A "3D-printing" pen seeking funding on Kickstarter is the smallest yet, and its campaign really brings to light the technology's possibilities.
The world's first 3D-printing pen, the 3Doodler, was a pretty cool idea, but it wasn't without its limitations. It had a low-res extruder, produced rather crude and wobbly lines, required connection to a power mains socket, was heavy at 200 grams — and, to be honest, simply didn't seem to have many practical applications.
LIX has taken the idea and refined it. Like the 3Doodler, the LIX works similarly to a hot glue gun, with plastic filament instead of glue. The extruder — much like a 3D printer — heats up, melting the plastic at point of contact. As the plastic moves into the air and cools down, it hardens, allowing the user to draw 3D shapes in the air.
However, it's sleeker and finer than the 3Doodler by a wide margin. Coming in at 40 grams, it is only slightly larger than a normal pen. It also seems to produce a much smoother line.
Unlike the 3Doodler, it's powered by USB, which is much more flexible — and it's being touted for a wider range of potential applications. Its creators recommend it for architects and designers, for prototyping and sketching. But that doesn't mean it's only for professionals — it can also be used for arts and crafts, for jewellery, even for customising your clothing.
It's currently going for a minimum pledge of £82 (approx AU$150) plus £10 shipping (approx AU$18) outside of the UK, which includes the pen and three bags of plastic, with an estimated delivery date of December this year. Head over to the LIX Kickstarter page to check it out and pledge your support.