Best 3D Pens

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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Pros
Cons
How we tested

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
1 Experts Interviewed
450 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best 3D pens

Last Updated May 2019

Arts and crafts projects can be the perfect activity to bring the whole family together. If your kids enjoy drawing and building models, a 3D pen is the ideal way to combine the two activities. Not only does it allow them to use their imagination to create anything they like but it also leaves them with a three-dimensional item to enjoy.

These pens are similar in design to glue guns, but instead of glue sticks, 3D pens melt plastic filament. The melted filament is pushed out the nozzle and the user is able to direct exactly where it goes. In addition to making art projects, you can also use the pen to create jewelry, make custom items like coasters and bookends, and fix household items like a broken pair of scissors. While children can have a lot of fun with a 3D pen, adults may find quite a few uses for one, too.

But you’ll only have success with your projects if you choose the right 3D pen. With so many models on the market, sorting through your choices can be pretty overwhelming. That’s where our handy shopping guide comes in. It has all the information you need to find the best 3D pen for your projects. If you’re ready to buy a 3D pen, check out our top recommendations.

Filament for 3D pens is available in a wide range of colors, so you’ll have no problem finding the perfect shade for every project.

Key considerations

Wired vs. wireless

  • Wired: These 3D pens must either be connected to the USB port on your computer via a cable or to an outlet with an AC adapter. You never have to wait for the pen to be ready for use, but you do need to work near an outlet. One drawback with a wired model is that the cord can sometimes get in the way while you’re drawing with the pen.

  • Wireless: A rechargeable battery powers these 3D pens, so you don’t need to plug it in to use. You’re able to work with the pen anywhere even if there isn’t an outlet nearby. A drawback is that the battery could die while you’re using the pen, which means you’ll have to wait for it to recharge before finishing your project.
     

Filament

3D pens melt plastic filament to create three-dimensional designs. The most widely used types of filament are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). Most 3D pens can accept both types of filament. However, there are some models that can’t heat up high enough to melt ABS. If you want to switch back and forth between the two, make sure that the 3D pen you’re considering can use both types.

  • ABS: This filament is the more budget-friendly option, but it has a higher melting temperature. While most 3D pens can generate the heat necessary to melt ABS filament, the higher temperature can cause the filament to produce fumes that can irritate eyes and skin and make some users feel sick. It is very important to use ABS filament in a well-ventilated area. (The Material Safety Data Sheet on ABS can be found here.)

  • PLA: This filament is usually a bit more expensive, but it’s a biodegradable material made from natural materials like potato, corn, and sugar cane. As a result, it’s a more environmentally friendly option. It also melts at a lower temperature and doesn’t produce potentially irritating fumes. PLA filament takes longer to cool than ABS.

High-quality pen for all ages

The MYNT3D pen is everything you’d want in a professional-grade 3D tool – it gives you precise control over the temperature, allowing you to adjust it in one-degree increments, as well as control over the speed at which the filament runs through the pen. The easy-to-read OLED display also lets you know the exact temperature of the filament, so you always know how your project will turn out. We also love that the pen is USB powered so you can use it with a battery outdoors or while you’re traveling.

3D pen features

Temperature range: To make sure that a 3D pen can handle the type of filament you want to use, check what temperature range it can handle. PLA filament requires a temperature of approximately 160°C to 220°C (320°F to 428°F), while ABS filament needs a temperature of 180°C to 250°C (356°F to 482°F). A pen with a range of 130°C to 240°C (266°F to 464°F) is usually a good option.

Temperature controls: Pay attention to the temperature controls, too. Some pens allow you to adjust in increments as small as one degree, while others use five- or ten-degree intervals. You may find some pens that don’t offer variable temperature controls. These pens only have a setting for each type of filament, which adjusts the temperature automatically.

Speed: You’ll have much more control over a 3D pen if you’re able to vary the speed that the filament emerges from the nozzle. For filling in large areas, you’ll want a faster speed so you can work more quickly. When you’re working on detailed portions of a project, a slower speed works better. Opt for a 3D pen that provides at least three speeds for the most control. It also helps to select a model that allows you to easily adjust the speed with a dial or button.

Cooling time: These pens aren’t designed to be used for extended periods of time and can overheat easily. To make sure you can finish your projects in a timely manner, opt for a pen that cools off quickly, so you don’t have to wait too long before you can use it again.

