Have you ever stood in front of a 3D printer and wished you could take the nozzle and just stick it onto a handheld pen? That’s what WobbleWorks has done, and thanks to Kickstarter backers, the final products will ship to 3Doodler fans within a month.
If you are surprised by printers like the UP! Plus and Makerbot Replicator 2, get ready because this true 3D drawing tool will scrape up any remaining pieces and launch them far, far away. That’s how it went for us.
The 3Doodler itself is like a thick cuban cigar in your hand, but it still feels natural, like drawing, and works best when held exactly like a regular pen. It needs external power to work, but that’s because it’s heating up to 200/250 degrees to work. So fair.
In our hands, co-inventor Maxwell Bogue made sure we didn’t get burned by the 3Doodler’s mouthpiece, but even bumbling creatives will feel confident using it. There are fast and slow buttons on the top edge to control how fast the plastic (ABS or PLA) comes out and as you draw the 3Doodler makes an excellent professional noise. This way you will not be embarrassed with the rest of the inhabitants of your toolbox.
To start, we held the button down (fast in our attempt) to start and then when the plastic ‘ink’ came out we pushed it onto the paper on a flat surface to anchor our 3D sketch. It then rose and circled vertically away and watched it set as we went. It really is incredibly fast: you don’t need to wait for your creation to catch up.
The red robot pin that Bogue created for Stuff took around five minutes, using just a plastic rod inserted into the 3Doodler pen. And when one of the legs broke afterwards, all it took was another quick swipe of plastic to repair the damage. Awesome.
Printing pen versus 3D printers
As well as being faster than 3D printers, it will tend to create hollow objects rather than dense parts due to the nature of the 3Doodler process, it also means you don’t have to deal with 3D modeling software to figure out what’s in your head. .
However, drawing in the air takes some getting used to. All we managed to produce was an abstract swirl on our first try, but we reckon the learning curve won’t be too steep and we’re more than willing to put in the time.
Marinating those creative juices
In the coming month, 3Doodler will also take care of its community of cartoonists (note: not necessarily self-styled “creators”) by selling 16 colors each of ABS and PLA to use with the pen and sharing templates of popular designs, like the incredible Eiffel Tower that is shown in the Kickstarter video.
So you won’t be doodling parts anytime soon, but 3Doodler looks great for corrections, decorations, and 3D visualizations. Ideas range from making your own Christmas tree decorations to marking and drawing changes directly on expensive architectural models instead of starting from scratch.
We can’t wait to get our hands on a 3Doodler to take home and make cute 3D sketches. In the meantime, aspiring 3D hacks can read our interview with Bogue when he first broke out on Kickstarter.