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I Tried Using a 3D Pen: Here’s What I Found

I Tried Using a 3D Pen: Here’s What I Found
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Last Updated: 17 June 2019

In today’s article, I’m trying out a 3D pen for the first time I got this one off online store. I just looked at what pens were available and went for one that was on the cheaper and with good reviews. It came with some accessories like some filament, a little spatula that you can use to scrape your creations off whatever surface you’re working on, and there’s also a charger and a pen holder and some instructions.

Then I bought another pack of filament: there are 24 different colors in this set, and this one was 42 dollars.

How It Works: Buttons & Configuration

The instructions were a little confusing, so it took me a while to figure out how this all worked because a lot of it has to do with pressing a button then waiting and pressing the same button. Because the forward button is what you use to load the filament and it will just automatically start spitting it out. Then, to stop it from spewing filament, you press that same button. You only use the back button if you want to expel the filament out of the back of the pen.

Left-Hand vs. Right Hand

Then there’s another button on the other side which is for changing the temperature and speed because if you want to build something that needs to be very rigid and freestanding you need the filament to come out slower. It can start to harden so that it stays stiff as you’re creating your pillar or whatever it is that you’re doing. The problem of these buttons is that I’m left-handed and the buttons were definitely configured for a right-handed person, and so I either had to hold the pen upside down or use my index fingers to push the buttons. Therefore, I flip-flopped a little bit between the two methods, but my issue was because I was holding it so weird I kept pressing the wrong button.

Sometimes that accidentally changed the temperature, and other times I’d click the back button which would cause it to spit out all the filament. That was the worst because I had to wait for it to spin it out, and then it does it for like another ten or fifteen seconds. It keeps acting like it’s spewing it out just to make sure everything is out. And I have to sit there and wait for it to spit out all the filament and then put it back in. Other than that I had no issues, and that was mainly just a left-hander issue although I suppose someone who’s right-handed might accidentally press the wrong button too. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I was peculiarly holding the pen.

Tips & Tricks

After fiddling around on a couple of different surfaces just making a little square and then a rectangle along with that thing of tape, I decided I wanted to make a potion bottle. Why? Because I had a glass bottle that I could just trace right over. The problem with this is that the glass is very slippery, so the plastic doesn’t stick to it. Therefore, I would always have to try to get some kind of initial mesh going without it slipping off and then quickly connect some pieces so that it will stay wrapped around and will all fall off because it’s spherical.

I couldn’t just cover the entire thing and pop it off. I suppose if I left one long seam down an edge, I could probably get it off, but I wanted to incorporate a couple of different colors, so I did the bottom half, and then I did some stars to put inside of it. Then I did the upper piece as a separate color with the stars. I drew a star on a piece of paper, and then just traced it with the pen, and then I would trace two half stars and then attach those to the first star so that it’s like a little three-star. I started with the neck of the bottle, and then I constructed a frame for this section right underneath, and I actually had to cut off the top piece so that I could slip it off entirely.

I just needed that first ring around the top so that it would all stay – because, as I said, it’s slippery – so I’m trying to figure out a way to make it stay out of the glass. I started by constructing a frame, and then I would use little scribble motions to fill in all the gaps for the neck of the bottle. I wouldn’t be able just to wrap my pattern all the way around and then slide it off because there’s a lip on the top. Hence, what I did is this: I left a slit down one side and filled in everything else and that way since the plastic is flexible, I could just pop it off the bottle.

My Technique

3D pen creations are just so satisfying to watch. Just seeing the creation come to life is amazing – I should have filmed this. That whole creating something from nothing aspect is simply wow, but this is just something different. It’s so fascinating. I guess it’s the whole 3D aspect. You watch it being like “wow there was nothing there,” and now there’s a 3D object.

For the cork, I made two circles, one slightly bigger than the other one, and then I just combined them by streaking some filament across. And there is my finished little potion bottle with some stars inside. That one involved tracing over a 3D object I wanted to create, something where I would have to create the pieces myself and combine them to create the base mesh I thought I’d be fun to do Spongebob, but that’s actually one of the first 3d pen creations I saw online, and so I just wanted to do something a little different. I still want it to be Spongebob themed but not Spongebob himself. Therefore, I thought of doing his pineapple house first. I drew the size I wanted on a piece of paper, and then I drew some circles. One was gonna be halfway up at the pineapple, and then one was gonna be for the base. Then it actually made a small one that I was gonna use towards the top of the pineapple, but ultimately I didn’t end up using it.

