We know it sounds like new wave technology, and true, 3D pens haven’t been around all that long, but they’re really quite simple to understand and operate. There are several manufacturers who make them for children as well as adults, so that should give you an idea as to their various uses.
What is a 3D Pen?
A 3D or 3-dimensional pen exudes a heated plastic substance from the tip, which cools almost instantly when it is exposed to the cool air. The “ink” then hardens and creates a firm three-dimensional model.
Whereas a normal pen makes two-dimensional marks on a flat surface, such as paper, a 3D pen creates things in the air that can be turned over on one’s hand and viewed from many angles.
Essentially, a 3D pen varies from a traditional pen in that a 2D pen could draw a sketch of a wedding dress, but an actual wedding dress needs to be 3-dimensional, or else it’s no use at all.
How Do They Work?
As the user draws, a warm or hot plastic substance comes out of the tip and hardens into the shape you drew. That could be a heart shape flat on the table or a model of the Eiffel Tower.
Imagine you are drawing with icing using a fine icing piper. If the icing is thick enough, it should support itself well enough. The difference with a 3D pen is that the substance is strong enough to support itself with quite a thin strand.
If you drew a screw shape, moving slowly upwards, then you’d end up with something that resembled a coil. 3D pens are electrically powered and usually need a cord to power them as you model.
What Are They For?
You can create all sorts of small models using a 3-dimensional pen and can even make ornaments or keepsakes. Essentially, they can turn things that you or your child can picture well enough on the page into something they can hold in their hands.
Some people make a serious hobby of it and take pride in imagining complicated designs, but children can also use some types that are specifically designed for young users.
Who Are They For?
3-D pens can be used by adults or children, but check the label, because different varieties are meant for different age groups.
The 3Doodler Start+ claims to be the “only child-safe 3D pen”. It is aimed at children who are six years old or older and says that the plastic and pen nib can be touched without risk of burning the skin or surfaces.
The 3Doodler Create+ is created with teens and adults in mind. It comes with fifteen colors of doodler plastic to start with. So you can create in several colors. The plastic is non-toxic and made in the USA.
The MYNT3D Professional Printing 3D Pen with OLED Display is a 3D pen designed for adults. With the plastic melting at around 170 degrees Celsius, it might be a little too hot to handle for younger users. This pen comes with three plastic filament colors but is at the cheaper end of the spectrum.
This pen claims to be compatible with almost any other plastic filaments which is a bonus, if you don’t want to be tied in for life to only using the same brand of plastic filament refills as the pen brand.
What Do They Cost?
3D pens range in cost from about $35 – $100 depending on the quality and target market. Children’s ones may be slightly cheaper than adult ones, so they might make a good gift for children aged 6-12 of any gender.
The adult pens tend to be marketed as professional quality 3D pens and so will probably heat the plastic blend to a higher temperature, so you get a smoother finish.
You’ll also need to factor in the running costs of whichever 3D pen you decide on. They run on electric, not battery usually, so that’s not such a worry, but the cost of replacement plastic filaments can be quite expensive. Some brands of 3D pen insist that you can only use their brand of plastic filaments as replacements.
For example, this pack of 20 color filament refills is inexpensive, but clearly states that it is not suitable for the 3Doodler pens. So let’s look at the cost of replacing 3Doodler filament refills. This pack of eight colors from the 3Doodler store is a lot more expensive.
At least three times the price. If the 3D pen is for a kid, then you can imagine how much wastage you can expect there to be. Not all of their crayon drawings make it to the front of the fridge, right? So, there’s going to be a lot of failed sculpture attempts before you get something good.
The cost of the pens are not super expensive, but just make sure you’ve thought about the cost of replacements and whether you want to limit yourself to getting only 3Doodler compatible plastic forevermore. If you get a 3D pen, which can take any PLA or PCL filament as long as it’s the right thickness, then you’ll be looking at a cheaper outlay for the future.
Amazing 3D Pen Creations
To get those creative juices flowing and stimulate your imagination, we thought we’d show you some of the incredible things that people have made from 3D pens. From tiny insect models, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, there are some beautiful 3D artworks out there. Some people clearly have a lot of free time on their hands.
1- This beautiful, blue dragonfly is perfection itself. Such delicate and controlled use of a 3D pen and the result is stunning.
2- This sea-inspired landscape is a 3Doodler creation. This must have taken so long, and you can tell it’s a real labor of love.
3- The wings on this dragon are out of this world. Such an intricate design which succeeds in being both beautiful and beastly. Look at the beautiful color gradient of the wings too.
4- As promised, the famous Eiffel Tower of France is a fairly common, but impressive 3D pen creation. Bravo to whoever did this one with the 3Doodler. The black actually works really well at making it look kind of mysterious.