"While you probably won't find many practical uses for it, 3Doodler is an incredibly entertaining tool for creative people of all ages, skills and abilities."
Simple, intuitive and fun
Smart, comfortable design
Lots of accessories and add-ons
The precision of conventional printers is lacking
Not particularly practical
When the original 3Doodler pen fell on Kickstarter in 2013, it was a success almost immediately. After the original funding goal was reached within a few hours, the device, which was the world's first “3D printing pen” at the time, raised more than $ 2.4 million before the campaign ended.
Now, less than two years later, the company is back with a new and improved design that's slimmer, leaner, and more user-friendly than ever. We did a round to see if drawing three-dimensional objects in the air is as easy as it would look in this Kickstarter pitch video. We found the following:
Features and specifications
The 3Doodler 2.0 offers some significant improvements over its predecessor. In addition to a significantly smaller form factor, the second generation 3Doodler also offers a new and improved nozzle design, a better heating algorithm and variable speed and temperature controls. It also has a new feed system that makes extrusion more reliable and consistent, and is compatible with a number of new accessories. No matter how you look at it, version 2.0 is better than ever.
Setup and configuration
Getting started with 3Doodler 2.0 is absurdly easy. It is essentially a freehand 3D printer, and what you lose in precision you gain in simplicity. Simply connect it to a power source, slide a rod made of ABS or PLA plastic into it and set the switch to "High". An indicator light shows when the nozzle tip is hot enough to start extruding. At this point, just hold down the spray button until molten plastic comes out. It takes a few seconds to get started, but once it does, you're good to go.
Construction quality & design
3Doodler 2.0 cuts the socks off version 1.0 in almost every way, but build quality and design are definitely the most important. In addition to a new slim new aluminum housing, the new version is ¼ the size of its predecessor, so you can hold it in your hand much more comfortably.
Other additions such as variable speed buttons and temperature controls make it easier for users to draw at the pace they feel comfortable with. There is even a new "continuous feed" mode that you can activate by double-clicking the "Extrude" button. This feature allows you to draw large objects without having to strain your hand by holding a button for the duration of your scribbling.
Printing performance and learning curve
Simply put, 3Doodler for 3D printing is what the ballpoint pen is for the inkjet printer. Because it is designed for hands-free operation, it is nowhere near as accurate or precise as a conventional 3D printer. But that doesn't mean it's not a useful tool for creativity. With a little practice and imagination, you can do some amazing things with this gizmo.
3Doodler 2.0 cuts the socks off from version 1.0 in almost every way.
What we liked best about 3Doodler 2 was that you don't need any technical knowledge to use it. You don't have to mess around with 3D modeling software or download pre-made STL files to download to your printer. The device offers creativity in the truest sense of the word. It removes the technological barriers between your mind's eye and what comes out of the nozzle.
The disadvantage is that with this freehand approach, printing performance is directly related to your drawing skills. Just like sketching in two dimensions, a lot of practice is required before you can start doing really cool things. For the first half hour, the only "doodles" we could do were abstract clumps of plastic with irregular lines and spirals. But after a few failed attempts to do things, you start to get the hang of it.
Maintenance, repairability and upgradeability
The simplicity of 3Doodler goes beyond drawing and creating objects. It's also ridiculously easy to wait. Thanks to its incredibly simple design, it almost never gets clogged or jammed – and if it doesn't, the tips can be easily unscrewed for easy inspection or simply removed with a needle.
BIll Roberson / Digital Trends
BIll Roberson / Digital Trends
The design of the pen also offers a number of upgrade options. You can't change any of the machine's innards, but 3Doodler offers a variety of different extruder tips and a portable battery that allows you to use the pen without being tied to an electrical outlet.
Honestly, you won't create many practical, functional, or really useful objects with 3Doodler – but it's not really made for that. Ultimately, it's really just a fun artistic tool. If you are looking for a real 3D printer that you can use to create useful objects, you should definitely look elsewhere. 3Doodler is probably not what you want.
However, if you like the idea of drawing objects in three dimensions without having to overcome all the hurdles that lie between brainstorming and creation (such as software, computer models, and properly calibrated machines), the latest 3Doodler should definitely be close to you artist -Toolkit.
Available from: Amazon Brookstone
- Simple, intuitive and fun
- Smart, comfortable design
- Lots of accessories and add-ons
- The precision of conventional printers is lacking
- Not particularly practical