You don't need a 3D printer to create 3D! With best 3D pens, you can 'draw' in three dimensions, and craft a wonderful piece of physical art. You don't need any training or skills: just follow your instincts.
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. We start our list with the best 3D pens in the USA; otherwise, you can skip ahead to the best 3D pens in the UK.
The best 3D pens: US
Lightweight and ergonomic, the MYNT3D Proeasy to hold and use. The modular nozzle design is easy to replace, so mistakes won't put it out of action. And experienced hands will appreciate its sophisticated features. All this makes it, in our eyes, the best 3D pen on sale today.
You can adjust the speed and flow of the plastic filament for finer control. You can also make fine tweaks to its temperature, in one-degree increments. And there's even a OLED display to monitor this, too. Plus it's super-flexible. Unlike many other 3D pens, the MYNT3D Pro supports a range of filament types: not just ABS and PLA, but according to the makers, any thermoplastic. "If it is 1.75mm and melts between 140-230° C, then it will work in the MYNT3D Pen", they claim. That could mean, for example, filaments infused with wood or bronze.
The pen is USB powered, so you can do some 3D drawing while you're away from a wall socket, by hooking it up to a plug adapter, laptop or one of the best power banks, as long as they have at least 2A output. The only possible downside to this 3D pen is that it's quite expensive, and probably overkill for beginners and kids.
When it comes to kids, preventing accidents has to be your priority. And so the 3Doodler Start is a great choice. Designed for children of six years old and above, this wireless 3D pen has been subjected to the strictest safety testing. It features no hot parts, and the nozzle and plastic can be touched with no burn risks. Controls are kept to the minimum, too, making it very easy for young ones to use.
As with all 3Doodler pens, you're restricted to the manufacturer's proprietary child-friendly filament. The basic pack comes with 48 strands, in eight different colours, each of which offers 60 inches' worth of filament, so it'll probably be a while before you need to buy more. You also get a micro-USB charger and an activity guide.
Never used a 3D pen before? Then we recommend the 3Doodler Create+. It has a beautifully ergonomic design that's easy to use, even for first-timers. More experienced hands will enjoy using this too, with dual speed and temperature controls giving you a nice degree of control. This pen supports FLEXY plastics as well as PLA and ABS, although be aware they must be 3Doodler ones, which tend to be on the pricey side. You get 50 filaments included with this package, in a variety of colours, as well as a comprehensive guidebook.
Watching the pennies? Then check out the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen, which represents excellent value. It's similar to the Pro model (number one on our list), with the same gearbox and replaceable nozzle design. And yet at time of press, it was a lot cheaper.
There's a reason for that, of course. Here, you don't get the OLED display, or the temperature adjustment feature. Instead, a temperature adjustment screw lets you switch between the correct temperatures for ABS and PLA, but you're limited to those two materials.
However, it's still a great 3D pen, which is easy to use in practice. Plus you get a stylus, three colours of ABS plastic and a 100-240V AC 50/60Hz adapter in the box. So overall, this 3D pen represents excellent value.
If you're really short on funds, you’re looking for a 3D pen that’s not only cheap to buy, but cheap to run too. And the MYNT3D Basic Pen ticks both these boxes.
Compatible with the same low-cost ABS and PLA plastics that 3D printers use, it allows you to push out plastic at slow, medium or fast speeds. It also boasts a sealed nozzle and overbuilt gearbox for clog free operation.
Otherwise, this is a basic 3D pen, with no clever features. It’s powered via USB using a proprietary cable, so if you lose that, you’re in trouble. Plus if you don’t have a USB slot to plug it into, you’ll need to buy a wall adapter. But on the other hand, the low price may make these compromises you're willing to make.
Another child-friendly option, the MYNT3D Junior2 3D Pen is designed for ages six years old and above, with an easy-to-grasp design and low temperature nozzle to keep your kids safe. It’s shorter and thicker than most 3D pens, making it good for tiny hands. It works with PCL filament (which is biodegradable), and is not compatible with ABS or PLA.
This pen features the same sealed nozzle design as more advanced MYNT3D pens to stop clogs. It’s battery powered and can be charged via Micro USB, although do note that an AC adapter is not included. There are two indicator lights that show battery life and temperature.
Overall, it feels a bit cheap, but does the job it’s intended for, and kids will find it easy to use. As well as the pen, you get three rolls of MYNT3D PCL plastic, starter stencils, a user manual and a USB cable.
The best 3D pens: UK
Whether you're an old-hand or a total newbie, you'll find the MYNT3D Pro is the best 3D pen on sale today. Light and ergonomically designed, it's easy to hold and use, making it a good choice for beginners. The modular nozzle design is easy to replace, so mistakes won't put your pen out of action. And those familiar with 3D pens will also appreciate its speed and temperature controls, and clear OLED display
This pen is also great for trying different filament types, because it doesn't just support ABS and PLA, but any thermoplastic. It's USB powered, making it nice and portable when teamed with a USB device. And the modular nozzle design is easy to replace, so if you have an accident, you won't have to replace the whole thing.
The 3Doodler Essentials (2021) Start+ is our clear choice as the best 3D pen for children. Adhering to strict safety standards, it's designed with no hot parts, which means the pen nozzle and plastic can be touched without risk of burning. That makes it a safe choice for kids aged six and upwards.
It's also easy for kids to use, as the controls have been kept purposely simple. As with all 3Doodler pens, you can only use the company's own range of filaments, but you do get 48 strands to get you going, in eight colours. Each strand offers 60 inches' worth of 3D printing, so that will get you pretty far before you need to buy more.
Never held a 3D pen in your life? Then we'd recommend the 3Doodler Create+ as it's easy to use, and easy to hold. That said, you get speed and temperature controls too, so experienced 3D pen users will also find much to like here.
In terms of materials, your options include FLEXY plastics as well as PLA and ABS, although you are limited to 3Doodler's own proprietary ones. You get 75 filaments included with this package, as well as a compehensive guidebook. All in all, this is a reliable 3D pen that offers good value for beginners.
Low on cash? The Nikand 3D Pen offers great value, hitting that sweet spot between affordability and features. You can use different types such as PLA or PCL filament, and an interior cooling system protects it from overheating. The nozzle is just 0.6mm in diameter, making it a good choice for delicate and detailed work. And you can control the speed of extrusion to create small and perfectly formed 3D parts.
Information about the current settings is displayed on the OLED screen in real time, including speed, temperature, and plastic type. It’s powered by a USB cable included in the kit, so can be connected to a laptop, power bank or any other device with a USB port; alternatively you’ll need to buy your own USB adapter for a wall socket.
The kit includes include a set of five colours to get you started (blue, red, yellow, green and black). And you also get a holder for your 3D pen.
Shorter and thicker than most 3D pens, small hands will find the MYNT3D Junior2 3D Pen for Kids very comfortable and intuitive. It's also safe, with a well-designed temperature nozzle making sure your kids don't burn themselves.
It also boasts the same sealed nozzle design as more advanced MYNT3D pens to stop clogs, which should help prevent temper tantrums. Plus it's battery powered, stopping your kids from getting all tangled up with wires. You charge it via Micro USB, athough note there's no AC adapter: you have to buy that yourself. There are two indicator lights that show battery life and temperature.
As well as the pen, you get three rolls of MYNT3D PCL plastic, starter stencils, a user manual and a USB cable. This pen is suitable for children aged six years and older.
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.