Last updated: April 19, 2023

3D printing pen

Assorted pens


For many, 3D printers are financially unattainable, boasting price tags of $180 or more. Even the smallest 3D printers take up space, so if cost was not a inhibiting factor, size could be. Fortunately, 3D printing pens offer a portable, inexpensive way to experience 3D printing at the expense of precision.


A 3D pen printing the word 3D3D printing pens came into existence in 2013 when Maxwell Bogue and Peter Dilworth sent a print job to a 3D printer only to realize 14 hours later that the 3D printer missed a single line. The frustration that ensued resulted in the creation of the first 3D printing pen known as the 3Doodler.

3D printing pens are like 3D printers, but instead of a computer controlling the printing a human controls it instead. Like 3D printers, 3D printing pens extrude heated filament instead of ink which allows for three-dimensional design. Image source

There are two types of filament that can be used with most 3D printing pens: PLA and ABS. ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and is an oil-based material. PLA stands for Polylactic Acid and is derived from sugarcane and cornstarch.

PLA is often used because it melts at a lower temperature and doesn’t emit harmful fumes.


To start printing, first, you select a preset for the filament you are using or, if there are no presets, manually set the pen to the right temperature–melting points for each material can be found here.

Using a 3D pen

Once preheated, place the filament into the opening at the back of the pen and then press the forward button (usually an arrow facing the front of the pen) to load the filament.

Holding the 3D pen as it warms up and material begins extruding

Once the material extrudes from the front of the pen, you can start creating your designs.

Holding the 3D pen as material starts to extrude

Brand information

One of the leading brands in 3D printing pens is the 3Doodler. The 3Doodler offers four different 3D printing pens developed with certain age ranges in mind . The main difference between the four is the level of simplicity. Those for younger audiences have fewer buttons and features while those for older audiences have more heat options and extruding speeds. A big drawback to the 3Doodler is that they use proprietary materials meaning you can not buy bulk generic PLA and ABS filament to use with the pens. Other pens on the market, like the mynt3D 3D printing pen, sell their own filament but also allow the use of generic filament.

Uses in education

3D Printing Pens can be used to prototype and visualize concepts in education. Students can learn the parts of an atom and how they connect by 3D printing a Rutherford model of an atom of their choosing. Students can also learn the parts of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells by building each part of the cell and comparing the similarities and differences.


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