Whether you’re a kid, a hobbyist, or an artist, a 3D pen is a fun and innovative tool. It can enhance your creativity and help you get a better understanding of three-dimensional objects.
The first 3D pen, the one that started the craze, was the 3Doodler, the result of a Kickstarter campaign launched in 2013. Now, 3Doodler leads the industry with their three primary products, the Create, the Start, and the Pro. Other big names exist as well, from well-established companies like Scribbler and 3Dsimo to relative newcomers like Polaroid and Lix.
Best 3D Pen Review: 3Doodler Review - The 3Doodler Create is the Best 3D Pen 2017
Together with these brand name 3D pens are many of what we will refer to as no-name 3D pens. These are models with no corporate backing, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to learn anything about them — heaven forbids they have websites — outside of their product descriptions on Amazon. (And even then some of the information can be… questionable.)
A no-name 3D pen is typically a clone of a brand name 3D printing pen, or a standalone product straight from an overseas manufacturer. But don’t let yourself be fooled by any negative imagery. A no-name model can be just as good as (or better than) some brand name 3D printing pens, and will usually offer one huge advantage: price.
This article takes a look at the 30 best 3D pens. Each 3D pen falls under and is ranked within one of three categories.
All three lists feature brand name and (standalone) no-name 3D pens, with their clones identified, when available.
While browsing, keep in mind that the presented prices are non-reduced and that sales are both common and significant. So if you’re interested in a particular 3D pen, make sure to double-check its price and the prices of any available clones…
Note: If you find a 3D pen to buy that isn’t on our list, please let us know in the comments.
The following nine 3D pens are well-suited for children because their nozzles don’t get as hot as in conventional 3D printers, which means less burned fingers…
This is achieved using one of two technologies:
This is a special substance, sometimes referred to as “cool ink”, which leaves the extruder as a liquid, but becomes solid when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. For this reason, the models using this technology come equipped with an attached UV light.
Just like a regular 3D printer, a “warm” nozzle 3D pen melts 3D printer filament. In the case of children’s 3D printing pen, however, this means using special filaments that melt at a low (and therefore safe) temperature.
While not explicitly stated by all manufacturers, parental guidance is recommended for all of the following 3D pens, as the technologies are the same.
The best 3D pens for kids are ranked according to cost, power considerations, availability of cartridges and filament, and any other relevant performance or use features, which are often unique to the 3D pen.
Along with its main product, the Create, 3Doodler offers his model designed specifically for kids, the Start. Setting it apart is its warm nozzle, which melts a special biodegradable plastic — called “Eco-Plastic” — at a lower (and therefore safer) temperature than is needed for PLA or ABS. This means the nozzle, as well as the molten material, are safe to touch.
In order to better suit a child’s creative interests, the Start comes in a variety of sets, each including an activity guide and additional components unique to a theme. For example, kids can experiment with a motor in the “robotics” set, or with spherical molds in the “product design” set. For more sets and more information, take a look at 3Doodler’s extensive and user-friendly site.
The AtmosFlare uses UV-hardened gel, which is extruded by squeezing the cartridges.
What makes this 3D pen a strong contender is its relatively low price and the inclusion of 4 different nozzles. On the other hand, the use of one AA battery means it cannot be recharged.
The Polyes Q1 by FUTURE MAKE, prints using UV-hardened gel. The 3D pen comes at a slightly higher cost, reflecting its professional construction and helpful features.
First on that list is a child safety setting, which automatically turns off the UV light when the nozzle is pointed upward. This prevents the light from entering the eyes. Two other great features include a slider, to control the speed at which gel is extruded, and an internal battery, which can be recharged with a USB cord.
If not for its warm nozzle technology, the Monoprice 3D Printing Pen would likely appear in the following section along with the other hobbyist 3D printing pens. That’s because it can additionally print PLA, and has a list of features better suited to a more advanced user.
The CCTREE 3D pen is another warm nozzle pen, but instead of using a proprietary filament, like the 3Doodler Start, it uses regular PCL filament, which naturally melts at a low (and therefore safe) temperature. On the other hand, the nozzle temperature can be increased to accommodate PLA or ABS.
The Dewang uses warm nozzle technology, and is otherwise very simple in its design and feature set. One nice thing is its USB cable, which allows it to be plugged into a power bank for portable use.
