3D pens are one of the hottest technologies to come out in recent years (especially the MYNT3D Pen), utilizing either thermoplastics or UV reactive variants they can allow you to literally draw your creations to life in thin air.
They’re pretty amazing, and something that many of us have wished for since we were children, but choosing one from the myriad of different products currently on the market can be a hard choice, read on and we’ll help point you where you need to go.
If you’re looking to make serious artwork and not planning on smashing your bank account into oblivion to do it, this is the 3D pen you’re looking for.View On Amazon
Table of Contents
Top 10 3D Pens
|Name||Usable Filaments||Variable Feed Rate?|
|MYNT3D Pen||Pretty much anything||Yes||Check Price|
|3Doodler Create 3D Pen||PLA, ABS, TPU||2 Speed||Check Price|
|3D Creation 3D Doodling Pen||PLA||No||Check Price|
|PACKGOUT 3D Doodling||PLA, ABS||Yes||Check Price|
|AIO Robotics Full-Metal Premium||PLA||Yes||Check Price|
|MAXIDEA 3D Pen||PLA||Yes||Check Price|
|XYZprinting da Vinci||PLA||No||Check Price|
|Aerb 3D Pen||PLA, ABS||Yes||Check Price|
|Titanium Micro RP600A Intelligent||PLA, ABS||Yes||Check Price|
|Future Make Polyes Q1||UV-Reactive Ink||No||Check Price|
1. Best 3D Pen for Artists
MYNT3D Professional Printing 3D Pen
The MYNT3D stands in a world of it’s own, and pens which are much more expensive have trouble matching it’s quality. The extremely ergonomic design is just the beginning when you look at this pen.
It uses 1.75mm filament and the manufacturer directly states that it should be able to be used with any filament which melts between 130° and 240°C. That makes it super versatile, and the fine temperature control combined with a large LCD readout just adds to how easy it is to use.
It’s cordless, able to be charged with a USB, and even has a replacable hot end so a drastic mistake isn’t the end of the pen itself. It also has a smooth feed rate instead of forcing you into “clicking” settings. Add in a one year warranty and you’ve got a winning, budget 3D pen on your hands.
- Versatile material usage
- Smooth feed control
- Temperature controlled
- Replaceable hot end
- USB chargeable
- Included instructions aren’t great
- Tip tends to jam when left on
2. Best 3D Pen for the Tech Inept
3Doodler Create 3D Pen
The 3Doodler is the original pen, and they’ve put a lot of work into improving their product and making it as user friendly as possible. While there are still some issues with the Create, it’s remarkably easy to use.
The main thing most people will notice when using the 3Doodler Create is that it’s a remarkably user friendly experience. This comes from the fact that it heats to only one level and it only has two settings for the feed rate.
Those looking for a large amount of control over their filament should look elsewhere, while those who don’t want to learn the melting points of different plastics and don’t mind being limited in how quickly it feeds are going to be super happy.
You’ll also be limited to using “sticks” of 3mm plastics. This eliminates the choices which you have with other pens but it once again simplifies matters for those who just want to draw without dealing with technical specifications.
We can’t really recommend this 3D pen for serious artists but for older children and those who want less of a learning curve it’s a godsend and the price is just about right.
- High build quality
- Super ergonomic
- Handles ABS, PLA, and TPU
- Very user friendly
- Excellent instructions included
- Lack of fine control parameters
- Uses stick filaments which can be hard to source
3. Best for Kids
3D Creation 3D Doodling Pen
It lacks some level of versatility, but this PLA using pen makes a great gift for children for two reasons: a budget cost and a hidden heating element which makes it hard for anyone to get hurt while using it.
There’s not a whole lot of extra controls here, it’s mostly just an awesome way to introduce kids to making their own 3D art. It’s super easy to set up and use and even has an auto shut off so it doesn’t sit around getting hot while you’re not in the room.
It uses the standard 1.7mm filament but without the temperature controls it’s really only designed for use with PLA.
This 3D pen is probably the best way to introduce children to 3D art, especially for those on a budget, but serious would-be 3D artists aren’t going to find themselves satisfied with it.
- Easy to use
- Hidden heating element
- Ceramic hot tip
- Ergonomic design
- Low build quality
- Lack of finer controls
4. Best for Beginners
PACKGOUT 3D Doodling Drawing Printing Pen
If you’re excited about 3D pen technology and you’re looking to get started, this basic and fairly generic option might be the best way to get your fingers started. It takes 1.75mm rolls of filament which makes it easy to source materials and it’s pretty cost-effective.
Since it’s so cheap you’d think that you might be missing something with the controls, but it turns out that it has temperature controls and a feed control which will allow you a lot of control over what you’re doing.
