Up until now in our articles on 3D printing we concerned ourselves with fully functional decent-sized 3D printers and even with 3D printing on a grand scale, such as 3D printing of multi-story houses. However, decent-sized 3D printers come with decent price tags, not to mention all the horsing around that is sometimes required to get them decently working, producing decent results. For all the recent development in 3D printing, it is not yet the mass thing it is expected to grow into in the nearest future, when 3D printers will become another regular item of every household. That’s why few people are ready to pay a considerable sum of money for such a machine of uncertain value, cutting-edge technology though it might be, and most of those who do buy 3D printers regard it as a hobby and not as something that will return the investment in money, time or comfort.
A 3D pen is a great solution for all those who are not yet ready to buy a 3D printer but are already eager to have fun making 3D objects out of plastic. As a rule, 3D pens are much cheaper than full-scale 3D printers: you can buy one for approximately $50 so that it will not hurt if you don’t find any real value in having one.
Essentially, 3D pens work just like regular extrusion deposition modeling 3D printers, only instead of leaving the job of moving the extruder (the pen) around to the computer, you have to do it manually. Using a 3D pen is extremely simple and learning it only takes a moment, basically you press a button and molten plastic is extruded from its working end. However, as you’ll soon see, it doesn’t mean that in a few minutes you’ve learned all there is to learned about the art of handling a 3D pen. Naturally, computer-controlled high-resolution mechanics is capable of handling an extruder much better than any human being possibly could, printing out things of such quality we find it hard to believe they came out of a 3D printer, even if we’ve just spent a few hours gazing entranced at the thing being printed.
But there are bright sides to this lack of functionality as well. For instance, drawing an object with your own hands can bring much more satisfaction than just hitting a few buttons so that your computer does it for you. There’s a challenge here, and there are few pleasures that can compare to the joy of overcoming a challenge and proudly gazing at the results of your hard work. The days when you could astonish anyone with a miniature Eiffel tower fresh out of your 3D printer are past, but one “drawn” by hand is a whole different matter.
Speaking of challenges, there are many clever tricks that can be invented and used to overcome the challenge of the limitations of a 3D pen. Figuring them out and using them can be quite a lot of fun. For instance, one of the basic tricks is to draw with a 3D pen on 2D sketches of a flat parts of whatever you want to create, then lift the details off the paper and assemble the 3D object from them, possibly using your 3D pen to “glue” them together.
But don’t just stop on flat details. For instance, you can use a wide variety of shapes, like using rectangular objects to form corners or in order to create empty spaces. If you think on it, you’ll find you’re only limited by your imagination… well, not only, but still the list of the things one can do with such simple device as a 3D pen is amazing.
Furthermore, you can be more artistic with a 3D pen, be creative, manifesting your inner world. Of course, creating a 3D model of something to be 3D printed on a 3D printer can also count as being creative, but with a 3D pen you get to interact with the material directly, in a, quite literally, first-hand experience.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments section.