The IDO3D Vertical is actually 5 pens, where each pen is actually a cartridge of UV-hardened gel. (Confused yet?) Gel is extruded by squeezing the pens, and the UV light is an attachment which can easily be switched between them. Thus the IDO3D Vertical offers many colors, and the ability to easily incorporate them in a single project. The initial kit also includes an activity guide.
Based out of the National Design Centre in Singapore, the CreoPop claims to be the first 3D printing pen to use “cool ink”, a UV-hardened gel.
This pen comes with an internal battery, which can be recharged using a USB cable, but it’s real advantage is the extremely wide variety of inks available to print with, including glow-in-the-dark, glitter, and conductive!
The 3D Magic ImagiPen, by Tech 4 Kids, uses UV-hardened gel.
While easy and fun to use, this pen makes use of 3 AAA batteries, which means it cannot be recharged.
Unlike in the previous section, all of the best 3D pens for hobbyists use the standard “hot nozzle” technology, where the tip heats up in order to reach a temperature necessary for melting PLA, ABS, or other filament types.
The first 15 3D printing pens are categorized as suitable for hobbyists primarily because they provide a base set of features for a reasonable price (in most cases).
Here we see the first clones, which in some cases are offered at better prices than the originals. Don’t forget that all costs presented here are nominal and that sales are both common and significant. Make sure to use the provided links to check for deals!
Similar to the best models for kids, the best 3D pens for hobbyists are ranked according to cost, power considerations, supported filament types, speed and temperature control, and any other relevant performance or use features.
Wait, what? The first item in this list isn’t a 3Doodler product?
Beating out the Create, and despite being a no-name product, the Homecube Professional is the shining example of a hobbyist’s 3D pen. It comes complete with the full set of base features, and at an unbeatable price, which can’t necessarily be said of its “non-professional” brothers, Gen 3 and Gen 4.
And while stencils may not sound like much, they are in fact a great aid to beginners in 3D printing. Plus they’re loads of fun.
Here it is, the 3D printing pen that started it all and winner of All3DP’s Best 3D Pen 2017 award:
Well, not really. In truth, the Create is the descendant of the original 3Doodler. Still, it deserves some recognition, not only for its role in the world of 3D printing pens but also for its features.
In an unusual twist, the Create has two buttons for two extrusion speeds and no unloading button. Then again, it is the original – maybe it’s the other pens that are strange…
As with other big company 3D printing pens, a wide variety of accessories exist for the Create, including a swappable nozzle set, the DoodlePad (3D drawing surface), the JetPack (portable battery pack), and a foot pedal to relieve the fingers.
Next to their well-established 3D printer ZEUS, AIO Robotics also offers a 3D pen. Although it only supports PLA filament, the ability to adjust the temperature by increments of 1°C makes it possible to accommodate multiple PLA variants. Add to that 5-speed settings and a sleek design, and you have yourself a pretty professional product for a pretty modest price (especially when on sale, which is common).
What’s really surprising about the 3Dsimo is its relatively low price for its impressive list of features. Most 3D pens in this list support only PLA and ABS, but the 3Dsimo takes 3D drawing one step further by additionally printing in HIPS and PET.
With a fully interactive menu, the screen is also a cut above those found on other models. You can even change its display language!
On the other hand, it has a somewhat awkward way of accommodating… a hand. Despite its attempts to be ergonomic, this 3D printing pen is a little bulky, so users with smaller hands might have trouble.
Looks kinda like the Create, doesn’t it? And with the same two extrusion speed buttons, it performs similarly, too! One major difference, and in general unique feature of the CoLiDo: It has a retractable nozzle! No accidental surface (or skin) burning here.
With stencils and a large amount of starter filament, this is a nice 3D pen for anyone trying out 3D drawing for the first time.
We’ve already seen the Homecube Professional. Now comes his slightly less capable (and slightly more expensive) brother.
Apart from a sleeker look and feel, the primary difference between the Professional and the Generation 4 is the lack of a USB cable, rendering this 3D printing pen a little less mobile, as it can’t be used with a power bank.
If you do a little snooping for 3D pens, you’re gonna see this one, and its other versions, a lot.
Next to 3Doodler, Scribbler is one of the big American companies producing 3D pens. Unlike 3Doodler, nearly all of Scribbler’s products are cloned, in big way. And while this may not be such a great thing for Scribbler, it’s actually pretty nice for the consumer, as finding a decent 3D pen for a fantastic price is pretty much guaranteed.