It can also be used with both PLA and ABS to give you a versatile, cheap little machine which also offers free nib replacements for life.
If you’re a beginner and want to get started without spending a whole lot of cash, then you’re in good hands with this 3D pen.
- Free nibs for life
- Usable with both PLA and ABS
- Uses rolled filament
- Smooth feed controls
- Feed control is easy to bump
- Nozzle clogs easily
5. Best for a Solid Feel
AIO Robotics Full-Metal Premium
While this pen has some definite limitations, including only being suitable for PLA, the all metal body is well built and will feel rock solid in your hands. It’s thin enough to be usable by even the smallest hands, while also allowing for easy controls.
It uses 1.7mm rolled filament, so even with the limitation to PLA you’re going to be able to get things rolling no matter what the normal availability is. Add in an awesome OLED display for temperature and flow readings and you’ll be good to go.
The main problem that most people are going to run into with the AIO Robotics 3D pen is the digital flow control, it’s intuitive enough to use once you get things rolling but mechanical slides are simply easy to operate.
For superior ergonomics and high build-quality, however, it’s hard to beat this pen.
- Super slim design
- Uses rolled filament
- OLED display
- One year warranty
- Amazing build quality
- Interface is crammed due to slim design
- Gets a bit hot on the tip
6. The Lightest 3D Pen Around
MAXIDEA 3D Pen
This slim pen is literally the lightest 3D pen currently in production. It’s small size lends it well to those of us with smaller hands and most people will find that it’s also super maneuverable due to the lack of extraneous weight.
This pen is designed for PLA only and has a super simple interface which makes it ideal for beginners and those who aren’t super handy with technology. The OLED display will display the chosen temperature and it has a controllable feed rate to allow you quite a bit of control.
This pen is stuffed in an aluminum body, which is also pretty cool for those who prefer the feel of metal in their hands.
While it may not have the greatest features of them all, it definitely holds its own due to the extreme lightness of the pen itself.
- Easy to disassemble and clean
- Comes with a stand
- OLED display
- Controllable feed rate
- Aluminum body
- PLA only
- Lack of ergonomic design
7. Simplest 3D Pen
XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen
This definitely isn’t the pen you’re looking for if you’re planning on making super complex objects, but in its simplicity there lies a distinct advantage for kids and adults alike who don’t want to fiddle with setting.
This isn’t the pen for an artist, or even a beginner who’s serious about getting into 3D pens, but for simple repairs of plastic objects or someone who just wants to mess around it’s got a serious advantage. It uses 1.75mm rolled filament and lays it out at a constant, reliable rate with no need to do anything but hit the extruder.
It’s not going to be winning any prizes for innovation, but it’s definitely suited for those who aren’t concerned with fine artistry and just want to get going.
- Super simple
- Reliable nozzle
- Uses rolled filament
- Lightweight build
- No fine controls
- PLA only
8. Super Ergonomic 3D Pen
AERB 3D Pen
While not a standout in many ways, this pen is amazingly ergonomic. Most people will find it comfortable to use for extended periods due to the unique curvature in the pen’s shaft.
It also comes with both temperature and feed control to give you the maximum amount of control over your creations as they pour forth from the pen and come to life. It uses standard 1.75mm rolled filament and is capable of drawing with both PLA and ABS.
Above all, this makes it stand out from the competition since it can be quickly and easily used right out of the box. It might not offer the finest gradients of control over it’s features but it makes up for it when you’re using the pen for long amounts of time.
If comfort is a deciding factor for you, then the AERB 3D pen is exactly what you’re looking for.
- Usable with both PLA and ABS
- Super ergonomic
- Temperature and feed controls
- OLED screen
- Corded operation
- Middling build quality
9. Most Reliable Cheap 3D Pen
Titanium Micro RP600A Intelligent 3D Pen
One of the common threads through the cheaper 3D pens is the fact that they have a tendency to clog and jam quite a bit. This one works reliably for long periods and most people will find that even if something does happen the nozzle is quite easy to clear.
As far as features go, it’s definitely not unique. You have the standard array of temperature control, feed control, and an OLED screen but there’s not much of a standout. It can be used with 1.75mm filament in either ABS or PLA as well.
The reliability is the driving factor behind recommending this pen. It works well and for long periods of time while remaining fairly cheap. The build quality and ergonomics seem to have suffered a bit due to this, however.
If you want a low priced pen that will take a licking and keep on… laying down filament, you might want to consider throwing a few bucks this way.
