3Doodler's 3D printing pens are a lot of fun, and with models already available for hobbyists and kids, they've already proved pretty popular, with more 750,000 units shipping since the first device launched in 2013. Now, the company is taking things into a more serious sphere, releasing the 3Doodler Pro, a brand new pen that aims to provide a more refined experience to professional users such as architects, engineers and fashion designers.
The most compelling aspect of the Pro is the materials it uses. Unlike previous pens, the new device can make use of plastics that contain a high percentage of other materials, such as wood, copper, bronze, nylon, and even polycarbonate.
According to the company, a finished design using one of these materials will have the same look and feel as, say, a full wood design. There's even a burnt wood aroma given off as a strand passes through the tip (as we experienced ourselves at IFA), and the 3Doodle that's created can be polished, too. The metallic filaments are said to have a similar weight to "real" copper or bronze.
The pen itself features adjustable dials for tweaking temperature (100 – 250º C, or 212 - 482º F) and the flow speed of the strand through the pen (10-100 percent), and there's an adjustable fan built-in, providing control over how quickly the filaments cool. Settings are displayed on an LCD display on the top side of the pen.
The shell of the pen is made from carbon fiber, and the drive system inside has been redesigned to accommodate the new materials, which the Pro alone can use.
The professional-grade pen ships with a protective case, and includes a portable battery pack, nozzle set, and 100 strands of specialty plastic.
The 3Doodler Pro starts shipping today for US$249.
Update Aug 31: 3Doodler's Max Brogue gave us a short demo of the Pro pen, and introduced the new materials. The carbon fiber housing lends the new professional 3Doodler a premium finish, with a rubber grip ahead of the tip helping to keep fingers away from that hot tip during use.
The Pro can make use of the company's range of PLA, ABS and Flexy plastic strands, but the new materials offer professional designers more choice and, in some cases, increased strength for their creations, particularly with the addition of polycarbonate – which can be used with the Pro thanks to the increase in heat capabilities, and dries solid within a second or two.
It did take a few minutes for the necessary temperature to be reached, but the LCD display showed the progress from the starting temp to the desired temp. There was still some residue inside the mechanism from the previous print, which needed to be pumped through and removed before starting the polycarbonate demonstration and material flow rate also needed to be adjusted.
As mentioned above, the wood filament gave off a wonderful smoky aroma when heated, and the simple 3Doodle created had a real wood look to it. Brogue told us that nylon design will have a fabric-like feel when 3Doodled and can be colored using fabric dyes.
In use, it was a similar story to the other 3D printing pens. It will take some hours of practice before you're not getting messy mangled blobs, but designs like the intricate necklace or model house you see above.
The Pro looks to be a solid addition to the range and, as the price suggests, is definitely not aimed at the home doodler.