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3-D Printing Pen Can Draw In the Air 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the sign-your-checks-in-three-dimensions dept.
Several readers sent word of a new addition to the 3-D printing industry. Most 3-D printers are roughly the size of regular printers, and require design files on the computer to guide the extruder. Now there's a much smaller and much simpler alternative: the 3Doodler pen, which lets you draw 3-D objects by hand. The people making the pen set up a Kickstarter project yesterday with a $30,000 goal. They reached that within hours, and now have pledges exceeding $800,000. "The 3Doodler pen is 180mm by 24mm. The pen weighs less than 200 grams or 7 ounces (the weight of a typical apple), although the exact weight will depend on the final shell specifications once in production. And we are using a universal power supply, so provided you have the correct adapter for your country, 3Doodler will work just fine on 110v or 240v. ... While the plastic extruded from 3Doodler is safe to touch once it has left the pen, the pen itself has a metal tip that can get as hot as 270C." The pen uses the same ABS/PLA plastic as most 3-D printers, and they're planning to host stencil designs on their website so that users have patterns to sketch from.
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3-D Printing Pen Can Draw In the Air

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  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Garridan (597129) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @06:48PM (#42960199)
    All that for a hot glue gun?
    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @07:01PM (#42960341) Homepage Journal

      Well they're selling them for $50, that's not bad. And a hot glue gun doesn't have the same level of finesse/control, from what I can see online..

      • by Garridan (597129)
        Yeah, I see the difference -- but $800k to develop a hot glue gun just seems silly. On reflection (let's be honest, I post ontopic snarky FPs whenever I can) I see that most of their pledges are at the $75 mark, so this is mostly just people using kickstarter as a shopping site... and I'm totally getting one for my mom for her birthday.
        • I was going to say check out the kickstarter page but its in the summary:

          'The people making the pen set up a Kickstarter project yesterday with a $30,000 goal.'

          The R&D is already done, I'll hazzard a guess it is beacuse the factory isn't going to make 1 or 2 but needs an order of a couple hundred at least.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @08:09PM (#42960873) Journal

        However, a jeweler's hot wax pen does have that level of finesse, and they've been around for decades. My dad used one in his shop, and they're configured for delicate work and fine trigger control. They're used to make wax moulds for lost wax casting in the manufacture of jewelry. I think you'd just have to raise the tip temperature and insulate the fingers a bit from the extra heat, and there you'll be.

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by forkazoo (138186) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .snarcesorw.> on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @09:00PM (#42961353) Homepage

        Well they're selling them for $50, that's not bad. And a hot glue gun doesn't have the same level of finesse/control, from what I can see online..

        I haven't actually gotten to play with one personally, but I am friends with the guys involved in this. Basically, yes, there is an analogy to be made with a hot glue gun. But, have you ever tried to "draw" a cube with a hot glue gun? Good luck with that. With the 3Doodler, you are working with a much finer 3D printing style plastic filament. It's essentially the printing head of a 3D printer that you can use to draw freehand with. The plastic coming out of the head cools very quickly, and is relatively strong compared to something like glue, so you can make all sorts of interesting shapes. They may post some additional videos to help clarify how easy it is to draw with.

        • I think my hot end for my printer cost a little more than $50, but I love it and it is better than the design before it. I am surprised this would only cost $50 unless they are cutting corners or really working the economies of scale. You shouldn't even respond to the people comparing it to a glue gun. They simply don't understand what it going on. Hopefully this creates more demand for filament and improves the economy of scale for the people that are ordering the manufacturing of the filament so its cheap
        • by DrVomact (726065)

          It's essentially the printing head of a 3D printer that you can use to draw freehand with. The plastic coming out of the head cools very quickly, and is relatively strong compared to something like glue, so you can make all sorts of interesting shapes.

          The "freehand" thing is what makes me think I'll never want one of these devices. I'm crappy at drawing things, and I expect that the best I could do with this fancy new tool is pretty much the same as I could do with a regular glue gun: make blobs, globs, and hardened plastic messes that I would quickly junk to hide my lack of coordination. For me, the attractive part of 3D printing is that I could use a computer to do it—I wouldn't have to depend on my hands, and my hand-eye-brain coordination, whi

          • by fatphil (181876)
            Agreed. In their video they say it's like a pen, but that's totally bogus. A pen or pencil works and is easy to use because you are rigidly resting upon the writing surface, and typically because there's friction providing nevative feedback to your movements. Neither of those attributes (rigidity & friction) applies to a device that's you're just dangling in mid-air.
            • In their video, you also see them drawing 2D objects on a paper stencil on a flat surface (to assemble into a 3D object later). You'd have to basically be incapable of feeding yourself before you're at the level where you're unable to do that.

