BERLIN -- Riding the crest of the 3D-printing wave like a perfectly poised plastic surfer, 3Doodler stormed Kickstarter with a massive $2.3 million campaign. That was more than enough (its initial goal was just $30,000) to start production of this quirky 3D-printing pen, which will soon go on sale to the public for $99 a pop.
It's a simple idea: feed a stick of plastic into the pen and an extruder at the nib melts it, so you can make a brightly coloured model of whatever you can think of.
We saw it in action at the IFA tech show in Berlin, where a gentleman with a local accent quizzed a PR person: "Is it a toy, or a tool?" It's a bit of both, mein herr. While undoubtedly it'll be filling many a creative kid's stocking this Christmas, it's also aimed at people who earn a living making models: architects, designers, artists and the like.
So what's the thing like to use? You first thing you notice is it's noisy, rather like a tattoo pen. It's hot to the touch too, inevitably, but WobbleWorks assured us it was safe and within regulations.
It's not a pick-up-and-play kind of thing -- it takes some practice and patience. At the crowded booth where we went hands-on, there were loads of gorgeous examples of models made with the 3Doodler, as you can see in the video above. But the practice section was rather less impressive, full of unidentifiable wiggly squiggles. Admittedly most users were journalists with attention spans that mayflies would frown on, but this isn't for young children.
The 3Doodler's "ink" is very inexpensive, just common ABS plastic or the more flexible PLA, which WobbleWorks says is great for painting over glass and metal.
"With 3Doodler, you don't need any technical knowledge or an expensive computer, just a creative mind and the desire to have fun," says WobbleWorks chief Maxwell Bogue. "Following more than a year of development, we're very excited to be revealing the final version of the pen at IFA this year."
WobbleWorks promises early backers of its Kickstarter will have their pens in their (slightly hotter) hands this month. The general public may have to wait until February, but preorders are open and will be fulfilled as soon as Kickstarter has had its fill.