Although 3D printers have been out now for a few years and are gaining quite a lot of popularity, did you know that there’s a portable solution which is a lot cheaper? Let me introduce you to the world of 3D Pens and specifically the best ones for 2017.
But I can hear the voices of thousands crying out “What is a 3D pen?”, quite simply put this is a relatively new technology that has entered the market with quite some force. It has allowed people to explore their creative side in a whole new way without getting them to splash out hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a 3D printer.
- 1 What is a 3D Pen?
- 2 How does a 3D Pen Work?
- 3 Top 10 3D Pens 2017
- 4 1. AtmosFlare 3D Printing Pen Set (Editor’s Choice)
- 5 2. SketchPro 3D Drawing Pen
- 6 3. 3D Simo Mini
- 7 4. 7Tech 3D Printing Pen
- 8 5. Scribbler 3D Pen V3
- 9 6. Lay3r 3D Printing Pen – Best 3D Pen for Kids Award
- 10 7. MYNT3D 3D Printing Pen
- 11 8. Kuman 100B 3D Printing Pen
- 12 9. Soyan 3D Printing Pen (Budget Award)
- 13 10. 3Doodler
- 14 Buyer’s Guide to 3D Printing Pens
- 15 Summary
What is a 3D Pen?
Put simply a 3D pen is an electronic pen that allows the user to create 3D drawings and bring them to life with the use of plastic. They are typically speaking noticeably larger than a standard pen or pencil you might find in a classroom but that’s simply to accommodate the technology that’s required for them to work properly.
I imagine by this point you are very confused, how can you create a 3D object out of thin air by simply drawing? This brings me onto the next common question.
How does a 3D Pen Work?
Let’s start with the absolute basics here, there is no ink within these pens and the equivalent used is plastic filaments. Once you have fed the 3D pen with these filaments they will then be heated up via a heating element inside the pen to the point where they turn into a liquid state.
For a brief video demonstration of a generic 3D printer pen we recommend watching this.
Once the plastic filaments have turned into liquid you can start to create anything you can imagine, there really is no limit. Think of it as a way to bring your 2D drawings to life in three dimensions.
The best and most common comparison is between a 3D pen and a hot glue gun you would typically find in a school, the technology and principles behind these are virtually identical to a 3D pen.
Although the technology is relatively new the market has already been flooded with hundreds of different models, some fantastic and others potentially hazardous so we thought it would be best to guide you along and help decide which 3D pen is best for you.
A lot of 3D printing pens also have the ability to change their operating temperatures and extrusion speed, this allows you to have a great amount of precision when designing and creating 3D objects.
Top 10 3D Pens 2017
To help make the decision easier we have compiled a list of the top 10 3D pens that you can currently purchase, we’ve made sure to include all of the relevant and vital information that any prospective buyer could ever need to know.
Alongside this, we have put in our two cents about what it’s really like to use each pen and how it would cope with use on a daily basis.
So let’s get right into finding which 3D pen is best for your needs.
|3D Pen||Weight||Temperature Controls||LCD/LED Display|
|Atmos Flare 3D Printing Pen Set|
|SketchPro 3D Drawing Pen||453 grams||Y||Y|
|3D Simo Mini||40 grams||Y||N|
|7Tech 3D Printing Pen||65 grams||Y||Y|
|Scribbler 3D Pen V3||67 grams||Y||Y|
|Lay3r 3D Printing Pen |
(Best 3D Pen for Kids)
|MYNT3D 3D Pen||272 grams||Y||Y|
|Kuman 100B 3D Pen||200 grams||Y||Y|
|Soyan 3D Printing Pen|
|381 grams||Y||LED Indicators|
1. AtmosFlare 3D Printing Pen Set (Editor’s Choice)
Going back to the world of recently developed 3D pens we now find ourselves with the AtmosFlare 3D pen that is coming into the market with its own unique technology that has been developed to provide a safe and efficient solution.
Aside from being a fairly bulky pen we actually found it to be rather comfortable and surprisingly enough it’s actually a wireless 3D pen which is virtually unheard of simply because the power output required generally goes above and beyond what a typical AA or AAA battery can output.
Saying that we were ecstatic to have a wireless 3D pen as all of the previous best 3D pens we’ve reviewed were at times awkward due to the length of their power cables. Not only does this product being wireless mean you aren’t aggravated by a cable every few seconds but it means you can take it anywhere with you and 3D print as much as you want without the need for a plug socket.
So how does it work?
