3Doodler Lets Patient Kids Make Their Own Toys

first_imgStay on target 3D printing is still one of the coolest, most sci-fi concepts we can’t believe casually exists in the real world today. Crunching some numbers and watching a computer spit out a physical object is just so cool. But it’s also pretty complicated, too complicated for children that might otherwise enjoy shaping plastic to their will.However, as if the maker tech behind 3D printing couldn’t get any cooler, there are now also products that let kids draw colorful flexible plastic into new shapes with special pens, essentially “3D printing by hand.” Make anything from your signature to a cube to a totem to store a piece of your soul in.We recently received one of those products from 3Doodler, a leader in the space. It was a $70 set themed around making your own toy Powerpuff Girls characters (or South Park characters with a few tweaks).I, Geek.com Senior Editor Jordan Minor, patiently messed around with one of these pens and 3D drew a terrible little pumpkin mummy monster. I can’t imagine how much time and skillful effort and plastic it would take to make the eyepatch anime Powerpuff Girls character the package came with as an example of a “proper” creation. But a childless dude in his mid-20s hardly seemed like the target demographic for this nifty device.Fortunately, Sascha Segan, mobile analyst extraordinaire for our sister site PCMag and Cool Dad, was more than happy to test out the toy with his 11-year-old daughter. Keep reading for their family-style hot takes on 3Doodler Start Powerpuff Yourself.Since the 3Doodler Start is for ages 8 and up, we put it in a creative 11-year-old’s hands to see what she’d do with it. She took one look at the detailed Powerpuff instructions and shrugged; she had Things to Make.One of 3Doodler’s strengths is that there’s a considerable library of projects and kits available, with more coming constantly from the community. $30 ‘activity kits’ focus on robots, consumer products, architectural models or Powerpuff Girls figures, with custom stencils and (in the robotics case) a motor.If you’re just a creative kid, though, this is a terrific toy. Within a day, we had ideas for jewelry, a magic wand, a very small sword for a doll or toy, and multiple “gems” for canonical or imagined Steven Universe characters. The kid took to 3D doodling very quickly, building her first multifaceted gem within half an hour.The pen is very easy to use. Turn it on, wait for an orange light to turn green, and feed in a strand of plastic. It’ll come out soft, ductile and flexible, hardening within seconds. You build solid areas by weaving or crosshatching strands back and forth.more inkThe Start uses special 2.5mm plastic strands that come in packs of 24 for $4.99. You can’t use any other plastic; this is non-toxic, low-temperature plastic that comes out of the pen cool and safe. Its low-temp nature also means that it isn’t microwave, dishwasher or oven safe; it’ll just melt down into a blob. We got 3-5 feet of doodling from a strand, depending on how thin we pulled it.That said, we blew through the strands pretty quickly, taking a half-dozen to make a single brooch-sized gem. A pack-a-day habit would be easy to adopt, but at least it’s healthier than cigarettes.The biggest waste of plastic comes when you want to change colors, for instance when our tester wanted to create a multicolored, tourmaline gem for a Steven Universe character. You can eject a strand, but you have to doodle out the half-inch or so before you insert the new strand. Our living room table now has a bunch of little colored plastic turds on it.The pen charges via micro-USB in about 15 minutes, and it can doodle out a half-dozen strands before needing a recharge. That said, our tester needed to recharge as she completed her palm-sized gem.Hey, it’s Jordan again. While this starter edition of 3Doodler ($50 without the Powerpuff Girls license) is totally a great entry point for kids, it also got both Sascha and I interested in potentially more advanced hand-drawn 3D printing tech. And it turns out 3Doodler puts out a whole line of pens that don’t have the compromises of this child-friendly version.The popular mid-range $99 3Doodler Create lets you adjust the speed and temperature for more detailed plastic sculpting and has a sleek aluminum body. Meanwhile, the $250 3Doodler Create Pro lets true artists, engineers, architects, and other designers do real manufacturing work, however small the objects. There are different nozzle shapes, smoothing tools, material types like wood and bronze, and a portable battery pack to let your hand draw untethered. Finally, 3Doodler makes special discounted versions of its tech especially for educators.There are parts of 3D printing so repetitive and tedious it’s better to just let a machine quickly do it, like filling something in or making a big but basic geometric shape. However, the 3Doodler Create pens can craft objects and fine details that would otherwise get lost out of a normal 3D printer. Plus, if your machine-printed 3D object ever gets damaged, these pens seem great for molding plastic spot fixes onto it. It is to 3D printers what other smartpens like Livescribe are to computers.Powerpuff Girls isn’t even the only #brand 3Doodler has partnered with. To celebrate a million pens sold since the company launched four years ago, 3Doodler recently released a Star Trek-themed set, appropriate for the Star Trek-esque fantasy-made-real technology.For me, 3Doodler is a fun hot glue gun monster factory, but for others it might be the evolution of shaping a beautiful piece of your own artistic expression out of a humble lump of clay. Hopefully the latter is what most kids will get out of it. Become self-reliant and create your own dang toys.Buy 3Doodler Start Powerpuff YourselfBuy 3Doodler CreateLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. U.S. Scientists 3D Print Miniature Human HeartGeek Pick: Juku 3Doodler Create+ Is A 3D Printing Pen Set last_img

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