A few years ago choosing a 3D pen was a simple task. There were only a handful of models on the market, and the pens all performed similarly. Well, in 2017 this is not the case anymore.
When doing a online search for “3D Pen” through Amazon or Ali-Express you will find thousands of options from hundreds of different manufacturers. Many of these pens are no-good, as you will quickly see by reading the product reviews of unsatisfied customers.
Fortunately, we have gone through the trouble of separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. In this review we decided to list the 5 best 3D printing pens which we tested, with a focus on quality, durability, and features.
September 2017: We've added a whole new section to this roundup review, called Cheap 3D Pens, as we decided to review some pens for those shopping on a strict budget.
In the table below we have reviewed the best 3D drawing pens of 2017. The 5 pens you see in the table below are the cream of the crop; feature loaded and stylish to boot.
The best and most versatile 3D pen of 2017
Great design, best looking 3D pen
The most popular 3D pen on the market
Best for kids, uses cool ink not hot plastic
Cheaper, jack of all trades master of none
In this review we not only tested each of the most popular premium 3D printing pens currently on the market but also the best budget picks. Here is our list of 5 value for money picks.
The best value for money 3D drawing pen
Popular choice and great for kids
Very cheap, lots of features and extras
Modern design, supports many plastics
Very cheap but not recommended
Before we do an in-depth review of each product, it’s important to introduce this fairly new technology properly.
A printing 3D pen can best be described as a bulkier version of an ordinary pen, but its ink consists of plastic. This plastic filament is fed into the pen and melted inside, very similar to how the extruder on a 3D printer works.
This melted plastic is then drawn into a shape, either on a piece of paper, or on top of another shape. This new technology is quickly gaining popularity among artists who want to express their creativity on something other than a piece of paper.
For an introduction to 3D printing check our post How to Use a 3D Pen.
With some types of plastic you can even draw freehand in the air, and the plastic will cool quick enough so it that keeps its shape. When you’ve mastered this technique you can create functional shapes and art, like the picture of the bag I created below. If you want to see examples please take a look this handbag from my Portfolio.
Although 3D Pens use the same plastic filament as 3D Printers, that’s about where the similarities end! From the picture above you can see that the level of detail and artistic impression of 3D pen art isn't comparable to the 3D models you make with a 3D printer.
With that being said lets move onward to the review process.
Here’s a list of the categories which we used to evaluate the pens in this review:
Qaulity of Design:
Value for Money
For each pen you will see an overall score out of 10. Click on "view all scoring categories" in the drop-down box to see how each pen faired for the categories listed above.
And now without further ado, let’s take a look at Pen&Plastic’s round-up of best 3D printing pens currently on the market.
Only pen with a Mobile App
Only pen with 4 Add-On Modules
Works with wide range of plastics
After rigorous testing, the 3D Simo Mini wins our award for the best 3D pen of 2017. We ended up spltting hairs between this and the Lix 3D Pen, but ultimately the modules and mobile app won 1st place for the Mini.
Simo is a European manufacturer of 3D art pens, who ship all over the world, including the USA and Canada.
The 3D Simo range first appeared in a Kickstarter campaign and since then the company has become one of the leading brands in creating quality and reliable 3D printing pens.
The recently launched Simo Mini represents the cutting edge when it comes to 3D Pen technology.
For starters, you should know that it’s not just a 3D printing pen, it comes with a number of attachments that you can use in order to make it multi-purpose. Let’s take a look at the features on offer in this premium package.
Variable temperature settings – can use the pen with all filaments, not just ABS or PLA.
Multifunctional – not only used for 3D painting and drawing, but it can also function as a soldering iron or a heated cutting tool.
Has an burning element – should you wish to decorate wood or leather.
Attachments are easily interchangeable – are all supplied with the pen, making this the swiss army knife of 3D printing pens!
Moible App – Only pen which offers connectivity via the Mobile App!
By using the above mentioned mobile app you can activate the correct settings for the type of filament you are using, and you can even watch some helpful tutorial video.
