3Doodler in the background. Modified rubber duck showing what it can do in mid air. (via 3Doodler Kickstarter page)
3Doodler is the world’s first 3D printing pen. The project was started by WobbleWorks, an emergent toy company hailing from Boston, MA. After holding back from an initial launch date in December of 2012, the 3Doodler team was able to improve the quality of their original design and locate a manufacturing partner in China to bring the doodler pen’s 3D printing capabilities to the hands of eager artists. The 3Doodler is already available for pre-order on the company’s Kickstarter campaign for a mere $75. The impressive pen has been in such high demand that funding has exuberantly exceeded its $30,000 goal by over $1 million USD.
In essence, the 3Doodler is really more of a glorified hot glue gun than an actual 3D printer. However, the pen’s ability to create 3D plastic objects with the stroke of the wrist is still a rather impressive and attractive feature. By adaptively reusing the heat extrusion head from a 3D printer and packaging it into a pen-sized device, the doodler can be fed 3mm ABS or PLA plastic strands to “print” its solidified ink. Weighing less than 200 grams and measuring 180mm by 24mm, the 3Doodler is relatively easy to handle and even contains two buttons for switching from fast/slow plastic extrusion speed. Users (ages 12+) should take extra caution when 3D sketching to avoid injury from the pens’ metal tip which can reach temperatures up to 270C.
The pen can be used by 3D sketching on a flat surface, or, if you are feeling more adventurous, you can draw your way up vertically by using the slower extrusion speed. It may take some time to master, but the eventual creative opportunities are immeasurable.
For now, the 3Doodler needs to be plugged into a power outlet for use, though the company says it is planning on designing a battery operated version. The folks at WobbleWorks have tons of ideas for add-ons that are being worked on, including a holder to store the 3Doodler and its various pen tips. Eventually they would like to create an XYZ table for the 3Doodler that would allow the pen to be used as an actual component of a full 3D printer. Mention has also been made of a free-to-use stencil library that the 3Doodler can access and submit to - check out the impressive 3Doodled Eiffel Tower made by “welding” stencil drawings together over at the company’s Kickstarter page. They are already a breakout hit, surpassing $1M.
If you cannot wait to save up for a full 3D printer of your own, then maybe it’s time to test your penmanship by giving the 3Doodler a try.