During my internship with Dutch Designer Michiel Cornelissen, I had the opportunity to experiment with and review the 3Doodler – 3D printing pen.
I first heard about this product during the Kickstarter project for the new and smaller Lix – 3D printing pen. Initially, the idea of a 3D printing pen sounded like a fantastic product idea and I felt it would fit well into the 3D printing market which, is booming at the moment. With proper product design execution and technical consideration to the extrusion process, it could potentially allow users to produce three-dimensional sketches, supplementing the design process.
However, I have to admit, I also had initial reservations, believing that 3D printing or applying the FDM process to a pen, may lose the key element of what makes 3D printing so successful: its ability to print three-dimensional objects with a high level of precision. By removing the computer, printer, CAD files and modelling software, and introducing human error, the process becomes inconsistent and inaccurate.
Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed when I began to use the 3Doodler. The product itself was simple enough to use, with a fast and slow extrusion, a setting for PLA and ABS, a reverse option and heating light. However, the pen was large and cumbersome and I found it very hard to construct anything three-dimensional.
My biggest issue was with the extrusion cut off point: to stop extrusion, one would simply let go of the button, but, the plastic would still slightly extrude and drag, meaning I had to guess the length of time for each extrusion and clean up the plastic afterwards, not ideal. The only positive I found with this product was that you could draw onto paper without it sticking and when enough pressure was applied (and the extrusion did not curl up on itself), you could draw reasonable flat designs or text.
So overall, I am pleased that I did not personally invest my money into this product. I still believe this could be an exciting product for the 3D printing market, even if it is limited, but this particular product was disappointing. I hope that the slimmer, LIX pen, will have resolved some the issues mentioned in this post.