I just made my vertical pieces curved around and touch each other right at the top. Because of the shape, I couldn’t just take one big flat piece and wrap it around my mesh. I had to use little strips and stick them on individually, it’s neat because as you go, you can just create the shape you need to fill in the gaps, so not all these pieces were the same size. Some were thicker, some were straight up and straight down, other ones tapered at the top and bottom – just whatever I needed to fill in space. Then I just scribbled all over the object to fill in some of the gaps because the gaps were pretty significant I probably could have only made smaller gaps when I first made all the little strips. I just waited until it was all constructed and covered the holes because I’m gonna be coloring this one solid and I didn’t want the filament to ooze through the mesh. To make it easier to cover the whole thing I worked in small sections, I worked in little squares.

And I did them diagonally because the pattern on SpongeBob’s house does run diagonally and I wanted it to match that direction. This part took a very long time to do. The base mesh took a while, but because this involves filling in every little crack, it took a very long time. I actually spent about seven or eight hours on this pineapple house in total. One thing I should probably mention is that I did use more than one coil of the orange filament. For some reason, they sent me two of the same orange by accident, but it worked out perfectly because I did need more than one to complete the pineapple. Next, I decided to draw on all the lines for the pattern of the pineapple, and this is where I really screwed up because I didn’t know how to make the pattern seamlessly wrap around and so I just took a leap of faith at one point.

Painting Different Shapes

I’m like “Okay, I’m just drawing a line all the way across. I’m gonna connect this line to this line, and we’ll see how it goes.” But it totally messed up the pattern because as I went, the other pieces didn’t line up correctly and because this thing does taper at the top of that also created an issue and so the pattern is actually really messed up in the back. I fixed a few parts by going over with orange, kind of like I’m erasing the line, but there are still areas where they don’t converge properly. Then there’s a triangle in one spot when it should be a diamond shape, but I sort of hid that when I did the window on the back of the house, but the back still just isn’t pretty. The front looks good, though, and that’s really all that matters. I mean, it is a 3D object, but when you display it, you see it from the front.

So I just did the best I could. With what I did after creating that pattern I got started on the leaves on the top of the house, and I just drew them flat on my mat and then peeled them off. After peeling them, they’re still warm so you could actually bend them a little bit to create a bit of curve for the leaf. The first one I made was way too thick, I thought it was okay initially, but then after making the second one in seeing how thin that was, I decided the first one was just too thick. I didn’t end up using that one, but I just made a few different sizes and then connected them around the top of the pineapple.

At one point my filament got tangled and then just snapped off because it was forming a knot basically and it just snapped. So I had to put it back in. That happens with the filament so try not to let it get all tangled. Next, it was time to start on details for the house, so this is that little chimney spout thing. I don’t know what it’s called. It’s a vent.

For this one, I tried the technique of just slowly building something from scratch. I didn’t wrap around a pencil or anything like that to get the shape, I just went to a cooler temperature so the filament would come out slower and just gradually went in a circle and built up the shape. Then I flipped it 90 degrees and continued to build it up. For the door and windows, I drew them directly on the pineapple. I draw the basic shape, filled it in with solid color, and then created borders. For the frame of the door and windows, I did a couple of layers for the outline so to create almost like a groove, and then I just filled in the groove with more filament.

Final Thoughts

Of course, I had to include the flowers at the base of the house, and for this part, I was switching between colors a lot. It actually doesn’t waste all that much filament when you do switch between colors, which is helpful for some reason. After the green, it expelled a lot of green. I was like “How much is in here?” so that one was a bit weird. But for the rest, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how little filament was wasted when switching between colors. There are bolts along the frame for the door and windows. I initially just did it in blue because I was gonna have all the window and door details in blue, but I thought it looked a little bit weird and I decided to fill in the windows with silver, and I decided the bolt should also be silver just to help balance it out. But I’d already done the bolts in blue, and you can’t just break pieces off. It’s very hard, you’d need to grind them off for little pieces. You can just snip them off, but for something like that, I would need a small grinder.

I just went right over the top with this silver, so it’s a bit thick and lumpy, but it’s okay. All right here is the finished pineapple house. I do really like how it turned out, it’s so fun creating something like this. It’s time-consuming, but it just feels so cool because it’s plastic. It’s different than sculpting something in polymer clay and then once again, here’s my little potion bottle which I also like. I like how that one’s really meshy and the other ones more solid. It’s just a different look.

Well, that was it. I really hope you found something useful in my 3D pen!

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