Polyes Q1 aims to be the first child-safe 3D sketching pen

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The use of UV light, special blue-light polymers and a clever safety trigger could make the Polyes Q1 the safest 3D sketching pen yet

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Startup company Future Make 3D is developing the Polyes Q1, a 3D pen with a slew of safety features that aims to make it fun and safe for everyone – children included – to sketch out three-dimensional sculptures made of plastic. The cordless, USB-charged pen will come with standard, glow-in-the-dark, transparent and temperature-changing inks and is set to hit Kickstarter sometime next month.

When the first 3D sketching pen turned to crowdfunding, it became an overnight sensation that smashed through its funding goal and raised millions of dollars in the process; but as with any first-generation product, it came with a few drawbacks. Pens like the 3Doodler (which we tested earlier this year) are a lot of fun to play around with; however, they work by melting ABS or PLA plastic at temperatures well over 200°C (400°F), and that means a power cord that tends to get in the way, the constant presence of a burning plastic smell, and questions about safety (this is one fun toy that you wouldn't want your children to use unsupervised).

The Polyes Q1 aims to change all that. Like the recently funded CreoPop, it replaces the ABS/PLA plastic with photosensitive polymers that harden when exposed to UV light coming from the pen tip. This is a lot safer, allowing for room temperature operation, and is also easier on power, meaning that pesky power cord can be replaced by an internal battery with about an hour's worth of use between charges.

The pen will come with two additional features designed specifically to make it safer to use by anyone, children included. The first is an option to make the pen automatically stop working whenever it's pointing upward, which is a clever way of preventing kids from picking the thing up and shining UV light into their own eyes. Even better, the second feature circumvents the need for UV light altogether: according to the company, you'll have the option to buy a "blue light resin" polymer that hardens under blue light rather than the much higher-energy UV light, making the pen "as safe as a flashlight."

Polymers will come in liquid form inside small cartridges that are said to have enough material for 13 minutes of continuous sketching using the standard 1 mm tip (though you'll be able to switch to a 2 or 3 mm tip as well). The plastics are non-hazardous and come in a range of colors as well as glow-in-the-dark, temperature changing and transparent varieties.

On the side of the pen a button will let you activate the UV light on its own, which is useful in case you want to spot-harden the polymer. As with most other 3D sketching pens, you'll also be able to tweak the speed at which the ink comes out to fit both your personal preference and the environment you're in (the polymer can take longer to harden based on heat and humidity levels). Finally, an LED indicator will tell you when it's time to plug in the USB cable and recharge the internal battery.

There's been no word on price yet, as the Kickstarter campaign isn't set to begin until next month. However, based on similar products, we think it's fair to speculate that the pen will be somewhere in the US$80-120 range, with each cartridge coming in at under five dollars each.

You can watch a quick demo in the video below.

View gallery - 7 images

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