The best 3D pens have come on immensely since they were first launched. These nifty gadgets extrude liquid plastic, which cools and solidifies – meaning you're able to draw in mind-air. A brilliant way to visualise designs and create 3D art without the need for complex software, these 3D pens have become super-popular amongst designers, artists and hobbyists.
Providing a fun way to teach children about design and a way of creating three-dimensional models, these 3D printing tools are often made with the educational market in mind. But they are still useful for grown-up designers, too, so we've chosen our favourites available now.
All these pens pack plenty of tech into a compact body meaning that unlike traditional 3D printers, they allow you to move naturally to create and change designs as you go. They're also cheaper to buy and are comfy to hold and use. For some inspiration, see our 3D art roundup, or if you want more capability head over to this list of 3D modelling software. For now, here's our pick of the best 3D pens for artists and designers.
The best 3D pens to buy now
Our top pick for the best 3D pen to buy now is the MYNT3D Pro. The lightweight, ergonomic stylus is aimed at those who have a little experience with 3D drawing, and there are plenty of features that help elevate this pen from the competition. An adjustable feed lets you regulate the speed and flow of the material to help you stay in complete control and tackle differing levels of detail effectively. Temperature can be adjusted in 1-degree increments; monitored via a clear OLED display.
Many 3D pens work with ABS and PLA. This MYNT3D pen goes one step further, opening the possibilities up to any thermoplastic. "If it is 1.75mm and melts between 140-230° C, then it will work in the MYNT3D Pen", says the description – consider, for example, filaments infused with wood or bronze. The modular nozzle design can be replaced easily, which means mistakes with temperature won't put your 3D pen out of action forever. Finally, this pen is USB powered, which means if you want to do some 3D drawing on the go, you can do so by hooking this pen up to one of the best power banks around.
The wireless 3Doodler Start pen has been specially developed for use by kids from six years old and up. As such the controls are kept to the minimum, and the safety is turned up to the max. As with other 3Doodler pens, you have to use the manufacturer's own range of filaments – but the basic pack comes with 48 strands to get you going, in a range of eight different colours. Each strand promises you 60 inches of plasticated doodling – so plenty of chance to try this out for model-making without any further expense.
The 3Doodler Create+ is a brilliant all-in-one 3D printing pen. It's not as feature-heavy as its hard-to-find PRO version, but the design is clean, it's easy to use and the pen itself is tiny compared to many competitors. Support for FLEXY plastics as well as PLA, ABS may be useful, but they do need to be 3Doodler ones. There are 70 colours to pick from and you get 75 filaments included with this package. Dual speed and temperature controls mean you can use this for detail work. Overall, this is a 3D pen that just works well.
The new SCRIB3D P1 3D Pen is designed to be very beginner friendly, with intuitive controls and easy setup (there's also a step-by-step manual and stencil guide for total novices). A stepless speed slider makes it simple to stay in complete control of your 3D drawing – you can slow things down when you need to tackle intricate areas more steadily, or speed it up to fill in large areas quickly. You can also adjust the temperature for use with different types of filament. The pen comes in packs with either 3 colours or 10 colours of PLA plastic provided, but it's also compatible with ABS.
SCRIB3D says the ceramic nozzle and premium motor ensure safe, smooth, clog-free 3D doodling. Finally, for added peace of mind, there's an auto-sleep function that shuts off the pen after two minutes of no use.
The MYNT3D Super 3D Pen is based on the same mechanics as MYNT3D's most advanced Pro model, but with slightly more basic features and as a result, a lower price tag. You're getting the same gearbox, stepless speed slider for controlled drawing, and durable, clog-resistant, replaceable nozzle as the Pro. It's still easy to use, with an ergonomic design and overall excellent reviews.
So what do you lose? There's no OLED display here, and no discrete temperature adjustment. A temperature adjustment screw lets you switch between the correct temperatures for ABS and PLA, but you're limited to those two materials.
This is orange-coloured XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen, from 3D printer specialists XYZprinting, is designed to exclusively use PLA filament. Powered via a USB cable, this handles like a pen extruding a choice of 11 different coloured filaments through its 0.8mm nozzle.
Also consider the white-colored XYZprinting da Vinci 3D Pen Cool, which is more specifically targeted at younger children, and uses PCL filament with a lower melting temperature.