Quite simply this 3D pen does not use traditional plastic filament which it then melts in order to craft 3D models, there is a special ink which you have to buy that instantly hardens when exposed to UV light and yes you guessed correctly, AtmosFlare has a built in UV light that it shines on this ink. The only downside we can see to this method of 3D printing is that you can’t simply buy the readily available plastic filaments that most other pens on this list use which can be quite expensive in the long run and you might not get every color you are hoping for.
However, saying that you will be pleased to know that the ink currently comes in 12 different colors and the actual pen set itself is incredibly cheap and comes in at currently $23.99.
Another major benefit of using this method of creating a 3D model is that there is no heat involved which means you can play with and touch your creation instantly, since this pen is great for children (aged 12 and above) it’s another worry off your mind as there is virtually no risk of them burning themselves with this 3D pen.
Here are a few other features you can expect to get with the AtmosFlare 3D Printing Pen:
Huge Knowledge Base – The website for this product is just bursting full of content to help get you started and also explain the technology behind this pen in case you aren’t too sure on how it all works. There are even a few tutorial videos if you really get stuck and just need a helping hand.
Can be Used on a Variety of Surfaces – Thankfully the ink used for this pen does not conflict with any other materials so you can build your next project on paper, plastic, wood and really whatever you can find as a suitable platform.
Simple to Clean – Unlike plastic filament residue which can sometimes be an absolute pain to get rid of, the formulated ink of the AtmosFlare can be removed with the use of either hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol.
Overall we have decided to include the AtmosFlare on our best 3d pens list quite simply down to the innovative design and unique selling point that it’s offering to customers. We also love the fact that it removes the heating element out of 3D printing as this has always been the largest safety concern for users, especially children.
Stepping away from the innovation we still find ourselves using a great 3D pen that is a great starting point for any new beginner or expert.
The SketchPro 3D printing pen is quite simply a great place for any person to start and get themselves involved in 3D printing.
The slim design is comfortable to use for most hand sizes and very maneuverable when it comes to creating complex shapes or patterns. It comes equipped with a vibrant LED screen that makes it simple for any user to monitor and control the temperature, feed settings and much more.
The ergonomic design of the pen provides you with a comfortable grip that will feel familiar.
This pen currently comes in three different colors:
Here is the full list of features that you can expect to receive and what they all do:
Automatic Standby Mode – If you do not use the pen for a total of 90 seconds then the automatic standby mode will kick in and will start to cool down the pen in order to prevent any potential burning.
Quick Cleaning – Whilst 3D pens can be quite a messy adventure the SketchPro has a built-in mechanism that allows you to very quickly and efficiently clean the product when filament starts to settle in every crevice.
Large and Vibrant LED Screen – This across every 3D pen is our favorite feature to have, it allows you to safely and efficiently monitor the temperature of the pen and also the rate at which the filament is being extruded at. If for whatever reason anything is wrong then you can simply toggle the settings to your preferred state.
Ease of Access – The buttons located on this 3D pen are very simple and straightforward in use. The heating element installed also very quickly heats up the filament in just over 1 minute, if you need to change out the filament then the built in mechanism means it will take you just a few seconds to do so.
As an added bonus you will also receive a useful 100-page e-book that comes with 100 stencils that range from beginner difficulty to expert.
Overall it’s a pleasant 3D pen to use and hold, it’s an easy to use 3D pen so newcomers and experts alike will have no difficulty in getting to grip with this product.
3. 3D Simo Mini
Whilst this 3D pen initially started out as a Kickstarter project, it quickly gained traction and managed to gain a funding of $229,958 from 1,822 backers which is incredible. The main reason for such a large amount of support was simply because this 3D pen was highly innovative and promised to deliver where other pens did not, for example one of the unique selling point’s for this 3D pen was that it was entirely modulated and you could re-purpose it if you wanted to.
With a few simple modules added on the 3D Simo Mini can turn into the following tools:
- Soldering Iron
You will be provided with the appropriate modules upon purchasing this product to make the tools above a reality, so there’s no need to spend any extra cash.
Another key selling point of this 3D pen was that it came with a fully developed mobile app, which connects through Bluetooth, that currently works on iOS, Android and Windows smartphones, while the application itself doesn’t provide you with a huge amount of customisation options it does allow you to make basic changes such as which profile the 3D pen is currently using, if you are really interested in knowing more about what the app can provide once you’ve purchased the pen make sure to check out the numerous tutorial videos online that go into detail about pretty much everything that’s possible on the app.
The learning curve isn’t too steep with this pen, although complete beginners may struggle a little bit, and so can be picked up by relatively newcomers to 3D pens and also veterans who are pretty well aware of what’s possible and how to achieve it.
