3Doodler 2.0 review

Don't sketch ideas, build them in front of you with this 3D-printing pen

While you probably won’t find many practical uses for it, 3Doodler is an incredibly fun tool for creative people of all ages, abilities, and skill levels.
While you probably won’t find many practical uses for it, 3Doodler is an incredibly fun tool for creative people of all ages, abilities, and skill levels.
While you probably won’t find many practical uses for it, 3Doodler is an incredibly fun tool for creative people of all ages, abilities, and skill levels.

Highs

  • Easy, intuitive, and fun to use
  • Smart, comfortable design
  • Plenty of accessories & add-ons

Lows

  • Lacks the precision of traditional printers
  • Not particularly practical

DT Editors' Rating

When the original 3Doodler pen dropped on Kickstarter back in 2013, it was an almost instant success. After reaching its initial funding goal within hours, the device — which at the time was world’s first “3D-printing pen” — went on to rack up more than $2.4 million before the campaign finished.

Now, less than two years later, the company is back with a new-and-improved design that’s slimmer, sleeker, and easier to use than ever before. We took it for a spin to see if drawing 3-dimensional objects in midair is as easy as they made it look in that Kickstarter pitch video. Here’s what we found.

Features and specs

The 3Doodler 2.0 boasts some significant improvements over its predecessor. In addition to a considerably smaller form factor, the second-gen 3Doodler also features a new-and-improved nozzle design, a better heating algorithm, and variable speed and temperature controls. It’s also got a new feed system that makes extrusion more reliable and consistent, and compatibility with a slew of new accessories. No matter how you look at it, version 2.0 is better than ever.

Setup and configuration

Getting started with the 3Doodler 2.0 is absurdly simple. It’s essentially a freehand 3D printer, and what you lose in precision, you gain in simplicity. Just plug it into a power source, shove in a stick of ABS or PLA plastic, and flip the switch to “high.” An indicator light will tell you when the nozzle tip is hot enough to start extruding — at which point you simply hold down the “squirt” button until molten plastic starts coming out. It takes a few seconds to get going, but once it does, you’re off to the races.

Build quality & design

3Doodler 2.0 knocks the socks off version 1.0 in just about every way, but build quality and design are definitely the most significant. In addition to a new sleek new aluminum enclosure, the new version is also ¼ the size of its predecessor, so it’s considerably more comfortable to hold in your hand.

Other additions, such as variable speed buttons and temperature controls, make it easier for users to draw at the pace they feel comfortable with. There’s even a new “continuous feed” mode you can activate by double clicking the extrude button — a feature that allows you to draw large objects without having to strain your hand by holding down a button for the duration of your doodling.

Print performance and learning curve

Simply put, 3Doodler is to 3D printing what the ballpoint pen is to the inkjet printer. Because it’s designed to be used freehand, it’s not nearly as accurate or precise as a traditional 3D printer. But that’s not to say it’s not a useful tool for creativity. With a little bit of practice and imagination, you can make some amazing things with this gizmo.

3Doodler 2.0 knocks the socks off version 1.0 in just about every way.

The thing we liked most about 3Doodler 2 was that you don’t really need any kind of technical knowledge to start using it. You don’t need to fiddle with 3D modeling software or download pre-made STL files to load on to your printer. The device, quite literally, puts creativity at your fingertips. It eliminates the technological barriers between your mind’s eye and what comes out of the nozzle.

The downside is that with this freehand approach, printing performance is directly related to your drawing skills. Just like sketching in two dimensions, it takes a fair bit of practice before you can start making really cool stuff. For the first half an hour or so, the only “doodles” we could make were abstract globs of plastic with erratic lines and spirals coming out of them. But after a few botched attempts at making things, you start to get the hang of it.

Maintenance, repairability, and upgradability

3Doodler’s simplicity extends beyond just drawing and creating objects. It’s also ridiculously easy to maintain. Thanks to its incredibly basic design, it almost never gets clogged or jammed — and on the off chance that it does, the tips can easily be unscrewed for closer inspection, or just cleared out with a needle.

3Doodler Pen
BIll Roberson/Digital Trends
BIll Roberson/Digital Trends

The pen’s design also allows for anumber of upgrade possibilities. You won’t be able to change any of the machines innards, but 3Doodler does offer a variety of different extruder tips, as well as a portable battery pack that allows you to use the pen without being tethered to an outlet.

Verdict

Honestly, you’re not going to make many practical, functional, or truly useful objects with 3Doodler — but that’s not really what it’s made for. At the end of the day, it’s really just a fun artistic tool. If you’re looking for a legit 3D printer that you can make useful objects with, you should definitely look elsewhere. 3Doodler probably isn’t what you want.

That said, if you like the idea of drawing objects in three dimensions, without having to jump over all the hurdles that lie between ideation and creation (like software, computer models, and properly calibrated machinery) then the newest 3Doodler should definitely be in your artist’s toolkit.

Available at: Amazon Brookstone

Highs

  • Easy, intuitive, and fun to use
  • Smart, comfortable design
  • Plenty of accessories & add-ons

Lows

  • Lacks the precision of traditional printers
  • Not particularly practical
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!