At this point, there are so many viral videos and gifs of people creating amazing art with a 3d pen, that you have a pretty good idea what it’s used for. It’s used for awesomeness!
But how do they work?
Well, imagine if you will that you’re a crazy person and decided instead of ink to fill your pen with plastic. But you discover you can’t really draw with hard plastic filament, so you being a crazy person just turn the inside of the pen into an oven, in order to melt the plastic. Congratulations you’re no longer insane, you’re the genius inventor of the 3d pen!
Or you just applied the common Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3d printer technology to a pen, who knows?
There is, however, another technology used to make 3d pens, called “Cool Ink”. It’s newer, rarer and in some aspects better than FDM. If the finished products were a bit more durable it would be perfect. Also, I’m pretty sure that one is not invented by crazy people. It uses LEDs to harden photopolymers, so there is no heat, no smell of melted plastic and no burning your fingertips, which makes ‘Cool ink’ pens perfect for kids and clumsy adults like me. Sadly, there aren’t many manufacturers who use that technology for now, so we don’t have much choice in brand and model if we want a Cool Ink 3d printing pen.
If you’re an aspiring artist or just someone who likes cool stuff, chances are, you have a 3d pen or you’re looking to buy one. And although they are pretty new to the market, there are already hundreds of choices, so we comprised a short list to help you decide what’s best for you.
Best 3D pen 2017 – List
|3Doodler - Create||3mm. ABS, PLA, FLEXY||Light indicator||Check Price|
|3Dsimo mini (editor's choice)||1.75mm. ABS, PLA, Marble, Nylon, Wood, PETG, Termochrome, Metal, Gold||Yes||Check Price|
|MYNT3D||1.75mm. ABS, PLA, etc.||Yes||Check Price|
|CreoPop 3D||"Cool Ink"||No||Check Price|
|Scribbler 3D V3||1.75mm. ABS, PLA, etc.||Yes||Check Price|
Best 3D pen 2017 – Reviews
If you want something reliable, there’s The 3Doodler. It was the first and the one people think of when you say 3d pen. At least the first iteration. There were huge Kickstarter campaigns for the 3Doodler 1.0 and 2.0, along with partnerships with artists, which are the reason 3D pens are as big as they are today.
Those pens, however, weren’t without their flaws. The 1.0 had prototype level quality and the 2.0 while much better still had some problems. Now we have the 3Doodler Create, which is the 3rd generation 3Doodler and the most refined 3d pen ever created.
The design is sleek and light. The body is made from aluminum and comes in five colors.The pen is comfortable to hold and simple to use, the print button sits right under the index finger. Pressing it once starts printing, pressing again stops, and a double click reverses direction.
It has over 65 colors to choose from and can use 3 types of filament – ABS, PLA and FLEXY (I’ll explain the difference later in the article) and two heat settings. There are a ton of accessories it and the user community is well-developed, offering stencils, templates, and tutorials help get the most out of your pen.
The 3Doodler – Create is without a doubt one of the best 3D pens on the market today.
3Dsimo mini is the most multifunctional 3d pen there is. That is because in addition to 3D drawing it can be used for burning, cutting and soldering! You just need to change one attachment and you have a different instrument. Each adapter is equipped with automatic detection and parameters configuration. These functions, while useful by themselves give astonishing results when used together. Check out this video to see what i mean.
Another feature unique to the 3Dsimo Mini is the App. It can be used to adjust attachment settings and to make different profiles for each one. You can also find many tutorials, templates and preset material profiles for 3D drawing. The App has iOS, Android and Windows Phone versions, so you shouldn’t have any problems installing it on your phone or tablet. If you find yourself without your phone nearby, the pen has a display where you can choose from preset basic material profiles.
The pen is very light, thin and easy to hold and use. If you’re not a fan of cords and cables, there is a powerpack you can buy. It is lightweight and has magnetic connectors so it can never be connected wrong (due to polarization magnets).The battery is able to power the 3Dsimo mini for 90-120 min.
The 3Dsimo Mini looks so good and can do so much that there wasn’t a way for me, to not include it in The Best 3D printing pen 2017 list.
It says it in the title, MYNT3D is a professional pen, and as professional 3d pens go you won’t find more reliable product at such a competitive price. Of course, those reasons aren’t enough to include it in the Best 3D pen 2017 list, so what else can it offer?
The MYNT3D uses 1.75mm filaments, which are faster and cheaper than the 3mm. The speeds are stepless, meaning you use a slider to set the speed to slow, fast and anywhere in between. The OLED display lets you monitor the material’s temperature, and that’s important because it can be set anywhere between 130 and 240° C. This means you can not only use ABS (210° C) and PLA (175° C), but any 1.75 plastic as long as it melts in the range of 130 – 240° C.
The pen has an ergonomic shape and is very light, which allows for better movement and maneuverability than larger, heavier designs. On the flip side, due to the thin body, the handle can get uncomfortably hot when using higher temperatures for a longer time.
The MYNT3D Professional 3d printing pen is a good choice for artist and engineers. Due to higher levels of customisation, it’s learning curve is a little steeper than other pens, but it’s still fairly easy to use.
Another crowdfunded project. You may be wondering, why would people fund the same thing twice? Well, there are two huge differences between the CreoPop 3D and the 3Doodle.
The first difference is that Creopop was the first 3d pen to use the “Cool Ink” technology. There’s no clogging, no heat and no melted plastic, which makes this pen the perfect choice for children. This technology also opens the door to body painting, something you could never do with a ‘traditional’ 3d pen.
The second, Creopop 3D is cordless. You just charge the battery like you would a smartphone and start creating whatever comes to your mind.