Whilst this pen does come packing with a whole host of features it doesn’t actually set you back that much money, you can pick up one of these from only $129 which is an absolute bargain considering the tech involved and what you are getting.
Overall it’s a fantastic 3D pen that offers something no other pen does and all at an affordable price, what more could you really ask for?
Let’s make things super simple and look at a 3D pen which has been built from the ground up for one simple purpose, to be the most user-friendly pen to use. There are a wide variety of features that this pen comes with, most notably the silent mode which can be quite appealing for artists who wish to work in peace. What really amazed us about this pen is quite simply the fact that all of the extra features implemented haven’t actually made the pen any harder to use, in fact they’ve actually made it a lot easier especially for beginners.
Here are the top features in the 7Tech 3D Printing Pen:
- Thermal control (allows you to manage the temperature of the pen)
- A notification system that alerts you when there is filament stuck
- Extrusion control (allows you to control the flow of filament out of the pen)
- Auto standby mode (this prevents any unnecessary burn damage as the pen will start to shut down after 5 minutes of inactivity)
- 1 year warranty (this is honestly quite a bonus that most 3D printing pens don’t come with)
The only downsides that we could see to this 3D printing pen were that it did get exceptionally hot under full load so you have to be extra vigilant and make sure any part of your body makes contact with the nib. We also recommend sourcing your own filament as any you get bundled in with the pen aren’t amazing and there isn’t much included either.
The slender body of the pen makes it comfortable to use for the majority unless you have particularly large hands.
Overall it’s a well built 3D printing pen that comes with a whole host of features you would not typically expect to see especially for the incredibly low price that it’s being sold for. It’s a solid recommendation from us and for absolute beginners to 3D printing there really is no better place to start than the 7Tech
Currently one of the highest rated 3D printing pens on the market is the renowned Scribbler 3D Pen, although the design might at first seem a bit strange to you please note that it’s been ergonomically designed to offer a truly special feel to it.
Variety is the spice of life, and what better way to demonstrate it than for the Scribbler 3D pen to come in these 8 different colors:
- Blue Metallic
- Silver Metallic
However please note that the color of the 3D pen does not limit which color plastic filaments you can use.
Upon testing the Scribbler 3D pen we noticed that it’s quite a lot lighter than the majority of pens on this top 10 list, it also comes with a quick and simple method of replacing the filament when you run out.
Thankfully the temperature settings on this pen allow you to use both PLA and ABS filaments so you’re not stuck for choice there, the convenient LED screen will always display the current temperature and extrusion speed of the 3D printing pen. Please note that you can change both of these settings on the fly as and when needed through the easy to use buttons next to the screen, the Scribbler 3D pen comes with 6-speed settings to suit your preference.
We haven’t got much to say on any negatives apart from it might take certain users a few hours to get to grips with how the pen holds as it’s not a conventional method to most other 3D printing pens. It is a fraction higher in price than some of the other 3D pens we have on this list but not so much that it should ever be a dealbreaker.
In summary, our review of the Scribbler 3D Printing Pen shows that this current revision has a whole host of features and all of them are good, there are very few downsides to this product bar the type of grip you will need to apply and also the ever so slightly inflated price.
6. Lay3r 3D Printing Pen – Best 3D Pen for Kids Award
Now bear with me because I know what you’re thinking, this 3D printing pen looks incredibly simple and lacking in features when you compare it to some of the other products we have on our list. You will be correct in saying that there aren’t many features but that doesn’t make it any less of a fantastic 3D pen that is the perfect gift to unleash the creativity in your children (12 years and older).
If not your children then why not buy this for yourself to just simply doodle wherever you want to, the possibilities are endless and the simplicity of this particular 3D printing pen makes it so that literally any type of user (beginner to expert) can just pick it up and start creating masterpieces.
The design of this pen, in some ways, is a complete polar opposite to the Scribbler 3D pen V3 because it’s incredibly simple and quite hefty but even so we had no issues with handling or grip whatsoever during our review.
There are two primary safety features installed within this 3D printing pen and they are:
Internal Fan – This is used to ensure that the pen always stays in a safe and optimal temperature even when it’s under a large amount of stress
Automatic Standby Mode – This is another 3D printing pen which comes with our favorite feature, the automatic standby mode which after a given period of time shuts the pen down to help prevent any sort of injury.
The additional one year warranty that comes with the pen is a welcome bonus in our books and so it should be in yours, typically speaking this type of product would not come with any warranty.
