Our 3D world just got more interesting once the 3D Printing Pens have come out. These have the same functionality as a 3D printer, but they’re hand-held pens which you will manually guide directly to create shapes, designs and small sculptures. But what makes the 3D printing pen so special, and which is the best 3D printing pen 2018?
- What is a 3D Printing Pen?
- Buyer’s Guide to 3D Printing Pens
- Table of the Best 3D Printing Pens:
What is a 3D Printing Pen?
In simple terms, this device is a hand-held, manual 3D printer. It allows you to use a device which looks and feels usually like a pen, guide it on a surface to draw layer after layer and create a design of your own. You can, for the most part, add layers on all sides of your initial surface, and then continuously add new layers until a 3D object comes to life.
The 3D printing pen works by melting thin strands of plastic which, after being ejected by the pen, immediately hardens back to keep your design together. Each pen might have different filament requirements, which can vary in size and type of material used, but for the most part, they use plastic materials.
Buyer’s Guide to 3D Printing Pens
The first thing to look for in a 3D printing pen is whether it’s powered by a cord or a battery. This is important as it will tell you just how powerful the pen is going to be and what kind of technology it uses. Most pens will rely on melting plastics, which may not be a very good idea if you’re looking to gift these to your children, as the hot parts can cause serious injury if not handled properly. Another thing related to the power supply is that a cordless pen will be easier to use than a corded one, considering the enhanced maneuverability it offers. Then again, if you’re not looking to get this for your kid, and aren’t concerned about maneuverability, then a corded pen may be more powerful than a battery-powered one, meaning it could handle more diverse materials for longer periods of time.
The second thing to keep an eye out when shopping for your 3D printing pen is the accessory kit it comes with. Most pens will include either the inks or the plastics used to create your 3D designs. Some won’t, however, and you’ll have to buy them separately which can be a challenge if you can’t get them directly from the manufacturer as most pens use proprietary materials and using others may damage your device or expose you to injury or even toxic fumes. Always follow instructions when it comes to using your 3D printing pen, especially indoors where ventilation may be limited. As far as the accessories go, there should also be clear instructions along with items that allow you to clean the pen and use it safely (drawing mats, unclogging accessories, etc.). And again, since most pens use plastics, it’s only normal that you’ll get some clogging when the plastic doesn’t melt as fast as it should – keeping an eye out for different materials other than plastics or other 3D printing pen technologies is a good idea if safety and toxicity are things that concern you.
Table of the Best 3D Printing Pens:
#1 3Doodler Create
The first 3D printing pen on our list, the 3Doodler Create is a nifty little item which looks and feels amazingly familiar in your hand, just like a regular pen should. But this is far from a regular pen – it’s a product which came from a very specific need: to correct what a 3D printer could not achieve. The 3Doodler’s creators 3D printed something, and they saw that the printer missed a small bit. Instead of scrapping the project which took over 14 hours, they came up with the idea behind 3Doodler – a hand-held device which can add layers of plastic just like a 3D printer would. They got funding through Kickstarter and created this device.
This 3D printing pen comes with a power adaptor, so it’s not battery based. This gives it much more power than its battery-powered counterparts. It also ships with a nozzle removal, mini screwdriver and unblocking tool for maintenance purposes. They also ship it with 50 plastic strands. Speaking of which, the 3Doodler offers support for a diverse range of usable plastics – matte, clear, glow, flexy, sparkle and glossy type plastic, and 65 different colours for you to use in your projects.
What sets this 3D printing pen apart from its counterparts is the accessories it comes with. They offer changeable nozzles for creating different types of shapes and patterns. The DoodlePad Doodling surface is the place where you can use their Project Book to create your first objects with step-by-step instructions. The Pad will allow you to draw straight lines a lot easier and familiarise yourself with how the pen works. All in all, this is a great pen for people looking to mess around with 3D printing manually and step into the new age of creativity.
Funded on Indiegogo, CreoPop is our second 3D pen on this list, and it already brings something new to the table from the get-go: no plastics whatsoever. While most 3D printing pens on this list will use special plastics, which are heated up before being expelled, the CreoPop uses a proprietary ink which hardens using LED light emitted by the pen.
