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Everything About a 3D Printing Pen

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3D printing pen seems to be the buzzword around 3D printing enthusiasts and hobbyists. Be it a child or a professional artist, everyone is eager to have a 3D printing pen. The fact that it brings fun at the workplace, inspires creativity and helps in learning, is making 3D pens a craze all over the world.

Through this article we share the information about a 3D printing pen.

What is a 3D Printing Pen?

3D printing pen
Above: Making a spiral figure with a 3D Pen/Image Credit: 3Doodler

3D printing pens are just similar to ordinary glue guns, but these pens extrude 3D printing filaments. This extruded/melted material is used to draw figures and artwork. It is similar to a regular writing pen but in these pens the figure can stand on its own in the third dimension (Z-axis). The subsequent result is a three dimensional figure which is draw by hand and looks like a 3D printed part.

Since the drawings are made with hand they are not as finished as produced by a machine but they are a great tool to inspire creativity.

Inventor of the 3D Printing Pen

3D printing pen
Above: 3Doodler CEO & Co-Founder Daniel (L), Co-founder & CTO Peter (M) and CEO & Co-Founder Maxwell (R)/Image Credit: 3Doodler

Grown out of a necessity to democratise the 3D printing technology and make it accessible to even the average person, three enthusiastic people worked on creating a device which is not as bulky, costly and techno-centric as a 3D printer. The three inventors built, Peter Dilworth, Maxwell Bogue, and Daniel Cowen of WobbleWorks, Inc their first prototype in 2012 in a makerspace. They invented the first 3D pen which they called as a 3Doodler. It is said that they had a bad experience with 3D printers and wanted to create a product which was simple & affordable to every hobbyists and artist.

3D printing pen
Above: 3Doodler PRO 3D Printing Pen/Image Credit: 3Doodler

They launched their first product, the 3Doodler, through a Kickstarter campaign in February 2013. The fund raising target was a modest $30,000 and it booked all reward levels on the first day of the campaign itself. Within three days the campaign raised more than $1million and by the end of the campaign it raised more than $2million.

Operating a 3D Printing Pen

3D printing pen
Above: Operating a MYNT3D Printing Pens/Image Credit: MYNT3D

The working principle of 3D printing pens is straightforward. Since the pens use polymer filament as the material the working is as simple as melting the material in a heat chamber and extruding it through the tip (read nozzle) of the pen and deposit the material on any platform. The user can then move the pen around to draw different figures and shapes. The melted material oozing out of the nozzle quickly cools and this makes the deposited material to stand on its own accord. Once cooled the plastic shape holds its shape and remains permanent.

The heating temperature is adjusted as per the material used in the pen. Only a limited number of materials can be used in a 3D pen. The requirement for a material to be used in a 3D printing pen is that it should melt quickly when heated and solidify quickly once it is extruded out of the pen. The user should also note that he should not draw with the 3D pen like a regular pen. The 3D pen should be moved slowly so the figures can be drawn and it holds its shape.

3D Printing Pen Materials

Only a handful number of materials are commonly used in 3D printing pens. Some of these materials include Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Poly Lactic Acid (PLA), & Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA). The latest 3Doodler pen works with a new range of materials including polycarbonate (PC) and Polyamide (Nylon). It also handles plastic-based composites of wood, copper or bronze.

Also Read: 3D Printing Glossary: The A to Z of 3D Printing

The two of the most popular materials are ABS and PLA and we explain you about the same.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is used on a wide scale in traditional manufacturing industries. We find a lot of plastic products being manufactured in ABS like for example Lego bricks. It is cheap and easily available.

One of the drawbacks of the material is its higher melting temperature (210 OC to 240 OC). It also emits toxic fumes during the melting process and therefore proper precaution has to be taken while working with ABS.

Poly Lactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a biodegradable material and is widely used in 3D printing due to its ease of printing. It has numerous benefits over ABS like lower melting temperature (160 OC to 200 OC), it does not emit toxic fumes, and moreover it has a sweet smell.

But it has a major drawback that it takes time to cool down after extrusion. This property helps PLA in 3D printing but the same property affects its performance in a 3D pen.

Uses of 3D Printing Pen

3D printing pen
Above: A child creates an eye mask with a 3D printing pen/Image Credit: Scribbler

A 3D printing pen can be used in a lot of creative ways and it is limited only by the imagination of the user. They can create new art forms, they can quickly convert their idea and thoughts into a tangible model, they can even use it to print designs on paper or clothes and make it look even more attractive.

3D printing pen is a boon to artists and hobbyists. They can scribble and draw anything in their mind without the need to actually design the same in a digital software. A barrier when it comes to 3D printing. A 3D printing pen eliminates this step altogether and lets artists directly convert their ideas, thoughts and inspirations into a tangible model.

3D printing pen
Above: 3Doodler RC Plane by Maker Matt Butchard/Image Credit: 3Doodler

We can see the above image of an RC plane made with a 3Doodler by maker and blogger Matt Butchard which actually flies. It was flight tested and he even posted a video on YouTube.

Artists and hobbyists have found lot of use and applications for the 3D printing pen and it seems they love the freedom it gives them.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Read more such informative articles on our 3D Printing Info page.