This unique feature, along with rock solid build quality and clever design are what separates the 3D Simo Mini from its rivals and thereby distinguishing itself as the best 3D printing pen for 2017.
If you want to see the 3DSimo Mini in action, take a look at this promotional video, and be sure to check out our full review of the 3D Simo, where we take a closer look at this swiss army knife of 3D pens.
Small, light and stylish
The Apple iPhone of 3D pens! This sleek looking pen definitely takes the prize in aesthetics category hands down!
Lix, a Belgium manufacturer, took the world by surprise when they announced that they would be creating the world’s smallest 3D printing pen.
Since the start of its production, the Lix 3D printing pen climbed to the very top, and it is not by chance that consumers and critics alike are signing its praises. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a review unit of this amazing 3D printing pen.
The Lix 3D Smart Pen excelled at every test in our lix pen review. The most noticeable aspect of the Lix is the fact that it operates so quietly. You can use this pen in the library without disturbing anyone!
This is not the case with other pens, as the extruder often creates a hum when operating. Not only is it quiet and beautiful, the build quality is top notch, and it works brilliantly on almost all the surfaces we tested in this lix 3d pen review.
The final major selling point of the this pen is that it is cordless, and can be charged via USB cable. This allows you a lot more freedom when drawing free-hand, and you can even use it outdoors.
The only downside to the pen is that you pay for the good looks and excellent build quality. But that being said, should you choose this pen it is money well spent!
Do you want our take on this pocket-sized powerhouse? Take a look at the extensive list of features in the table below.
Amazing performance matched by sleek looks.
USB powered – allows you to use a powerbank for better freehand drawings
Designed for flat surface or freehand modelling
2 Heat settings – for ABS or PLA
Precision extrusion control
LED Battery indicator
50 m of plastic filament included
3Doodler’s Create takes 3rd place in this 3D pen reivew..how fitting!
If you’ve ever browsed the market to purchase a 3D printing pen you would undoubtedly have come across the 3Doodler series.
The range comes in 3 flavours, namely 3Doodler Create, Starter and Pro. If you’re at a new or intermediate level when it comes to 3D drawing then the Create will not disappoint you.
3Doodler’s Create is a huge upgrade over the previous iterations. Its lighter, extrudes faster and feels more sturdy. This is thanks to the enhanced drive system which also allows for near silent printing.
Its rectangular body makes it fairly easy to control. It’s aluminium case gives it an elegant finish and helps to make the 3D pen feel lighter. This pen can definitely compete with the Lixpen when it comes good looks and aesthetics.
In summary, the Create is the most versatile model from 3Doodler. This works well for hobbyists, crafters, artists, and professionals, alike.
It is best for art, DIY projects, scale models and even decorative items. However, due to the lack of LCD screen, we would not recommend it to professional users.
Here is a list of features which help separate the Create from its competitors.
Easy to use – As with all 3 Doodler 3D pens, the Create is very simple and intuitive.
Temperature and Speed Control – 2 temperature settings for ABS and PLA, dual speed setting.
Unfortunately, it has no LCD screen, so you cannot manually adjust the temperature. This can be a major downside when working with a wide variety of plastic filaments.
Improved Drive System – Allows for smooth, silent and fast operation
Variety of Plastics included– The Create is sold with 50 different types of plastic.
Prints with Cold Ink not Plastic!
Child Friendly - No hot parts
Battery operated - Cordless
And now for something different. CreoPop is a venture-backed company based in Singapore, and their product might change the future of 3D Pens.
The CreoPop 3D Printing pen makes this list due to its revolutionary capability of printing cold ink which dries quickly when exposed to light. Pretty neat yes?
Well that’s not all, the CreoPop 3D is also a cordless, similar to the Lixpen reviewed earlier.
The benefit being that it’s completely safe for kids to use due to the lack of a hot tip nozzle, and you have much more flexibility and options when you are not limited by a plug and cord!
