The best 3D pens in 2023: model and design in 3D

The best 3D pens; a hand uses a 3D pen to draw a complex model
(Image credit: 3Doodler)

When it comes to choosing the best 3D pens there's more choice than ever before; whether you're selecting one of the best professional 3D pens, the cheapest 3D pens or a 3D pen for a child, the choice is impressive. These 3D pens can be used to create art, models and toys, and new 3D pens can even use metal and wood filaments as well as plastics.

3D pens work in similar way to a glue gun. You press a button and they push out a type of liquid plastic, such as ABS or PLA, which quickly cools in the air and turns solid. One way of making art with them is to 'draw' a model from scratch. Another is to add decoration to an existing model, or another object. Alternatively, you could draw a series of flat shapes, then join them together to create 3D ones. 

But which model should you buy? In this article, we've found you the best 3D pen for children, the best 3D pen for adults, the best 3D pen for beginners, and other great options. If you're after a crafting option with more power then consider the best Cricut machines or even the best laser cutters. Or see our best markers guide for more traditional pen options.

The best 3D pens: available now

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The best 3D pens; a person holds a black 3D pen and drawing with plastic

(Image credit: 3Doodler)

4. 3Doodler PRO+

Best new 3D pen for professionals

Specifications

Filaments: ABS, Nylon, Wood, Plastic, Metals
Display: OLED, dial
Control: Temperature, speed, fan

Reasons to buy

+
Uses metals and wood filaments 
+
Variable controls for precision
+
Advanced new tech

Reasons to avoid

-
One for adults only

The new 3Doodler Pro+ is like no other 3D pen around. This is a stylish and feature-laden pen that can not only 'draw' with ABS but also metal, wood and copper. This is one of the best professional 3d pens on the market right now.

The 3Doodler Pro+ features an impressive number of features, including a variable dial that enables you to control temperature, speed and the internal fan for more accuracy.

This 3D pen has been created with adults in mind, and is a great pen for artists and designers looking for a new way to create. The 3Doodler Pro+ comes with materials to get started too.

The best 3D pens: frequent questions

Do 3D pens really work?

Yes, 3D pens really work, if what you want to do is create a 3D model by hand. If you want to create a 3D model based on a pre-existing design, though, you need a 3D printer

A 3D pen uses the same type of heating element to melt filament that you get in a 3D printer. But while the latter is controlled by software, a 3D pen you control entirely yourself, much like using a glue gun, so you can get truly expressive. Once the filament leaves the filter, it cools rapidly, and hardens into whatever shape you have formed it into.

What is a 3D pen used for?

You can use a 3D pen to draw on any flat surface. But, as the name suggests, the real beauty of a 3D pen is that it allows you to draw in mid-air, using plastic filament, and create three-dimensional structures that then solidify. Alternatively, you can draw over an existing object to enhance it. 

Who uses 3D pens?

Anyone can use a 3D pen, but they're commonly used by hobbyists, artists, makers, fashion designers and home furnishing designers in creative projects. They're also used by engineers and DIYers to solve practical problems, by teachers in education, and by kids for fun projects.

What 3D pen should I buy?

The best 3D pen available today is the MYNT3D 3D Pen Pro (opens in new tab). It's light and ergonomically designed, making it easy to hold and use, whether you're a newbie or an experienced hand. An adjustable feed helps you stay in control, and you can increase the temperature in increments. It's USB powered and you can use a wide range of filaments.

What's the best 3D pen for children?

The best 3D pen for children is the 3Doodler Start+ Essentials (2021) (opens in new tab), which is suitable for kids from six and up. The controls are simple, and everything's been subjected to the strictest safety testing. There are no hot parts on the pen and its Eco-Plastic filament is non-toxic, BPA-free, and completely biodegradable in household compost. It typically takes about 45 days for the plastic to break down.

What's the best 3D pen for beginners?

In our view, the best 3D pen for beginners is the 3Doodler Create+ (opens in new tab), because it's so easy to use. Just plug in the pen, insert your plastic, wait for it to heat up, then you can doodle in three dimensions. The extruded heated plastic hardens almost instantly, so you can draw 3D structures, freehand or on stencils. This 3D pen comes with different colours of plastics, which are all safe and non-toxic, and an activity guide book to get you started. 

Are 3D pens environmentally damaging?

If you want to avoid harming the environment with your 3D pen, then the plastic we recommend using is PLA, which is short for Poly Lactic Acid. A polyester derived from renewable biomass, typically from fermented plant starch such as corn, cassava, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp, this type of plastic is both biogradable and sustainable. To be specific, it typically takes around six to 12 months to break down, while for most plastics it takes hundreds of years.

The other type of plastic commonly used in 3D pens, ABS, is not so great for the environment. Short for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, ABS is petroleum-based and non-biodegradable. It's both bad for the environment and more toxic to humans than PLA.

What's the best cheap 3D pen in the US?

If you're tight on cash and in the US, you can get a very decent 3D pen for not much money, in the form of the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen (opens in new tab). Despite being just $39.99 at time of writing, it's an excellent 3D pen, with a stepless speed slider that lets you regulate flow for optimal control of material while you're drawing. You also get a ultrasonic sealed nozzle which virtually nearly clog-proof.

What's the best cheap 3D pen in the UK?

If you're in the UK, your best bet for a cheap 3D pen right now is the Nikand 3D Pen (opens in new tab). Suitable for both adults and kids, it costs just £39.95 at time of writing, and is a nice pen that's easy to hold and use. It also comes with an OLED screen, support for PCL and PLA plastic filaments, and the ability to control speed of filament extrusion.

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Ian Dean

Ian Dean is Digital Arts & Design Editor at Creative Bloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his love to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

With contributions from