- Super reliable
- Temperature controlled
- Usable with PLA or ABS
- 1.75mm rolled filament usage
- OLED Screen
- Low build quality
- Square design lacks ergonomics
10. Best UV Reactive 3D Pen
Future Make Polyes Q1
UV reactive inks haven’t exactly made much of a mark on the market so far, but if you want a cool ink pen then they’re really the only way to go. Instead of using a filament, this pen uses proprietary ink that can be almost instantly cured with the attached LED.
This lends it to some creative applications, but the technology hasn’t quite caught up yet when it comes to finalized products. After the disappointment surround the CreoPop this might be your best bet.
It’s a new technology, and still evolving, but if you insist on a cool ink 3D pen then give this one a shot. The inks are quite a bit different and it lends itself to different applications but this pen works pretty well overall once you get the hang of it.
If you want to get in on the ground floor of cool ink 3D pens then this is the one that you want to give a shot. Just be aware the technology isn’t in it’s most advanced state just yet.
- UV reactive ink
- Completely safe
- A different kind of 3D pen
- Easy to use
- Ergonomic design
- Low “resolution” when cured
- Technology hasn’t quite caught up yet
Why Use a 3D Pen Over a 3D Printer?
When 3D printers hit the market a few years back, they were supposedly slated to change pretty much everything about the way that we receive products. Instead of that, we’ve been left with a technology which has largely become a novelty due to the high price of good models, their finicky nature, and the simple fact that they require a high level of competence on the part of their user.
3D pens, on the other hand, don’t require nearly the technical skill and allow for actual art to be created once you understand the structuring required in order to bring your imagination to life in thin air.
Since their inception, the technology behind 3D pens has been advancing rapidly, from simple devices which allowed strings of ABS plastic to be utilized on flat surfaces to newer models which use a UV reactive plastic compound in order to draw in essentially thin air with minimal structural support.
Essentially, if you’re interested in simply creating objects rather than messing with programming and unreliable machines then you’re the intended user of 3D pens.
Think of them an arts and crafts version of a 3D printer, what they lack in some amount of utility they more than make up for by allowing the user a whole lot of spontaneous creativity.
How Do 3D Pens Work?
The original basis for 3D pens was pretty simple: a thermal element heated the plastic and allowed you to draw using filaments by briefly liquefying them before they solidify. While they weren’t quite “draw in the air” levels of technology they did offer some pretty impressive applications, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.
Thermoplastics are nothing new, both PLA and ABS have found extensive uses over the years for applications such as toys. They soften when heated which allows them to be used to create objects without many problems and both of these common types exhibit quite a bit of durability.
Thermoplastic 3D pens are still the most common type in use, although they do pose a small amount of safety risk to the user due to the higher temperatures which are required in order to make them liquid.
Other pens use UV reactive filaments. They operate by passing the material close to a UV producing LED which causes the plastic to react as it’s released. This begins the hardening process but means that you won’t have to deal with the smell or risk of molten plastic at all.
For most people, thermoplastic pens are still the way to go since it’s much easier to source the materials required for them, but there is a certain draw to the UV 3D pens since they have a much different drawing “feel” than the original models. Unfortunately, “cool ink” 3D pens pretty much have to be used on a flat surface, with the parts assembled after they’ve been traced out on paper. Ultimately this makes them a lot safer for children and those who are clumsy, but they don’t allow the true versatility which can be found in the original 3D pens.
What to Look For In Your 3D Pen
There are a lot of factors when it comes down to choosing which pen will be the best for your own purposes. While something simple can be used for correcting 3D prints or welding plastic parts together, something with better ergonomics and a controllable feed rate is going to be ideal for those looking to push their artistic limits.
Choosing carefully, one should be able to find the best pen for their uses pretty quickly, but you’ll have to keep in mind all of the following factors to make sure that everything is perfectly suited for you.
Since 3D pens tend to be rather bulky, the ergonomics of the device are of the utmost importance. You’ll have to make sure that it fits your hand well in order to end up with true masterpieces, otherwise it’ll be like trying to draw with one of those novelty oversized pencils.
For most people, something smaller will be quite useful but you actually don’t want to just try and get as close as possible to your favorite pen. Instead, you’ll need to make sure that you’re looking at something which can be moved smoothly and freely without getting in the way.
The pen name may be something of a misnomer as you’ll hold and use one of these differently, just take a close look at the general shape in order to make sure that you know what you’re looking at.
You pretty much need a controllable feed rate in order to produce high quality artwork. If you’re planning on just doodling and want to save some money it may not be quite as essential, but for those who have seen impressive videos of some of the things which can be done with this technology… you’re going to need a variable feed rate.
