The rapid emergence of 3D printing has seen projects designed for the moon, 3D printed food and the near-completion of the world’s first 3D printed house in Amsterdam. Now the field could get a boost with the creation of what designers are calling the world’s smallest 3D printing pen.
While it’s not the first 3D printing pen, the LIX Pen has been unveiled with a crowd-funding campaign set to start on the Kickstarter website. The pen's designers claim it is the smallest and lightest of its kind.
The world’s first 3D printing pen, 3Doodler was launched via Kickstarter last year by WobbleWorks, an emerging toy and robotics company in Boston.
The LIX Pen weighs a mere 35 grams and measures 6.45 inches long with a 0.55-inch diameter, compared to 3Doodler’s 7.5 inches of length and 1.5-inch diameter.
Both pens offer similar design elements and the ability to turn a mid air doodle to a three dimensional structure with LIX Pen stating that "little things can do bigger ideas."
Constructed with aluminium, the LIX Pen operates via a 125 centimetre power cable and connects directly into a usb port supply. ABS and PLA filament (both thermoplastics) are fed into the top of the pen with the ability to heat to 180 degrees with each filament lasting a couple of minutes.
With a steady hand and speed control buttons, the user is behind the freehand design that sees the filament heat and last for approximately two minutes to mould a structure that returns to solid form when cooled.
LIX co-founder Anton Suvorov told Mashable he expects the Kickstarter campaign to start this month. The company will sell the pen for US$139.95 along with a ballpoint pen replica (minus the 3D printing technology) of LIX for US$59.95.
The 3Doodler pen also got its start on Kickstarter with its creators setting a $30,000 goal that turned into an astonishing $2.3 million investment from enthusiastic supporters one year later.
Dim3printing's Dim3W Smart 3D printing pen has also joined the market and has been described as a “toy and a 3D printer.” Ergonomically designed, the pen is set to cost less than $100 and utilises thermal management and continuous variable speed control technologies.
"It adopts the same FDM technology which powers the mainstream desktop 3D printers such as Makerbot, Dim3S, Cube X etc," the company says on its website. " The human ergonomic design allows you to print (draw) an infinite variety of shapes and items, on both the 2D plane and 3D free space."
The modest prices, availability and market demand of these 3D printed pens confirm that the power of design is moving into the hands of the every day consumer and like smart technology, it will be mobile.