D pen is the best? It goes without saying that the original 3Doodle is the crowd favorite, but every pen on this list deserves a shot as well.
We used to think about the day when we can bring our ideas to life and not just on paper. Well, that day has finally arrived, and you can recreate your favorite drawing, animal, symbol or object and make it appear in actual 3D shapes.
If you’re a graphic or industrial designer, then having one of these pens in your creative arsenal is a no-brainer. We’ve talked extensively about which 3D pen to buy in this review. So trust us on this – pick one up today and whenever you get bored, turn to your 3D pen and start unleashing your creative juices!