At the start of the 3D pen craze, 3D plastic pens with hot extruders were the only 3D pens available. In September 2015, the 3D Creation Maker was launched, marking the first non-heated 3D pen which could compete with the established brands.
Children will find the Creopop cool 3D pen much safer and easier to use than your standard hot nozzle pen. It is also cordless so that makes it great for youngsters who might want to do some outdoor 3D art. Earlier versions of the Creopop could only print of flat surfaces, as the ink would take a long time to harden.
This was a huge disadvantage as other plastic pens can draw freehand 3D shapes in the air.
Creoprop solved this problem by since developing a pen which uses ink that hardens as quickly as heated plastic does. What was their secret you may ask.. Well, the ink used in the Creopop hardens to light exposure!
In contrast to your standard 3D pen which uses thermoplastics, CreoPop’s product uses cool ink. Lets take a look at this 3D drawing pen’s unique features.
No hot parts – no melting plastic and no unpleasant smell.
CreoPop uses photo-polymers – these are solidified using LED diodes to let users create amazing 3D designs.
No heating required – CreoPop is safe in a home environment with children and pets around.
Cordless design – Cable won’t get in the way of your art
Large selection of cool inks available including different colors – elastic ink, magnetic ink, glow-in-the-dark ink, temperature sensitive ink and body paint ink.
Bright OLED temperature display
USB / Powerbank powered
Works with wide range of plastics
Next up on the list is the MYNT3D’s offering. It is sold by an American retailer and is packed with features considering that it is a reasonably priced 3D printing pen.
This pen sports an ultra-thin design for easier handling, on account of its ergonomic shape and smart design. Similar to the 3Doodler Create, the MYNT3D sports a rectangular body, but the plastic feel is definitely a downgrade from the Doodlers aluminium finish.
Where the MYNT3D has a leg-up over the Doodler is it’s beautiful OLED display helps you monitor the temperature. This pen also comes with adjustable speed control allowing you to fill large areas quickly or slow it down to create a detailed masterpiece.
MYNT3D Professional Printing 3D Pen is one of the most competitive and reliable products on the market. It is cheap but is packed with impressive features, and a generous helping of sample plastics for your use.
This pen is one of the most competitive and reliable products on the market. It is cheap but is packed with impressive features, and a generous helping of sample plastics for your use.
One thing to note is that one or two consumers have reported the pen not working when they received it, however Mynt3D's pen does come with a 1 year warranty.
This 3D printing pen will enable you to take your innovation to new heights. It is not difficult to use, proficient, and solid, which is why pen makes sits pretty at no.5 on our list.
Listed below are its most impressive features:
Adjustable Temperature – You can adjust the pen’s temperature from 130 to 240 C, by 1 degree increments, allowing you to use both PLA and ABS plastics.
Adjustable flow – Allows you to regulate the flow of plastic while you draw your 3D object. Make it flow quickly to fill large area’s fast, or slowly for precision molding.
Usable with special plastics – This pen allows works with the full range of plastics, not just ABS and PLA. You can use wood or even conductive filaments.
Portable Powered – This pen can be powered from a 2A battery bank, giving you freedom from cables and plug sockets.
Modular Nozzle – A typical problem with cheap 3D pens is that the nozzle gets clogged and your pen becomes useless. Luckily, the MYNT3D comes with a replaceable modular nozzle.
1 Year warranty – For North American customers only.
When it comes to buying a budget 3D pen, the options on the market are plentiful. Yet so many of these pens break after a few hours of use, have no warranty, and therefore receive terrible customer reviews.
To help you not fall into this trap, we decided to create a buyer’s guide reviewing the best 3D painting pens on a budget.
Bright OLED temperature display
USB / Powerbank powered
Works with wide range of plastics
Introducing the latest offering from a Californian based 3D printing firm, meet the AIO Robotics Premium 3D Drawing Pen. This pen is aimed towards professionals and teachers who will be using it to draw complex models.
Yet it only retails at around 50 USD…this is why the 3D pen from AIO wins our award for the best cheap option in this 3D pen review.