              Drawing in 3D would require more practice of course, but what they are saying is not "totally bogus"...

        • by RevWaldo (1186281)
          Is the device "smart"? I was imagining that a device like this would contain accelerometers to help control the flow of plastic out the tip - the faster/slower you move the tip through the air, the faster/slower the plastic is spit out. That would make the flow more "natural" and reduce the risk of the plastic globbing up or being stretched too thin, which is what happens with glue guns.

          .
          • by forkazoo (138186)

            Is the device "smart"? I was imagining that a device like this would contain accelerometers to help control the flow of plastic out the tip - the faster/slower you move the tip through the air, the faster/slower the plastic is spit out. That would make the flow more "natural" and reduce the risk of the plastic globbing up or being stretched too thin, which is what happens with glue guns.

            Nope, not smart in that sense. As far as I know, the design has no accelerometers. It's a super neat thing, but you basi

        • But it's not a "printer". If this is a 3-d printer then my pencil is a printer. 3-d printers are useful because you can mass produce objects. Freehand doodling isn't that.
    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @07:17PM (#42960513) Homepage

      You can do some neat [dailyartmuse.com] stuff [mrkate.com] with [fastcodesign.com] hot [webs.com] glue [blogspot.com]. ABS, being a bit stronger of course, would support some unique work of its own.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds ripe for a "Kickback" or "Kickstopper" -- get tons of viral interest from a Kickstarter idea, raise Kickstopper money to show investors that tons of people are interested, then cancel the project, return the money, and take it to real investors.

      • Then everyone who pledged thinks you're a cock.
        Someone else takes your idea to some other investors and everyone buys that one instead.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          When was the last time you made a buying decision based upon anything other than price? That's all that really matters to most people.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      All that for a hot glue gun?

      That was my first reaction. The difference is it also cools the plastic which is different if you are familiar with hot glue guns but it is essentially a hot glue gun.

    • That was my first thought. "so he 'invented' a hot glue gun?". Color me not impressed.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    so it's basically a glue gun that squirts out colored glue.

  • .... that the very first thing I thought of when I read the headline was spiderman's webshooters.
  • Somebody should take a few of these up to the space station.

    • Could only be used in a glove-box. Evaporating solvents from hot plastic are verboten, and the risk of accidentally breaking off small flakes (from drawing very thin, fast "lines") would be unacceptable.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All examples are drawing on a flat surface then upending the design to show it is '3D' and or connect the surface details.

    This is achievable with a hot glue gun on a no-stick surface, ABS feed simply has more recognition in the 3D printing community.

    • The benefit of this ober a glue gun, other than the accuracy as noted, is that it can be used as a spot welder for ABS (so you can repair/join/tweak current 3D printed objects). They need to make tip attachments for smoothing/beveling etc....

    • by TheGavster (774657) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @09:20PM (#42961489) Homepage

      In their Kickstarter video, they show several models built up from the table's surface. This material also appears to harden much faster than a hot glue gun, and have a faster feed rate, given that vertical features formed just about as fast as ones on the table. One thing they do seem to need to work out is how to end a line; the operator in the video spins a tight circle and pulls away like a hot glass worker. It only sort of works here, since there's no flame to burnish the burr away with.

  • by hammeraxe (1635169) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @07:18PM (#42960525)

    Surely this goes totally against the main advantage of 3D printing - create a complex shape in CAD and click print - no crafting knowledge/skill necessary! You get accuracy and get to go do other stuff while your creation is being printed.

    This just looks like.... hassle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Obviously it should be combined with a programmable motorized pen holder. ;-)
    • by turp182 (1020263)

      I believe artists will flock to it and create some cool stuff.

    • Suppose you're an artsy person that doesn't know anything about CAD software?
      • by lxs (131946)

        In that case you can either remain a hipster failure all your life or learn a real craft and over the years become a master at it.

    • by jcoy42 (412359)

      I can see several uses for this thing. As soon as I saw it I thought about re-bonding cracked plastic pieces, quickly making a plastic washer, using it to freeze electronic components that are likely to get bumped and break, or make a quick replacement knob for that amplifier I got at the thrift store. Heck, you could quickly draw an enclosure for a raspberry pi.

