Not just Doodling – Using 3D Printing Pens as a Design Tool


Lee-Bath Nelson  

architectural 3D printed structure design created using a 3D printing Pen - University of Tokyo

There might be a perception that 3D printing pens are for doodling and crafting but several designers are using general purpose and customized pens for something completely different.

3D printing Pen designed by University of Tokyo group

Recently, architect Kengo Kuma led a group of University of Tokyo students in an installation (up top) created with a custom 3D printing pen they designed (above). The pen is used to create architectural structures by linking acrylic rods using the melted filament in the pen. These structures are intended to last for 9 months or so, but can be enhanced and reinforced continuously with more filament connections (see detail below).

architectural 3D printed structure design created using a 3D printing Pen - University of Tokyo group led by Kengo Kuma

In fact, the group believes this method allows the community to participate in the creation of temporary pavilions and other structures. One of the main aspects of this approach is that the human touch and intuition is incorporated into the structure, even though there is a 3D tracking system that helps in the construction. Designers on the team believe that embracing the human touch makes this method more applicable and affordable than robotic based large structure 3D printers that typically require huge constructs themselves.

From large scale to much smaller, researchers in Australia developed a 3D printing-like method to deposit stem cells on damaged cartilage and bones, to enable their regeneration. This is done using a Pen-like device, in the most general terms. The pen itself is actually more like a syringe allowing precise application by hand. An example of the application process is in the video above.

3D Doodler design by Esra Oguzz - handcrafted 3D printing

All of this does not take away from the levels of craftsmanship that can be displayed using a 3D printing pen like the Doodler, from children to professional hand craft teachers like Esra Oguzz, who created the car above, to professional designers using the Lix pen below.

lix 3d printing pen - sample designs

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