AIO Robotics’ pen has a stylish look. It’s ultra-slim and has an ergonomic touch that makes it extremely comfortable to grip this pen.It comes with a USB charging port which is awesome since users can use the pen freely without worrying about finding a place to plug it in. Simply use a high speed cellphone charger or a powerbank.
You can charge it anywhere you can plug in a USB charger. It comes with a bright OLED display and you have a variety of compatible plastics to choose from.
This 3D Pen can only be used with PLA and ABS plastics. Please read our post reviewing 3D printing materials if you are uncertain about which plastic to use for your 3D objects.The offering by AIO Robotics is aimed at precision work. You have complete control on flow and speed of the ink, and you can adjust the temperature in 1-degree increments.As a result, you can control the way this pen draws. It makes your life much easier while crafting compared to 3D drawing pens that give a constant speed and flow. AIO’s pen was one of the best we tested on flat surfaces.
OLED display – Great display for temperature monitoring.
High-precision nozzle - for slow or fast 3D printing.
Great looking 3D pen – Ultra-slim, high-quality design.
Portable Powered – This pen can be powered from USB, even a 2A battery bank, giving you freedom from cables and plug sockets.
Established 3D printing brand – ROHS approved and FCC, CE certified.
1 Year warranty – For North American customers only
Quick Cleaning Function
Temperature and Speed Regulator
A lot of Extras Bundled
Meet the Scribbler V3, and as the name may suggest, it is an updated version of the legacy Scribbler Pen. If you’re in the market for a cheap 3D pen with plenty of features, then the Scribbler V3 is a great option.
This is the newest version from Scribbler and it performed surprisingly well during our testing.This pen was the lightest in the budget 3D drawing pen review, which makes it very easy to draw with.
Furthermore, if you are looking for Scribbler 3D pen filament, then you will be glad to know that it works with both ABS and all types of PLA, but unfortunately not with Flexi or Nylon plastics.
This Scribbler does not have any metal parts and comes with a removable nozzle made of ceramics.For ease of use, it also includes an OLED-display that helps you read all the operation mode data clearly.
The heating element is enclosed in a heat-resistant plastic case to keep you from getting burned.You can choose from a wide variety of colors. We definitely give this pen the thumbs up if you want to buy it for your kids. Scribbler has taken a huge step forward with the Version 3 model.
As you can see from our Scribbler 3d pen V3 review, it's packed with features. It is easy to use, very versatile yet at an affordable price. We didn’t hesitate to award this pen as the runner up for the cheap 3D pen category.
LED Display - For monitoring the filament and extruder temperature.
Quick-Cleaning Function - To save time during maintenance, this is equipped with a quick cleaning function.
Wide range of printing materials - It can accommodate different plastics namely PLA, ABS, wood, metals and more.
Temperature and Speed Regulator - Scribbler's Pen includes buttons for temperature and speed settings.
Warranty - This product comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and 180-day free replacement.
Very Cheap 3D Pen
Advanced Nozzle Technology
Step-less Speed Setting
As we move on through the Chinese manufacturers on the list here is another 3D Pen which delivers. This 3D pen by 7TECH is a quality offering and together with its excellent customer reviews we decided that it deserves 3rd place on our list.We found the 7TECH’s design very similar to the Soyan 3D printing pen in size and shape.
We mention later that the Soyan is similar to this pen, and this seems to be a pattern with the Chinese manufacturers.What sets this apart from the Soyan is it has an LCD screen which shows temperature.At first glance this pen looks bulky, but it turns out to fit comfortably in our hands, it’s also quite light.
It includes temperature and speed control for ease of use. In addition to this, it supports both PLA and ABS filament.
In general, this Pen was designed for easy of use. It is OK for youngsters 8 years of age, and an aluminium spatula protects little fingers from the hot nozzle. The 7TECH 3D Drawing Pen is packed full of features and product reviews are excellent.Combined with the warranty 7TECH’s offering passes our review with flying colors.
