If you’re unfamiliar, 3Doodler’s first- and second-generation printing pens worked more or less like hot glue guns. You shove a stick of PLA or ABS in one end and drive it through a hot metal tip on the other end, effectively turning the plastic into a viscous goop that solidifies shortly after you draw something with it. This is awesome for creative people because it allows them to draw in three dimensions, but unfortunately the hot end makes the original 3Doodler pens dangerous for young children.
3Doodler’s creators quickly realized the problem. Here they were with a tool that could encourage creative thinking and imaginative play, but was also too dangerous for kids to use without supervision. So they went back to the drawing board, and spent the better part of the last two years building a pen that doesn’t require such high heat.
The fruit of that labor — the 3Doodler Start — is nothing short of amazing. It looks, feels, and operates almost exactly like the original 3Doodler, but thanks to some incredible chemical engineering from 3Doodler, the filament it uses can be melted at relatively low temperatures. When 3Doodler gave us a sneak peek of the device at CES, they actually encouraged us to draw plastic rings on our fingers — which we did, and miraculously didn’t have to rush to the emergency room thereafter.
And that’s not all: The low-melting point filament (which is also 100 percent biodegradable, by the way) has enabled a bunch of other improvements in the pen. Because the filament doesn’t require high heat, the 3Doodler Start consumes far less power during operation, so it doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source. The pen’s rechargeable lithium ion battery provides about 45 to 60 minutes of wireless use, so kids needn’t be tethered to a wall while they create things.
Starting today, interested parties can pre-order the 3Doodler Start for the special introductory price of $40, and if everything goes as planned, 3Doodler expects to start shipping in May.