3D printing can be complex or, if the 3Doodler is any indication, wildly simple. Built by a team of toy designers, the 3Doodler is a pen with a simple plastic extruder at the tip. When you press a button, a thin string of plastic comes out and almost instantly hardens. You can use the pen to draw plastic pictures or, with a little plastic, even build three-dimensional objects.
A pledge of $75 gets you a pen and you can use standard-gauge ABS/PLA plastic – the same material used by Makerbot. The plastic is self-feeding and you can get a few dozen objects out of one string of plastic.
The founders, Peter Dilworth and Max Bogue, are experienced toy designers. Dilworth worked at MIT’s Media Lab while Bogue worked for WowWee in Asia. Both left to begin designing their own toy ideas and this is their first commercial product.
I saw a prototype of this thing last week and it’s very compelling. It’s a fun toy and actually quite useful for very simple prototyping of plastic objects. In a few minutes we were able to build a little wireframe cube and draw a TC logo and, as you can see above, it’s fun to make little 3D drawings of, say, famous Internet bloggers whose names rhyme with Bohn Jiggs.
The project is already funded and it looks like it will be a popular product. It’s fun, clever, and introduces basic 3D-printing concepts without the rigmarole of programming and CAD. Think of it as a LOGO programming language for ABS extrusion fans, which is pretty esoteric but fairly accurate.