Been checking out 3D printers? Expensive, aren’t they? And sl-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w! Not to mention very technically complex. Well, there’s a fun, budget means of doing many of the same tasks. WobbleWorks’ 3Doodler 3D Printing Pen looks like a budget friendly tech-shy non-geek’s alternative.
3Doodler appropriates the core functionality of a 3D printer – which is essentially a heat source coupled with an extruder – bundling it into a pen-shaped handheld device. Loaded with PLS or ABS plastic, the common juice for traditional 3D printers, the 3Doodler ‘prints’ plastic objects after you’ve drawn them in your own freehand in three-dimensional space.
The brainchild of WobbleWorks, a robotic toy company formed in 2011, the 3Doodler came to light after its Kickstarter story got so much positive press and publicity. A small business investment home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology, it’s a brand-new means for startup entrepreneurs. Kickstarter supports projects of all sizes which that are brought to life through the direct support of public investors.
Wobble Works itself only began in 2010. It is the brainchild of three partners: Daniel Cowan, Peter Dilworth and Max Bogue. A star out of MIT’s Leg Laboratory and Media Lab, Dilworth is a major innovator in the field of robotics. While working at WowWee, he met Maxwell Bogue, a filmmaker, toy inventor and computer scientist out of Purdue University, where he was the company’s R&D project manager and helped launch Rovio, RS Mediab and ChatterBots. Cowan, formerly a high-powered corporate solicitor in London, seems to be the practical glue that holds the business together as he overseas marketing and general operations.
3Doodler‘s designers suggest, among what are already a myriad of possibilities, that you can use it to customize existing plastic objects, to make ad hoc repairs, and also to execute using very specific stencils, a means of making, finer, more-precise drawings. To be sure, free-hand penmanship like your own probably won’t allow for the kind of engineer-class precision you can create with a traditional 3D printer, but WobbleWorks see themselves owning a place in the sun as pathfinders for a massive community of users in the near future who will swap downloadable stencils for use with the 3Doodler.
With a 3mm nozzle, the 3Doodler can use off-the-shelf filaments, and variable temperature settings will allow you to use both PLA and ABS plastic, according to the L.A. Times. And although it may pique your kids’ interest, it’s a bit of a dangerous toy to trifle around with because the nozzle sometimes reaches temperatures of 270 degrees Celsius, or 518 degrees Fahrenheit. Child-safety issues aside, what’s all the more welcoming is that it simply requires only a regular power outlet. There’s no need for a computer, or even an SD Card with design files on it. The 3Doodler introduces a new level of accessibility to even the technophobic artistic Luddite-types out there. Its ease of use should also make it an entry-point for those who are interested but still dithering vis-a-vis experimentation with 3D printing.
The first round of 3Doodler pens ship in September 2014, the folks at CES told me. Up until then, especially if you’ve got some loose lolly burning a hole in your pocket, check out what’s going on with these guys via Kickstarter’s web page.