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What is a 3D Pen?

(Last Updated On: December 31, 2017)

3D pen as suggested by the name relates to Three Dimensional Creation. It’s a bit odd to hear that you can create tangible objects in three dimensions since it was a term used for only computer related designs a few years back.

3d pens have enabled common people in their homes to create objects they desire with a touch of a button. As this technology is relatively new so a lot of people don’t know about it or are a little confused by the idea. To make things easier think of a 3d pen as a glue gun that is normally used in our homes, with a smaller nozzle allowing you to create whatever your imagination allows you to. Even though the term “printing” is used when creating an object using a 3d pen but no paper is required to “3d print” an object you can literally create anything in thin air. Create a sculpture perhaps!

Evolution Leading Up To Creation of 3D Pens

The concept of 3d printing is a lot older than the 3d pens themselves and to be exact 3d printing was introduced by Chuck Hull in 1986 with a device known as 3d printer which was accessible by top professionals as it was very expensive and it was a rare technology to tackle with.

3d printers are relatively larger than 3d pens but the technology of 3d pens can be said to have been acquired from the 3d printers. 3d printers are very complex to operate as well, they require a CAD to 3d print anything and it’s not like 3d pen when it comes to the final produced product. 3d printers work on precisions and 3d pens are more on the artistic side, like a painter painting a canvas.

A bad experience with 3d printers led Peter Dilworth, Maxwell Bogue, and Daniel Cowen to create world’s first 3d pen known as 3Doodler back in 2013 and the rest we can see in the popularity boom of 3d pens.

More on: History of 3D Pen

How Do 3D Pens Work?

If you know a little about 3d printer’s mechanism then you will be familiar with the workings of 3d pens which we are going to discuss here. A 3d pen work by heating up filaments using heat elements installed in the 3d pens, the filament heated up melts it and the material is extruded out via a nozzle at the tip of the 3d pen and that filament is converted into an object form by the user operating the 3d pen. As the heated filament is being extruded via the nozzle the chemical properties of the material allow for an instant hardening of the material, allowing a perfect 3d print.

There are many filament types available to be used in 3d pens but the most commonly used are ABS plastic filaments and PLA filaments.

ABS Plastic Filament

ABS plastic is not only used in 3d pens but it is widely used in common household objects such as Lego Bricks and other toys even the computer mice are made using ABS plastic. So there are a wide range of objects that we can keep on listing. But we are here to discuss the ABS filament, this filament type is very cost effective and easily acquirable.

The melting point required for ABS filament is between 210 Degrees Celsius and 250 Degrees Celsius and 3d pens are capable of reaching those temperatures easily. The ABS filament type cools down almost instantly after extrusion and the only thing that is at disadvantage with this filament is the fumes it emits when heating up which can be cause of a problem for individuals and it has to be used in ventilated space.

PLA Filament Type

PLA filament type is biodegradable and environmental friendly material made from corn and other plants. Comparing to the ABS filament it has a lower melting point between 160 Degrees Celsius and 220 Degrees Celsius. The fumes emitted by ABS plastic filament release a certain chemical smell while there are no fumes emitted while 3d printing with PLA filament and the smell that comes out of PLA filament resembles to that of corn.

At the disadvantage of PLA filament we found out that it takes more time to cool down after extrusion than ABS filament and you require extra cooling equipment may be a small fan to cool it down faster and also it is also more brittle than ABS.

Which Filament Should I Go For?

To be honest it’s all depends upon your usage, if you are professional 3d artist you will not go well with PLA filament as it doesn’t deliver that accurate of a work. If you are buying 3d pen for your kids you are better off with PLA filament so to be safe you can get a 3d pen which support both filament types so you can adjust to the filament type which suits you the best. You can check out reviews of 3d pens on the link.

About Martin Smith

Martin Smith a Blogger and a Professional Content Writer. Living in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Studying Journalism at NYU Abu Dhabi Campus. Read More About the Author

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