The idea of having a using a pen like device to create freeform 3D printed designs first caught the public’s eye when the 3Doodler surpassed its original goal on Kickstarter by over 78x. Since then, 3D pens (opens in new tab) have boomed in popularity.
Having tried the 3Doodler myself I know it's capable of creating some amazing things however the design of the pen itself is rather chunky as it's constrained by the components inside.
Since then many other 3D printing pens have appeared and had the same problems they are large, heavy, uncomfortable and difficult to use however another successfully funded Kickstarter project Lix (opens in new tab) took the idea further by making the first 3D printing pen that actually looks, feels and works like a pen.
With its small size (it claims to be the world's smallest) and ability to draw power from a USB port, this makes the Lix a must-have companion for any 3D designer's toolbox.
Much in the same way the 3Doodler works, Lix requires a spool of plastic to be fed in to it which gets heated up in to an extrudable form then rapidly cooled down to make it stable enough to stand on its own.
3D printers still have their place in the industry of course, as no hand is as accurate or as fast as a machine. But these portable 3D printing pen-like devices give people the power to draw their ideas in 3D and actually interact with them for a fraction of the cost.
Words: Christian Harries (opens in new tab)
Christian Harries is a freelance product designer and recent graduate from Ravensbourne. His portfolio can be seen here (opens in new tab).