For today’s entry into this year’s Gifts for the Gifted series (every Friday in November and December) I am recommending the 3Doodler. This 3D printing pen has come a long way since I first received the Kickstarter version around a year ago.
If you know a child who loves to create, then this could be a fabulous gift. At $99 you can currently get a great deal – the pen plus 50 strands of plastic. Although $99 may sound like a lot, it is significantly cheaper than a 3D Printer. Also, a computer is not required in order to start making your designs.
The 3Doodler works somewhat like a glue gun. You stick the plastic in one end, and it heats up. As you squeeze the button, the melted plastic comes out and you can direct it into the shape you like. The plastic cools relatively quickly, but I wouldn’t recommend touching it with bare fingers for about 30 seconds.
Because of the heat involved, the 3Doodler is not suitable for young children. I had students as young as 9 using it in my classroom last year with supervision, but would not suggest it for anyone younger. My daughter, who was 11 when we received it, used it with dexterity, but we both accidentally touched the hot part a couple of times. Using it also requires some perseverance and self-control that come with maturity, as it takes some practice to develop the techniques that will allow you to form the designs you imagine.
Since its Kickstarter campaign, 3Doodler has added a few more accessories, which include a stand, a pedal option that allows you to control the pen with your feet, and a set of different nozzles. It is also available in many more retail stores. In addition to purchasing it online, you can find it at Michael’s and Best Buy plus 10 other stores in the United States.
I would suggest that beginners start with some of the stencils provided on the 3Doodler site. The community offers many ideas, but don’t get too caught up in making what is already posted. Be creative!