The finer the control on the feed rate, the more variations of the differing strands you can produce and the easier it will be to produce truly complex artwork. There are a ton of different models of 3D pen to choose from, so it makes sense to get something tailored to what you’re planning on doing.
However, it’s not just the variability of the feed rate that matters. One of the most important pieces of this whole equation is choosing a pen which flows smoothly. The smoother a pen flows, the better off you’ll be and it really should be the primary consideration.
Some pens have a tendency to feed in “bursts” which causes your lines to be uneven and will really mess things up if you’re working on creating a complex piece.
Usable Filament Types
Since 3D printing has been around for awhile and has a dedicated group of people devoted to it, thermoplastics have been pushed pretty much to their limit. The types of plastic which can be used with your chosen pen is a game changer when it comes to what the finished piece will be like.
Almost any thermoplastic 3D pen will be able use ABS and PLA. Those two form the fundamentals of what is available, but a good pen will allow you to work with some of the more exotic plastics which have different properties.
UV pens are still very limited in the available inks. You really aren’t going to have much choice in this arena, but you already know the pros and cons of going with one of these types so it’s a limitation you’ll have to accept.
Much like the feed control for the filament, good temperature control is absolutely essential for finer work. It really has to be learned with the pen in hand, since writing a guide would be mostly useless when there are so many variables in play while using the pen itself, but finer controls with accurate thermometers will make things a lot easier on you.
The best temperature controls will have buttons which are easily hit, but not too easily, and a large LCD screen to let you set things without having to break out a loupe.
A widely adjustable temperature setting can also let you use different materials, provided the tip of the 3D pen can handle them. This is essential if you’re planning on doing a lot of experimenting to find the one that suits you best.
Corded or Cordless
As with most smaller electronics, the debate will always rage on between corded and cordless models. Some of the better 3D pens can actually be charged through USB, allowing you to hook them up to a wall socket or even your computer with minimal difficulty.
A corded pen, while a bit more cumbersome, has the advantage of not needing to be charged. The lack of maneuverability turns a lot of artists off of them, but they do have their uses.
While they’re simple at heart, there’s still a lot of failure points in the average 3D pen. Instead of being left high and dry if you experience some level of failure with the device you might want to make this one of your primary concerns.
Look into the customer service offered by the brand as well. Since there are a lot of companies producing these devices many of them feel they can get away with poor warranty service since they already have their money.
Reviews are the best way to find this out, nearly every pen has had a failure at some point and whether or not the customer service was good can be super helpful.
Surprisingly, 3D pens aren’t bank breakers for the most part. Quality pens can be found for under a hundred dollars and even the super high-quality, ultra-cutting-edge pens are affordable for most people with a little bit of disposable income.
The simplicity of the devices is nice, since they’re essentially just some electronics and a heating element wrapped together in one package and it lends them to lowered prices. Don’t trip out if you’re low on cash, you’re sure to be able to find something which will easily fit into your budget.
An Overview of Common 3D Pen Materials
Since the material you’re using is one of the most important parts of the art you’ll be able to make, you’ll want to know a little bit about the materials that are available to you before you make a final decision on the pen. Most pens are rated for certain materials, but with some fiddling and good temperature control you can accomplish a lot.
Polylactic acid is pretty much the gold standard for any kind of 3D printing device. It’s super strong, not that flexible, and it’s not going to be completely ruined in any kind of sane setting.
Even more important, for the use of 3D pens, is the fact that it doesn’t need to be worked on a warm surface to prevent warping. While some plastics have a tendency to curl up as they dry, PLA has a reputation for staying put.
It’s also the base for most of the “exotic” filaments out there, such as glow-in-the-dark plastic and those with mixed in wood or metal.
If you can’t use PLA with the pen you’re looking at… it’s not worth your money.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, is extremely strong and not very flexible. It’s use with 3D pens, as opposed to printers, can be rather limited however. This is because it has a strong tendency to warp when it’s cooling.
It can be used with a 3D pen but you’re better off with PLA for most purposes. There are also less “special” filaments and colors available when using this type of plastic.
Thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, has rubber like qualities which make it awesome for certain applications. The 3doodler, the original 3D pen, was designed with its use in mind along with the above two types of filament.
It’s a rather strong plastic which is also flexible. For some uses it’s pretty awesome, but keep in mind it’s not a rigid plastic if you decide to use it. For flexible toys and creations, however, you’ll find it’s perfectly suited and commonly available.
You may want to do some looking around before you try any of the “professional” and “exotic” plastics. Even if your 3D pen can get to the temperature some of these materials can be quite hard to work with and you may end up voiding your warranty or clogging up the pen.
Now be safe, grab a pen, and get creating!