Overall this 3D printing pen is a breath of fresh air into the market and although we do strongly recommend it for kids (12 years and older) there is nothing stopping an adult enjoying this wonderfully simple and safe way to create 3D objects.
It’s always encouraging to see more and more competition enter a market, it just simply means that the end user (you) will end up getting better and better products at much lower costs. So without further ado let’s introduce you to the latest 3D printing pen to enter the fray, the MYNT3D 3D printing pen.
This pen comes absolutely packing with a whole host of features at a very affordable price! To kickstart these features off let’s talk about the OLED screen which helps you to monitor the current temperature of the 3D pen to ensure nothing gets too hot or even too cold.
There are two easy to use buttons located next to the OLED screen which allows you to regulate the temperature of the 3D printing pen between 130 degrees celsius and 240 degrees celsius. This is a considerable amount of control over the thickness of plastic filament that extrudes from the pen however, as this pen does not feature any form of standby mode we thoroughly recommend you are cautious of the temperature you set the pen to when not in heavy use.
There is also a “double-tap” button located on the pen which if activated will enable the continuous flow mode, this is just in case you get a bit bored of holding the buttons all the time.
A lightweight and familiar design allows ease of use no matter your age or skill, so we would recommend this as a great 3D pen for kids. The price is not that bad either, it comes in at around the $70 mark which is quite typical of 3D pens that we have reviewed on this list.
The only one small complaint that we have about this product is some users have reported issues with plastic filaments getting jammed however, we did not experience any of this during our review and we put it through an extensive test to make sure it could withstand a serious printing session.
The Kuman 100B 3D Printing Pen is arguably the complete package when it comes to product, customer satisfaction and peace of mind. This is the first 3D pen we’ve reviewed that came with an incredible amount of friendly customer support whenever we had an issue with the pen and the 12-month warranty will provide you with a guarantee that you’ve bought a product that will last the test of time.
The design of the Kuman 100B is quite conventional to a normal pen design with just a slightly bulkier body that might put off a few customers although we found it perfectly usable during our review with no issues whatsoever.
The most useful feature we found on this 3D pen was the inclusion of an LCD screen that showed us the current temperature, speed and filament. This one feature makes it a very user-friendly product for beginners as there is no guess work involved with important figures.
The heating element found in the Kuman 100B is pretty impressive and during our review we found that it could heat up the plastic filament incredibly quickly which is again another positive for beginners as you can literally create 3D objects within mere minutes.
Here are the other features you will find with this 3D printing pen:
Auto Standby Mode – After just idling for 5 minutes the Kuman 100B will go into standby mode to help prevent any injuries occurring.
Filament Jamming Detection – If this 3D pen detects that the plastic filament is jamming then it will alert you through the LCD screen.
Temperature Controls – The heating temperature is adjustable and ranges from 160 celsius to 230 celsius, this allows for greater versatility in plastic filament thickness.
Alongside all of these features located on the actual 3D pen, you’ll also receive the following from Kuman:
E-book – This product comes equipped with a useful e-book that has a whole range of 3D stencils to help get you started. It’s a great way to introduce a complete beginner into the world of 3D printing pens.
Fantastic Customer Support – Whilst there are a lot of companies out there who ship defective 3D pens that break within a month or two and then offer no customer care, Kuman genuinely cares about their customers and if anything was to go wrong then you can simply contact one of their representatives who will be more than happy to assist you.
Overall it’s not just a great 3D printing pen but we are ecstatic about the company as well and what they offer in return for the purchase of their product, truly amazing.
9. Soyan 3D Printing Pen (Budget Award)
If build quality is of great importance to you when buying any type of product then you’ll want to check out the Soyan 3D printing pen, while the design of the pen would be considered quite bulky we actually found it quite easy to use and fairly comfortable but if you are someone who has smaller hands then you might want to stay clear of this one.
One feature we were disappointed to not see on this 3D printing pen was the inclusion of an LCD display, whilst there are LED light indicators to tell you the current state of the pen it’s a cheap alternative which isn’t always that effective.
We were pleased to find that it does include features such as changeable extrusion speed which will allow you to either pump out the filament at a faster or slower rate depending on what type of object you are creating.
For some reason with this 3D pen the filament came out and hardened almost instantly which made it very easy to draw objects that required a lot of vertical elements. There is also a button which you can press that removes all excess filament from the pen if you wish to change colors halfway through an object you are creating.