Although almost identical in appearance to its successor, the Scribbler V1 has one major difference: It only supports ABS. This is also a somewhat unique characteristic in that other one-filament 3D pens typically print PLA.
Oh, and it doesn’t have a screen. But that’s not such a big deal.
Overall, a fine model at a fine price. And likely the base model for many later models, brand name or no. Respect.
Given the big price tag, and the big name, this one leaves something to be desired. A USB cable and 8-speed settings are nice, but they just barely make up for the lack of temperature control, and the fact that the pen only prints in PLA.
The beautiful Lix Pen is a newcomer to the market, and aims to please the inner designer. Yet, given its sleek design and high price, this 3D pen suffers from the same problem — albeit little less — as the Play: a disproportionate feature list. In particular, it offers only two settings for both speed and temperature control.
Best known for their affordable desktop 3D printers, XYZprinting also sells a 3D printing pen, the Da Vinci. It may not offer much in the way of features, but neither is it asking much of your wallet! Aspiring Leonardos will appreciate it for its simplicity, and for the extra cleaning tools!
Another no-name model, the Laimeng 3D Printing Pen represents a good balance between low cost and minimal features.
Features are fewer and fewer as we approach the end of this list. The futuristic-looking 3D Driller prints in PLA, at three different speeds, but offers no temperature control. Still, the three LEDs indicating the current speed are pretty neat.
The DIKI 3D Printing Pen is the very essence of simplicity, with only a single button executing all of its operations. With just three clicks, you can preheat the tip, extrude filament, then stop. It doesn’t get much easier than that! The question is, does simplicity alone make up for the rather steep price tag?
The six remaining models are considered more fitting for artists because they offer a slightly extended set of features over the hobbyist pens. Naturally, most come at a higher price.
The best 3D pen for artists are ranked in the same way as in the previous section, that is, according to cost, power considerations, supported filament types, speed and temperature control, and any other relevant performance or use features.
The Pro is 3Doodler’s most advanced model. It includes all the normal bells and whistles, and even adds a few extra ones!
To begin, just about any conventional 3D printing filament can be used with this 3D pen, from the standard PLA and ABS to polycarbonate, nylon, and flexible. And not only can you control what goes in, with six nozzle shapes and sizes, you can also control how it comes out!
Starting to see the underlying theme here? Control. Just look at the print settings: 8 speeds and a temperature spread from 60°C to 240°C. Oh, there’s also an adjustable fan. Yeah.
Sure, the price tag is a little high, but in this case, you really do get what you pay for.
Overall, the 3Doodler Pro was designed with the professional in mind, offering them the flexibility they need to get the job done.
Coming in second place on our list of best pens for artists, the SkyWriter3D is marketed as “the lightest 3D pen on the planet”, weighing in at only 55 grams.
Apart from being easy to use, this model additionally boasts an impressive list of features, and at a reasonable price. (Don’t forget to check for sales!)
Already a huge presence in the market, Scribbler is stepping up its game once again with the Duo.
Annoyingly, this 3D pen kinda breaks the below list, as its most important and unique feature, its twin-tipped nozzle, is forced to appear in “Extras”, along with the stencils and pen caps… Needless to say, this feature is fantastic for more complex drawings, as one can instantly switch between two different filaments, or simultaneously draw with both!
In addition to sporting the same great feature list as its predecessor, the 3Dsimo strives to be more than just a 3D pen.
As with the Duo, the most unique aspects of this 3D pen fall under the “Extras” line of the below features list. In fact, its probably best to refer to the 3Dsimo Mini not as a 3D pen, but as a tool that just happens to draw in 3D. Ho-hum. That’s because it also burns wood, solders, and cuts foam.
The latest version of Scribbler’s base 3D pen model, the V3 is a fantastic all-around choice. In style and features, it’s similar to the SkyWriter3D, but comes at a slightly lower price.
Check Prices of Clones: SketchPro
Don’t let the MYNT3D’s low position on this list fool you — it’s still a winner. How could it not be with its long list of supported filament types, USB cable, and wide range of temperature settings? Unfortunately, competition is fierce here at the top, especially if you have only one nozzle and can’t even cut through foam…
License: The text of "30 Best 3D Pens (Winter 2017 / 2018)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.