What does this mean for you? Well, first of all, the CreoPop uses a lithium-ion battery instead of a power supply, making it much easier to handle and a lot safer. With the proprietary photopolymer inks, which harden under the pen’s LED lights, you get no risk of burning because there is no heat used in the process. The ink hardens immediately under the LED light, allowing you to draw just like with any other 3D printing pen. The inks are also non-toxic and considering there’s no burning or melting involved; there are no fumes released during the process. All this makes this particular 3D printing pen a very cool gadget that your kids can use as well.
Another really neat feature of this pen is the type of inks available at this moment: glow in the dark inks, scented inks, flexible inks which after hardening act like soft plastics, and even magnetic inks and skin-safe inks. All of these offer the CreoPop 3D printing pen a lot of functionality and options for its use.
#3 NEXTECH Intelligent 3D Pen
Back to our standard 3D pens, the NEXTECH Intelligent 3D Pen comes powered by a USB cord which you can use with a power bank for easy manoeuvrability. The USB powered pen relies on the PLA filament which melts a lot faster than your regular plastics and consequently does not require all that much power to get it near its melting point. This also makes the pen a lot safer to use considering the lower heat needed – but you should still avoid touching the nozzle for at least 10 minutes after use, and under no circumstances should you allow your children to use it unsupervised.
Another great feature this pen has is easy to use the button for 3D printing. Simply pressing it once will start extruding material, while pressing it again will pause the extruding process. Considering the transparent design of the pen, you can monitor your filament length and know when it’s time to replace or detect if there are any problems while you’re working with the pen. There’s light which shows when the pen is ready to use after being plugged in – it needs to preheat itself before being able to extrude material.
The filament used is 1.75mm PLA and comes in a wide variety of colours. It hardens a lot faster than other types of plastics used in 3D printing pens, allowing you to work faster and more accurately without having to worry about your structure’s stability while working on it. There’s also an operation instruction booklet which helps you get started and underlines best practices of using the NEXTECH Intelligent 3D Pen.
#4 CreoPop Cordless 3D Printing Pen
The CreoPop Cordless 3D Printing Pen is a new kind of 3D printing pen which instead of relying on your regular plastics to melt and extrude from a hot nozzle, it relies on proprietary photopolymer inks instead. These inks work by being extruded from the pen and immediately hardened once they get hit by the pen’s LED lights which are incorporated. This technology doesn’t require in consequence much power, which makes the lithium-ion battery it comes with the perfect design choices for this cordless 3D printing pen. This also allows for greater manoeuvrability during your 3D printing process.
The second great feature of this specific 3D printing pen is that the inks themselves are non-toxic, and since there’s no heating involved in its functionality, it’s a safe device for children to use even with no supervision. The LED lights aren’t powerful enough to cause harm, and the inks may only impact the surfaces they are used on – that’s why the CreoPop Cordless 3D printing pen comes with a special matt for creating your designs.
Last, but certainly not least, the inks come in different varieties: glow in the dark inks, magnetic ones, scented inks which go perfectly for designs for your bathroom and car; multiple colours available and even temperature-sensitive inks which you can use for cool effects on your coffee or tea mugs. These inks all come in easy to replace and switch cartridges which you can find online or at local stores who carry them.
#5 Da Vinci 3D Pen
One of the more cheaper choices of 3D pens, the XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen is great for the environmentally-conscious, as well as for those who look for non-toxic materials being used in designing your 3D models. This pen offers you a total of 9 different colours to choose from when creating your objects, making it pretty slim in terms of nuance choices.
However, the non-toxic filaments are made from organic materials and are non-toxic. The colours are bright, and it uses 1.75mm filament. You can replace the stock plastic with other variants of the same size – supports both PLA and ABS options, but make sure you read about toxicity and other details which may regard the use of those different materials with this specific 3D printing pen.
One of the best features of this pen is that it’s easy to use straight out of the box. It’s recommended that you buy a lot of filament, so it’ll last you a long time, and start creating your designs. Lightweight, but cordless, the XYZprinting Da Vinci 3D Pen is amazing for kids as well, as long as constant adult supervision is available. Clearing away any potential clogs is done easily and fast, so maintenance is a breeze.
#6 7Tech 3D Pen
The 7Tech 3D Pen is an adaptable pen which can be used with both PLA and ABS filament. This can be done because with this 3D pen; you can adjust the temperature to accommodate the different types of filament you might have available. It also has two main modes of operation, each for the ABS and PLA filament respectively.