LCD Screen – You view the temperature on the LCD screen, different plastics need different temperatures to melt so this is extremely useful.
Step-less Speed Setting – Full control of speed of extruder. Adjustable Temperature – Allowing use of both PLA and ABS materials.
Free Stencil eBook – Use these templates to get started with 3D printing, great for kids!
Clear LCD Screen
Can use special plastic filaments
Comfortable shape and design
Our top choice when shopping on a very strict budget is the QPAU Intelligent 3D Pen.
When you factor in that this is one of the most affordable 3D printing pens on the market, and has the versatility to work with QPAU's wide range of filaments, then the QPAU Intelligent 3D Pen. screams value for money.
This pen is really all you need to get started in the 3D drawing world. It has a comfortable design, an LCD screen which allows you to adjust the temperature of the extruder, this is especially important if you plan to use different types of plastic.
It is also easy to use for beginners, but has enough options to satisfy someone who is experienced in 3D printing.
The current offer (as of 2017) allows you to pay an extra 15 USD for 20 pieces of extra filament.
2 FILAMENTS SUPPORTED – Compatible with PLA (at 160-180℃) and ABS (at 180-210℃) filaments at 1.75 mm diameter. This gives you the freedom to choose whatever material you prefer.
8-LEVEL SPEED CONTROL - With the 8 step speed control, this 3D pen provides a lot of versatility and control, compared to some cheaper pens without the stepwise speed control
ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE DESIGN – With its patented ceramic nozzle and adjustable temperature ffeature, this 3D pen is extraordinarily friendly and safe while drawing. Also it provides accurate and stable extruding.
OLED DISPLAY - The OLED display will not only indicate the type of filament you are using (PLA or ABS), but it also displays the temperature. This makes it easy to control the flow rate and viscosity of the plastic you are printing with.
COMFORT - It comes with 2 finger protectors to cover your thumb and index finger to avoid hurting during use. Since the tip of the pen will become hot while the pen’s working, it’s necessary for children younger than 8 to use this pen under adult supervision.
Cheapest of all pens tested
Comes with step-less speed control
Easy to use
Soyan is a Chinese manufacturer and this is their latest model. You will find that many of the Chinese manufacturers opted for a similar design, shape and button placement. Coincidence, unlikely!
Nevertheless, this is one of the cheapest 3D pens you can currently buy and is suitable for beginner to intermediate level 3D drawing.
The Soyan 3D printing pen closely resembles the model from 7TECH in terms of its shape and design.It’s available in a variety of colors , blue and yellow being our favorite.
As an added extra, the pen comes with filament in various colors.Although a little bit bulky, it has a round shape that fits comfortably in your hand.
Like the model from 7TECH, it has an LCD display. So when using different types of plastic, it can be adjusted via this LCD for precise temperature control.
Soyan does not offer a guarantee for their pen.
This device is perfect for teenagers and adults who want to enjoy the art of 3D printing. It is very affordable too, however, some sacrifices were made to achieve this low price, and this is reflected in our scoring of the pen.
Soyan’s pen is of the cheapest that you can find on the market today, with some nice added extras included in the bundle. We summarized the features on offer below.
Well there you have it, the top 5 3D pens for 2017, as well as our top 5 cheap budget picks. To summarize, we recommend either the 3D Simo Mini (best all-rounder) or the Lix 3D Pen (best design) if you have more than $100 to spend. If your budget is tight then go with the AIO Robotics 3D Pen for around $50.
Remember to choose the correct plastic, if you are uncertain about the properties of different plastics and what they can be used for then go to our 3D printing filament review.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, leave us a comment below and remember to share this post with your friends by clicking one of the handy social media sharing buttons, or simply head back to our homepage.
Roundup Review: The 4 Best 3D Printers under $1000
Roundup Review: Best 3D Printers under $500
The Best 3D Pens for Kids
3D Simo Mini: New Generation of 3D Pens
The Best Filaments to use with a 3D Printer or Pen
PLA vs ABS – What’s the difference?