If you’ve ever used a hot glue gun for a craft project, you already know how complicated and messy they can be for work. And this is part of the reason why the handful of 3D printing pens already on the market are not the easiest tools to use. So maybe the CreoPop Ballpoint Penwhich instead uses ultraviolet light to cure a liquid resin, might be a better solution.
Many 3D printers, including the pens you’ve already seen on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, melt and extrude a solid plastic that quickly resolidifies as it cools. With a desktop 3D printer, a computer controlled print head ensures that the flow of molten liquid plastic being extruded is highly controlled. With a handheld pen, everything is left up to the user, often leading to little strands of plastic being left behind until you master a specific technique.
In other words, they work, but they require a lot of patience, practice, and skill to produce something recognizable and worthwhile.
Instead of using heat, which also has the potential to cause severe skin burns, CreoPop uses an array of three ultraviolet lights surrounding the nozzle that instantly hardens a light-sensitive liquid resin as it is extruded. The risk of burns is completely eliminated, making the pen safe for children to use. And, in theory at least, it makes it easier to produce cleaner-looking models, since there are no runaway threads of melted plastic everywhere.
However, the CreoPop pen does have some drawbacks. As 3D printers become increasingly popular, the meltable plastic strands they use as their source material become easier to find and cheaper to buy. Instead, CreoPop uses its own proprietary cartridges that cost about two or three dollars each and can produce a 46-foot line of hardened plastic. So, just like with an inkjet printer, you’re stuck buying the refills from the company itself.
On the other hand, just like with inkjet printers, that means the CreoPop pen hardware will retail for a relatively low price of $89. Or, more specifically, it will require an $89 commitment as the portable 3D printer is starting life on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Therefore, there is a chance that it may never see the light of day if you fail to meet your funding goals. But as these devices become more and more popular, the opportunity to buy one that is easier and safer to use will be difficult for hobbyists. [CreoPop via Cnet]