3Doodler: The World's First 3D Printing Pen
It's a pen that can draw in the air! 3Doodler is the 3D printing pen you can hold in your hand. Lift your imagination off the page! Free yourself from the tyranny of paper and boring 2D. With a $75 pen you can draw in thin air. The 3Doodle pen, developed by US start-up WobbleWorks, works much like a handheld 3D printer. It contains a mains-powered heater that melts the plastic beads used in such printers. You can draw normally using the colourful plastic as your ink – but with a fantastic twist. Lift the nib in the air and a length of plastic exudes from the nib and solidifies, allowing you to create 3D objects by building up multiple wispy strands of plastic. The pen's key component is a tiny fan that cools the plastic as it leaves the nib. "This makes it solidify very quickly," says company spokesman Daniel Cowen. Intricate "drawings" of a peacock and the Eiffel Tower in the launch video show how well it works (see video). The firm launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund $30,000 towards its development programme this week. If it raises enough money, the 3Doodle should be ready for sale later this year. A battery-powered version should follow, says Cowen. "It's power usage means that a lot of work is needed for a wireless version - but that is in the works." Still, you need to be careful: although using it is child's play, the pen is a craft tool rather than a toy. Its nib melts plastic at a toasty 270 °C – as hot as a soldering iron. In the future, WobbleWorks might also make a version for creating food, letting people make lattice-structured sweets and candies. "We could in theory use the pen to melt sticks of sugar," says Cowen. "But we don't want to get into food safety issues just yet. We will be running some [food] tests soon - and we'd have to lower the temperature in the pen, too."
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