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Computer Aided Design

What is a 3D Printing Pen?

A 3D printing pen is a pen, but what makes it special and distinct to set it apart from the rest of the traditional pens and writing tools we know and use is that it comes with three-dimensional printing capabilities. It can help you create a 3D object, to say the least.

There is nothing to worry about if your mind is finding it hard to imagine. This technology is still in its infancy stage, and thus it is still relatively new. Therefore, not too many people are yet very familiar with it. 

To simplify, imagine your standard glue gun – but the glue sticks you will be using come in a variety of colours and the same smaller tip. However, rather than gluing things together, the coloured glue stick (plastic) will ooze from the pen’s nozzle. You can use this to sketch your artwork or figure in 3D form.

orthoses printed

The biggest distinction is that you do not print them on a piece of paper, but rather you let the figures stand on their own. The effect is comparable to making a sculpture but with a variety of colours and you are using a pen to execute what is on your mind. 

How Do They Work? 

The working technology behind 3D pens is relatively simple. Plastic is melted using heat. As is the case with a standard glue gun, solid plastic filament is driven through a heating chamber to be melted. 

The temperature of the filament varies depending on the materials used to produce it. Once molten, it is pushed into the extruder nozzle. If you are a 3D pen user, you are referred to as a doodler. You will need to manipulate the pen to come up with figures and shapes you desire to make.

Once removed from the pen, the molten plastic will cool down immediately, causing it to solidify. At this point, it will permanently preserve the shape and form of the extruded filament. Polymers or plastic materials used in 3D pens need to melt fast, but they also need to solidify quickly when extruded.

There are only a few polymers or plastic materials that meet these requirements. Among them are polylactic acid (PLA), polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyamide (nylon), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). By far, the most widely used plastic types for 3D printing are PLA and ABS plastics.

PLA Plastic or Poly Lactic Acid is Eco-Friendly

Many people are surprised to learn that PLA is derived from everyday biodegradable materials like foods including corn, potato, and sugar cane. 

If your material is made from biodegradable substances, then the resulting product is also naturally biodegradable. This signifies that even though PLA is a qualified plastic material since it is made from biodegradable components, using it for 3-dimensional printing purposes will not put the environment in harm’s way because it is eco-friendly. 

Additionally, it comes with a lower melting point of 160 to 220 degrees Celsius. When this plastic material is heated, unlike other polymer materials, it will not produce toxic fumes. Rather, it exudes a somewhat sweet aroma akin to that of cooked pancakes. First-time users of PLA plastic in their 3D pens are surprised to learn this. 

3D printing

On the flipside, PLA-based filaments take a long time to cool down after being driven out from the nozzle of the 3D pen. Hence, if you need to work on an intricate design with many details, the use of additional cooling equipment would be necessary. Besides, it tends to be more brittle when placed alongside the ABS-based material. 

Wrapping Up!

Artists and enthusiasts alike can take great pleasure in watching their creation shape and take form right before their very eyes. With the advent of 3D pens, we can gradually move away from flat surfaces and focus more on building out our creative ideas. 

While 3D printers remain invaluable when it comes to creating complicated patterns, parts, and components, if you are seriously interested in showcasing your artistic abilities, you can opt for 3D pens instead.