A $50 (£32) pen called 3Doodler lets you draw three-dimensional shapes using a special plastic ‘ink’ that hardens almost as soon as it’s released from the tip.
The pen has a chamber that heats and melts plastic (PLA or ABS plastic, the same material used in 3D printing machines). Initially it takes a few minutes to warm up and then you can draw by pressing the button on the pen and doodling on a surface or waving the tip in the air, the melted plastic is extruded from the Doodler and as “ink” and is immediately cooled by a fan, which which causes it to solidify into a very fine but durable structure.
The device has been created by a company called WobbleWorks, which is currently seeking $30,000 (£19,300) in funding via Kickstarter.
The goal is to ship the first pens in the fall of 2013. It provides a much cheaper alternative to 3D printing machines.
The creators suggest that the pen can be used not only to make original sculptures, but also to customize existing products and even to repair items using it as a plastic welding tool.
In a bid to attract crafty types, WobbleWorks has teamed up with Etsy artists to create custom rewards for early backers. Artists were encouraged to create limited edition 3Doodles, as well as stencils and stencils for the less artistic.
CEO Peter Dilworth explains: “We wanted to design a 3D printing device that could be used in minutes, without the need for technical knowledge, software or computers.”
The pen is quite thick at 24mm wide and 180mm long. It weighs less than 200g and uses a universal power supply. Each pen comes with 1kg of ABS plastic, which is enough to doodle up to 1240m. Unfortunately the product is not suitable for children, only for older children, as the metal contact can reach temperatures of up to 270°C.
The pen has already raised the bulk of the $30,000 mark, but if you want to reserve one, head over to 3Doodler’s Kickstarter page.
WobbleWorks is a toy company founded by Maxwell Bogue and Peter Dilworth, who previously worked in the R&D department of the robotic toy company WowWee.
Here is a video of the 3Doodler in action:
Updated on 02/21/2013: In just a few days, 3Doodler has raised over $1.2 million and has surpassed its goal of $30,000 in just a few hours.