3D printing pen or simply 3D Pen is the buzzword around 3D printing enthusiasts and hobbyists. Be it a child or a professional artist, everyone is eager to own one. 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 or a 3D Pen.
What is a 3D Printing Pen?
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
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.
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 Pen
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 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.
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.
Polylactic 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.
Applications of 3D Printing Pen
A 3D 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.
Art and Design
In the art and design field, 3D printing pens can be used to create intricate, three-dimensional structures and designs in a variety of materials. They offer a level of precision and control that allows artists and designers to bring their ideas to life in a way that traditional methods may not allow.
Some specific applications of 3D printing pens in art and design include:
Sculpture: 3D printing pens can be used to create small-scale sculptures, either freehand or by following a template.
Illustration: 3D printing pens can be used to add a new dimension to traditional two-dimensional illustrations by creating three-dimensional elements that can be incorporated into the design.
Product design: 3D printing pens can be used to create prototypes of new products, allowing designers to test and refine their designs before committing to traditional manufacturing methods.
Fashion design: 3D printing pens can be used to create unique and intricate accessories, such as jewellery or other embellishments, for fashion design.
3D printing pens can be a useful tool in educational settings, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Some specific applications of 3D printing pens in education include:
Demonstrating concepts: 3D printing pens can be used to create physical models that help students visualise and understand complex concepts, such as molecular structures or geometric shapes.
Hands-on learning: 3D printing pens allow students to engage in hands-on learning by creating their own three-dimensional structures and designs. This can help to increase engagement and understanding of material being taught.
Project-based learning: 3D printing pens can be used as part of project-based learning activities, where students work together to design and create a product or solution using the pens.
Sparking creativity and imagination: 3D printing pens can be used to spark creativity and imagination in students of all ages. By allowing students to create their own designs, the pens can help to foster a sense of curiosity and encourage problem-solving skills.
Repair and Customisation
3D printing pens can be used to repair or customise a variety of objects, including toys, household items, and even jewellery. Some specific applications of 3D printing pens in repair and customisation include:
Fixing broken items: 3D printing pens can be used to create replacement parts for broken items, such as toys or small household appliances.
Upcycling: 3D printing pens can be used to add new features or embellishments to items that are being repurposed or upcycled.
Customisation: 3D printing pens can be used to add personal touches to items, such as creating custom jewellery or adding custom designs to phone cases or other small items.
In conclusion, 3D printing pens are a versatile and innovative tool that offer a wide range of possibilities for both art and practical applications. Whether used for creating sculptures, prototypes, or custom items, 3D printing pens allow users to bring their ideas to life in a way that traditional methods may not allow.
While 3D printing pens have some limitations, such as being limited to smaller scale creations and having a slower process compared to traditional 3D printers, they are also relatively affordable and easy to use. Additionally, 3D printing pens can be a useful tool in educational settings, as they allow for hands-on learning and can spark creativity and imagination in students.
In short, 3D printing pens have the potential to revolutionise the way we create and customise objects, and as the technology continues to advance, it will be exciting to see how they will be used in the future.
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