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3Doodler, Boston, United States

Thursday 21 Feb 2013

Doodling in thin air

3Doodler by WobbleWorks LLC in Boston, United States
Image from New Scientist 
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World's first 3D printing pen unveiled 

With 3D printing now a reality and projects such as Universe Architecture and Rinus Roelof's Landscape House and Foster + Partner’s proposed 3D moon base in the press, two American toy designers have come up with an innovative and cheaper way of being able to participate in the trend: by creating the world’s first 3D printing pen.

Dubbed the 3Doodler, the €55 ($75) device allows the user to hand-draw or ‘doodle’ a design in 3D with items created by the pen ranging from a simple 3D house to an ostrich, butterfly, and even a small plastic replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The device contains a mains-powered heater which warms a single line of 3mm ABS or PLA plastic and is fed in through the back of the device. As the user draws, the warmed plastic comes out of the pen and is quickly cooled via a small fan, forming a string of plastic that can create a strong, stable structure, according to its creators.

Developed by American designers Peter Dilworth and Max Bogue from US start-up firm WobbleWorks LLC, the device requires no software and can simply be plugged in to the mains, with plans for a wireless, battery-powered device in the pipeline. Commenting on the device, Peter Dilworth said: “We wanted to design a 3D printing device that could be used within minutes, without needing any technical knowledge, software or computers. We also wanted it to be affordable as well as fun, so that anyone could 3Doodle!”

Funded using the Kickstarter platform, the product reached it’s target goal of €23,000 ($30,000) within a few hours, and at the time of going to press (Thursday 21 February) had received over a €760,000 ($1m) in funding, with the product due to be manufactured in China. According to John Biggs, of Tech Crunch, the product is 'fun, clever, and introduces basic 3D-printing concepts without the rigmarole of programming and CAD'.

For the artists out there, the device has two speeds, fast and slow. These speeds help to determine the flow of the plastic and allow the user to create larger objects and fill a large area quickly, or by using the slower speed, to doodle intricate and precise details. The two developers have said that they hope to be able to fit the pen with different size tips/head for different thicknesses, much like having different paintbrushes.

As well as the pen’s artistic potential, WobbleWorks have also suggested that it can be utilised for more practical purposes as the 3Doodler can be used as a plastic welding tool. With various ideas currently flying around as to what the pen can be used for, the developers have stated that users can doodle on most plastic objects including iPhone cases, desks, laptops, monitors and pens to personalise these items. However, despite Dilworth and Bogues’ background in toy design, the device is only recommended for people of 12 years of age and over as the metal tip on the device can get as hot as 270C.

Naomi Wilcock

WobbleWorks LLC
Reinventing Cities

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