What Are 3D Printing Pens?
The 3D printing industry has seen huge strides in recent years in terms of capabilities and accessibility. One of the neatest innovations to this field of limitless possibilities is the 3D pen. Not only can you use a normal 3D printer to create the designs and objects of your dreams, but you can now do so in thin air, from just the palm of your hand.
Because that’s basically what a 3D pen is — a miniature 3D printer that is controlled by you and your hand, just like a normal pen or pencil that you write with. Instead of using a computer and some high-tech software to control a 3D printer, the only limits to what you can do with a 3D pen are what you can do with your own drawing abilities.
Many people seem to think that 3D pens are only useful for children, and it’s more of a toy than an actual tool. But that’s not the case. Sure, they’re great for children as it helps them explore their imagination while also gaining a useful skill. But 3D pens can also be used by hobbyists and even professionals alike.
It just depends on which pen you buy, what you’re hoping to get out of it, and what the pen is capable of producing.
Best 3D Printing Pens
Now that you have a better idea of what 3D printing pens are, let’s get into the meat of the article. These are the best 3D printing pens on the market.
If you’ve spent some time perusing the web about 3D printing pens, then you’ve likely heard about 3Doodler. And if you’ve checked out any more articles like this one, you’ve probably seen the 3Doodler Create+ touted as the best 3D printing pen on the market. I can’t disagree with that and I think the 3Doodler Create+ is up there among the best, if not the best.
The 3Doodler Create+ uses an innovative Dual Drive technology to give you greater control of the feed rate and optimized temperature control so that you really have everything at your fingertips.
Designed to really make creating 3D drawn objects as easy as doodling, the 3Doodler Create+ even comes with an interactive mobile app with step-by-step instructions, photos, and tutorial videos. You can go from being a complete novice to having some amazing 3D objects created in no time at all with this complete 3D printing package.
Mynt3D Professional 3D Printing Pen
Mynt3D is one of the biggest names in the industry and the Mynt3D Professional Printing 3D Pen is our favorite offering that the company has. As the name implies, this pen is designed to be used by professionals and avid hobbyists alike. And with it’s relatively affordable price tag, it’s one of our favorite options on the market.
This pen from Mynt3D has adjustable feed rate and temperature so that you can get the perfect flow that you need. With 1° incremental adjustments, you can really dial it in and have the perfect settings to create the perfect design every time. And thanks to the OLED screen right on the pen, you can easily see what the material’s temperature is.
The ultra-thin design and ergonomic shape makes this pen feel comfortable in your hand and is super easy to use. If you have any portable battery packs, the easy-to-use power port is compatible with the most common inputs, making using it on the go a breeze. So get out there and create!
Although I have the 3Doodler Create+ above as just slightly edging out the competition, the Scrib3D Pen is right up there with it. This latest version of the 3D pen from the popular company, you’ll be able to get started right since everything you need (including sample filaments) is included with the purchase of the pen.
The Scrib3D Pen comes with variable speed control so that you only get as much plastic flowing as you want. And the adjustable temperature control allows you to have the perfect temperature for whatever project you’re working on. The LCD screen shows you the temperature and settings so you can make sure everything stays the way you want it.
This pen was designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind, with the shape designed specifically to fit the curvature of your hand. It uses a special soft touch surface to ensure maximum comfort so that you don’t get tired during those extended drawings sessions.
Mynt3D Super 3D Pen
The second entry from Mynt3D on this list, we have the affordable Mynt3D Super 3D Pen. In many ways, the Super 3D Pen is actually comparable to the aforementioned Pro 3D Pen from above. In fact, it uses the innovatve nozzle design and the same proprietary gearbox for precise speed control, making the Super 3D Pen nearly just as good for a slightly better price!
With this pen, however, you won’t get the OLED screen or the 1°-increment temperature adjustment. But you can still adjust the temperature for use of both ABD and PLA filaments via the temperature adjustment screw. For hobbyists, this feature is more than sufficient, and the OLED screen and temperature adjustment of the Pro 3D Pen is more geared towards the professionals in the crowd.
The 3D Super Pen is very easy to use, with two LED indicators guiding the way. The red indicator illuminates when the pen has power, and the green LED illuminates when heating mode has been enabled. Once both lights are on, you’re off to the races. So load in the filament of your choice, fire it up, and start turning your imagination into a reality.
SkyWriter 3D Pen
Next up is one of the more expensive 3D printing pens on the market, the SkyWriter 3D Pen. Depending on what kind of deal SkyWriter is offering at the time, you can expect to pay around $100 - $150 for this pen, which is towards the top end of what I would consider worth paying for a high-quality 3D pen.
Even though it’s expensive, the SkyWriter 3D Pen is one of the top options on the market. Its calling card is the ergonomic and lightweight design, weighing in at just 55 grams. This makes it one of the lightest pens on the market, which is great for longer projects so you won’t tire quite as easily.
It has 8 speeds of operation that can be quickly selected, and the automatic temperature control at the nozzle prevents clogging and keeps the filament flowing. You can either control the flow yourself or press one button for continuous flow so you can just concentrate on drawing. The many features make it worth the price tag and it should be at the top of your list.