This is another pen that lives by the phrase “variety is the spice of life” as it comes in a whole range of colors such as:
When purchasing this product we noticed that there was an odd strand of filament left in the nozzle, this is nothing to be concerned about and your device has NOT been tampered with. Soyan tests each 3D printing pen before sending it out to customers, this helps to ensure that everyone will receive a product that is in working order.
Soyan also include a quick start guide to help complete beginners get into this new craze, it also makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for kids as they get ideas to help kickstart their creativity.
Due to the exceptionally low price of this 3D pen we thoroughly recommend it as the go-to place for anyone who wants to get into 3D printing but doesn’t want to invest too much, it’s also a well-priced product for education purposes such as classrooms.
Overall it’s a very solid product that is tested before shipped, which is quite rare, and comes in with enough features to get anyone up and running with their own creations. Although we would like to see some extra features for the price that its being sold it we really can’t complain too much.
Let’s take a moment and step away from brand new 3D pens and go back in time to the first pen that hit the market. Whilst this is the second revision thankfully, the first was plagued with issues, we are looking at the founding father of 3D pens.
Yet again this was another crowdfunded project that took the world by storm as it was offering an entirely new technology. Having raised over $1.5 million you can quickly see that this was a popular product with the masses.
As mentioned earlier the first generation of the 3Doodler was full of issues such as:
- The pen would occasionally get clogged up of plastic filament
- Maintaining an optimal temperature was a struggle for the pen and had to constantly pause to get the heat back up
The most recent version of the 3Doodler is a warm welcome to the market, it’s essentially taken everything great about the first generation without including any of the shortcomings. It was also manufactured in a much sleeker case with multiple options for nozzles in case you are feeling creative.
Additional extras, like the battery pack, are a great addition if you wish to use the pen for up to three hours per session.
The beauty of this 3D pen can be found in the simplicity of it all, there are no fancy features included and what you get is essentially everything you will ever need for basic 3D drawing. There’s even a continuous flow feature built in and activated through double tapping the feed button.
Overall it’s an incredibly simple and user-friendly 3D pen that has every feature you will ever need but not necessarily want. It’s well priced and is friendly for even the tightest budgets, our only complaint is that the nozzle of the pen is a bit too fragile and is prone to breaking under pressure. Extra nozzles provides us with the versatility missed from the 1st generation and a better design with sturdy manufacturing has taken away many of the underlying issues from the first model.
Buyer’s Guide to 3D Printing Pens
We understand how confusing and complex this top 10 list might be for some of our readers, that’s why we have compiled a very brief buyer’s guide on things to take note of when considering what the best 3D pen for you is.
Here are the main features you should look out for when buying a 3D pen:
Additional Controls – Since the primary function of a 3D pen is to melt the plastic filament you place into it. We always find both temperature controls and extrusion speed controls essential to the whole experience of using a 3D pen. While these features may prove to be a bit intimidating for absolute beginners we recommend understanding the different settings as soon as possible as it will give you a greater amount of control over the objects you create.
Design – Although it might not always seem that important, having an ergonomic design is crucial for long sessions of 3D printing as you’ll want your hand to stay as comfortable as possible. Generally speaking, if the 3D pen isn’t specifically ergonomically designed then you’ll want to aim at getting something that is slimmer opposed to bulky. If there are temperature or extrusion controls then make sure these are easy to access as there will come a time when you need to use them on-the-fly. If possible we would always recommend for you to try out the 3D pen you are looking to buy before actually doing so, this will provide you with a hands on experience that you can use to judge whether or not it’s the right product for you.
Filament Types – Generally speaking most 3D pens will accept the majority of plastic filaments out on the market, however it’s best to check this before hand as some artists prefer certain filament types for their properties. Another key point on filaments is to check and see how easy it is to replace them in the 3D pen as you will be doing this a lot throughout your 3D printing. The 4 primary filament types are:
Check, Research and Evaluate Reviews – This point cannot be stressed further, when purchasing anything online for the first time it’s highly advisable that you consult the internet for an hour or so checking reviews thoroughly to make sure you know what you will receive and if it’s what you are looking for. Always be slightly suspicious of anything you see posted online especially reviews located on company’s websites simply because it’s incredibly easy for someone to fake all of them and provide you with a false hope that the company is credible.
While 3D printers are the much better choice overall, a lot of people simply don’t have the money for such products and want to create and share their visions on a budget. That’s why 3D printing pens are an amazing route for those people to take as they provide hours worth of fun for a budget friendly price that won’t break the bank.
They are also extremely portable and can even be used in an educational scenario for teaching.
Bear in mind that the market is still relatively new and innovations are constantly being made, so make sure to watch out and keep re-checking our list of the best 3D pens.
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