Much of the value of that pen comes from the different types of ink you can use. I’m not talking about sparkling or translucent ink. This 3d pen also has fragrant, temperature- sensitive, magnetic and conductive inks. The possibilities are Mind Blowing!
The design, while thick is still sleek, the weight is balanced and the pen is easy to hold, There is one drawback, the supported ink is provided only by the manufacturer of the pen.
In conclusion, the CreoPop 3D is innovative, perfect for kids and allows for tons of creativity in a niche where creativity is king!
If I had to pick one thing that sets this pen apart from the competition it would be build quality. The Scribbler 3D V3 is one of the best build 3d pen on the market today, and I’m gonna tell you why.
Its body is made of entirely of ceramics, which means the pen doesn’t get hot even at the highest temperature settings, making it a good choice for kids. It also won’t jam because it has an unclogging mechanism.
The Scribbler 3D has a big OLED screen which gives you control over all details of your drawing experience from temperature and feed settings to material type options. The temperature can be set anywhere between 140 and 240° C, so the pen can use wide variety of filaments, as long as they are 1.75mm. The speed control is step-less which is also nice.
The pen comes in seven colors and the design is sleek and attractive. While the bulky shape might lead you to think the pen is heavy, it actually weighs only 2.6 oz.
The Scribbler 3D Printing Pen V3 comes with 30 days money back guarantee, 6 month warranty and the customer service team is US based. If you want something well made, this is your choice.
Notable mentions that didn’t make the list
Now i will address some pens that didn’t make it into the Best 3d pen list but are pretty popular on the market.
Lix 3d pen
Many people were excited when the lix pen Kickstarter campaign started, but now the opinions on the matter are more polarized. Lix 3d was supposed to be the smallest 3d pen ever created and delivered. It’s as small as a normal pan and as comfortable.
Some users love and swear by The Lix 3D, but for a large portion of the buyers the pen stopped working shortly after the purchase or didn’t work from the start. In addition to build quality, there were also problems with returns. Now there is a new version out that is supposed to be better, but until some time passes and it proves itself i can’t recommend purchasing that pen.
If you’ve purchased the lix 3d 2.0 or you know someone that did, please tell me about your impressions in the comments.
If you’re interested in 3d printers, chances are you’re familiar with XYZprinting. This is their take on the 3d pen. It’s pretty basic, light, well-built product. Works only with the non-toxic PLA filament. The pen comes with cleaning and maintenance tools, which is always nice. The nozzle can get pretty hot, making the da Vinci 3D Pen unsuitable for children. For less than 40$ this pen is a good choice If you’re on a budget.
This pen comes with an OLED display, temperature control within 1-degree increments and you can adjust flow speeds. Works only with PLA filament, but compensates with slim and ergonomic design. It’s a solid choice, but if I was buying something in this price range i would just spend 20$ more and get the MYNT3D.
The 3D pen allows you to draw in the air and that is not a small feet. The technology behind it is fairly complicated, so there are some factors you should know about before buying a 3D pen. I will cover here filament types, control system, design, weight, brand, the material type used for the pen and warranty.
Filament type: Unless you decide on the Creopop 3D, which works only with their brand’s ‘Cool Ink”, you have to consider what type of thermoplastic filament you want. The two most common types are ABS and PLA. I recommend using one of them because they’re easiest to find. I prefer PLA.
- PLA (Polylactic acid) – it doesn’t give off any bad smell when used for printing something. Because of this property, it is safer for use in classrooms, home, and any other public places. There’s no toxicity to it and the melting point is only 175° C, making it a better choice if the pen will be used by kids. The final structures made with PLA filament come out refined and rigid. This filament is biodegradable, developed from renewable resources like sugarcane and corn starch, hence it’s environment-friendly and also known as “the Green Plastic”.
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) – this plastic is cheaper, more flexible and slightly more durable than PLA. It’s the same plastic used to make LEGO, the keys on your keyboard, for your wall socket, etc. On the downside, during melting it releases intense fumes. It’s soluble in acetone, making it dangerous if swallowed! The final product may warp or curl and its melting point is fairly high, at 210° C.
Due to some product descriptions i’ve seen, i feel obligated to say : NON-TOXIC ABS does NOT exist!
Control system: The more control you have over the pen the better. The two things you’ll want control are excursion speed and temperature. Stepless speed control is better for advanced users, but if you’re a novice preset speeds are easier to tune. It’s the same with temperature. If you don’t have much experience or you’re using only PLA or/and ABS, pens that use buttons to switch to preset modes will work ok for you. Otherwise, I recommend buying a pen that allows adjustments in 1-degree increments or something that allows setting up custom modes like the 3Dsimo mini.
Design: Comfort and ergonomics are key. The pen should be light and balanced. The tip has to be able to draw at sharp angles. Usually, ergonomic pens are good looking but if you have to choose between looks and comfort, choose comfort because creating something with a 3D pen isn’t a fast process. It’s important for the pen to have LDC display if it can set custom temperatures, but LED indicator works fine otherwise.
Brand: With a known brand you know what to expect in quality. 3Doodler and Scribbler 3D are well-known and have good warranty policies. XYZprinting has reputation in 3D printers and that tells you what can you expect from their pen. Brands like 3Dsimo mini and Creopop 3D don’t have big companies standing behind them but they compensate with incredible innovation. Look at the products for yourself, false marketing is not uncommon and there are many Chinese knockoffs on the market.
Reviews: Check the customer reviews before buying. Generally, you want the product to have more than 20. Don’t put your trust in 5-star reviews that praise the pen like it’s the best thing ever, they’re often paid by the manufacturer or written by extremely loyal fans that refuse to see anything wrong with their favorite brand. Often the same goes for 1-star reviews, for the opposite reason. Look for nuance.