The 3Doodler 3D printing pen received a lot of attention (not to mention $2.3 million in Kickstarter funding) last year for its potential to make 3D printing accessible to people who find a full-on desktop 3D printer expensive or intimidating. But I had my gripes with the pen: Its bulky shape made my hand cramp up after just a few minutes, taking all of the fun out of using it. There have been a flurry of copycats since, but none have been much more ergonomic.
An upcoming 3D printer pen might finally offer a relieving alternative. The Lix, which will launch on Kickstarter on an unnamed date, is much closer to the size of an actual pen. Its body ranges from 12 mm to 14 mm wide, which is more like a marker than a pen, but still half the width of the 3Doodler.
Along with the width, the placement of the extrude buttons also appear more ergonomic. The 3Doodler’s two buttons, which can be pushed to extrude filament quickly or slowly, are awkwardly close to the bottom of the pen, hard to push and too close together. The Lix’s are farther up its body and look easier to push, although a further review will bear that out.
Its aluminum body also makes it look more like a tool than a toy; it’s attractive enough that Lix is offering a regular ballpoint pen version too.
The 3D printing pen is compatible with ABS and PLA plastic, which is fed into the top of the pen. It’s likely that Lix will sell packs of over-priced sticks of plastic to accompany the pen. It’s still not a children’s toy; the pen’s tip gets very, very hot and plastics emit fumes as they melt.
The Lix 3D printing pen will sell on Kickstarter for $70 before jumping to an estimated market price of $140. The ballpoint pen will cost $40 and then $60.
The U.K. startup behind the pens was established this year. Its founders, Delphine Eloise Wood, Anton Suvorov and Ismail Baran, have backgrounds in art and technology.
I’m still not convinced that 3D printing pens can be more than a novelty. But with its slimmer body, the Lix looks like it could make using them a much more enjoyable experience.