What Surfaces Can You Use A 3D Pen On? All You Need To Use One!


Writing is thousands of years old. From early prehistoric cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphs, mankind has been using symbols and words to communicate, tell stories and pass down knowledge. 

Today printing is so sophisticated it has gone from being limited to two-dimensional characters on a flat plane to being three-dimensional. 

When most people think about 3D printing, they either think of the small microwave oven-size machines that print star wars figurines or they think of the large room size machines that print houses. Rarely do they think of a 3D printer that can fit in your hand.

3D pens are not as well known as their bigger brothers. In this guide we answer some of the most common questions people have about them. Whether you are new to printing or you already own a 3D printer, this guide will give you some useful tips on how you can use a 3D pen.

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

What Is The Best Surface To Use A 3D Pen On?

A 3D pen will print on any flat surface. They can be used to draw on paper, plastic, wood, steel and just about any surface. 3D pens print with plastic filament. While plastic can bond to any surface it bonds especially well to plastic. This is why a very common use for 3D pens is printing on an existing model. This could be to weld two pieces of a model together. 

3D pens work like glue guns. If you have a model with cracks or any visible blemishes you want to hide, you can use a 3D pen to repair those cracks and hide the flaws. This is a great way to recycle your old bits and pieces of leftover filament from previous prints.

Rather than throw away your scrap filament, a 3D pen allows you to recycle them by using them to repair your flawed or damaged prints. While buying a 3D pen might seem like an unnecessary cost it is a great way to reduce the plastic waste from the discarded filament.   

We also highly recommend that you check out our post ” What Can You Use A 3D Pen For? Uses Beyond Just 3D Printing!

Do You Need Special Paper For 3D Pen?

A 3D pen can be used on any type of paper. The 3D pen will extrude or print melted plastic on paper much like how a pen prints ink. Once the plastic is extruded it starts to cool and solidify into the shape it was printed into. 

In cases where the print is not sticking to the paper you may need to press harder into the paper.  One trick is to print a small blob to use as an anchor point from which you will continue to print. 

One of the most captivating features of a 3D pen is the ability to draw in thin air. This is a more advanced skill as drawing in empty space is difficult, however.

Can You Use A 3Doodler On Paper?

A 3Doodler can be used to draw on paper. It also prints on virtually any flat surface including glass, wood, metal and even fabrics. 3D pens print at a relatively low temperature so they will adhere but not damage the surfaces they print on. 

Even after the filament has cooled and stuck to the surface it can still be removed. This does, however, depend on the surface. It can be easily removed from non-plastic surfaces like paper or cardboard. It is a lot harder to remove from plastic as it bonds more tightly to plastic surfaces. Source

What Do You Use A 3D Pen On?

3D pens are used to draw with. It is exactly like using a pen or pencil to draw with. The key difference, however, is that a 3D pen does not use ink or lead. Instead, a 3D pen draws on a surface with melted plastic that solidifies when it cools. 

3D pens use filament to print with. The filament is heated until it melts inside the pen before being forced out through the tip of the pen. 

The melted filament is pliable and can be molded into any shape. It is also sticky at this point so it can adhere to the surface it is printed on. Once the melted filament is forced through the tip of the pen it rapidly cools down and solidifies into the desired shape.

What Do You Need For A 3D Pen?

3D pens can use almost any type of filament from PLA, ABS, wood, to HIPS. The majority of 3D pens use either PLA or ABS or both. Both PLA and ABS are cheap filaments. They are also the easiest to use for both beginners and professional printers. This is why they are the most commonly used. 

Which should you choose between PLA or ABS? A pen that can use both PLA and ABS will give you greater versatility of use. But if that is not an option which of the two should you use?

PLA

Polylactic acid (PLA) is the most popular filament. It is a plant-based filament with a low heating temperature so it is very easy. This is why most people are drawn to it. The downside of PLA filament is that it is brittle. It does not have the same strength as other filaments like ABS or Nylon.

Because of its brittleness PLA is not ideal for printing anything that might be bent or dropped. PLA is especially suited for 3D pens that will be used by children as it is odorless and is made from biodegradable material. Source

PRINT TEMPERATURE ° CSTRENGTHDURABILITYFLEXIBILITY
180 – 230MediumMediumLow

ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is not as popular as PLA. This is primarily because it has a higher print temperature which makes it slightly harder to use. With that being said, ABS is a stronger and more durable alternative to PLA. 

ABS in a 3D pen can be used to weld or make joints for larger models. Unlike PLA, ABS emits an odor and is made from petroleum. Lego bricks are made from ABS. Source

PRINT TEMPERATURE ° CSTRENGTHDURABILITYFLEXIBILITY
210 – 250HighHighMedium

We also highly recommend that you check out our post ” Everything You Need To Know About Using 3D Pen Filament! (Simple Guide)

sherifjallad

I am a very well experienced techie civil engineer who's extensively interested in 3D printing technology and even more captivated by the potential of 3D printing livable structures

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