Auto shutoff: If you’re buying a 3D pen for children, safety is a priority. A 3D pen can get hot, so leaving it on can potentially mean burned fingers. Choose a model that turns off automatically after a certain amount of time, so you don’t have to worry about the kids forgetting to turn off the pen.

Removable nozzle: The nozzle on a 3D pen can sometimes get clogged with melted filament, which prevents the pen from working properly. Many pens don’t allow you to remove the nozzle, so you’re unable to clear out the clog and use the pen again. However, some models have removable nozzles, which allow you to clean it or replace it entirely. It’s a key feature if you want your 3D pen to last as long as possible.

Accessories: Depending on the 3D pen you choose, you might also receive accessories that make the pen easier to use. Many come with a few colors of filament, so the pen is ready to use right out of the box. Others include finger protectors or a metal spatula to help keep your skin from coming in contact with the pen’s hot nozzle.

EXPERT TIP

Move your 3D pen slowly when you’re creating lines. Working at a slower pace creates thicker lines that are less likely to break.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Use multiple layers of filament to add strength to an item you create with a 3D pen. If a piece breaks off a project, you can use the pen to reattach it with a bit of warm filament.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you don’t have a silicone crafting mat to work on, use your 3D pen on a piece of waxed paper. The filament won’t stick to the waxed surface as it cools.


Staff  | BestReviews

3D pen prices

Most 3D pens range in price from $18 to $150, based on how much adjustability they offer in terms of temperature and speed, as well as what accessories they come with.

Inexpensive

The most affordable 3D pens are fairly basic models that offer just one speed and general temperature settings based on filament type. These cost between $18 and $40 and are a good option for children or adults who are trying a 3D pen for the first time.

Midrange

Pens that offer adjustable temperature settings and include accessories like several colors of filament or silicone fingertip guards are slightly more expensive, ranging from $40 to $75. These models may only have a single speed, but some offer multiple speed settings for more control.

Expensive

The most expensive 3D pens have adjustable temperature settings, adjustable speed settings, and multiple accessories and are ideal for adults who are experienced at using the pen. These pens usually cost between $75 and $150.

Affordable and perfect for kids

The 3Doodler set is an ideal starter 3D pen for children, and its budget-friendly price tag means you won’t break the bank. The pen is designed so no exterior parts become hot enough to burn, so you don’t have to worry about your kids touching the nozzle or pen body. The plastic filament cools quickly, too, which means the pen only needs one speed and temperature to produce masterpieces. We’re also fans of the included activity guide and 48 strands of filament in various colors so kids can start creating immediately.

Tips

  • Use templates. When you’re new to using a 3D pen, it helps to use a template to draw your projects. Many manufacturers include templates with their pens, but you can also find a wide selection online.

  • Start with a sketch. When you start a project with your 3D pen, it’s best to begin with a rough sketch. Once you finish the basic shape, you can go back and add smaller details.

  • Work on a silicone crafting mat. Many 3D pens can be used on a variety of surfaces, but it’s a good idea to create your projects on a silicone crafting mat.

  • Use the nozzle tip to assemble projects. The nozzle of a 3D pen stays hot, so you can create smaller pieces for a project and then use the tip of the pen to soften the pieces and stick them together.

Other products we considered

There is a wide range of 3D pens on the market that are ideal for both beginners and experienced users. If you’re looking for a pen for a child who’s just starting out with the hobby, the Merlion 3D Printing Pen is the perfect choice because it works with both types of filament and features a slim design that’s easy for children to grip. The pen also comes with a dozen different colors of filament so your child can start using it right away. For experienced 3D pen users, we love the Techboss 3D Pen, which offers eight different speed settings for precise control and adjustable temperature controls that can accommodate both PLA and ABS filament. It also includes finger protectors and two colors of filament.

Some 3D pens must be used with the company’s proprietary filament, which can make replacing the filament more expensive.

FAQ

Q. Are 3D pens really safe for children?

A. They are usually safe for children who are eight or older. However, it’s important to remember that the pen gets hot, so you should always supervise kids while they’re working with it. It’s also a good idea to use PLA filament with children because it requires a lower temperature to melt and doesn’t produce irritating fumes.

Q. What is the lifespan of a 3D pen?

A. Most models will last at least a year. Cheaper pens tend to have the shortest lifespan, but higher-end models can last two years or more.

Q. Do 3D pens come with a warranty?

A. Many 3D pens do offer a warranty, but it usually only provides one year of coverage. The warranty is typically limited to manufacturing- and material-related issues, so you won’t be covered if you misuse the pen or it’s damaged in an accident.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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