3D Pens – Introduce Your Kids To The Exciting Technology Of 3D Printing
3D Pens are a great new invention that use the same technology as 3D printing to give you a fun and unique creative tool. They are used by artists, craft hobbyists, and kids to create all sorts of amazing three-dimensional objects. This picture nicely demonstrates the type of cool sculpture that’s possible:
I use my 3D pen to bond objects I’ve made on my desktop 3D printer as an alternative to glue. It works a little like a hot glue gun and allows you to glue parts using the same filament material you made your 3D prints from. This means you can achieve an invisible and ultra strong bond.
You can also use a 3D pen to repair missing or damaged sections of a large 3D print. With a 3D pen you can quickly repair broken or failed builds with ease.
How Do They Work?
3D pens allow you to draw real-life three-dimensional objects. As you draw a line, instead of ink, a thin line of molten plastic comes out. Like 3D printing, you can build up layers on top of each other to form a three-dimensional object.
There are four types of 3D Pen available:
FDM – Suitable for: Older Children and Teens
The first is called FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling; this is the same process most home 3D printers use. A thread or filament of PLA or ABS plastic is fed through a heated nozzle that melts it.
This is the only type of 3D pen where you can draw a line entirely vertically out of the page, i.e., a true 3D pen. This is because the plastic sets almost the instant it comes out of the pen. All other types of 3D pen need 5 to 10 seconds before the plastic sets solid, meaning 3D structures would bend and fail.
Low Temperature – Suitable for Younger Children
The second and most recent type is the same technology as FDM but uses a different type of plastic which melts at a much lower temperature. This gives you something close to the quality and ease of use as conventional FDM but at completely child safe temperatures.
Cool Ink with Internal UV – Suitable for Young to Older Children
The third type is a cold process which makes it particularly suitable for young children to use. A liquid plastic is fed through a nozzle at the end of the pen. This solidifies the liquid ink using UV light. This is a similar method to SLA Resin 3D printers.
Cool Ink with External UV – Suitable for Young Children
The final type again uses a cool ink process, but the ink is cured in a separate UV chamber. This limits you to making more simple designs as the ink remains in its liquid state until put into the curing chamber. Proper 3D shapes are only possible if you use molds which are usually included with the pen.
How are 3D Pens Different to 3D Printers?
3D pens are much more fluid in their use. With a 3D printer, you have to think about and design your object before you start making it.
With a 3D Printing Pen, you can just start creating right away. This immediacy makes 3D Pens well suited to younger children, who might not have the patience to use a 3D Printer. It could also be considered a more artistic or creative hobby as opposed to 3D printing which is more analytical.
Which 3D Pen is the Best for Me?
That’s what I will answer in this article! There are well over one hundred 3D Pen models available at the moment so choosing the best is not a simple task.
To help you, I’ve narrowed down the choices available to my three favorites, based on my experiences with 3D Pens and user opinions and reviews.
3Doodler uses a unique biodegradable plastic filament which melts at a much lower temperature than the more commonly used PLA. This means there are no parts on the pen that get too hot to touch, making it perfectly safe for children to use while keeping the benefits of accuracy and control you get with the FDM process.
The main benefits of the 3Doodler Start are:
USB Rechargeable Battery
Unlike most FDM pens, this one has an internal rechargeable battery fitted, so you don’t need to have a power cord plugged in. This makes the pen much more comfortable to control and less cumbersome than its rivals.
As mentioned above this pen gives you the benefits of FDM with the advantage of a complete child-friendly cool to touch design.
Not only is the pen and filament cool to touch at all times, but it is also cool enough to let you draw directly onto the included paper stencils in the pack.
The unique filament the 3Doodler Start uses remains slightly soft or malleable after extruding. This gives you a few seconds to smooth or correct your work before it finally sets.
I really like the fact that the eco filament is non-toxic and has almost no smell, unlike PLA and ABS, you don’t need to open a window to let the fumes out.
It’s also less prone to ‘threading’ or ‘spider webbing’ after application. This is when you deposit some plastic onto your work and then pull the pen away.