      As others above have said, it's mostly a hot glue gun for ABS, but I can think of 3 or 4 times in the last year where such an item would have com

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      Surely this goes totally against the main advantage of 3D printing - create a complex shape in CAD and click print - no crafting knowledge/skill necessary! You get accuracy and get to go do other stuff while your creation is being printed.

      Obviously, if you want to make a dozen matching wallplates for light switches, you would want to use a "real" 3D printer instead of something like this. But, if you just want to doodle something for fun, then that main advantage of 3D printing doesn't really apply. Just

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Should be "3-D Printing Pen Can Spray Molten Plastic".
  • *ahem* How do you keep it up?

  • by venicebeach (702856) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @07:32PM (#42960611) Homepage Journal
    Just what we need, more plastic Eiffel Towers.
  • Us old timers used to play with something similar called a spin welder. Not exactly plastic extrusion but not that far off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiACyulRE78 [youtube.com]

  • Sure it will print "in the air" as long as the object printed is supported by something else. Take a look at the examples. They are all standing on something. To me drawing in the air means having no support. Why is the accurate description of "3D printing sculpture by hand" not good enough?

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      I see no reason it couldn't print without a support, since the pen itself must supply the force to extrude the plastic. Actually drawing something meaningful would be far more difficult, since you'd be fighting gravity the whole time. Take one up to a convenient space station, and that slight inertia of the already-extruded mass might just be enough to allow further detail to be printed.

    • Yeah, boo to the devs for not inventing anti-gravity.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        I am not panning devs for not inventing anti-gravity I am panning the submitter for claiming they did.

        • No, you're doing what every nerd does on Slashdot, deliberately distorting colloquial language in order to set up a strawman to spew faux-outrage or mockery at.

          The phrase is a perfectly reasonable way of describing, in a pithy title, a pen-like device which can shape lines in 3 dimensions by hand.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Thank you for assuming my motives.
            1. It is not outrage or faux outrage, It is merely a statement of how the falsehood in the headline was unnecessary and is becoming so much more prevalent on /.
            2. It seems funny how you accuse me of distortion but are fine with the distortion in the headline.
            3. I have issues with inaccuracies that make things sound better than they actually are. To me that is false advertising and false advertising is bad.
            4. "In the air" is not colloquial language. It means "in the air" as

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @08:23PM (#42961045) Journal
    Tie this pen to a robotic arm to control the movement of the tip very precise. Also control the speed of travel and may be bead size. May be tie three or four such pens oozing different materials. That contraption is the equivalent of rendering images using scalable vector graphics instead of raster scanning!. If we adjust the temperature and material properties, and some kind of active cooling we could create very strong wire frames. May be these wire frames could form the skeleton with some kind of charge to accrete charge particles to acquire thickness, color and other surface properties. The possibilities are endless.
    • You could robo-arm vectorise a normal 3d-printer's extruder-head. Indeed, this pen is just an extruder-head made into a free-hand tool. The "breakthroughs" are in making it the right size/shape for a pen, making it cool/safe enough to hold like a pen (lots of heat right where you want to put your finger-tips), and making it idiot-proof to use. Putting it on a robot-arm, which doesn't need any of those things, you specifically aren't using the very things that makes this different from a regular old extruder

    • by lxs (131946)

      To be fair, that is exactly what stratasys/reprap/makerbot etc. printers do in the XY plane. They are more like plotters in that regard. True, they do scan in the Z plane, but that is mostly a software problem. if you don't, making sure not to bump the head into the model is an extra problem you'd have to solve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...and use some sofware to replay it on a conventional 3d printer. In this way you could mass produce your "sketches" as "prints". You could also lay out models by sketching in air, import the "sketch" to your modeling program to refine it, then print a finished piece.

  • I don't get the hype on this. It's not a 3D printer, it's a plastic extruder. We've had them for as long as we've had plastic.
  • Seriously couldn't we just draw some of these here? With factory automation and all why isn't it feasible to make these at home? I always look for made in Canada/USA labels.
  • Huax is a manufacturer of Videojet and Domino printer parts and filters,Domino filter,Imaje filter,Videojet filter,Willett filter and Linx filter. http://www.huax-printing.com/ [huax-printing.com]

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