Mynt3D Junior2 3D Pen For Kids
The first of two pens on this list designed for kids, the Mynt3D Junior2 Pen uses warm operation to ensure it’s safe for kids to use. While some parents may prefer only to get a cold pen for their kids, there are no external hot components or parts on this 3D pen from Mynt3D, so there shouldn’t be any risk of burns if used properly.
To remove the need for a wire, this pen comes with an internal rechargeable battery that just needs a Micro USB cable to get charged up. The battery is touted as long-lasting with the hope that it will last more than long enough for a project that a kid might be working on. That said, you should expect anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of use out of a full charge.
The Junior2 from Mynt3D uses a special nozzle design that prevents clogs, which can be a common issue with kids’ 3D pens since the temperatures are meant to be kept down. This is what makes it our favorite pen on the market for kids, just edging out the competition below.
3Doodler Start+ Essentials
As the second 3D printing pen designed specifically for kids, you can think of this one as the less impressive version of the 3Doodler Create+ from. With a price tag of $49.99, the 3Doodler Start+ Essentials is a bit on the expensive end for a kid's 3D pen, but it’s also arguably seen as the best option out there (as long as you get one that doesn’t keep getting clogged).
As it’s designed for kids, the 3Doodler Start+ Essentials 3D Pen is considered warm, rather than hot. It still melts the plastic inside and extrudes it at a warm temperature, but there are no hot parts, not even the tip. In fact, kids are able to (and encouraged to) mold their designs with their hands as needed, since the plastic will harden within a few seconds of extrusion.
Operation is easy, with the click of a button to start the flow of plastic. Wireless operation is also nice so there are no cumbersome wires getting in the way. The biggest downside is that this pen has a tendency to clog more than others, and you can’t take it apart yourself to fix it like you can with many of the other pens on the market. Additionally, you can only use 3Doodler Start plastic filaments that are designed specifically for this pen.
3D Printing Pen Buyer’s Guide
While you’re searching for the perfect 3D pen for yourself (or your kids), there are some kids you should keep in mind. These are the three most important factors in choosing the right 3D pen in our experience.
Hot, Cold, or Warm Operation
Although this might sound like some special 3D printing lingo that you don’t know of, this descriptor of 3D pens is much simpler than that. Hot, cold, or warm operation refers to how hot the pen actually gets during normal use, due to how it works and also what type of plastic and other insulating materials are used.
Hot and warm pens operate much like a hot glue gun, melting the plastic filament and extruding it through a hot tip. The biggest difference here is that warm pens typically use more plastic or insulation to keep the pen much cooler so that it’s more suitable for children. Many of the cheaper pens designed for kids use a chemical reaction to produce the “melted” plastic effect, and the pen doesn’t actually get hot — these are of course known as cold pens.
In most cases, hot and warm pens are able to produce much better final products than cold pens. But kids should not use hot pens unsupervised, and maybe not even warm ones!
This one should be somewhat obvious, but it’s important to pay attention to. In this article, we’ve mentioned the various target groups that certain pens are designed for, and it’s important to keep this in mind. The most obvious group of target users for some of the 3D printing pens in this guide is kids, since it will usually say somewhere on the packaging itself that it’s aimed at kids.
This is great if you’re looking for an affordable pen that’s geared toward kids, but these pens usually have the lowest ceiling of capability. So if you’re a professional or a designer looking for high-quality work, then a 3D pen for kids won’t be what you’re looking for. Even most hobbyists out there will want something with a bit more performance capabilities than 3D pens for kids!
This almost goes without saying, but it’s almost always one of the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re buying, well, anything. And even though the cost to get your hands on a 3D printing pen is significantly less expensive than it would cost to get an actual 3D printer up and running in your home, it’s still worth having an idea of what you can expect to pay.
While the price will vary from pen to pen, you can usually expect to pay around $30 to $100 for a 3D pen. Cheaper pens are usually the ones geared to children and don’t have quite the same capabilities as the more expensive ones. You don’t need to go all out on the price spectrum though either. For around $70 to $80, you should be able to find a great 3D pen that will handle most things that hobbyists want to get out of it.
Should I Get A 3D Printing Pen Or An Actual 3D Printer?
While I’ve described a 3D pen as a miniature 3D printer throughout this article, please don’t think that means that they are a replacement for one another. 3D printing pens are great without a doubt, but they’re not even comparable to an actual 3D printer in terms of what it can create and what it can do.
With a 3D pen, you’re limited by what you can think of and what you can draw. But you’re also limited heavily by more lenient tolerances, weaker bonding, and poor finishes when compared to the final product of a 3D printer. These issues aren’t a problem for most of the users of 3D pens like kids and hobbyists (or especially hobbyists with kids).
But these can be a problem for anyone expecting a 3D printing pen to operate as well as a 3D printer for a small fraction of the cost. For kids and hobbyists looking for some fun or a professional looking to expand their portfolio and capabilities, a 3D printing pen is great — especially for the cost. But any that’s looking to create closely-toleranced objects and designs that can be used for things in the real world, there is no replacement for an actual 3D printer.