With some other pens, a thin spider web thread will appear between your work and the pen which you then have to clean up. This is much less noticeable with the 3Doodler Start than other pens.
You will not experience many of the annoyances you get with other 3D Pens with the 3Doodler products.
Jamming is very rare as the pen features a very efficient auto clear function that moves the filament back and forth in the pen to unclog jams.
The Pen features auto feed which means one press of the button is all that’s needed rather than having to continuously hold down the button to get the filament to flow.
The bad points of the 3Doodler Start are:
The supplied filament is in short lengths around 6 inches long rather than longer spools. The short filament feels better as you’re not dragging a long reel around as you work. But the downside is you need to replace them quite often.
The filament feeds at a fairly slow pace. This is mostly a good thing, especially for young kids. But when you want to do something less intricate, like filling in a space, it can seem a little tedious not having a variable speed control to speed things up.
The 3Doodler Start is an excellent 3D pen for kids. I’ve found it to be very reliable and easy to use.
The lack of power cable and short filaments make it very easy for even young kids to use without getting frustrated.
It came completely ready to go out of the box; even the battery was fully charged!
If you buy the 3Doodler from Amazon, it comes in a smaller “e-commerce” box which is much easier to store away than the large box that’s available in retail stores.
The main Benefits of the MYNT3D Pen are:
For intricate, delicate designs you can slow the filament feed right down, and for quick tasks, like filling in a large area, you can crank it right up.
Not only is the speed variable but it is ‘step less’ which means you can set it to any speed between the lowest and highest settings not just low, medium and high.
The high fidelity temperature control sets the MYNT3D Pen apart from other models. Being able to change the temperature in 1° increments allows much greater control of the consistency of your filament.
Also, because you can change the temperature of the MYNT3D from anything between 130°C and 240°C you can use almost any filament material, such as PLA or ABS and exciting blended filaments like metallic or wood.
A clear and bright display shows you the temperature and battery level which are both reasonably essential for hassle-free operation.
Great Design Features
The pen is very slim and ergonomically designed making it very easy to hold and use.
My favorite feature is the replaceable nozzle. You shouldn’t overlook this feature as a damaged nozzle in other 3D pens can mean you need to replace the pen completely. MYNT3D offer a free replacement nozzle in the first year of use, and cheap replacements after that.
Like most 3D pens it will need a permanent power source when in use. Fortunately, it uses a standard USB so you can use it with most phone chargers and any PC or laptop.
An auto power off function turns the heat off if left unused for 2 minutes which is pretty good for your peace of mind, especially if you’re a little OCD like me!
The MYNT3D Pen is an excellent 3D pen that is very very hard to fault. It has just about all the features you could ask for and the fact it can use any 1.75mm filament means it will be a long time before you reach any limitation.
The latest in the popular Scribbler range, the V3 now comes with a six-speed adjustment and a large OLED screen that raise it up to compete with the premium 3D Pens on the market
The pen looks a little bulky compared to others, but it also has a very organic looking shape. According to Scribbler, this makes it balance better in your hand, making it easier to hold steady.
I must admit, I found the Scribbler very easy to control, it just takes a little practice to get used to the bulkiness.
Uniquely, the Scribbler V3 is available in seven different colors; this makes it an excellent choice for kids. Parents will know, it’s much easier to get little Jimmy interested in a new toy if it’s in his favorite color!
Variable temperature control, which you can view on the OLED display, allows you to change the consistency of your filament and use different material types, such as PLA, ABS and blended filaments like copper or wood.
Six Speed Control
For intricate, delicate designs you can slow the filament feed down to 1, and for quick tasks, like filling in a large area, you can put it up to 6. You can get a good variation in feed speed with six speeds compared to the more common three.
The Scribbler V3 comes with more filament than any other model, with about 30 feet of PLA!
The latest Scribbler is a nice improvement over previous models and offers some handy features with speed and temperature control.
Its bright colors and fun appearance will definitely appeal to children.