Can you imagine using a pen to create any 3D object you can think of? Well, Boston-based WobbleWorks LLC has created just that -- a 3D printing pen. Coining itself as the most affordable way to 3D print, the 3Doodler pushes out heated plastic that quickly cools to create different shapes and objects.
When I first watched this pen in action I immediately wanted to try it, and the more I started to learn about it, the more I wanted to own one. I was obviously not alone, because it has raised over two million dollars on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter project began in late February and has far surpassed the original goal of $30,000 in funding.
The possibilities are endless with the 3Doodler pen. Online print-outs are available for more complicated projects like the Eiffel Tower. (Source: 3Doodler)
The 3Doodler uses 3mm ABS or PLA plastic, and you can really great creative because it's estimated a one-foot strand of plastic produces about 11 feet of product. The plastic is cool enough to touch once it leaves the pen, but the metal tip at the end of the pen really heats up, reaching temperatures up to 270C. The 3Doodler allows you to draw on surfaces or in the air, and you can even find print-out stencils online for more complicated projects -- like the Eiffel Tower.
The pen is compact at 180 mm x 24 mm, and WobbleWorks says it weighs less than an apple. The weight may change by the time it goes to production after the material for the shell of the pen is decided. Using a universal power supply, 3Doodler will work on 110V or 240V, and no software or computers are needed.
The objects created are described as strong and sturdy, and 3Doodle creations range from basic 3D models to jewelry and magnets. To create an even stronger object, you can go back and forth on the piece to increase its durability. The 3D pen works on most surfaces and can even be used for minor repair work. WobbleWorks also says they have ideas for add-ons and accessories that they would like to release to make the pen more useful. Their number one question from users is if the 3Doodler can print chocolate, sugar, and other types of food.
You can pre-order the 3Doodler and 10 bags of plastic for $99. It is expected to begin shipping in February 2014.
Excellent point, Al. This system could use the same business model that conventional printers now use: sell the "printer" for break-even or even a loss, and make the money off the sale of the printing material.
Apresher, then there will be a more subsidiaries for the materials. That's what happens to the inkjet printer market, now there are many refills to the HP branded printers with the half of the cost of a new HP cartridge.
We all tend to think about innovations like this as engineers. Try thinking like an artist about this product! It allows an artist accomplished in drawing, painting, etc. to readily transfer those skills to scultpure. To revert to engineering thinking, that's really just moving from a 2D world to a 3D one! My daughter-in-law, the graphic designer, would LOVE one of these toys!
This technology has all kinds of potential, especially if they are able to reduce the cost (maybe $59 for the pen) and then sell the material at higher prices. Not sure about the cost of the material itself but this is really cool stuff. Excellent post.