The temperature and the operating mode will be displayed on the LCD screen which is placed on the pen for easy monitoring. It also has a speed control on the side which you can use to determine just how much material is extruded while you’re creating your design. This allows for a streamlined creation of 3D designs as you can do a lot of stuff with density adjustment, along with the use of different material types and ranging temperatures. The 7Tech 3D Pen has an electric cord it uses for power, running at 110-220V.
Easy to use, and easy to fix, most who bought this pen praise it for its sturdiness. It’s high-quality build at an affordable price is really what recommends it. Also, it’s pretty safe for children over the age of 10 to use as well, granted the right kind of plastics (non-toxic) are chosen for the filament.
#7 Glyby Intelligent 3D Printing Pen
On the cheaper side, the Glyby Intelligent 3D Printing Pen uses 1.75 mm ABS filament only. It weighs only 65g, making it easy to hold and work with even for longer periods of time. But its best feature is the built-in standby function which automatically turns off the pen, putting it in standby after not being used for 5 minutes. This is great if you’re prone to forget the pen plugged in which can be not only a fire hazard but can also ruin the pen itself.
Like the pen before it, this one too allows users to control temperature directly, along with how much material is extruded from the pen. It can be safely used by kids as well, but with adult supervision as the nozzle can reach up to 60 degrees Celsius. It’s safe to touch after about 10 minutes of being left plugged out. Also, make sure to always detach the filament refill after use.
The power adapter for 110-240V, 10-gram loop of filament in different colors along with the pen are included in the package. The seller insists on you making sure you buy the product from reputable sources as others might not include its standard warranty and availability for service.
#8 Scribbler 3D Pen V3
A more potent 3D printing pen is the Scribbler 3D Pen V3. Potent because unlike its predecessors on this list, this one can take materials like wooden, bronze, flexible, PLA and ABS plastic filaments with the pen. This can be done through an interface which allows you to change the settings at which the pen operates though the OLED screen on the pen. Control everything from extrusion speed, temperature and operation mode with a simple push of a button.
This 3D pen runs with a USA power adapter UL standard, and needs 1.75mm filament sizes – it has 3 filaments included in the package. It comes in a bunch of colours and it’s tailored for both adult and child use. The ceramic nozzle is not only safer than copper ones, but it’s easier to clear and maintain in good shape for a longer period. Like the one before it, this also has a built-in safety feature which turns off the pen after it not being used for a couple of minutes. Last, but certainly not least, the seller offers a 30-day money back guarantee and an 180-day free replacement policy. It’s important to note that most sellers do no offer these things as most pens are not used properly, and the seller cannot be blamed for that and forced to pay the price. In the Scribbler 3D Pen V3’s case, however, the easy to follow instructions should protect you from improper use.
#8 Soyan 3D Printing Pen
Slim, comfortable to grip and hold, the Soyan 3D Printing Pen is one of the more simpler models on this list. And the price reflects this, making it one of the cheaper options as well. But the price does not reflect quality, as this is one of the most basic, yet durable and reliable pieces on this list.
Using regular 1.75mm filament which you can adjust the speed of extrusion of, you can create wonderful designs right out of the box. Check out the simple quick start guide included in the box for more details and enjoy the included 30g ABS filament. PLA filament can be used as well, but both customers and the seller agree that using ABS is safer and better for the pen.
#10 Manve Intelligent 3D Pen
Last on our list; we have yet another standard 3D printing pen: the Manve Intelligent 3D Pen. This pen is wonderful for people interested in exploring just what a 3D printing pen can do, and start messing around with designing stuff in a 3D setting instead of your regular 2D environment on the screen or paper.
Like other models, this pen will stop heating after 5 minutes of not being used to reduce the risk of it being left powered for long periods of time which can be a fire hazard and can also destroy the pen. It uses 1.75mm filament, which is the most common type so that you can mess around with many colours and material types. There’s an instruction manual included in the package which you should address before plugging it in and starting to use it.
As you can see from this list, the best 3D printing pens for 2018 can vary in more than one way. From the materials used, to the asking prices and even the technology employed to get the basic functionality of what you’d expect from a 3D pen, you have a lot to choose from. Going through this list while knowing what you’re looking for can ease your task significantly and get you the perfect 3D pen for your specific needs and wants.