3Doodler's 3D-printing pens have always had a lot of potential (who doesn't want a souped-up glue gun that can draw 3D structures in midair?), but in our hands-on with the pens, their rough build quality means they come across more as toys than serious design tools. The company's latest model, the 3Doodler Pro, wants to shake up this perception, offering professional users more control, faster-setting plastics, and a whole new range of materials to work with.
Some of the new filaments on offer are pretty wild, too. 3Doodler says the Pro supports materials including wood, copper, bronze, nylon, and polycarbonate. Obviously, this doesn't mean you'll be sticking a length of dowel in the back of the Pro to draw tiny pieces of wooden furniture — instead, these new materials blend elements of their namesake into the plastic standard filament.
So, in the case of the wood filament, there are actual bits of wood chips embedded in the plastic. Speaking to The Verge, 3Doodler's co-founder and COO Daniel Cowen said that this means that not only does the filament smell like wood, it also feels like it.
"Because real wood is used the finished items can be sanded or stained," says Cowen. "Cooper and bronze, as you will feel, also have the weight of real copper and bronze, more strength, and can be polished or sanded for a real metallic glimmer or shine. This cannot be done with plastic alone."
It's an impressive claim, and one we'll have to check out for ourselves to get the full measure of.
Apart from the new plastics, the pen itself has also been revamped. It has a new, lightweight carbon fiber shell, an LCD display to give information on its condition, and dials to adjust extrusion speed and temperature. The bit of the pen that actually melts the filament has also been overhauled to make it faster, with 3Doodler claiming users can now "create a solid structure in one swift gesture." The Pro goes on sale today from 3Doodler's website and the MoMA Design Store, with prices starting at $249. Other retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, will soon follow.